During my last few years of Army service, I was transferred to Ft.Campbell, KY. Not knowing what was in store for me my last two years of military service I met what I later learned was one of my best friends and hopefully life long hunting partner Shannon Schaar. We spent every spare moment of 1996 hunting everything we could from turkey, duck, geese, dove, quail, rabbit, deer and fished when hunting wasn't open. Thanks Michelle for donating your husband. I'll never forget the times he and I had that year.
Throughout the opening of deer season, I visited the archery range tuning my bow and the rifle range getting my new Mossberg 835 Ultimag sighted in. It had given me good luck bagging a goose the previous year and my first turkey as well. Not having much luck with bow hunting this year, I decided to put it down for awhile and try the shotgun. Shannon, another good friend Rick Pine and I put in for the draw for the following day. Unfortunately (I thought), I was picked for my second choice which unrenowned to me, had been closed for the past four years to hunters. This area was adjacent to the artillery firing range that had since been shut down. Depressed, I went home and began a map reconnaissance of the area and picked a location about 50 yards from the river with a high ridge to my back.
The next morning, September 28, 1996 I headed into no man's land, Area 43A, into the black forest following the river until I thought was the area I had scouted out on the map. I located a suitable tree with good overhead cover that had a good view of the ridge and river. I hung the foot steps and tree stand as quiet as I could and settled into the stand waiting for the sun to rise. The Mossberg hanging on a branch to my right, backpack next to me and safety harness strapping me to the tree, I shut my eyes to adjust them to the darkness and just listened.
How dumb is that! I soon fell asleep and was awakened just after the sun came up by a squirrel playing under my tree. Isn't it funny how such a small creature can sound like a 300 lb monster buck? Now that my heart is pounding so hard and ready to fall out on to the ground, I am fully awake. At 7:45, I heard loud crashing to my left rear which was indistinguishable of deer running. One glance in this direction confirmed two bucks running down the ridge straight towards me. Thanks to their loud crashing I was able to quickly grab for the Mossberg and take aim.
Things were happening so fast I couldn't believe it. The two bucks were running one behind the other. I quickly took aim at the first buck as it was sporting a massive rack. Just before pulling the trigger, they both stopped running at what I assumed was about 100 yards. Remember, my heart was falling out of my chest. Never before had I seen two bucks together in the woods, let alone of this size. As they came to a screeching halt, they both looked at the top of the ridge. Apparently, they were spooked out of their feeding area by another hunter arriving late into the woods or some other predator. I glanced up at the first buck counting at least 12 large points. It was the largest deer I had ever had in my sights. Just for kicks, I looked at the second buck just to compare. How could it have a rack anywhere near the first? To my surprise, I could not count all the points. I could tell the right antler was filled with something and the left antler was filled as well. Making a quick decision, I changed my sights on the second buck.
Knowing that they were about 100 yards away, I raised the Mossberg a little high, just in case they were further away than I anticipated. The 3 inch magnum Federal Sabot Slug with Hydra-Shok Hollow Point slug screamed to what I knew was a great shot. Hearing the blast of the shotgun and not knowing which direction to travel, they continued on their path towards me again. I quickly chambered another round and leveled the sights again. As soon as the two bucks were 10 yards from my tree stand, I fired a second round at the larger buck. This one hit hard directly through all the vital organs and he dropped in his tracks. He found it's feet again and ran into the bushes.
I checked my compass for his direction of travel and took a deep breath knowing that he was hit hard and wouldn't travel very far. I looked around for the other buck as far as my eyes could see, but he was nowhere to be found. When I didn't see him, I sat back down to catch my breath. As soon as my body hit the seat, the second buck, still under my tree, took off like greased lightning. I had never seen anything move so fast. There was no time to rack another round, just watch as he disappeared up over the ridge.
Knowing that the buck I shot was not going far, I grabbed my gear and started tracking. The blood trail was very easy to locate and follow for about 40 yards, then abruptly stopped. I looked all over the area for the downed buck. I refused to believe that he could survive such an ordeal and escape. I sat down, gathered my thoughts (my heart was still pounding extremely hard) and started tracking again. This time, I found the trail again and found the downed buck laying inside a brush pile.
I began counting points. The first count revealed 15 points. I thought I had missed a few so counted again. This time there was 20. My face had a grin from ear to ear. Not understanding how I could have miscounted by so much I slowed down and finally counted 18 points. After cleaning him up, I began dragging him, by myself, to the road where I left my car. About half way there, I was met by a very nice gentleman who graciously listened to the story of how I harvested the biggest deer of my life. He then helped me drag him the rest of the way to the car. I wish I had gotten his name, but didn't. I contacted Buck Masters and had the buck scored after being mounted. The buck was scored as a typical 14 point with 4 kickers, but was extremely symmetrical. Their unique scoring system counts only the length of the antlers, not the width between them, and he scored 146 6/8 points. My own calculations using the Boone & Crocket score sheet came up with about 206 points. My only regret is that Shannon and Rick were not there to see it. I did torture them day after day with the story though. Thanks for all the hunting memories guys. I'll never forget them.