Monster Buck
A young bowhunter's tale
Monster Buck - 6/11/00
Cowboy (Michigan)

It was a cold November Saturday morning and there was a sparkling coat of fresh snow on the ground. I woke up about 5:30 in the morning and decided that I was too tired to go out hunting this morning and fell back to sleep. My dad had gotten up around the crack of dawn as he always did on the weekends. He decided that he would drive around the neighborhood and see if he could se any deer before he went down to the farm. He drove all around the farm and didn't see anything not even a bird. He thought that there might be something over at our other barn, so he drove over there. He drove up to the gate and stopped to open it. He looked all the way back by the edge of the woods and saw some brown spots that he didn't remember were there before. He walked back to the truck to get the binoculars and once he looked through them he saw that there was a nice 6 point buck standing with 4does. He drove back to the house and walked up the stairs to tell me that I should go back into the swamp. He said that there should be a buck walking through in a little while.

At first I did not want to get up and go out into the cold, but when I thought about it for awhile I decided to go. I walked down stairs and threw my hunting clothes on, grabbed my bow and was out the door. I was in such a rush to get there before the deer, I forgot to grab something to sit on. The thought didn't even cross my mind that there wasn't a tree stand back there.

I had been sitting there for about an hour and a half had hadn't seen any deer yet. I was beginning to think that they had passed through before I got there. I told my self that I would stick it out for another half hour and if I still hadn't seen any deer I would head in.

All of the sudden I heard something running through the weeds and dead, fallen down trees behind me. I turned to look and just caught the tail end of it over my left shoulder, as the animal ran behind some tall brown grass. I knew that it was a deer but I figured that it was a doe because bucks aren't by themselves this time of year with the mating season and all. But even with what I thought, I still kept watching to see what it was. A good hunter never lets something pass with out looking at it. Finally it came out from behind the grass. First I saw the head and then the rest of the body. It was a buck, the biggest buck that I had ever seen in my life! The brown hairs seemed to flow and look like a solid coat. This deer had to beat least 240 lbs. It seemed to be limping and out of breath. The deer didn't even stop to look around to see if the area was safe. The only problem that there was with me shooting it, was that it was too far away for me to shoot it. It was probably 75 to 80 yards away and I could shoot a maximum of 50 yards with my bow.

I was watching it very closely trying to find a way to lure him into me so I could get a shot. I sat there for a few minutes which seemed like hours to me. My heart was beating so fast that I couldn't think right. I felt like I had just run a marathon. Finally as he was getting farther away I decided that my only hope was to use my grunt tube. This usually never worked. In fact it scared more deer away than brought them in, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Well sure enough he didn't even look he just kept right on walking away from me. I figured that I had passed up the biggest buck that I would ever see in my life. I kept watching him in case by some chance he came back. Then off in the distance I saw him fall. I thought to myself that this was my only chance that I would have to sneak up on him. I waited for about two minutes or what seemed to be two hours to make sure that he wouldn't get up. I was walking as casually as I could but my heart was beating so fast I wasn't walking very quiet. I finally got to the point where I could shoot him. He was kicking around a little bit almost like he was in pain. I brought up my bow and drew back, lined up my sites and let the arrow fly. The arrow flew straight to his chest and struck him in the lungs. It killed him almost instantly. He had no clue I was there. I was so excited that I dropped my bow and didn't even bother to look how big he was. I ran all the way back to the house and got my dad. He wasn't very excited. He figured that it was just a little buck. But when we got back there and he saw it, he about soiled his pants. He had never seen a buck that big before.

When we rolled him over to see why he was in pain before I shot him, we found that he had been shot in the gut before, and the arrow had gone right through him. Dad said that he probably would have died here and no one would have found him so it was a good thing that I was there. We dragged him back to the farm to gut him out. We hung him up by the rafters in shop. We cut him open and the blood and guts came pouring out. It was the worst thing that I had seen in my life. The guts were in pieces from being sliced by the sharp broad head that pierced the skin days before. The blood was as black as night and the smell was not comparable to any other smell that I had ever smelled before.

To this day we are eating the meat and it is the best that we have had. His old gray head and black eyes stare at you from the wall as you watch TV. But the one question that still lurks in our mind was who shot him before?

