A blog by Bob Rich. Squirrel Hunting, Henry Rifles, Reloading, Range Shooting and More!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

'The Big One' by Jim D.

OK, it's not a rimfire story, but Jim served on the Naval Station Adak, AK in the Bering Sea with me. He's the guy who took over my job when I served my year and left the island. Jim and I have never met, but we discovered each other through the Internet and communicate via email. It's my pleasure to post Jim's story on this blog. Thanks Jim!

It was the second day of Ohio's gun season. Beautiful day to sit in the ladder stand with nothing to watch but the squirrels in that oak about 50 yrds from me. The day started nice and quiet, no wind, just the right amount of 'chilly' in the air. Blue skies, man, it was perfect. My wonderful wife had just bought me a little 20 ga, Remington 870 the weekend before. Plan was to retire the Model 12 as the good ol' gun had seen me thru many'a hunts and kills.

So with my brand new gun (that I hadn't even shot yet, stupid me), I was all snuggled and comfy and really enjoying the day. The property I was fortunate enough to hunt on belongs to my friend I grew up wandering the woods and creeks with, Bob Holt. His wife, Cheryl, was in her stand about 80 yrds east of me. Open field in front of me, surrounded by maples, we were right in a deer travel corridor. One of those spots they just cross from one section to another. Knew it was a good spot. All the stands had numbers, this one was called 2 North. Cheryl was in Half! (Such names)

You know how you just kinda go into a trance when you sit like that? You become part of the woods and every sound, sight, and smell, you take in and more or less sense what is going on around you. This morning, tho, I was just sitting there, not doing my part of 'becoming', when BAM, BAM, BAM!!! Cheryl shoots three times, real fast. Scared the heck outta me. Heard the crunch, crunch, crunch of a deer running thru the woods, so I knew she didn't hurt it too bad. Thought I better get ready, just in case. Here comes this HUGE buck running right at me. He was running from Cheryl and had no idea I was even there. All I saw was this rack rocking up and down as he came loping towards me. Not running real fast but was covering territory. Stood up, got ready, and fired once, twice, three times. Dang deer didn't even fall down. He was RIGHT THERE, too!! Saw him run about 50 yrds and stop and just look around, like what the heck was that??!! Could see his rack very clear. Then he was gone.

In Ohio, you can only put three shells in your gun at one time. I never even thought or had time to reload. When he ran away, I just started laughing cause I just missed the biggest buck I had ever seen. What a moron, I was. You can bet the next day I was at the shooting range, to see where this gun was shooting. After two shots, I could tell it was shooting way low. Move the sight, fire, came up. Move it again, came up better. At about 60 yrds, I started putting 'em right in the bull. Was happy with that. Anything within that range, was confident I could hit it. "All I saw was this rack rocking up and down as he came loping towards me. Not running real fast but was covering territory. Stood up, got ready, and fired once, twice, three times. Dang deer didn't even fall down. He was RIGHT THERE, too!! Saw him run about 50 yrds and stop and just look around, like what the heck was that??!!" Saturday came, the next day to hunt. The usual gang was there with the inclusion of a new guy at the time, Steven. He was brand new to hunting, 18 yrs old, and seemed like a good person. Liked him right off. But with our gang, you are always on 'probation'. Safety is the name of the game. We put him where he probably couldn't hit any of us anyway! We were strung out along lines about a mile deep. Bob's property goes back almost a mile so there was plenty of room between us. I was back in 2 North and it was about 8 am. Heard a shot west of me. Then heard Steven shoot three times. Knew something was coming. This time I was paying attention! Got the gun up, safety off, held it at 'ready arms', and waited. Sure enough, down along the tree line, I see a deer. Big one. Same one from the last Tuesday, I couldn't believe it. He got to the edge of the field that I could see and wasn't running, but just getting the heck outta the way of them dang guns. (He didn't know they were guns, just some noise going on) Put the gun up, was surprisingly calm, and waited for the shot. He got to a small opening, had the sights on him and fired. Saw him hunch and knew I connected. He kinda angled into the woods towards me and I lost sight of him behind some big oaks. Then I saw the wobble of his butt, knowing he was going down. Heard him crash and didn't even put another shell into the chamber. He was down.

I just sat there, considering what I had just done. On the one hand, I knew I had just killed the biggest buck of my life. On the other hand, I had just killed the biggest buck I had ever seen running free in the woods. I know it was what I was there to do but...........

