MERIDIAN — Crack, snap, crunch, sounded an unseen deer in the thicket to my left. All of the does in the patch stood at full alert, staring in the direction of the hidden suitor. Friend or foe, they’d know soon, and I relaxed for just a second as I saw the deer emerge from the thicket and walk through the trees. The does didn’t bolt and that was a good thing for me. The buck with massive antlers stopped perhaps 40 yards from the other deer, still concealed partially in the woods, and stopped dead behind a tree with only his rack sticking out the front side and his mid-section and rear behind the tree.
Seconds turned to minutes as the wise old buck surveyed the situation, perhaps pondering what to do. I eased my crosshairs just in front of the tree waiting for that trophy to make one more step forward. The tension was mounting and muscles were aching as I strained to keep my old rifle at the ready. Finally in an instant the buck whirled and trotted away. I centered the crosshairs on the buck’s vitals just before it disappeared into the thicket and squeezed off a shot.
Ka-boom roared the .444 as fire flew out of the barrel and the buck disappeared like a vapor. Minutes later I was looking for blood but none was to be found. Forty yards into the woods I found a speck of blood on the trail he had taken. A few yards further the blood spots got bigger and bigger until the floodgates opened and the blood trail looked like it had been sprayed out of a fire hose. My final day hunt ended at the feet of another trophy buck only 100 yards from impact. The buck had fallen on the final day of the 2013 season and made my year.