This is the sixth in a multi-part series of columns about memorable deer that stand out from decades of whitetail hunting.
The Welcome Home Buck
October 2013 was a busy month. I had driven to New Mexico for an elk hunt on my buddy’s ranch. It was a fantastic hunt. In addition to taking a great bull myself, I was able to help with several other hunters getting their elk as well. It was an amazing trip, lots of fun, and a lot of work.
While I was out there, a good friend sent me a trail camera photo of a big 8-point near one of my blinds. I jokingly said, “You’d better get him before I get home.”
My first day home, I did not hunt in the morning, and slept most of the day. That afternoon, I slipped into my blind for a short, easy hunt.
Shortly before dark, but with plenty of shooting light left, I noticed movement in a pine thicket in front of me. A big doe slipped through the trees. She was being trailed by a pretty fork-horned (4 point) buck. I watched the doe loop around a tree and come back around behind the little buck. She was obviously not interested in his advances.
As he was standing right in front of my blind, the 4-point looked to my left and slightly behind me, then took off back into the thicket. A few seconds later, I saw what he had been looking at. The big 8-point stepped out 12 yards in front of me.
The arrow disappeared behind his shoulder, and he ran a little half circle of perhaps 50 or 60 yards before piling up.
The entire hunt lasted about an hour. It was a really nice Welcome Home after a long trip.
The Christmas Tree Buck
Several years ago, on Wednesday of the second week of West Virginia Deer Firearms Season, it was raining an absolute downpour. There was almost no visibility. I had hunted hard the week before, and was tired. I decided that I wasn’t interested in sitting all day in the pouring rain.
I stopped by to visit my Mother at her home, on a mountain in rural Hampshire County.
Mom asked how the hunting was going, and mentioned that her neighbors had seen a nice buck and had been hunting him, without success.
As we visited, I started thinking about where that buck could go to avoid hunting pressure, as well as get some cover from the pounding rain.
There was a nice woodlot on Mom’s property, with lots of acorn-bearing oak trees, where deer often fed and bedded. Just below Mom’s property line was a long-abandoned field of Christmas trees. Those Christmas trees were planted in rows, and formed an almost impenetrable canopy. I thought that might be a likely spot for an old buck to hole up.
About an hour before dark, I started getting dressed to go outdoors. Mom asked where I was going. I said I was going to kill that buck. She laughed and said, “In this mess?” I replied that I only had an hour. I could make it that long without drowning.
In a few minutes, I was settled against a big tree in Mom’s woodlot to see if anything moved before dark.
Shortly before dark, the rain let up a bit. Deer began to filter into the woodlot from the Christmas tree field. Soon, nine does were in front of me, feeding on acorns.
Then, just at last light, he stepped out. He looked half again as big as the biggest does, and carried a
wide, tall set of antlers.
Mom later laughed and said that the shot about made her jump out of her skin. The buck dropped at the shot and never moved. I doubt if there was another hunter out anywhere in the area.
The pouring rain, and the old buck’s use of available cover makes this hunt a memorable one. I will always think of him as The Christmas Tree Buck.
Wade Shambaugh has lived in Morgan County his whole life and is a lifelong outdoorsman.