“My SportsCenter highlight goes like this…” by GunMart Blog

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One late afternoon this November, I was sitting just behind a fence-line next to a clearing that whitetail deer are known to frequent. As last light began to quickly approach, a small buck walked out of the treeline and began to make his way out into the open. It wasn’t a trophy class deer by any means. He didn’t have a large rack nor was he going to set any records for body mass. He was however perfect for the freezer. With the day’s light almost gone, I knew that this was going to be the only deer that I was going to see that day, so I made the decision that I was going to take him.

He began to make his way out into the small field and I began the process of reaching for my rifle and positioning myself to take the shot. I had to move slowly and methodically because the area of the treeline where he walked out from left me wide open and exposed. It was an usual path for the deer that frequent this field to take, and to be honest, I was a bit surprised when I first saw him appear from where he did. As it turned out, it was the one and only place that he could have shown up that left me with no concealment from the natural blind that the brush and the treeline gave me.

The young buck continued to slowly make his way out into the field and he finally settled in at about 115 yards away and began to feed. I slowly placed my bolt gun onto my rest and pointed the cross-hairs right at the deer’s vitals. I calmed my breathing, thumbed the safety, and touched off the shot. My 7-mag dropped the deer right where he stood. He kicked three times and then gave it up. I sat back, breathed a sigh of relief, and the hunt was over. Or so I thought.

No sooner had I come to the conclusion that the buck was down-and-out did he bounce back up to his feet and gimped his way back into the woods. He staggered hard but moved quickly. Finally making his way up between the two largest pine trees in the area and then out of sight. I never got a chance to take a second shot at him. The entire time that he was hightailing it out of there I thought he surely would drop at any minute… but he never did.

I met back up with my buddy that I was out there hunting with and we set off to the two large pines to see if we had a blood trail. Right at the treeline we immediately found a sizable pool of blood and a trail that we could follow. We were on him, and I was sure that it was now just a matter of time.

We were able to follow the blood-trail for about a hundred feet before it abruptly went to nothing. Now I was worried. Not only had we lost the blood, but we were also into some of the thickest brush that I could have ever imagined. There was no sign whatsoever and we had no clue where that buck was. The growth was so thick, in fact, that he could have been laying right there beside us and we never would have known. We pushed through the brush and stomped around that location as systematically as we could for quite a while but came up with nothing. No blood, no sign of direction, and no deer. We lost him.

So, I tell you this story not to show off some picture of me knelt down beside a Boone and Crockett buck or to tell you about some ridiculous shot that I made on the “buck of a lifetime” at 1,000 yards with a 25 mph crosswind during the middle of a snow storm – neither of which any of you should believe… But rather I tell this story to remind all of you that each and every deer that you get to throw into the back of the truck is special. For me, this was the first deer that I had ever lost. It ended up proving to be an extremely disappointing turn of events and something that I won’t soon forget.

Deer hunting for me personally has always been a humbling experience. I don’t really know what it is about whitetails, but they have always been a challenging task for me to say the least. Because of that I have always felt blessed to get to harvest a deer. I have always been grateful for the satisfaction that I get from the hunt as well as for the food that it puts on the table. However, I never really knew the true depths of these things until I lost that deer. Like I said, it wasn’t a trophy class deer by any means. It honestly wasn’t anything more than a way to fill out my freezer with a little more venison… but losing that deer really made it all hit home to me about how lucky we as hunters really are and how special every deer that we get the privilege to harvest really is.

When it comes to hunting whitetail, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way we intended it to, and the only thing we take home with us is regret and frustration. Sometimes we do everything completely wrong but still somehow manage to be blessed with a successful hunt. Its something that has perplexed me beyond belief. For many hunters, it just seems like the deer jump into the back of the truck all by themselves. For me, whitetail hunting has been one of the most formidable pastimes that I have ever pursued.

So, no matter how long you have been hunting, and whichever side of the pendulum you happen to occupy, I just want to ask that you never, ever take for granted the opportunities that you have to harvest an animal. Never be lackadaisical about the deer that you harvest. Always remember that every deer is a blessing, and every hunt (good or bad) is an experience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the animal. And you owe it to all hunters past, present, and future.

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