I Shot Bambi’s Momma

by Ray Sikes

12/05 Townsend, Delaware

I’m a middle-aged man, closer to fifty than forty, and since I was a boy I’ve hunted off and on. My family has acquired a taste for venison, so on Friday afternoon, October 28, 2005, I went deer hunting. To cull out the herd, Delaware had instituted a special doe season, so I was seeking meat for the freezer, not a rack for the wall. At about four o’clock on that beautiful fall day, I climbed into a stand on the edge of a recently harvested corn field.

Eventually, four does emerged from the woods across from me, well out of Remington 12-gauge slug range. For about an hour, they casually picked their way through the gleanings in the field, slowly moving closer. When two bolted my way, I raised my gun. They were being chased by a huge buck that ran them back into the woods, still out of range. I waited for a few minutes, hoping they’d cut back into the field, but by then it was six o’clock and getting darker by the minute. I figured I’d better get proactive, so I climbed down from my stand.

As I crossed the field, the two remaining does took off, but I became stealthier upon entering the woods. For about twenty minutes, I stepped carefully down a path in a direction that I hoped might intercept a deer. The leaves were still thick, so I couldn’t see very far, but I caught a glimpse of that buck, still chasing the two does. Edging close to a tree, I held my ground downwind of the deer and tried to look inconspicuous.

One doe cut across my path and ran away. The second came into view about forty yards out and turned toward me, running full bore with that buck chasing it. As I shouldered my gun, I had three fleeting but amazingly clear thoughts:

1. I may have to shoot in self defense, just to keep from being trampled.
2.That buck is huge. I ought to shoot it and make excuses later. (I didn’t count points, but the rack was way out past its ears.)
3.That doe is too small to send to the butcher.

In the next instant, the doe reared up, as did the buck. I fired and dropped the doe while the buck fled. Afterwards, I had that buzz of adrenaline which is one of the best parts of the hunting experience, so I just stood there for a while, feeling the exhilaration of being truly alive. Another deer walked up within range, but it was even smaller than the one I had already shot, so I just put a sight on it to prove I could hit it if I really wanted to and said “bang.” After that little deer scurried off, I walked up to the dead doe, half expecting it to have spots—she looked that small in front of the massive charging buck. There were no spots, however, and as I dragged that deer out to the edge of the field, I was glad she wasn’t any bigger than she was, because I worked pretty hard moving all that meat on the hoof through brush, brambles, and briars.

I had passed up the buck of a lifetime because it was legal to only shoot the doe, which wasn’t really that little. Field dressed, the deer weighed about 115 pounds, and that’s not bad at all for a female. It makes me wonder just how big that buck actually was! I’ll be back in those woods when bucks are in season again, but I doubt I’ll have as easy a time finding that giant within slug range. Height-of-the-rut deer lust has a way of making bucks just plain stupid, which is a lesson I related to some of the young men at my church the Sunday after I killed that doe.