Blizzard Buck

by Doug McIntyre

11/08 New York

The 2000 New York State whitetail deer season began like any other. Digging through all of our gear and telling great buck stories are just a few things that keep us occupied in the weeks leading up to opening day.
I’ve hunted with my dad for as long as I can remember. Even before I could hunt legally, he would always take me along a few times each year to get a little dose of what he calls “buck fever”. I fell in love with the sport and it’s definitely one of my most favorite things to do. I look forward to passing along the tradition to my children in the future.
This particular season began slowly as we hunted several days without seeing even so much as a tail in the woods. One snowy morning, my dad decided not to go out, and I hesitated as well due to the blowing snow and temperatures in the single digits. Since we hunt right behind our house, I didn’t have far to walk to get to my stand and as every deer hunter knows, the day you don’t go out, is the day you miss the opportunity at the big one.
As I walked out, I kicked up a large deer which ran right down where my dad normally sits. It was too dark to see any antlers, but I could tell that it was a large bodied deer. I sat in my tree stand for about an hour hoping whatever it was would double back my way, but nothing.
Around 7:30am I headed back up to the house, aggravated because of the weather and wondering if we would have had a chance if my dad had went out with me. I asked my mom where he had gone. At the time he had a slight quick-draw lottery problem and would spend countless hours at the local gas station drinking coffee and watching the balls pop-up on the television screen, so I had a pretty good idea where he was.
After harping at my mom for a few minutes and telling her what we may have let slip by, I decided to head back out for a while because I had forgotten my heat seat up in my tree stand. As soon as I sat back down, I heard my mom on the two-way radio that my dad normally carries saying that the big buck was in the front yard and starting to head my way. I turned around and raised my gun. Sure enough, about five minutes later, he came bouncing back through the woods. Something had him spooked because he was moving fast. I had never taken a running shot before, but after seeing him earlier and hearing what my mom had to say, he was worth the chance. I fired and missed, then managed to get off two more shots before he disappeared into the white.
I waited about 20 minutes before I headed down to see if there was any blood or hair. I didn’t see any, but decided to track him a while since he left a perfect single track in the freshly fallen snow. Just as my dad got home and started calling for me on the radio, I noticed a drop of blood, and thought oh no, I’ve wounded him. I told my dad and we started tracking together around 9:00am.
We tracked him all day long kicking him up twice without a shot. We knew we had to stay right on him because it was snowing about 3-4 inches an hour and we’d lose him for sure if we didn’t. Normally we would have waited at least 2 or 3 hours before pushing him any further but under the circumstances, we had to keep moving. I started to cramp up and lose my patients several times, but my dad said that we just needed to take our time and stay on him. We’ll get lights and go into the night if we have to, he told me.
We split up for a while so I could get ahead incase he jumped him out again, and at about 3:30 I heard a lone shot in the distance. Exhausted, I dropped to my knees in the snow. Then I heard the old man come across on the radio, “he’s down”!
My dad spotted the deer in a little patch of trees in the middle of a field, and with the use of his Ithaca model 37 12 gauge, dropped him from approximately 75 yards.
We didn’t get the deer dressed and dragged out of the woods to the street until near dark. If that wasn’t enough, we were over 2 miles away from the house at that point, so I had to walk home to get the pick-up while my dad waited with the buck. He wasn’t the monster we had originally thought he was, but a nice 7 pointer with a broken brow point. What he lacked in points and mass, he made up for in spread and overall weight, with about an 18” spread and tipping the scales at 190lbs.
My dad and I have shot several nice bucks hunting together over the years, but none more memorable than this one. I estimate that we walked a good 8 miles through the snow that day which started with only about 2” on the ground and ended with over 32”.
I learned 3 very important lessons that deer season: First, never give up. If it wasn’t for my dad’s motivation and persistence, we would have never retrieved that buck. Second, be a good sportsman. You should only take a shot at an animal if you know for certain you can drop it with that one shot. Lastly, never harp at your mom!

Doug McIntyre
Busti, New York

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