Tuesday, October 23, 2007
How I Met Thunderhoof
My first meeting with Thunderhoof occurred soon after we bought the famous Christmas Place in the Mississippi Delta. In fact, it was the very first time that I went hunting after we purchased the property. It was the first day of Archery season that year and I was wildly excited about the coming season. A new place to hunt and lots of deer sign combined to make me and our whole family the most excited we have been to bow hunt in years. It was a memorable day for me in a way that I never expected.
I drove up the rutted road a couple of miles and parked before daylight that morning and walked the few hundred yards to my stand to set up. I was hunting out of a ladder stand that morning that was on an old logging road that wound down to where we had planned to put in one of our food plots.
Both sides of the road at this spot were covered with fresh persimmons that were dripping from the trees lining it and the deer sign was everywhere. I knew I would get a shot and eased my bowstring back a few times to loosen up and settled in to wait.
At seven o’clock a nice buck trotted across the clearing but I was unable to get a shot. An hour later a medium sized buck started feeding about 30 yards away. I was in heaven, the first time to hunt on the property and I had already seen two bucks. The buck moved back and forth under the persimmon trees but I did not worry. It was a 6-point and we had already agreed not to shoot a buck unless it had at least 4 antlers on one side of it’s rack
I was having a great time. The small buck suddenly shot his head up, glanced down through the woods and took off like a shot. I was standing and holding my bow at rest and watched the deer bolt and disappear. I slowly turned my head to see what had spooked the buck.
A gigantic buck was trotting through the woods straight at me! Gigantic does not describe the monstrous deer. It’s horns were at least 8 feet wide and it smoothly turned them from side to side to avoid trees. Grayish brown like a deer but it must have weighed over 1000 lbs. It is the most unbelievable sight I have ever seen. I would not have been more surprised if an elephant had come charging out of the woods at me.
It broke out of the woods, knocking over several small persimmon trees and stopped broadside to me at twenty five yards before I had time to react and at least get my bow up. It was so large it seemed that I could put my hand out and touch his side.
The buck casually looked at me then bent it’s head down to nibble on some honeysuckle growing along the edge of the road, then started munching persimmons. I was scared to death and trembling from the excitement of having this monster in front of me. Then the thought of what a hero I would be, shot through my head and I eased up my bow to shoot. I brought the bow up, managed to reach full draw, aimed right behind the shoulder and released… It was like shooting at the side of a barn…
It seemed that time slowed down as the arrow sped across the short distance. The buck seemed to casually turn it’s head and the arrow stuck right into a wide flat spot on it’s massive antlers. The arrow sat there quivering as the deer looked up at me frozen in the tree, then raised it’s head and started eating the persimmons off a tree. I shakily reached for another arrow and somehow managed to get it in my bow but as I drew halfway back, the deer stopped and looked at me. I froze. We stayed that way till my whole arm hurt from holding the bow at that angle. Then the damn deer lowered it’s head up and down a few times rapidly as it went back to eating the persimmons, leaves and honeysuckle off the low branches. As I watched, I saw something that shook me more than anything else. The arrow sticking out of it’s antler started to bob up and down with his movements. Now the bucks’ head was moving side to side and the arrow was wobbling up and down and around as I held the bow halfway back. Desperately, I tried to reach full draw. My fingers must have slipped as I watched amazed and horrified at my arrow bobbing back and forth from the big bucks antler. The arrow in my bow somehow shot over my shoulder and clattered down behind me. The buck did not look up, but made a noise that sounded like a grunt and a laugh, (GRUNTTT-HEH-HEH-HEH) I later learned that the noise was exactly what you think. The buck then looked up and gave me a piercing look, took two steps and disappeared into the woods. I did not hear a sound of it walking or crashing through trees, but heard the grunt, snort laugh again once or twice and then all was quiet. I sat in the stand for two more hours telling myself it can’t be true, it can’t be true. I got down and went back to camp. I told everyone I had seen three bucks, but never told them what really happened with the giant deer.