Hunter’s Journal: Elaine Gowan’s Baker County Buck
By Elaine Gowan
It was a day when the morning started off with a heavy fog mist, and my husband and I were invited to go deer hunting that afternoon on private land by a friend of ours. I contemplated whether I really wanted to take the chance of getting wet and cold. I almost backed out due to the fact that I do not take cold very well.
In past years, my luck at harvesting a good buck has not worked out for me. I do not have the natural born luck that my husband has. I was looking at having surgery on my right arm in a few days, so I decided that maybe it was going to be my day to get lucky.
I climbed a tree watching some planted pines that was joined by a hardwood bottom in anticipation of seeing a good buck come out of the bedding area. Yes, I was in a fine mist and was cold. I was on the east side of the planted pines, and my husband was on the south side of the same bedding area about 500 yards away.
Shortly after climbing up the tree, he texted me about seeing small bucks and does, and I had not seen anything. It was like, “Where’s the deer?” Then, I looked over my left shoulder and a small 6-point buck was about 15 yards away but moved on off. It was certainly a start for me.
A little while later my husband texted me that he saw a 9-point chasing a doe, but I did not see anything for a while.
Eventually a 4-point came in sight and worked his way through. I was still in anticipation of getting a chance at what we call a shooter.
A few minutes later, I saw a doe come out of the planted pines to my right. She hopped through some broomsedge, and she seemed a little nervous and excited. Being only a right-hand shooter, I eased off the seat of the front-facing climbing stand on my knees and twisted around to get ready for hopefully a good buck following the doe. My knees on the bars of the metal base of the stand were giving me a painful grinding feeling, but I knew this was the only way I had a chance.
A moment later, I saw a flash of antlers, so I got my gun in position and was watching the buck in my scope. Immediately, I saw what looked to be a buck with a good set of headgear in the broomsedge. The doe headed in a direction away from me, and I knew the buck would soon follow. I would see glimpses of the buck in and out of the broomsedge trailing the doe, and frustration was trying to set in.
Finally, the buck was visible in a decent open spot, and I only had a shot at the rear as it was quartering away. I was talking to him, “Please just turn broadside and give me a shot.”
Just a moment later, the buck turned broadside, and I knew it was my only chance at this deer. I placed my shot, and he fell in his tracks like a rug had been snatched out from under his feet.
After watching a minute or two, I saw no movement where he fell in the broomsedge, and the excitement began to build.
After a few minutes, I climbed down the tree with my heart racing and started walking toward where the buck fell. I was praying, “Lord, please don’t let the ground shrink get me.”
As I approached the buck, I discovered that he was the best buck I had ever shot and better than most I had ever seen. I just jumped up and down saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I finally did it!”
No ground shrink on this one, baby.
When my husband came to pick me up, it was time to start dragging. My husband had a sciatic nerve condition in his left leg, and my arm was pre-surgery. Now we are talking about a 200-lb. class deer. We grabbed the antlers, and Lord he felt more like 400 pounds. The truck was more than 100 yards away, and we would drag a few yards and have to take a break. We were a sight to behold.
After almost halfway to the truck, we were running out of gas as the saying in south Georgia goes. I was thinking about a saying my husband and I have: OFDS, which stands for “Old Folks Doing Stuff.” I told my husband the ground seemed to be firm in the broomsedge at the edge of the boggy field, so he decided to walk back toward the truck to see if he could drive in there without hitting any stumps. He told our friend to bring the truck on, and we would get the big deer loaded and not be in there all night.
Now it was still a sight getting this big deer in the back of a 4-wheel drive truck, but the three of us got it done. After all was said and done, it did not matter. This buck made my day and many days to come. Now I am looking forward to the trophy of a lifetime I hope to get in the future.