Dad Tells Story Of Anna’s Buck
Hunter's Journal: GON readers share their favorite hunt stories.
By Phillip Seay
We got in our stand about 4 p.m. overlooking a small food plot adjacent to a good travel corridor near heavy cover. The wind was right in our face, which was perfect. Anna had killed an 8-point buck earlier in the season, and we were hoping to finish her season with something bigger.
It was around 5:40 p.m. when we started seeing some activity as a small spike and 7-point buck entered the food plot. The 7-pointer was a pretty deer but probably only 1 1/2 years old, and Anna had already taken something better this season. As they exited the food plot, I noticed that Anna was shaking all over. She normally only does this after she shoots. Just then, we noticed another buck entering the food plot from the same direction as the first two. This was an 8-point buck. He was a beautiful buck but also young.
Within five minutes those three bucks passed through the food plot and began feeding in a smaller section of the food plot. Although they were still very close to us, we could only see glimpses of the bucks through the privet and briars as they continued to feed. To our great surprise, the 7- and 8-pointer began to fight. It wasn’t a serious fight like it might have been during the rut, but it was pretty heavy sparring, and they engaged each other at least three different times. Anna had never witnessed this behavior before in person.
Fifteen minutes had passed since the first three bucks appeared. They were still feeding and sporadically sparring when another buck entered the food plot from a different direction than the other three. Without looking through her binoculars or scope, Anna immediately announced that he was a shooter. I raised my binoculars and quickly agreed.
“Right in the shoulder,” I reminded.
Unlike the first three bucks, this deer did not feed in the food plot at all. He walked right through it, alert and with a mission as he headed directly toward the three other deer. Although I did not think of it at the time, I think he may have been responding to the sound of the 7- and 8-pointer fighting. He was about to exit the food plot when I bleated at him. He stopped, and Anna fired. He kicked his back legs high in the air and took off, as did the others. Anna later told me that she stopped shaking as soon as she looked through the scope. I was sure that she had hit him, but I was a little uneasy because I couldn’t detect a broken shoulder or any other telltale signs of a lethal shot as he ran.
Anna and her sister had previously taken 12 deer (10 bucks) with this rifle. Almost half dropped where they stood, and most of the rest fell within sight. A couple of others crashed just as they went out of sight. None of those 12 deer had an exit wound, and none appeared to have left much of a blood trail. It had been in the back of my mind that we might need a good blood trail some day, and the smaller .243 caliber might not provide it.
Before it got dark, Anna and I walked into the woods near where the deer had disappeared. As the woods opened up, I hoped that we might see the buck lying nearby or possibly spot the white belly or tail which would give away his location, but we did not. This was disconcerting as none of their other deer had ever run far. We backed out and waited for my friend Bill and his tracking dog Bo.
Bill arrived, and he first let Bo smell us to help eliminate any contamination issue we may have caused. We then took Bo to the approximate location of the deer at the time he was shot. Bo started playing out his 30-foot tracking lead as he checked things out. There was some concern, as we had four deer bolt from the same general area, but that concern was short-lived. Bo appeared to work tightly in the last known area, trailed the deer backward toward the direction from which he had come, got the direction sorted out and came back to the starting point, and proceeded to enter the tunnel in the briars where the buck had entered the woods after the shot. You could see the change in his demeanor when he figured it out and took off.
As Bo and Bill disappeared, I stopped to give Anna a flashlight. Immediately Bill called out that Bo was on the track, and then he yelled, “Mark that blood!”
Mark it? I couldn’t even see them through the briars.
As we followed and emerged from the briars, we began looking for the blood he had spotted. Anna soon found it, a big splash of bright red blood a little bigger than my hand. I hadn’t seen blood like that from the .243 before, so I was obviously encouraged. We marked the spot with some surveyors tape and then realized that Bill and Bo were far ahead of us. We could see Bill’s headlamp moving fast as Bo dragged him rapidly through and over all types of obstacles. I think we heard Bill announce that he saw blood at least one more time as Bo dragged him toward his goal.
During the track, Bo crossed a creek three times, and Bill saw blood at one of those crossings. It wasn’t long before we heard Bill yelling and praising Bo for a job well done. Anna’s shot placement was great for the angle she had, which was not as severe as it appeared on video. I’m sure the buck went down very quickly, but we all know how fast they can cover ground. I can’t describe the relief that I felt when I realized that Bo, my new favorite dog on the planet, had found Anna’s deer. Bill later checked Bo’s GPS collar, which indicated that the distance of the track (in a straight line) was 265 yards. Since the actual path the deer took was far from a straight line, the real distance of the track was estimated to be over 320 yards. We both agreed that Bo covered this distance in less than five minutes.
The 2017-2018 season was a season to remember. I got to watch my daughters display a lot of patience and make four really well-placed shots. This was the first season in which they harvested four bucks between them, each taking an 8-pointer and 10-pointer.
If you’re not hunting with your kids, you are missing out on some great memories.
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