You Always Hear the Cluck, Cluck at the Wrong Time
William Bredernitz
Why You Always Hear the Cluck, Cluck at the Wrong Time
William Bredernitz (Michigan)

You have been waiting for this day for months now. You have been out around the area and you know it like the back of you hand. You have seen birds that will be at the top of the record books and you know that you will get a shot at him if you do all the right things and wait for the right moment to make a perfect shot on him. You slip into the wood without making a noise and you take the route to you position that you know the old monarch walks every day in the morning after he comes off the roost. As you sit and look into the dark you know you are within eighty yards from him and he still does not know you are there. It will not be light for and hour and a half but to get this old guy you have to be there before anyone else and do things that all the other turkey hunters will not do to get a bird likes this one. As the first signs of daylight appear over the treetops you can see the silhouette of the tom against the sky. You slowly pull out your owl hooter and you say the words in your mind that you are putting out with the call. "Who cooks for you?'' "Who cooks for you all?" As you finish a perfect series of hoots the old bird makes the only sound that you can make you shiver with excitement and that have waited to hear for months. And it is the only thing that will make you get up at 4:00A.M. on any day. You wait a little while and you watch the old bird fly form the tree and you are waiting for him to come to your set up of two hen decoys and a bubba Jake as you let out a series of yelps, clucks, and purrs. You can hear the bird walking towards the clearing where you have to decoys set up. You look and you can see the bird through the brush at about 55 yards but you have not came this far and put this much time into this one bird to take a bad shot at him and not get him so you wait. You wait for him to come into the open and come to your decoys at 35 yards. You see the old bird stop to the sound of your cluck as he very carefully looks into the clearing to survey where he is walking to. But he does not see your decoys so you cluck a little and he lets out the loudest gobble that you have ever heard in you life. And just after he does you hear a few clucks and wings flap and you watch the giant tom walk slowly out of sight and you think to your self, "how could have this happened?" And then you know it must have been a hen that clucked that got him away from you. And you know that your chance has been lost and you know that you will probably never get another chance at this once in a life time tom. This is just one of the ways you can see why you always hear the "Cluck, Cluck" at the wrong time.

When I first started to turkey hunt my dad would always tell me that when you are hunting the wild turkeys if something can go wrong when you are working a tom in then it probably will. But he also told me that when something like that happens all I should look at is the fun I had when the bird was gobbling and coming in. And I should be thankful that I had a chance to have had and experience to see such a great animal and to be so close to him. And it did not matter really if I got him because I was only doing all of this hunting for fun. But if I did get him it was just like icing on the cake and that is what makes that hunt better. But as I started to get into turkey hunting a little I found out that it was going to be a lot harder than I thought to get my tom. Because whenever we would go out we would be setting up on turkeys that were on the roost. When the bird would fly down he would go to another hen that was not in our direction and we would not be able to get a shot at the bird because he was with hens and he would not leave the ones he was with to come to us because he could not see our decoy. Or we would be sitting on the ground and we would have a bird working really well. The bird would be just out of range for a good shot, because he would be in the brush or in some thick cover. And right when he would be coming out so I could get a shot I would hear a few clucks or some purrs or cackles and the tom would leave and go to the other hen. After a while this got very discouraging. But I would keep trying. And at times this is something that would really make me mad. But on April 28, 1999 at 6:24 A.M. I put an end to my frustration and the "Cluck, Cluck" did not get the best of me this time. Because that morning when my father and I set up in the woods I had a feeling about that day and what was going to take place. And it did not take long at all for the tom to make their presence felt. Because as we sat there quietly in the woods a lone crow flew over and let out his annoying ''caw'' ''caw'' ''caw''. And as the crow ended it was too much for the tom to be quiet and he let out a gobble that sounded like it was right next tome. And right when that happened I knew that we were going to have a good morning. As I sat there I could see my dad laying down just about 30 yards away making a few clucks every now and then just to keep the tom interested and to let him know we were there. And about 15 yards in front of me were the decoys. I knew we had a great set up on where the birds were. I could hear one bird fly down because and I knew it was because it was to much for him to bear that there was a hen on the ground and there was not other tom going to her. So he flew down and I could hear him walking and gobbling but I could not see him. I heard him walk up to another tree where another tom was and the bird on the ground gobbled at the tom in the tree. Then the bird in the tree gobbled back at the tom on the ground. Then for about what seemed like and hour, but was only about 3 minutes, it was all quiet. Then I could hear a really quiet walking of a turkey and it was kind of behind me so I slowly moved and got into position to get a shot at the up coming bird. As I shouldered my gun the bird had just came into sight as he slowly walked down a small hill towards me. When he was 26 yards away he got nervous and stopped and looked at the decoys. When he did this I saw my chance and I slowly squeezed the trigger and the 870 barked and disrupted the early morning silences. The bird rolled over on the ground and got up to run. As I tried to chamber another shell I did not open the gun all the way so the 3 in mag did not get into the chamber. So as I quickly went to shoot the turkey again as he ran from my left to right the gun made a cursing click. As I said a choice word out loud I chambered another shell and touched off another in the tom direction and kill nothing but a small innocent cedar tree that had been in the way. As I let out a few more choice words I chambered another shell and knew that this would be my last shot and I quickly shot at the tom one more time. As the tom lay on the ground flapping my father stood up and asked, '' did you get him?'' and I asked '' with which shot?'' And as I laughed and told him the bird was down he got up from the ground where he had been calling from and we walked to my bird. It had taken me so long to get my bird and I was very happy that I had gotten him. And that whole morning I took my turkey around and showed it to my best friend and my grandfather and my other buddy that hunts and it was good because I was happy that I had finally gotten my bird. And as I got thinking I had finally gotten the best of the hens that had messed me up so many times. And I was happy that I had finally beaten the ''cluck'' ''cluck'' that had gotten the best of me so many times.

