By Hal Blood
After a long wait the snow finally hit my area for Monday of Thanksgiving week. I had plenty of places that I wanted to look for a good buck track but it’s always a matter of picking the right place where a buck had traveled. I walked all day Monday without ever seeing a buck track. I also began to feel that tugging in the back of my throat like a cold was developing. By Tuesday morning my fear of it was confirmed with plugged sinuses and ears. I struggled through the next few days with no energy and in a constant sweat.
Usually a head cold only hits me for a couple days, but this one had a real grip on me and by Friday I was no better. I usually hit the woods to pick up a track, but that strategy wasn’t working very well as by the time I had found a track I wanted to follow, I was already half worn out. Friday I decided to try and find a track from the road so I’d be fresh when starting on him. I drove back into a remote area and found where three bucks had all come into the road where a hot doe had been. It was track soup with the bucks back and forth in the road and circling everywhere. It had snowed a little in the night and there was no snow in the tracks, so I knew they were no more than a couple hours old. Instead of trying to follow a track from there, I made a big circle around the area and cut a good track coming out. I knew it wasn’t the biggest buck in the woods, but with two days left for rifle season and feeling the way I did, I took it. I decided that if he had a good set of antlers that I was going to take him.
The buck wandered down and old winter road that another buck had also been. The one I was on was a little bigger and he finally split off and headed down into the green growth by a brook. I eased along on the track as the buck crossed the brook a couple times. Then I came to his bed with his track walking out of it. I knew this was going to be my chance to make it happen. I figured the track could not be more than fifteen minutes old so I crept along peeking into every skidder trail before stepping out into it. He went about a mile in fairly straight line before turning up a ridge into some old cuts. He soon began to wander back and forth in the cut so I knew he was going to be close. He worked his way up hill into an old small beech clear cut. At the top, he started feeding and that’s when I could see his horn marks in the snow. That’s when I knew that I would shoot him if I got the chance.
I had only gone about twenty steps up a little rise when I spotted a nice antler and nose sticking out from behind a birch stump at fifty yards. I leaned out to the left far enough to see his neck right behind his ear. There were a few snow covered raspberry bushes in the way but I figured I could shoot through them. I put the bead close to the stump and right behind the ear and touched off my old Remington 7600 carbine. At the shot, the buck never moved. Instantly I suspected that I had shot into the stump. Another round was already racked in and I leaned out a little more until I could see the base of his neck and sent another 180gr core-Lokt on its way. This time the buck disappeared. I thought he must have dropped but was on a dead run down through the cut to make sure. As I ran past the stump, I could see the buck was down making his last kick.
I got down on my knee and thanked the good Lord for bringing me such a beautiful buck. He was wide, with 8 points and a very symmetrical rack. It was noontime, so I sat down and ate my 10 o’clock sandwich that I couldn’t take the time to eat while tracking. It had been a long struggle that week but by sticking with it I managed to make it happen. The good news was it was only about a 1/3 mile drag to the road and I had all afternoon to do it. JKust like last year’s buck, I knew he had lost weight and would be lucky to weigh 200 pounds. At Bishop’s store, the tagging station in Jackman I confirmed it when he tipped the scales at 196 pounds. Another memory was made, that I will never forget!