Busting-Out Buck

by Mark Neumann

9/05 Pretty Lake, WI

It was November 9th, the last of five straight days chasing after big Whitetail bucks during the November rut. I'd seen a number of bucks in the previous four days, and passed multiple eight-pointers, but was beginning to wonder whether that was worth doing given I only had one more day to hunt. I got up early in the morning, had a little extra excitement this morning because my dad said the night before he saw a big ten-pointer nearby where I was going to head out. I saved this stand for the last morning hunt because it was a new stand I had built this season and was excited to have saved it for just the right time. This was that morning. I hoped it would have a big payoff.

I snuck in early in the morning, pitch black, being as quiet as I could. When I got within about 60 yards of my stand, I heard that dreaded sound. Tree limbs snapping and a big thumping on the ground with each bound the deer took, busting out and running away. It sounded like a train in the quiet morning stillness and immediately my heart sank. I hoped the big buck was in there, but now he was gone. I proceeded to walk quietly to my stand. I kind of felt it was a waste to be so quiet with all the noise the deer had just made, but I slowly climbed up to my tree stand. As I sat in my stand, my heart was still. I was feeling pretty low, because I thought I just screwed up my opportunity. I was so close to getting it right, another opportunity of being just minutes away.

As I sat there in the darkness, the light beginning to come up on the horizon, I was encouraged as I started to hear some sounds out in the woods that could have been deer. I sat for a while and then I heard some walking through the leaves. I heard some leaves crunching, and it sounded like a deer walking. Is it, I thought? I heard more sounds. I was sure it was definitely a deer walking, coming from the north, walking along a ridge of trees, and heading my direction. Still, hard to see, I couldn't pick out any deer through the woods. As I listened for five minutes, the deer slowly worked its way towards me.

My excitement began to grow. The deer slowly kept walking, and then it stopped. As it was in the middle of some brush, I saw its antlers. I wondered if this was THE deer; I wondered if this could be the big buck. No, I already busted him out. But maybe, maybe. The deer slowly crept into some dogwood, then I could see the body, I could see him coming, I could make out a pretty nice size body. Then he turned his head and the rack stuck out like a tree, a bunch of tree branches. I thought, oh that's a beauty. It turned its head again and I couldn't make the rack out anymore in the morning light. He was about 80 yards away and standing still. He sat there for 5 minutes without moving; just standing and looking. Then he started to walk. I thought, yes he's coming towards me. He walked into some brushy, swamp grass and his rack seemed to disappear. He continued to walk towards me. My heart was pounding. Thank you Lord I thought, this could be the payoff.

He keeps walking, but his rack, I couldn't make out his rack. All of a sudden I started to think maybe it wasn't that big. Should I shoot him, shouldn't I shoot him? He came by at 40 yards and I saw the rack another time and I thought, I've got to take him. At the side it looked nice but I didn't know how nice. I drew back. I made a deer grunt, with my mouth. Stopped him in the opening. He only stood for about a second and started to walk again. I grunted again. He stopped again, looked up towards me, I released. Swoomp. Arrow hit the target. He bucked into the air like a bucking bronco and took off running. I thought oh no, did I hit him good or not? He took off running through the swamp.

My buddy was across the swamp from me and I knew he could hear this deer running. We were set up about 150 yards from each other. I watched the deer. I could see him running through the white grass. His horns were kind of visible but also disappearing as he was in the grass at about 150 yards. All of a sudden he started to wobble and down he went in the swamp grass. My heart jumped. I thought yes I've got him, he's down. Then I thought, how long should I wait, since my buddy is across the swamp hunting. Over the next hour and a half of waiting, knowing my deer was 150 yards away. I started to wonder, was he really that nice? Did I shoot a medium 8 pointer? Will I be happy? I hope there's not a big case of "ground shrinkage".

Finally, 2 hours had gone by and I called my buddy on the radio. He said "did you see that deer running earlier this morning?" I said "yeah, I saw that deer". I said, "where did it go?" He responded "I don't know, it just disappeared." And I told him, "that's my buck, that baby's down, it's a big one, I hope." He said, "let's go see what it is". I kept saying, "Borch, I hope there's not a major case of ground shrinkage". I just kept thinking it was going to end being a small rack. He asked, "where did you shoot him"? I pointed, "right about over there". He looked around, couldn't see anything. I said, maybe a little further out. He went a little further out, and said"oh my... have you seen this yet?". I said, "no".

What I soon realized was, that there was a blood trail that was the easiest and biggest trail I've ever tracked in my life. There was blood everywhere! You could see it thirty yards ahead of you in the swamp grass, almost a solid red carpet right to my prize! We walked approximately 100 yards. Finally, we looked to our right, and there he was in the grass. I yelled and screamed. Borch kept saying, "what a buck, what a buck!" I'm yelling and jumping up and down going nuts. I was yelling so loud my dad showed up five minutes later from a different stand about a half mile away, and said, okay, who got one? The joy I was letting out, the excitement I had, had to be able to be heard for a mile around in every direction. It was worth yelling about. This was a buck I had been waiting for 20 plus years of deer hunting. He turned out to score 161 P&Y, 10 pointer, 21 7/8 inside spread, 23 7/8 outside spread. What a dream! What a blessing from God above. It was honestly, one of the happiest days of my life and I continue to thank Jesus for blessing me in this way. What a blessing to be able to be out in His creation and chase around trophies like this.

Mark Neumann