My Closest Call in 24 Years
A pro gator hunter's most fearful experience
My Closest Call in 24 Years - 5/11/00
Gator (Florida)

Last night was date night for Libby and myself. I try to let my helpers handle things on Weds. nights so I can concentrate on she and I at least one night of the week. My Agent was in Ga. with my truck picking up 2 gators for us to process and we were in Libby's car, a Honda Accord. Anyway, she and I are sitting in Steak and Ale having a quiet dinner when my pager goes off. The number displayed was our home and everyone knows not to bother us on Weds. night, so I ignored it for the moment until Libby said I should call and see what's up.

I call and I am told there is an alligator emergency in someone's back yard. Well all my helpers are kind of tied up so I call my son to go and check it out. When I go back to the dinner table, Libby says we should go check it out in case they need assistance. Well, I'm in my Sunday go to meeting clothes and not really wanting to get involved but I say OK.

When we get there 2 wildlife officers are on the scene. They are both good friends of mine so I ask what's up. They tell me the gator has left the yard and has gone down a steep slope to a dried up pond and went into a culvert pipe. I have absolutely no equipment with me so I grab one of their catch poles (like dog catchers use and are very dangerous to handle gators with unless they are very small) and a flashlight and we go take a look.

We get to the culvert and take a peek inside. Sure enough, there the critter is but a long way inside and somewhat disturbed at being bothered (you could tell by the growling and hissing). We're standing there talking and I'm perfectly willing to wait for help and equipment to arrive but my officer BUDDIES start razzing me about going on in and grabbing this LITTLE gator. Well, pride kinda gets in front of my good sense and I decide I can crawl in there and noose him and drag him out. The culvert is so small that I can hardly get in on my hands and knees but away I go.

So I'm holding a flashlight in one hand and a catch pole in the other and crawling in towards this now obviously perturbed gator. The closer I get the louder the growls and hisses and the bigger the gator looks. I'm not liking this situation much and Libby and the 2 officers are looking in from behind me with another flashlight. Libby is telling me to wait for help but I'm already in so what the heck.

I get close to the gator and begin to try and get this noose on him and he bluff charges me a couple of times and then sort of backs away a little. This is normal so I'm still OK with it but getting a bit more nervous as he gets angrier. Now he is facing me with his mouth wide open and truly pissed off. I lay the flashlight down pointing his way so I can work the pole with both hands. He is 6 feet in front of me and as I begin to work the noose on him, he charges me with malice in his heart. All I see is a mouth full of teeth coming at me with nowhere to go. There is not really near enough room for he and I side by side in this pipe but I do my best to flatten against the side and hope he doesn't bite me. He rushes by me brushing my legs and arm and all I can think of is don't touch him or he surely will bite me. He goes by and heads for the open end of the culvert where Libby and the officers are and they scatter away and take the light with them.

Now I'm in the dark with loud angry noises behind me towards my only escape route. As I write this I am still unsure of how in God's name I turned around inside this little pipe but I did. I'm shining my light at him but now the poleis facing the wrong direction and much too long to turn it around in here. He has stopped near the end of the culvert and is blocking my exit. The officers begin poking him with sticks the best they can trying to provoke him into charging them (they are up on top of the pipe out of harms way and can't even see me anymore) and out of the pipe.

I'm watching this animal get more and more pissed and every time I touch him with my pole he turns back my way like he's coming on back in with me. Well I decide to become the attacker and so when I get him facing me, mouth open and ready to charge me again, I jam the pole in his mouth and start pushing with everything I have. He's biting the pole and almost pulling it out of my hands but I keep pushing and finally shove him outside the pipe enough for me to get out. Now we are on better terms and after I get my breath I catch him and carry him back to the top of the hill just in time for my help to arrive. Libby is about crying and checking me out to see if I'm OK and the officers are shaking their heads in awe of me and I'm about to piss my pants.

