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Deer Hunting…The Hard Way


Well, here we are sliding into deer season again – everyone’s getting out the cammos, cleaning weapons, and preparing for the annual ritual of man against nature. But as many of us know, there are times when nature just gets the better of you.  The other day a friend of mine and I were discussing the calibers of various deer rifles — their trajec­tories, range, and knock-down power. During our conversation I was reminded of a story about the impor­tance of stopping power (and accurate shooting) regardless of what you’re hunting. An interesting story…

A friend (we’ll call him Fred) was hunting deer on Rich Mountain·one season, using a weapon with questionable stopping power (I could give you the cal­iber, but as soon as I do, 15 peo­ple will call me, saying they’ve hunted water buffalo with the same weapon and never had a problem).

Anyway, he was returning to his pickup after a luckless day when he spotted a large, eight­ point buck less than 50 yards from the highway. The range was about a hundred yards. Without hesitating he raised his gun, sighted and fired. The animal bolted a dozen feet, then dropped. When Fred reached the deer, there was an impressive wound and it ap­peared lifeless, so he decided to clean it on the spot. He put his gun against a tree, came up behind the animal and straddled it, grabbing the horns and drawing the neck back. But as he did, the animal suddenly lurched to its feet. Now, I think it bears men­tioning here that Fred was not a big fellow. He probably wouldn’t weigh 120 pounds fully clothed and sopping wet. The deer, on the other hand, would have hit nearly 200 pounds.

The animal rose up like Lazarus and bolted toward the highway, Fred astraddle its back, clutch­ing its antlers like a wide-eyed reluctant rodeoer. Don’t ask me why Fred didn’t jump off, or fall off, but he didn’t. At the same time, Fred’s warbling shrieks didn’t do anything to soothe the panicked buck, which was racing for all he was worth through the woods, careening down the hill toward the highway.

The last of the buck’s strength gave out as it reached the road. It stumbled and finally collapsed in the centerline, sending Fred sprawling next to it, one hand grasping the antlers and the other still holding his knife. Fred, battered by low-hanging branches and lacerated by pine cones and needles/looked like he’d just lost a fight with a Veg­-a-Matic.

He’d no sooner thudded to the pavement when he heard the screech of tires. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the impact. A moment later, when he realized he hadn’t been hit, he rolled over and found himself staring at the grill of a 1988 Cadillac Coup de DeVille. The doors opened and an elderly man and his wife came around to stare at Fred and his deer. The old man shook his head and said, “I’ll admit it’s a wee bit impressive, but from where I’m standin’ son, it don’t look like you’re havin’ all that much fun. Why don’t you just buy yourself a gun, and shoot ’em, like everybody else.”