By: John Arkwright
Hunters love nothing better than telling about their monster bucks or their bull moose with a 50-inch rack. Few will tell you about the one that got away, though.
You know, those episodes that make you feel like you’re one of the Hope Brothers – Little and No. Those times when everything that can go wrong, does!
I hunted several years before I shot my first big buck and it was one of those times when you might not want to tell the whole story. I was hunkered down, sitting on a log in some balsams on the edge of a beaver marsh.
The chase had just started when I spied a deer trying to pussyfoot out through the line. From the glint of the sunlight reflecting off its rack, I knew it was a big one.
When it finally stuck its head out enough for me to get a shot, I took it. A split second after I fired, the log I was sitting on broke and down I went flat on my back, looking up at nothing but the blue sky. I jumped up and the deer was nowhere to be seen.
I was pretty sure of my shot so I started legging it through the tall grass across the marsh until I promptly fell into a creek. Finally, I got to the far side of the marsh and, sure enough, there was a 10-point buck within five yards of where I’d shot it. Yeah, I did the buck dance!
Over the years, Jim Hill, Kevin Stack, Jim Brogan and I have done a lot of hunting and fishing together so it seems only fitting they share the spotlight with me on this editorial. Jim Hill was walking to his watch one morning when he came up on a 10-point buck about 30 yards away.
Amazingly, it was quite content to watch Jim put his clip in his rifle (a semi) and rack the action, raise the gun and then… CLICK ! The shell hadn’t fed into the chamber. No worries here, just repeat the sequence again. He did… and several more times.
The buck, tired of watching this show walked off into the bush followed by the clip from Jim’s rifle. A good reason to get out and fire that rifle before the season starts.
Last year, Kevin, who is never in a hurry to get up in the morning, goes for a walk and comes upon a big doe. Kevin has the deer in the crosshairs, slides off the safety and squeezes the trigger and nothing happens. Now what? Just as he starts to pull the gun down, it goes off. Needless to say, the deer lived to see another day.
Kevin cleaned the gun again that night. They say all things happen for a reason. Well, get this: The next morning Jim meets Kevin heading out at the crack of 9:30 (early for Kevin) on his ATV. Within 15 minutes he’s back and has shot a real nice buck, not a mile from the camp. I guess it pays to sleep in.
Last year Jim Brogan’s dad took a shot at a deer standing broadside about 70 yards away and missed. Jim asked his dad if he had checked his rifle before the season. After a terse reply, we set up a target at 100 yards.
The rifle was shooting 14 inches high and eight inches to the right. Jim tells his dad: “I guess being retired… you don’t have much time to sight your rifle. Ouch! Maybe a little harsh but good reason to get out before season and test shoot your firearms.
While duck hunting one night with Jim I had a misfire. The action barely opened and the shell failed to eject. Cursing myself for a bad hand load I cleared the gun and while doing so I noticed the next shell was too light (no shot in it).
Now I’m really ticked off because the mallards were decoying like crazy. Still thinking I messed up my hand loads, I realized Jim wasn’t shooting either. I looked over and he’s laughing so hard he has to hold his sides. Tears are running down his face.
As it turned out, he had doctored the loads while I set up the decoys. Some people have too much time on their hands!