Young Hunter’s Paulding Forest WMA Buck

Hunter's Journal: Readers Share Their Favorite Hunt Stories

Reader Contributed | November 7, 2018

By Nick Malone

It was a bitter day on Nov. 12, 2017 with a high of 48 degrees and a low of 46 degrees. I was just waking up at 5:30 a.m. when I heard that it was a light-rainy day. My uncle and I were still set to go hunting on Paulding Forest WMA that morning. The day before the hunt, we received permission to cross over private property to get to our isolated spot quicker.

We started heading up the small, muddy trail that would lead where we would start walking into the thick timber. As we were walking the trail, I thought, “Man have we walked a long distance,” but really it was just about a mile walk. With the amount of rain during the night and the rain that was drenching us on the walk in, it was quite difficult to find our florescent orange marking tape.

Finally, we found our trail and started descending it. I remember having to cross a super muddy river, hoping I wouldn’t drench my socks that I would be in for the next six hours. Little did I know that it would not be a very long six hours. Luckily, I made it over the creek without dropping my rifle. I really couldn’t remember what tree we sat on the evening before, but I soon found the right tree since I left my deer grunt call at the base of the tree the evening before.

It was just starting to break daylight when I got comfortable, especially sitting on the hard ground. I was used to sitting high in a tree in a climbing stand, but that was not the case this hunting trip. I immediately started hearing the birds chirp and the squirrels scratching the dense, dead, leaves fallen on the ground.

I was so excited to be in my spot ready for a deer to walk by that I forgot it was raining and I was soaking wet. Every couple minutes, I could feel a huge drop of water come down to hit my head, but most of the rain was covered by the tree above us. I was already getting a little tired, but I knew I could sit through it.

The time was around 7:15 a.m., and I was really wanting to grunt, but my uncle told me to lay off for a bit. I could feel it start raining harder as the drops were getting more consistent. The rain was really discouraging me.

I whispered to my uncle, “What deer is going to be walking around in this mess?”

“Just wait. We don’t know what can happen,” he said.

After he said that, I looked ahead to see very thick brush and native forage. I knew from watching my favorite hunting shows that deer need native forage and grasses. At this point I was looking for things to do. I thought I would just observe my surroundings, seeing that there was a hill behind us and a creek bottom ahead of us. I was really getting fatigued at this point, especially since I didn’t grab anything to eat or drink when we left the house. For a while I was just closing my eyes, trying not to fall asleep but also trying to rest. I was really debating on taking the risk of falling asleep or just staying awake through it. I then checked my iPhone to see what time it was, and it was only 7:30 a.m. What the heck? It has only been 15 minutes! At that point I thought I would just close my eyes and hope I wake up soon.

It was around 7:45 a.m., and I was half asleep when my uncle pounded my chest. Stupidly, I jacked my head up asking, “What was that for?”

He then whispered in a very low tone, “Get ready. I hear something trotting down the trail.”

I quickly pulled up my .308 rifle and saw a deer running quickly by us at just 30 yards away with its tail up.

“Mehh, Mehh,” my uncle said trying to stop the deer. At that point I never even saw the rack, but I trusted my uncle to not let me shoot a non-worthy deer. I closed my left eye, exhaled and then let out my breath as I slowly squeezed the trigger. The gun fired, and I didn’t even pay attention to the recoil. I saw the deer mule kick and run into the thick brush ahead of us. I didn’t know what to think.

“Did I hit him?” I asked.

“Uh, I don’t know, Nick.”

“Well, we need to find out!”

At that point, I was so excited for what was happening. We got our gear up and started walking when I noticed a huge pool of blood where I took the shot at the deer. I was then relieved but knew I had a task at hand. The brush was so thick I couldn’t believe the deer ran through it. I then saw more blood on a tree. My uncle went around a bend to look and saw a white belly and called me over. I ran over to grab the antlers of my trophy. I quickly counted the points and found out it was a wide 8-pointer. I was so thrilled. We took tons of pictures, and then I remembered the task of dragging it all the way back to the nearest road. But then I heard something in the distance.


I looked up to see a person in camouflage walking my way.

“Hey. What’s up?” I said.

“Wow, did you just kill this? I have seen this deer on trail camera the whole summer.”

I then felt bad about it but could hear in his voice that he was proud of me.

“Yep, I just killed it,” I said.

“Man, that gunfire scared me to death. You never see anybody this far in the woods.”

We started chatting, and the guy broke out some great news.

“Hey, I will give you a hand dragging it out of here.”

Me and my uncle were thrilled that we had an extra set of hands to help drag that monster of a buck out of there. We then got to dragging, and it was way heavier than the deer I killed prior to this one a couple years ago.

We made it to the end of the trail at the road. My uncle then said he was going to teach me how to field-dress a deer. I was nervous but also curious. He made a clean cut through the bottom of the deer and started going at it like a professional. I couldn’t keep up, so I decided just to hold the skin open for him. After he had field-dressed the deer, we brought it back to the house, and my aunt was amazed when she came through the door on that early, rainy morning. I started making phone calls telling people the news.

Finally, we took the deer to get processed and have the meat made a week later. This was the biggest deer I had ever killed.

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