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by Stephen a.k.a. SGalan Last updated: 2016-09-06 10:13:25
A Contender Buck
The time had finally come. I was traveling to a friend’s ranch in central Texas to hunt whitetails. I had been out to the ranch previously with my wife. As part of a game management program we had been invited out to remove any mature 8 points we could find. She had already collected a fine buck that weighed close to 190 pounds. I was hoping to follow suit.
As I pulled up to the ranch house that morning the owner was already outside and ready to go. I collected my gear in the pre-dawn darkness and piled into his truck. The handgun in question was a 7-30 Waters Thompson Contender. Even in the dim light I caught the inquiring looks from the owner. I explained that I had looked forward to the hunt greatly as I had hunted with a rifle and bow for years, but this was my first foray into the world of handgunning for deer. He shrugged his shoulders, grunted and said, “C’mon. Let’s get going. Sun ‘il be up soon.”
As we climbed into the tower blind and got situated, I was almost vibrating with excitement. Shooting light couldn’t come fast enough for me. For about 30 minutes we sat there quietly waiting for the dawn. Then, it happened. A beautiful sound reverberated up the side of the ridge. Brrr-uuupp! Deep grunts were sounding the darkness. Crash!! Antlers and brush bashed and cracked. It sounded like whitetail World War III had erupted in the distance. As If I wasn’t excited enough, it was obvious that I was missing a great show in the agonizing darkness. Slowly, the sun began to rise, but to my horror, a mist still shrouded the small ravine where the brawl was ensuing. The good news is that the fight seemed to go on forever. By the time the mist had abated the audio had already told us what our eyes now witnessed. Two bucks were competing for one hot doe. However, as we strained our eyes through our binoculars we spotted a surprise. There weren’t two bucks. There were four! While the two were locked up, two more were waiting their turn! I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Very few hunters get to see what I was blessed with that morning. They were out of my self-imposed range, but it didn’t really matter. The entertainment was incredible. I watched mesmerized as one buck obviously was the black belt of the group. It was like watching a Kung-fu movie as he single-handedly dispatched all comers with gusto. The only thing missing was the bad voice overs. Each time a buck waded into the mash pit the result was the same. Eventually, after beating the stuffing out of three other contenders, he made his way off with his girl. Drenched in sweat and panting in exhaustion, he was a sight! Unfortunately, his path took him away from us over the hill and out of sight.
I slumped back into my seat, unaware I had literally been sitting on the edge of it. The owner and I just looked at each other with big smiles. He then went back to his binoculars and scanned the ridgeline. Quietly he said, “I think I know where he’s headed. Might be able to cut ‘em off.” I figured it just might be possible as a buck with a hot doe like that will not leave her. I’d seen it before. Even if he sees you coming, when every molecule in his body is screaming “RUN!” he’ll stay if she stays bedded. We decided to take an older 4 WD trail that paralleled the edge of the ravine. We hopped in the ranch truck again. Ever try to hurry slowly and quietly? As we crept along the road at 2 miles an hour we rolled around the ridge and began descending down into a ravine. He finally pointed out an area on my side of the truck. “Watch over there”, he said. “I was thinking he might be headed down toward…Look!” he said. “There he is!” Simultaneously I saw a massive neck and dark head protruding from a cedar about 50 yards away. Nervously, the buck stood up as we sized him up. I waited for the go ahead and once given, I wasted no finding the buck’s vitals in the scope. I found the lower third tight behind his shoulder and as the sight picture stabilized, I squeezed. In the recoil I caught the sight of his rear legs jump and kick and felt I had made a great shot. As I neared the spot where he was, the doe jumped up from the brush. Nearby, I found a good blood trail. I followed it into a drainage and a short distance later, found my prize. It had been a heart shot and I was pleased the end had come quickly for the old warrior. I unloaded the Thompson and laid it on the ground next to the buck. It is difficult to describe. He was a picture of masculinity. Even in death he was still intimidating. He was a great 8-point with a muscular frame. He was at least 6 ½ years old with a huge, scarred-up neck and head. Made sense…I had already witnessed his appetite for a fight. A strange sensation came over me. He was easily one of the best bucks I’d killed with any weapon, but I wasn’t thrilled. Humbled is more like I would describe it. It was a morning I’ll not soon forget.
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