November 13, 2003
by Chris Feeney
It is a well-known fact that I have had my struggles deer hunting. Okay so I have problems just about every outing I make in my sporting endeavors. Still it amazed me how little confidence my years of bumbling and stumbling had instilled in my family, co-workers and friends.
It has gotten so bad that on Sunday morning when I finally bagged the first buck of my career no one believed me. I called home to discuss my success and my wife immediately assumed I had either gotten a flat tire or was hurt. Why else would I be calling? In the eight or nine years I have been pursuing a trophy buck, I never once had a success story, so I guess I can’t blame her. I didn’t want to come off like I was boasting so I tried to guide her into asking me if I had done any good. She wouldn’t take the hint, instead trying on a couple of occasions to get me off the phone as “she had lunch on the stove” and “had to change the baby’s diaper.”
Then when I got to work on Monday, Wanda wanted to know if I was going to be there all day or if I would be taking off to go deer hunting. I told her I was done. She asked if I was giving up? Was I too busy to go anymore? Never did it cross her mind that maybe I had actually got my buck.
When I stopped at the local check station they just assumed I was there to take a picture of the big bucks being checked in by other hunters. The taxidermist thought I was stopping by to try to sell him some advertising and the meat locker assumed I was just checking on how the Share the Harvest program was going.
The lone believer was my father-in-law David. I called to tell him that I had spotted a trio of nice deer chasing does and that he needed to hurry home from church and get in the stand. He asked why I wasn’t taking care of one of the big guys myself and I had to admit that I had shot at one. I told him how the buck had come up the draw chasing two does before stopping no more than 100 yards from me before entering the bean field. He presented a perfect shot, standing broadside to me when my shaking hand finally pulled the trigger. I never saw the deer after the big bang. Neither did I hear any noise of him running off or crashing down. I witnessed a nice buck run out the other end of the draw behind a doe and saw another little fork-horned deer chasing two deer directly from the spot where I had fired just moments before.
I guess I shouldn’t complain about a lack of confidence because even I didn’t think I had got the deer. Instead I just stood my ground and watched the other deer continuing the chases in all different directions around me. I guess I was mostly trying to work up the courage to go over and see that I had really missed.
But when I called David to give him the heads up he quickly worked it out of me that I had squeezed off a round at a big deer. I told him the story and he immediately informed me that deer was dead. He reminded me how we had sighted the rifles in together and how I had put my rounds in a tight group at 200-yards. I was told to sit tight and he would join me shortly to help me find my deer.
That boost of confidence was all I needed to go check it out. To my great surprise there sat the buck, right where I had shot him. The 10-pointer hadn’t moved. I had my first buck.
I once joked in a column that my father-in-law was a little competitive when it came to the big deer on his farm. But this man set me up in the perfect spot, in a situation he knew likely meant that he would spend the first few days not seeing much just to allow me the opportunity to harvest my first trophy. Sure it helped that this “little guy” wasn’t really the one he was after, but I owe it all to him.