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Last minute buck:
2011. What a hunting year that was for me!!! I had always wanted to make my own recurve bow and take a deer with it, so I decided to finally make it happen. I designed the bow and made it from scratch including the string, arrows, and broadheads.
I also had in mind to take a deer with cast bullets which I had never done before, in spite of the fact that I had been casting and shooting them for nearly two decades at that point.
The first deer of the season fell to the bow, which was everything I always dreamed it would be. The second deer was taken with the muzzle loader and I discovered in one shot just how effective cast bullets are at taking deer down in their tracks (Lee 452RN tumble lube pistol bullet, 20% tin, 80%lead in a TC sabot, 100 grains of FFG).
The third deer was the one that sticks in my memory so well.
It was the last hour of the last day, of the last season in Arkansas where you could harvest a deer with a centerfire rifle. It was also my birthday. I was toting my trusty Remington 700 in 300 Winmag and had just about written the season off as a success except for not having taken a deer with a rifle. I had been hunting hard in lots of new places but had totally struck out. Other than the deer I had taken with bow and muzzle loader, I had not seen a deer that year at all.
It was cold that day, and I had been standing all afternoon slipping from place to place and waiting for deer to show up, but no luck was had, and eventually I found myself on a power line easement at the top of a hill. It was overcast, and getting colder by the minute. My feet were sore from standing, my arms from holding my rifle, and my back from a combination of the two. It was in my mind that I just had to hold on for 15 more minutes and this hunting season would be effectively over for me. I remember I was watching the power lines overhead and could see the water droplets that had melted during the day, were starting to freeze over again. The weather is always strange in Arkansas in December. During the day, you’ll be peeling off layers when it warms up to 50-60 degrees, and then at night it dips below freezing. I was reminiscing about other late December days I remember being like this one, when my eye caught movement further down the easement. It was getting dark and I was searching for what I had seen, but judging by the quickened pace of my heart, I knew it must have been a deer. Suddenly I realized the deer was in plain sight smack dab in the middle of the easement about 300 yards away down in the valley sprawling in front of me. The terrain surrounding me, and the clock ticking away the last seconds of legal hunting time, coupled with the quickly fading light meant that I could not take a rest nor find a place to do so. I had to make the shot immediately, and I had to do it from the standing position.
I pulled in a breath and steadied my nerves. I shuffled my feet to find stable ground, wrapped the sling around my arm and tucked in tight. I let out some air and settled the crosshairs on the deer’s backbone. I knew that my bullet would drop 6″ at this range, shooting flat, but slightly less shooting downhill like this, so I split the difference. My finger tightened on the trigger and suddenly everything turned orange as the recoil jerked me back (78 grains of IMR 7828SSC sure makes a fireball from a 24″ barrel). I had figured the Sierra 165 Gameking would work really well in this situation and the results proved my theory to be spot on. I came back down on target from the recoil and saw the deer spin around three times, then collapse in his tracks.
A few minutes later, my brother in law arrived with the four wheeler and helped me recover the buck. He said looks like you got a couple birthday presents brother”. “Hows that?” I asked him. “well” he said “for one thing, you just got a deer, but for another, you got a deer with each method this year. If you send in your tags, you get the triple trophy!” (the “triple trophy” is a special program that is done in Arkansas, where if you manage to harvest deer with bow, muzzle loader, and modern rifle, you get a signed letter from the commissioner and a hat pin etc etc.)
That was one of my greatest hunting years, and the triple trophy pin remains affixed to the front of my hat (its just out of view in the picture at the top of the forum) and one shot brought it all together.
Some folks wonder why I fuss over my loads so much, but the truth is, you never know which one of them is going to be the shot you’ll remember for the rest of your life.