The gator was about 7 feet long but I assure you he must have shrunk once he left the culvert because I'm sure he was at least 15 feet long when he was in there with me. Helen, I hope this was descriptive enough for you so I don't get hollered at again. This was as scary as the big gator I fell in the water with and will surely be one of my most memorable experiences. Also, I will not be going back inside a pipe anymore.

Making Memories
Turkey Hunt
Making Memories (TurkeyHunt) - 4/20/2000
HideHunter (Iowa)

Rolled out yesterday am at 3:30 when the coffee pot kicked on. Met my buddy at 4:30. Rain, lightning and 30 mph winds. Dandy!

Got to our hunting spot, plenty early and sat in the rain telling ourselves we were debating on whether to get out of the truck - already knowing the answer. Just about the time I was suggesting we get our rain gear on, the rain stopped, the wind stopped and the moon came out. I knew all this clean living would pay off eventually.

When I opened the truck door I heard a turkey gobble. "C'mon Bud, we gotta *move*. We're headed up a hill that looks like a ski jump with turkeys gobbling 360 degrees around us and it's getting *light*. We knew which point we needed to be on but if we tried, we were going to be busted.

Thirty minutes later a23.5 pounder strutted in and Pat rolled him up. We stashed his bird and set up on a ridge about 3/8 of mile away to do some blind calling. Kept getting interest from a bird on the neighbor's and sure enough he followed two hens into a field across the fence. This bird was good - obviously bigger than Pat's, but he wasn't buying what I was selling.

Just about the time I decided he wasn't coming and thinking about trying to move towards the draw where his girlfriends were taking him, a bird gobbled to my left - *close*. I sneaked a peek then spun around to face him, gave two soft clucks and he was all over me . 20.5 - 10 inch beard. (One in the hand is worth two in the bush; unless the bush a fair maiden stands, then one in the bush is worth two in the hand)

After some back-slapping and picture-taking at the truck, we went and picked 6 pounds of morels.

I'm kind of tired today. Think I'll take the day off and go fishing.

Texas Hog Hunt - Beware the Promises
Oklahoma Bowhunter
Texas Hog Hunt - Beware the Promises -3/16/00
Oklahoma Bow Hunter (Oklahoma)

I am writing this message to any one going to Texas for a hunt. Be sure to check all resources available before booking. I recently made a trip to the Keystone Ranch at $250 for the weekend hunt. We where supposed to have a cabin to stay in which turned out to be a joke. It was a rat house crawling with fire ants. We took no gear for sleeping and cooking. It was supposed be in the cabin. We went back to town and bought gear and bedding instead of going back home, which was a mistake. We where told there where more hogs here than on the King Ranch where we had been hunting, but he lied about all the game he had on the ranch. I saw 1 hog and 1 doe in 2 days of hunting. Out of 13 guys on the trip, we did manage to get 1- 200lb hog. I would not recommend this place to a fellow hunter.

Oklahoma Bow Hunter

Deer Hunt From Hell
Choose your hunting partners wisely
Deer Hunt from Hell - 1/16/2000
Bruiseasy (Iowa)

You know, sometimes when your talking about a up-coming hunting trip it's best done at3 am on some lonely dirt road and in a whisper. You never know who might be listening.

About 15 yrs ago I worked for the Union Pacific RR as a car man. I friend, Smitty, and I were in the lunch room discussing our fall deer hunting trip to Wyoming. This was like in Jan and we hadn't put in our apps yet. We were overheard by a guy named Steve who we knew from work but had never done any hunting with.

Now Steve started telling us about his big hairy chested hunting exploits when he lived in Montana. At first I thought he was talking about shooting women cuz I'd heard Montana women were all hairy chested but he said No, it was deer. Smitty and I are sitting there trying to blow the guy off because hunting is sacred and you just don't take strangers out to your "honey hole" and take a chance on things getting screwed up. But then Steve throws us a curve, says he really wants to get out west again, says he has a 30 ft camping trailor with all the frills plus a Scout that he has completely rebuilt. Says if we take him, we can use his trailor AND he will drive. The one thing we do know about Steve is that he's the wrench on a race car for some guy and is supposed to be an ace mech.

Smitty and I get to thinking about sleeping in a nice camper instead of a tent and riding out in style in this hot rod 4X4 Scout, and hell, Steve seems like a nice guy so we say ok. Of course that is after we tell him that he's a guest and if he ever goes out to the ranch we hunt without us HE DIES. Steve says ok so we put in the apps for me, Smitty, Smitty's son Chris, and Steve, and we all draw.

