Still Sick, MS> I have made a tremendous amount of mistakes hunting whitetail deer. I have missed the damn things at 20 yards and I have let them slip up on me and get away. I have wounded a few over the years that just left me sick to my stomach. What I want to do is relate the worst mistake and the two biggest lessons I have learned while hunting.
I was about 15 and Dad had found me a great place to hunt in an area called Buzzard Roost, just on the south side of Sardis Lake. We went in, scouted it and located the sign of a really big buck. He built a stand and I was all set.
In those days we were learning about scrape hunting and did that for years and years, with great success. My treestand was surrounded by huge fresh scrapes and rubs. All I needed was the buck.
The day was warm and I had seen no deer that morning and relaxed in the stand. At 12 noon I heard the baying of a small dog that kept getting closer and closer. A few minutes later I saw a deer flash by about 100 yards below my stand. I got ready. The dog came closer and closer and finally a small beagle came walking along following the scent.
It was a slow speed chase! I watched the dog wander off down the hill and started thinking about what I would do if I was that old buck. I would circle the edge of that thicket and come out right in front of my stand is what I would do.
The giant buck circled the edge of the thicket and came slipping out right in front of me.
I raised my rifle up and offhand, looked at the massive thing through my scope and checked out his antlers. I counted them. I could see 11 and I was sure there were more.
When he stops I am going to shoot.
The buck stopped about 20 yards away. He stopped exactly behind a tree. All I could see was one horn sticking out. Oh S**T.
Down below, the little beagle finally found the trail again and gave a loud Yelp. The wall hanger buck broke, and ran right under my stand at about 500 miles per hour. I threw my barrel down and shot. I am sure 20 feet behind it. The trophy buck was gone. I learned 2 lessons that day.
1. When you see that you are going to shoot, never look at the horns again. Concentrate on getting your gun in position, and shoot as soon as you get a clear shot. You can look at the horns again later.
2. In treestands or on the ground always have a gun rest. You can buy one or build one.
I don’t care who you are, if you do not have a gun rest, sooner or later you are going to screw up. A caveat to this is to check the trigger pull on your rifle, as a kid I missed several deer offhand because the trigger pull was tremendous. When I got older I went to a gunsmith, who adjusted it in about 5 minutes.
I get sick every time I think about that massive deer and my foolish actions that day.