I'm a 36 year old military member who has been displaced from his hometown stomping grounds for the last 13 years. Being in the military, I've had to make do with what was afforded me, so you can imagine how happy I was, when in 1991, I was given permission to deer hunt the property of my maintenance chief. He had a tract of about 60 acres of farm land, with scattered wooded draws and fencelines. The Missouri deer season is only nine days long, and it was on the last day of my first season hunting that I noticed a doe standing in the edge of one of the harvested corn fields. As I scoped her, I noticed she was looking over her shoulder, back into the brush. Scanning back, I saw a very large buck, as well as a couple of other does, and another small buck in other parts of the field. The large buck was laying in some grass, his back to the wind and his vision looking downwind. I was tempted to take a 300 yard shot, and as I raised my gun, noticed the barrel on my 30-06 was loose. (How often does that happen?) Not wanting to blow my gun or myself up, I decided just to try to stalk closer to the deer. Well, after about 20 yards, I guess the old guy winded or saw me. I looked down to step over something in the field, and when I looked up, he was gone. The other deer, except one doe, had moved out as well. Needless to say, those were the first and last deer I saw that year on the farm. Now, fast forward to the next year with a fixed rifle.
I bowhunted for almost two months the same section of property I had seen the large buck on. I never saw that deer, but usually did see seven or eight does each trip. The next day at work, I would report the results to the land owner, who would promptly tell me that while I was hunting down in the fields in the afternoons, he would see the big buck up near his barn (I walked by that barn every day going to and from the fields.) I never saw the big buck during bow season, but did scout enough to figure out that all the deer in the area were hanging out at night in a very large stand of hardwoods that sat adjacent to this property. I figured my best bet would be to hunt a fenceline stand approximately 50 yards from the woods. My plan was that the deer would come out of the hardwoods on opening day of gun season, pushed out by other hunters that I new tended to overhunt that property. I anticipated they would come out on the far end of the field I was watching and cut the corner to a wooded hillside that afforded good visibility and cover for the deer. Any shot I had would be at least 200 yards.
Opening morning rolls around, and it is bitterly cold. I've been on the stand for about an hour, and just as the sun starts to come up, I decide that I'd better take a look behind me to make sure nothing has slipped into the field from another direction. I stand up, and turn around, only to hear a grunt from the direction I was originally looking. As I turned back around, I saw a deer, and as I brought my scope up, saw only hair as it got closer. Realizing I had set my scope for maximum magnification for the likely 200 yard shot, I had to quickly turn it down since this deer was only about 40 yards and closing. While I was trying to do that, I saw another deer directly behind the first, and could tell it was a buck. I stopped at whatever magnification I happened to be at at the time, and raised the 30-06 to try to get a shot. By now, both deer had closed the distance, and all I could see on the second deer was hair as I brought the crosshairs to bear on its shoulder. I took the shot and the deer immediately crumpled. He had never known what hit him. I sat for a minute or two, expecting him to jump up, but he never did. I was able to look at his chest through my scope and see he wasn't breathing, so I climbed down. It was a grueling 10 steps from the bottom of my tree to where he lay. As I got to him, I looked at my watch to record the time, and noticed it was 6:35 A.M. Legal shooting time started at 6:30. My tag was filled five minutes into the season.
True to my hunch, a minute later while I still catching my breath and admiring the trophy, I saw a hunter slipping out of the woods where the deer had come from. As he reached the property line, he turned and headed over to a stand he was planning on using. I'm convinced the doe was pushed out of the hardwoods, with the buck in trail, by the hunter going to his stand. Even later, while in the process of moving the deer so I could start cleaning it, four more does came out of the woodline, all in a frantic attempt to get out of Dodge. Those does did go where I originally thought they would.
So is the story of my Missouri buck. Oh yes, he dressed out at 195, was aged by the local biologists as at least four years old, and sported nine good points with two stickers. The lesson learned here: get on the stand early, stick tight, and use other hunter movement to your advantage when possible. It paid off for me.
P.S. The boy in the picture is my son Wade (now 12). This year will be his first real hunting experience.
Wish him luck.