Now in the months leading up to the hunt Steve talks our ear off daily to the point where I'm avoiding him at work. He's really excited. His favorite topic is how great it will be to shoot his pet 30-06 again. He tells us that it's his "can't miss" rifle and anything out to 600 yds is toast. OOOKKKK.

Anyway, October finally gets here and Smitty and I and Chris drive out to Steve's to load em up and head em out. When we pull into his driveway, we see this rusted Scout sitting there, has a big dent in the roof from being rolled over and the paint is blistered like it's been on fire. It does have these hugh monster tires on it. We figure this must be one he used for parts to fix up the hot rod one. Steve is under the camper. We say whats up and he says the camper brakes aren't working right.

Now I kinda wonder, since we've been planning this trip for 8 mo why did he pick the morning we're leaving to check out his brakes. Anyway, after awhile he says they will be OK so he backs this rusted Scout up to the camper and hitches up. He sees us looking less than thrilled about this Scout and says not to worry, he has gone through this baby stem to stern and she is cherry. He just didn't have time to do the body work yet. We think ok, who cares what it looks like as long as it runs good. So we load up and head out.

We don't go a mile and we hear this "eeeeee" "eeeeee" every five seconds. Steve says no problem, that's just the tires rubbing on the tops of the fenders when we hit an expansion joint in the hiway. He just needs to pump more air in the airshocks. Then he says Oh by the way, if we are driving be careful when we turn because the tires are so big they hit inside the fenders so your turning radius is cut down.

OOOOKKKKK So we've only gone 10 mi and we're looking for a gas station to pump up the air shocks. When we exit the interstate the trailer breaks aren't working and that big trailer just about pushes that Scout through the intersection. Steve says we will just have to be careful with it. OOOKKKK Well, we pumped in air and that stopped the "EEEEEE" crap and we drove about a 100 mi to Grand Island, Ne and decided to stop for breakfast.

When we came out, the Scout wouldn't start, dead battery. Steve is really pissed, say she replaced everything on that Scout except the alternator and he knew he should have done it but thought it was OK. We jumped the Scout and drove to the next exit where there was an auto parts store. We unhitched the trailer and popped the hood on the Scout and I've never seen such a tangled mess of wiring in my life! When I looked at the fan belt it was so weather checked I couldn't believe it was still in one piece.

I started to have doubts about this "stem to stern" rebuild job. Steve heads in to town to buy a new alternator, and fan belt. When he returns we replace everything and start her up and it's still not charging. In our frustration we start shaking wires and suddenly she starts to charge and all we had was a loose connection. Problem solved. But still, Smitty and I are looking at each other in shock and horror, but it's too late to turn back now so we push on.

Now Steve told us with this fresh engine we would get about 16 mpg even pulling the trailer but it's more like 7. OH WELL, at least it's running. We finally get into Wyoming and suddenly we get steering problems and we discover we're getting a flat tire. We decide to change it and find that Steve has no lug wrench on board. We have to flag down a car and borrow a lug wrench to change the tire.

Then we head for the next town to get the tire fixed. Only now we have this constant "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" going down the highway because the spare is about 1/2the size of the monster mudders he has on the other 3 corners and the Scout is heeled over like your setting in a chair with one leg 6" shorter than the others.

The first town we come to the guy at the tire shop says he won't fix the flat cuz he's leaving to go hunting, which is something I doubt I'm going to get to do! The next town, I think it was Torrington, we got the flat fixed and got the ship righted and on the road and finally got to the ranch, which was out by Douglas.

We pulled into the ranch and talked to our friend, the owner. He told us where he wanted the trailer parked. Steve says the ground looks a little rough and he thinks he better put the Scout in 4WD. He reaches down and pulls the lever and "BAM" the Scout shudders and all the 4WD linkage falls off the transfer case and is laying on the ground under the Scout and the transfer case is locked into 4 wheel low.

OOOOOKKKKKK We get the trailer parked and we can still hunt because we can walk where we hunt from where we're camped, which is good cuz the Scout now has a top speed of about4 mph. We're frazzled but the thought of hunting in the morning gets our spirts up. It's a short walk from camp to a steep plateau that has canyons on both sides. The trick is to get up at 0 dark thirty and climp the plateau. Then as the sun comes up you glass into the canyons for deer.

Smitty and Steve are going together and I'm taking the boy. Early in the morn we head out. The boy and I see a nice buck and I put him on it. When it jumps from it's bed it blows out a few does with it. I let the boy shoot 3 times then I took a whack and dropped him. I told the boy "Nice shot" even though I knew he didn't hit it, but it was a good buck and I thought what the hell, let him claim it. He started to do just that but then later confessed that when all the deer jumped he never even got the buck in his scope and in the excitement he shot at the does. So I tagged it and it's the best buck I ever harvested. He's hanging on the wall as I type.