Immediately called my wife. Told her I just got a MONSTER 8 pt. She congratulated me. Then I called Bob. Told him he should come over and check out this buck. Oh, yeah, and bring the 4 wheeler! Didn't tell him how big it was. Then I got down out of my tree stand and walked over to where he was. All I could see was half a rack. OH NO, he broke his rack off falling. Nah, he had it stuck in the mud, was all. I carefully lifted his head and held his rack in my hands, knowing I was the first human to touch this deer. What an honor.

I stood and just looked at this deer. What a beaut. Wall hanger, for sure. Steven came up after a bit. He was closest to me and wanted to see this deer. Then Bob came over. Now, Bob has killed probably about 50 deer in his time, including a 16 pt that made the cover of North American Whitetail so he knows a good one when he sees it. About all he could say was "Oh my"! Was glad he had the 4 wheeler cause after getting this one to the barn and putting him on the scale, he still weighed 185 lbs, dressed. Actually, I didn't care if I shot another deer that season or not. Not after this one.

The buck scored 136 and 3/8. Sad to say, in Ohio, to get into the Big Buck Club, you have to have at least a 140 or better, typical, to get in. This deer was mounted by Hovance's Taxidermy in Warren, Ohio and know hangs on the wall in a place of honor. We ask the weiner dog 'Where's the deer?" and she looks up at him every time. Then looks at us, like dang deer ain't moved in 3 yrs, what the heck you asking me for all the time??? (She's a smart little dog!) Her name is Twinkie, too, btw.

So, that's the story of how I got the 'big one'. Hope you liked it. (I get long in the tooth, I know, but was a long story. They always are!)

Might even send some more stories, I think!!


6/18/07 To me, hunting is not something that you do, it's more like something that you are. You can learn it, for sure, but there are those of us that seem to be born to it. We don't seem to get to hunt nearly as much as we wish but enough to satisfy the inner 'beast', if you will! This little story happened long ago, when I was probably 14 or so. My Dad taught me how to fish and hunt. Was more like he took me along and I learned from watching what he was doing, more or less. And I will always thank his spirit for that.

We were rabbit hunting this little patch*, no bigger than about 100 yds square. Back in the day, we hunted rabbits and squirrel all the time. Deer weren't nearly as plentiful as they are today, and turkey were unheard of. Lots of cover for bunnies tho and we had access to most of the land around here. As usual, we were kicking the brush, looking for tracks and sign, knowing there were rabbits in here. I jumped one pretty quick and shot. Saw him running from around a tree and thought I missed so I shot again. Dad asked if I got him and said yep, sure did. He said good, I got this one too. Never heard him shoot tho. I thought maybe it was the same time. That happens at times. I told him I didn't hear him shoot and he said he didn't, I got both of them! These are the stories that we can tell our children. And why it's so important to protect our privilege of hunting, fishing, and just being outdoors. You can't do this sitting in front of a TV or computer.

*Was right up the road here. Corner of Barclay-Messerly and Eagle Creek. Don't know who owned the land that long ago, we used to hunt lots of land and no one messed with us. Dad might have known, not sure. There are houses built there now tho, sad to say, as most places we used to hunt. This land is located in Leavittsburg, Ohio, of course. We used to literally walk across the road, loose the dog and start the hunt.

6/25/07 Great fun calling, have called fox for years now. Not that many coyotes here yet but getting more and more every day. Have seen lots of tracks but have only eyeballed one during a deer hunt and not sure that was one. Was long way away. Sure looked like one though.

Personally, I carried one of them heavy battery operated calls. Put it in a 5 gal plastic pail. Is a Burnham Brothers that we bought about 20 yrs ago, I guess. A cassette player, has called many fox, coon, deer, rabbits, you name it. THEN I got smart and bought a little Dennis Kirk predator call that fit in my pocket. Lots lighter to carry. Dang if I didn't wash the thing in my cammies once and never did get all the pieces back. Got a Lohman Circe call now that does real well. Can make all kinds of scary sounds on it. Anything from a pup distress to a squealing rabbit, which works the best around here. Had a coon pup tape that I used in the caller and one of the first nights out with it, had two come right in. They looked like little bears coming for a fight in the light of our lenses. One veered off to the right towards my buddy. I had one come straight in and had the speaker placed in front of me about 25 ft or so. The plan was for the coon to stop at the speaker and see what was hurting the baby. Did that work?? Heck no! Dang thing kept on coming right toward me, probably figured I was the one that was doing the hurting!! Had to stop him from about 3 ft with my 12 ga. I was getting nervous bout then. Problem is, 6 shot at that range doesn't do a hide much good. More like a massive hole in the poor things body.

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