Chance of a Lifetime
by Kenny Pearce

2/08 Coal County
Tupelo Oklahoma

It all started in 2004 one Summer’s Day. I got up early to go for a ride on a young horse that I was breaking. I had been riding for a little while when about nine or ten deer jumped out in front of me. Two of them were bucks and all of a sudden just Southeast of me this big buck darted out of the brush to join them. The bucks were in full velvet and I couldn’t believe my eyes of the size of this buck. Not just his rack, but his body as well. As soon as I got home, I called my brother Robert to tell him about this deer because hunting is such a big deal to us. I had rode this area hoping to see him again, but no such luck. About one week into bow season I was coon hunting one night and spotted him again with my light. The next day I rode back to the same area to search for the right location to put up my stand. After I decided on a spot, I went several times and spent several hours but never seen him again.

Black Powder season came but no buck. Then a few days before rifle season came I seen him again, but he didn’t see me. I watched him until he got out of sight. The very next day I went to move my stand so that I could let this area cool off before rifle season opened and all season no buck. Then bow season, still no buck and that ended 2004. Summer of 2005 rolled around and my oldest brother David and youngest son Ronnie and I went for a ride on horses to pass the time away. As we got near the area I began to tell them the story about this big buck, and all of a sudden we seen several deer and HE was one of them. Talk about perfect timing! That is all we talked about the entire ride. Bow season came again and I spent many hours scouting, hanging stands, but still no buck. Black powder season came and no buck. Right before rifle season got here, a guy asked me why I didn’t plant a food plot or put out some kind of feeder. I told him that not much on that because I don’t think that’s hunting and all I wanted to feed that deer was lead.

The first morning of rifle season, not too far from where I was hunting, I heard and I just knew he was down. Later that day I heard that someone shot a big buck in that area, but I never got to see him. I knew it was just a matter of time before someone spotted him, but I kept hunting because I didn’t know for sure if it was him but my chances were getting slim because there is several home-grown country boys around here that know how to hunt and know how to hunt right, but there are those who tromp through the woods, couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn and have no respect for the real hunters that put the time in and after all that I finally decided to quit hunting that area and went somewhere else to finish out 2005.

2006 Bow season came, but I didn’t hunt that location. About a week before black powder season I was back in the area and seen a nice buck that day and decided to spend some time thee. Opening morning I decided to hunt on the ground in a brushy area. I seen some people walking around, so I left. Later that day my oldest son, Cody came in from college to go hunting. So we went and set him up in this blind. It started getting late and we were walking across this field and he spotted this deer that we thought was a old doe that we called Granny. We called her that because she had been limping for years and was broken down. We started walking across this field and about five hundred yards North of us I seen two bucks fighting. I told Cody to look through my binoculars at these two deer and he said “I can’t believe that cow is standing right behind them while they are fighting like that” and I said “There ain’t no cows on this place let me see them binoculars”. And it was him, that big buck standing on a small ledge behind them and it made him look even bigger. Cody said “is that the big buck that you’ve talked about?” I said “that’s him”. We immediately hunkered down and started to this wooded area to head him off, but when we got to where we was going, he was already there. I finally had my chance to shoot him, but I decided to give it up for my son in order for him to feel the thrill of the kill. The deer took off before Cody could get set to shoot because he didn’t want to pull off a bad shot on this deer. But still what an awesome feeling to have the privilege to see a deer of this caliber with my son!

We immediately stepped off the distance and it was 91 steps. I looked at his track and noticed that half of his front foot was missing and he was limping when he took off. The rest of black powder season, we didn’t see him again. I would lie awake at night wondering where he was and where he has been, where he slept, what he was thinking and all the mistakes that I had made trying to kill this trophy buck. I was sick of him controlling my thoughts

Two days before rifle season I went and made a make-shift blind. The first morning I saw four bucks. Two of them were outstanding bucks but I decided to let them all walk which is not like me. About four o’clock that evening I went back to my blind at 5:24 here he came out of some of the thickest terrain that you could imagine. My heart was thumping, but I was calm under the pressure. Of all my years of hunting, this was a chance of a lifetime for me and I was not going to do anything under my power to blow it. Then he threw up his nose and he knew I was there, but wasn’t sure where. He walked behind a bois d’arc and a cedar tree that was growing side by side. Then he turned his head and spotted me. All I could see was his right eye and nose. I knew that if I didn’t shoot through that cedar tree and take a chance, that would be it. I eased up my old customized 8mm Mauser that I call “Sleepy” and seen an opening just a little bigger than a softball. With the gun resting on my knee, I squeezed off the trigger and he fell. I ran like a kid down there which was only eighty-eight steps. I looked at his front foot to just make sure it was him and grabbed his rack and began counting his points while he was still breathing; he had eighteen. We were looking eye to eye when he took his last breath. It was finally over. His body was huge, his rack was enormous, but the size of his neck amazed me.

Call it luck, call it skill or patience or all of the above, all I know is that it was the most important shot that I have ever made and the enjoyment that I get every day of looking at hanging on my wall… what an honor. I think that he wouldn’t have made it another year. Rifle season of 2006 we did each other the favor of a lifetime. We both went out in style. Although I knew he was big, I never dreamed that he would be number nine in the top ten of the non-typical bucks in the state of Oklahoma for 2006.

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