Anyway, when we got back to camp Smitty had a nice 3x3 but Steve had missed his chance. We figured the buck must have been out past 600 yds although Smitty said it looked more like 200 to him. The real problem was that Steve never got more than a half mile from camp. He was a heavy smoker and part way up the plateau his chest started hurting and he thought he was gonna die. For the rest of the trip he never ventured more than 100yds from camp or the vehicle.

That night in the camper we were in a good mood, laughing and joking and eating a good meal, when someone looked down and noticed the toilet had overflowed and there was a river of human waste running down the middle of the floor. That kinda took the taste right out of supper.

The next day I took Chris out again and he got a nice forky, running, right in the head. The boy was never a great shot at the range but every time I took him hunting heal ways hit everything in the head on the run. Lucky! In the mean time Steve limped the Scout into Douglas and found another Scout on a car lot. By climbing under it he could tell where the shift lever for 2 wheel high should be and with a pry bar got our machine out of 4 wheel low. Of course, we had no 4WD but at least we could get home.

Now everyone had a deer except Steve. The next day we drove around the base of the plateau. I glassed some deer up in the rim rock but Steve refused to climb so I talked him into going a 100 yds to a big rock and waiting while I tried to push the deer by him. I circled around and jumped the deer and they ran past Steve who unloaded ol Betsey on em but never cut a hair. They must have been out past 600 yds.

Anyway, after that Steve just up and said he wanted to go home. We still had two days to hunt but he said no, he was done. He's the only guy I ever took deer hunting to Wyoming that got skunked. So we said OK if that whats he wanted. I guess in a way Smitty and I were glad to be leaving early because we had no faith in the Scout getting us home anyway and figured we might need some extra travel days.

We loaded up the camper and just as we were pulling out we heard a "hissssss" and we had another tire going flat. We put on the spare, (we had bought a lug wrench) and "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEd" our way into Douglas and got it fixed. We finally got to I-80 down by Cheyenne around 10 pm and it was a straight shot home.

Then it started to rain. The hiway way black and wet. The moisture fogged the windows in the Scout and the only way to keep them clear was to crack open the window in the back so we could get air to move through. The problem with this was that the Scout sucked it's exhaust back in through the back window and gassed everyone in the cab. But it was either get gassed or drive by feel, so we kept choking and going.

Now suddenly the Scout starts to shimmy. We later learned that the tie rods went out. The road is black and wet, we're choking on fumes and no matter how tight you grip the wheel you can't keep this Scout in a straight line. We slowed down to 50 mph and still the Scout would suddenly lurch and change lanes at will! Oh, and did I mention that in order to keep the fumes to a minimum we have the side windows open, which helps except we're all getting wet inside from the rain? OH YEA! Anyway, we push on and people are honking at us cuz we're going so slow and flipping us off cuz we're making these sudden unexplainable lane changes and no one in the Scout had said anything to each other for 300 miles cuz the tension has us all in shock by now.

After what seemed like only a 100 years the rain stopped, the sun came up and we finally pulled into Steve's driveway. I think we got out and kissed the ground like bomber pilots after a mission over Berlin in WW2. The two monster mudders on the front, which were new when we left, were as slick as a baby's butt now. That front end was so screwed up it completely shelled out those tires. No one said A WORD to each other when we got to Steve's. We just grabbed our gear, jumped in our vehicles and left.

Steve really wasn't a bad guy, just flaky, as I learned the hard way. But I got a lesson out of that trip. When I talk about upcoming hunting trip now it's late at night, on a lonely road, at 3 am, in a whisper, and in Navajo.

Last Day of Duck Season
Cliff Claven
Last Day of Duck Season - 1/13/2000
Cliff Claven (Pennsylvania)

Saturday was the last day of PA duck season. I had a little trouble getting out of bed in the morning but I had a feeling it would be worth it once I got out there. I was right. I got to the spot where I wanted to set out decoys and heard ducks taking off in the dark. I threw out my dekes, finishing just as it was getting light enough to see.

Already ducks were in the air...lots of them. I hunkered down in some brush that I had turned into a makeshift blind. I didn't have to wait long. Three mallards loudly splashed into my decoys. I hopped up and they immediately took flight. I fired and dropped the first one. Then I swung on the second, fired...and both remaining ducks dropped out of the sky. I had never killed 2 birds with one shot before. I went out and collected the 3birds.

