Buck Fever by Pete Gamet
I woke up an hour before dawn with anticipation of the morning’s hunt. I got dressed, smoked a cigarette and had my morning coffee. I then checked my hunting gear and loaded it in the truck. After I double-checked everything, I started the truck and headed for my hunting spot.
While driving I couldn’t stop thinking about the buck I seen the night before. Before long I was at my hunting location. I parked the truck on the side of the road and unloaded my gear. Since it was still dark, I needed my flashlight to find my way through the woods to my stand. When I got to the stand, I clipped my bow to the lanyard and climbed up to my stand. I hauled up the bow and settled in to watch the first rays of sunlight come through the trees. Before long I could make out the different landmarks around my stand.
I didn’t have to wait long and I could hear the turkeys coming off their roost in the distance. They would eventually make their way to a clearing just to the north of my stand. Sure enough, there they were, out in the middle of the little clearing of clover and rye grass. I have gotten to know my surroundings enough to know that deer would be moving shortly there after.
Sure enough the deer did start moving. The first deer I saw that morning was a doe and her two fawns grazing through the clearing. A half an hour later another doe with fawns moved through the area. The deer traffic kept up for about an hour and slowly died down. The only deer I saw were does with fawns.
Then a nice size spike came walking up the trail my stand was by, heading for the clearing followed by a four-point and a six-point buck. Still no sign of the buck I seen the night before. More waiting.
About a half hour after the three bucks departed the area, I could hear movement off in the distance. The sound was like someone or something was walking through the brush and was not quiet about it. The sound kept getting louder and louder as the sound was coming closer and closer. By now I am not sure what is making the noise and am getting a little frustrated. I did not know if it was a neighbor out rabbit hunting or something else, I just didn’t know.
Finally I could see movement through the brush and out comes a frantic looking doe. Hot on her heels is a big nine-point buck with a drop tine over his left eye. This was the buck I was waiting for. All the commotion I was hearing was this buck chasing this doe through the undergrowth.
The doe stopped about ten yards from my stand and I could see her panting. The buck was pushing her hard. First the doe would circle my stand and stop, and then the buck would follow her. All this time they either didn’t know I was watching or they were more occupied with other things. So during this time I am reaching for my bow and waiting for my opportunity to get a shot at this monster of a buck. The whole time my heart is just pounding and I am shaking. Finally, he stops ten yards from the tree I am in and presents a quartering away shot. I draw back, shaking the whole time, aim and notice a small branch in the way. So I stand on my tiptoes to shoot over this branch, aim again and release. I watched the arrow skim right over his shoulders and he didn’t even flinch.
The doe had caught her breath and was moving again. I nocked another arrow and was praying for another shot. That wasn’t going to happen. The doe had spotted me by now and moving away from me taking the buck with her. They went by once more about thirty yards out with the buck grunting behind the doe. After a few seconds, they were out of sight but I could still hear the commotion they were making as they moved off. The commotion was becoming less noisy as they moved farther away, till all was quiet once again.
I looked at my watch and only fifteen minutes went by from the time the deer came into view. What a rush it was. Those fifteen minutes felt like an hour had passed by and I was still trying to gain my composure. After smoking a few cigarettes and sitting down thinking about what just happened, I was able to settle back down enough to climb down out of my treestand and make the trek back to my truck thinking no one is going to believe what I had just witnessed. For that morning I experienced buck fever first hand and even though I missed the shot of a lifetime, that morning’s hunt is one memory I won’t forget.
I did some follow up with some of the neighbors over the next couple of years. They would see the buck out in the fields or from a distance but no one was able to get close enough to put him down. Eventually, there was no more talk about the buck with a drop tine over the left eye. I imagine he died of old age, for if someone had taken him, it would have been talked about at the local hangouts. In a way I am happy I botched the shot and missed. For the next few years I saw his offspring, all with the same drop tine over the left eye.