We call the buck scar face. Don’t have him on trail camera, but look closely at his right cheek. From under his eye , down around his cheek and back to the base of his skull in back was a long slice cut open. I would say it was ripped open a few months ago on a barbed wire fence or something. It is only partially healed. Rather interesting story. He had several rips on his hide and hind leg also on the other side.
Those bucks love acorns this early. We don’t have access to any nice food plots, but have access to acorns on a friend’s ground. My theory this past weekend was dark of the moon, good so lunar movement, we were down wind of a nice oak stand with acorns dropping a lot the past week. We had just sat down about 6:30 am, right at shooting time. We listened to this buck digging for acorns in the leaves for several minutes as he came up the hill behind us. We were just sitting on chairs on the ground in the branches of a blown down tree.
I told my son he was coming and had him listen to the buck digging in the leaves to see if he could hear the difference between a squirrel and deer and he believed he could. We could only hear the buck coming up the hill behind us at this point and could not see him yet. I stood up and turned around first, and once I was convinced what I heard was a deer coming up the hill, I told my son, Matt, who is only 13 but almost as tall as me, to stand up and turn around too, just in case. We stood there a few minutes watching the direction of the hill and the digging of the leaves, still not positive we were going to see turkeys, deer, coons or what, and all of a sudden Matt whispered very quickly, “I see him”! I saw him too and told Matt he was good size and he was clear to shoot when he was ready. We had practiced some free standing poses with a rifle the night before. I showed him how to wrap his arm in the sling and pull his stock support arm up close to his chest/belly to help steady the gun while sighting on a deer.
Matt got his gun up, sighted in a bit and the buck caught him while he got everything ready. It is funny for me to watch youngsters move so fast when they want to get ready to shoot. Matt does this on turkeys and deer. Once Matt got caught getting his gun up, he froze for a few seconds and when the buck looked away for a split moment, Matt was able to slooooowly get the gun up the rest of the way.Matt adjusted the sling a bit and steadied the gun. After what seemed like a minute, he reached up while the buck was watching him, and clicked the safety off. That seemed like the loudest safety click off I have ever heard in my life! You have to understand we were standing, cross wind, wearing blaze orange, on relatively flat ground at this point, with nothing but a few tree trunks between him and us. Matt finished sighting in and made a great shot with Grandpa’s 270 at about 60 yds on the ground. The buck dropped where he stood.
I think every person reacts differently when they see a large animal expire for the first time. Matt was happy with a clean shot and felt confident with his shooting ability. It was interesting to hear his questions and observations as the animal expired quickly.
Grandpa was back at the car walking around and glassing areas for other deer so we went back and got him and the deer cart. When we walked back to get the deer with Grandpa, I asked Matt if he could find his way back to the deer through the woods. Of course he could not. I feel it is good to get him thinking about it though so he can start to pick on woods markers, sense of direction, fallen tree here, angle of the sun there and such. We snapped a few pictures and carted the buck out from our hunting spot a bit, then I unloaded him and showed Matt how to field dress a deer.
You want to know the really cool thing about all of this? When I finished field dressing the buck, I stood up and looked Matt in the eye and told him to look at my knife carefully. I told him there is only one thing I have personally written into my will for him, and it was that knife. I got that knife from my dad, who was there with us, when I was very young. I used the knife to clean all of my deer, several elk, and countless other ducks, pheasants, deer of others, turkeys, fish and such, and just then, I wanted him to remember that I used that knife to clean his first deer with him watching and learning, with Grandpa watching with us. I showed him the knife (a little dirty now) and the old leather case I keep it in so he would hopefully remember and recognize it. I told him not to worry too much if he forgot because I have it written in my will. I hope it means something to him down the road, but I can sure as hell tell you I had tears in my eyes as I told him about that knife and my life and how I wanted him to have it one day.
After we field dressed the deer, I had Matt and I grab the buck by the antlers and drag it out old school, without the cart. He and I drug it quite a ways. As we got closer to the car, I told him he had to see if he could finish the drag on his own! We laughed a bit, but Matt had no problem finishing the drag the last 100 yds or so on his own. He is 13 and just under 6 ft tall. He plays a lot of sports so this was not too tough on him. It may sound strange, but I think it is good to start to get a feel for how much work it is to take a large animal a little at a time!
We have been eating deer jerky (awesome!) and a few weeks ago made some excellent deer snack sticks we have been chowing on, and just had sloppy Joe’s with deer this evening. Matt is starting to really enjoy the hunt, but I want him to understand and see little white packages walking through the woods, along with the trophy aspect/challenge of the hunt.