Ducks continued to fly. A pair touched down just out of range and swam away. A few others got on the edge of range and flared. An hour later, things started to get quiet. It was 8:15. I waited but nothing was moving. At 8:45, a pair came zipping by, came back, and started setting their wings. I jumped up and they flared. I picked the drake and fired. I missed. I fired again, sending feathers flying everywhere. But he was still gaining altitude. I fired once more, bringing him down.

That was my limit for mallards. I have almost never seen other types of ducks in this area, so I picked up my dekes and headed home. I hunted grouse in the afternoon but didn't see a bird.

It was a fun duck hunt, the kind that addicts you to waterfowling. I only wish the season wasn't gone already.

A Morning in Duck-Hunting Heaven
A Morning in Duck-Hunting Heaven
Chesapeake (Maryland)


After checking the weather Monday evening, I noticed a front moving in. Temps were warm, wind was steady and clouds would be rolling in. I called Mark and learned that dozens of ducks were on the ponds we hunt so we decided to head out in the morning. About6:30 AM, we were all set up, the decoys were out and we were sitting in our blind sharing stories, laughing and waiting for 6:54 (legal shooting time). A few ducks came in before shooting time, set down right in front of the blind and got our blood pumping! It began to look like a perfect morning. We decided to jump the ducks at shooting time but the cloud cover held back the light we needed. So we waited.

About 7:00 we were waiting for good light, watching the 3 or 4 ducks in front of us when we looked up to see hundreds of ducks circling over headed. It was a gorgeous sight! Clouds in the background, groups of 10 to 40 ducks fighting the wind, trying everything they could to drop down right in front of us. The light was getting better and I was busy doing some light calling (chuckles and quacks) when all at once they decided now was the time to set down! "Ok, here they come, ready....ready...ok now!" We stood and began shooting. Unloading on the birds, we each picked from groups on the left and right. Mark dropped two, I dropped two and we both reached for more shells! It was on and they kept coming! Never before had I seen so many ducks in such a short time landing right in front of me! After reloading and unloading twice, we had seven birds down! Woo Hoo! What a rush! The best part was that all the ducks were mallards and blacks which make for some damn fine eating! I went and picked 'em up and he and I sat back and looked over our birds. The barrels of our guns were hot and the smell of gunpowder filled the blind. It was incredible!

Minutes later, more came in but we had our limit on hen mallards and the two drakes were too far out, so we just sat and watched. They got restless and eventually took off. 30 minutes later, more came! They circled high overhead again in groups of 10 to 40birds but wouldn't respond to calling. We had shots at a couple drakes but were waiting for the groups to light in. Well that never happened and the groups soon left.

We talked over the events of the morning and decided to wait until 9:15 before leaving the blind. I had to go to work and couldn't spend the whole day out. During the next 45minutes, a pair of mallards came in and I took the drake. Then a short time later a single drake decided our spread looked good and as he cruised by, I dropped him with just one shot! We had nine birds of our ten bird limit and said heck, lets get some pictures and head home to start cleaning these birds.

We spent the next couple hours having a pickin party and fried up a couple breasts for lunch! Nothing like fresh duck sauteed in butter. Never had I had such a morning and it is not one I'll forget. The beauty of the day itself, with the added bonus of a full catch of ducks gave me memories I wish everyone had.

Montana Weenie Deer
Montana Weenie Deer - 1/7/2000

Here's a cool story about my 1999 MT deer hunting this year. Figured some of the goodhunters folks might enjoy hearing it. Anyhow, I waited until later in the season, due to some real warm weather and no snow over here this fall. I was hoping the rut was kicking in too. My buddy Mike and I drove to Eastern MT to hunt some public ground that is pretty much untouchable by ATVs and is bordered by some big ranches that only allow rich non-residents to hunt who think a deer is worth more than the price of a new vehicle.

Anyhow, on this first trip in mid-November, it was 80 degrees in the day. Hunting was tough. The area consists of rough timbered breaks and without snow, deer are tough to find. In 2 days of glassing and hiking our asses off we saw 5 bucks, one was a real good one but he gave us the slip. Mike spotted him from across a draw and we went after him from above. When we got to where he was standing, no sign of the deer. That was about 15 minutes into the day the first morning. I suppose it's the only reason we stuck it out for another day. It was way too hot and the bucks were not pack in wood yet.

Went back 2 weeks later with an older buddy of mine, Bob. He's a whitetail-killing machine with a longbow. If he had all his racks scored for P&Y, he'd be Myle sKeller's big daddy. Bob probably has 50 or so honest Pope racks scattered around the house and barn. Anyhow, I'd been telling him about this muley spot and he figured he come try it.

