-By Rich Miller
In last weeks’ blog I talked about a hunt where I did a lot of things wrong and the hunt didn’t work out the way I wanted. Some hunts just happen that way and some happen just like we plan them. One thing I have learned through years of hunting is when you think you know what to expect, the unexpected happens.
Usually when I go on a hunting trip I have a plan. Whether I am driving to areas around my house or making a road trip, I plan where I want to hunt the evening I arrive, the next morning, and the day after that. Sometimes I am still undecided when I arrive but other times I follow my plan to the letter.
Several years ago I was headed to Kansas for a rifle hunt and, as usual, I spent the whole drive thinking of where I wanted to hunt the afternoon I arrived. We arrived shortly after lunch, and once we said our hellos and unpacked it was time to get down to business. My Uncle Jimmy knew where he wanted to go and I had decided to go to what we call the “Crooked Creek Farm”. Our Game Spy cameras had been providing us with some pictures of three shooter bucks on a consistent basis. While I would have shot any one of these deer, there was a big ten-point in particular that I was really hoping to settle my crosshairs on.
After dropping my uncle off at his hunting spot, my buddy Mick and I headed toward Crooked Creek to drop me off. We don’t lease or have the soul hunting rights to this farm, but we never have any problem with the other guy that hunts it. The farmer is just kind enough to let us hunt. Well, as luck would have it when we arrived at the gate to the property there was a truck parked there. I didn’t know where the other hunter was nor did I want to intrude on him when he was already there first so we left.
It was getting late and after discussing it with Mick we decided to head over to a new farm that we had acquired permission to hunt that year. I hadn’t been on the property, but I had checked it out on Google Earth and pretty much knew how the land laid. Between Google Earth and Mick filling me in on what and where the crops were on the property, I came up with a plan for the rest of the afternoon. As we arrived at the gate to the property I grabbed all of my gear as Mick was pointing out the crop fields to me and where he thought would be the best vantage point for me to sit that afternoon.
After I had walked through the gate, I may have gone a hundred yards when I crested a ridge and noticed a deer walking in my direction. I definitely spotted him before he saw me because he was still walking in my direction. Naturally, as soon as I spotted him I hit the ground and commenced to getting my rifle off of my shoulder. Now keep in mind all of this was taking place in what seemed like less than a second. As I was trying to get my rifle ready for a shot, the buck must have caught my movement because he stopped and was staring dead at me.
I had him in my scope and he was looking straight at me, his rack at the time looked to be in the 200-inch range. I didn’t have a lot of time to look at him. I was just trying to make sure it was a buck I wanted to shoot the first day of a twelve-day hunt. At 175 yards it, was easy to see that he was a shooter. He was one of those that you don’t judge; you just get your gun ready. He was well within range but facing straight at me. All I needed was for him to turn enough so I could get a bullet into his vitals.
As if he was reading a script he turned to run and my bullet found its mark. The deer instantly hit the ground and there was no doubt that I had just taken the biggest deer of my life. While walking to the deer, I heard a truck coming and to my surprise Mick was coming through the gate. He had seen the whole thing from about three-quarters of a mile away. He said that he could see the deer from the angle he was at, but he couldn’t see me. He knew things were good when he saw the buck hit the ground and then heard the shot.
Even though this was my biggest buck ever, he still had one thing that just about every deer has, he had ground shrinkage! He was about 30 inches shy of the 200 mark that I had originally estimated. Also, the deer ended up being a perfect ten-point frame and had two matching kickers off each of his G2’s. I guess the way he was standing and looking at me made him look like he was more of a non-typical.
It is funny how everything worked out on this hunt. I was really disappointed when someone was in the first spot that I went to, but if the guy had not have been hunting there I would have missed out on one of the best bucks of my life. Even some of our best laid plans don’t work out. Keep going and don’t give up. As long as you are in the woods, Lady Luck may help you out the way she did me.