The weather was still warm, but the day we left home it started snowing. We got there late that night and the sky was clear and a fresh 3" blanket on the ground. Coyotes woke us up and we knew we had a good day in front of us with super conditions for finding deer, and by now these bucks had to be bingin.

Bob and I hunted together all morning starting about an hour before daylight. As the sun rose we were on a high vantage and I spotted deer across a canyon. As we headed their way, I crossed 2 elk tracks in the snow. When we got further up the other side of the draw I looked back and saw 2 nice 6x6 bulls leisurely feeding up the other side. Turned out that the only buck with these does was a small 4X4 (8-pointer for you eastern dorks). This little buck was draped in does, 14 in total ... must a been well hung or something. We moved on.

A little later while moving through some timber, I saw some deer just below me, within100 yards. A nice buck, licking his lips, pokin does around with his antlers. I tried to talk Bob into taking him. Bob tried to talk me into taking him. We passed. He was a thick necked bruiser with a 5X6 rack, maybe 23" wide, but tall and heavy with great splits on the back of his rack, but real weak fronts and short beams. A nice one and sorta hard to walk away from.

Anyhow, after sandwiches on a windy ridge at about noon, Bob decided I was too young to hunt with him and he wanted to split up and go at his own paces. As he left, I noticed 2other hunters way off in the distance hiking there way down the drainage I was heading into. I grabbed my pack and rifle and bailed off the ridge and got ahead of them.

As I worked my way up the other side I spotted a mesh of tracks along the edge of a clearing. I went to check it out and immediately saw some deer milling around in the trees. Doe, doe, doe, and some rack. Big, heavy, way out past his ears rack. I didn't have a shot, as this buck was in some thick brush, but he was moving around and it was only a matter of time. I knew this was one I wanted. He was a slick 4X4, easily over 30" wide from the looks of it, about 5" wider than his ears, very massive horned and rut-crazed by the size of his neck.

Seconds seem like hours as I knew there were other hunters in the area and I wanted to put my tag on this deer. But he just wouldn't give me any shooting opportunity. Then I looked over to my left and saw ANOTHER buck. I didn't even size him up because I'd never seen tines on any live deer like that before. One shot put him down. Then the big 4X4 stepped into the clear. It would have been a 70-yard shot, but he bounded away with his does, only giving me something to look forward to next fall.

I approached my downed buck, wondering just what was going to be laying there. WOW! I did some signing and hollering and one of those running back in the end-zone dances. Anyhow, after 36 photos and some meat cutting, I was making my first trip out with a pile of meat, a big set of antlers tied to my pack

Mike showed up later that night and shot an old non-typical buck with no teeth the next day. Bob went home empty handed, having passed on several big bucks. Apparently he thought a whitetail was more fitting for his MT tag this season. By noon the next day, all the snow had melted and it didn't snow again the entire season. I guess the timing was just right for me. Gonna hang this one in the living room. Already got permission. Stud buck, a 7X4 with a 25" spread and tines that would do an elk justice. He's a real beautiful animal. Still fondle these antlers every night.

Bushwhacked by a Doe
Jim Kribbs
This could only happen to Kribbs
Bushwhacked by a Doe - 12/6/99
Jim Kribbs (Florida)

On day three in Ohio, I had been still hunting and met up with my partner, his son and his brother on a ridge to discuss our plans for the remainder of the day. Someone yelled, "DEER" and we all turned to see a deer running across a small field and disappearing over a small ridge. We all ran to spread out and grab a spot overlooking the area the deer ran toward. I ran down the hill following trail we had been standing on. I noticed a deer path and followed it to the edge of the ridge where I stood looking down into the draw where we last saw the deer running toward.

I heard the leaves rustling. I could tell the deer was hauling butt, but couldn't see it. The sound got closer and closer. Why can't I see this deer?? All of a sudden a huge doe busts out over the ridge right in front of me (about 3-4 feet)!! I was standing on the deer trail I'd followed to the ridge and this was the same trail she was running. All I had time for was to put my foot up. The doe ran into me and I went rolling in the mud. She bounced off my foot, spun slightly to the left (her right) and continued hauling butt. I rolled over on one elbow and fired one round John Wayne style trying for a "Texas brain shot". (after all that, I couldn't just let her go)! I missed. The others came running laughing their asses off. They ALL said she ran right by them, but like me, not one of them ever saw her. Then they asked why I was laying in that big mud puddle!

We dropped over the ridge and saw there was a small ditch-like gully the deer had been running in. It completely hid her from view even though she passed just a few feet from 4hunters! It was a little humiliating, but funny as hell. Kinda one of those "you had to be there" type thingys. Well, it was a first for me. I've never been bowled over by a deer while hunting AND missed the shot to boot!

Sure wish I had a video.....