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The luckiest shot I ever missed...

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The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby 7mmfan » 08 23, 2019 •  [Post 1]

Reading the Luck thread that Kessler started got me thinking of all the ridiculous lucky things that have happened to me in the woods. Many of my animals have been taken via planning, scouting, and hard work, but just as many if not more have been taken in instances of crazy good luck. I've always been one to use the motto, "I'd rather be lucky than good", and I stand behind that!

The story that stands out in my mind as my luckiest is the one ending with the buck in my avatar. Hunting in Idaho in 2017, after the bad winter of 2016. I had drawn a quality bull tag in WA that year so I opted to only buy a deer tag for Idaho. I did not need 2 elk in the freezer. Deer numbers were down, but I felt I'd be able to find a buck to kill while looking for elk with my Dad and friend Alex. We arrived in camp 2 days before the elk opener and it became apparent immediately that there were not many deer around. In that 2 days of scouting we only saw deer in 2 places. One of those had a herd of elk living in it too so we made a plan to head in there opening day.

Opening morning found fresh snow and slick roads getting to the trailhead. I'd forgotten the chains in camp and had to turn around. We weren't going to make it for first light so we spent the morning glassing and then headed in for the evening hunt. It is about a 4 mile walk into the basin where these animals had been. Upon turning the last corner in the trail, we heard voices ahead of us. 2 guys from Minnesota had gotten there an hour or so before us and killed 2 bulls right in the trail. Discouraged, but not beaten, we congratulated them and continued on with our now slightly modified plan. I left Dad and Alex on the end ridge where the animals would be coming out of the timber in an hour or so to feed on the south face, and took off up the trail to scout new ground. I had been gone for an hour and a half or so and my phone came to life. "That's wierd", I thought, pretty sure I'd put it on airplane mode because there was no service up there. Guess I'd forgotten. This was the first bit of luck for the evening. It was Alex sending me a text saying "Get over here we need you!" I thought they must have killed an elk so I put the hustle on and was to them in about 20 minutes. As I started down the end ridge, I spotted my Dad still sitting on the tree where I'd left him. He was giving me a bewildered look. He clearly had no idea what was going on. Right then a big 3 point and small 4 point buck crested the ridge to my left. I tried to get on them but they wheeled and were gone in an instant. As I headed down to where they were I saw Alex waving frantically at me to come to him.

I got to him and he says, "There's a big 3x4 just over this edge feeding. He's no more than 100 yards away. Take a look and shoot him if you want." I wasn't going to be picky so I eased over the edge and sure enough there's a nice 3x4, 20ish inch spread feeding right below me. The angle is very steep, nearly 45 deg. I take aim high on the shoulder so the exit will be mid chest of so and let Maggy roar. There's a big cloud of dust behind the buck and he's standing there looking around as confused as I am. WTF? How did I miss that? Well we all know why I missed that. As I chamber another round the buck bounds off down the hill a couple hundred yards with the 5 other deer he was with. He then turns left and starts up the next draw. I just might have another shot at him if I can get over to the next ridge 300 yards away real fast.

I run across and get just inside the timberline to screen my movement as I ease into view of the next draw. I was not prepared for what I saw. There were no less than 20 deer in this draw including 5 bucks. All the deer were on edge except one buck near the head of the draw. He was just feeding along without a care in the world. A quick survey of the deer said he was the biggest buck in the bunch so I slid down to a sitting position and got my gun on the sticks. I estimated him about 250 yards away and also very steep downhill shot. Not wanting to make the same mistake, I aimed center of the chest and let Maggy roar once again. BANG FLOP! The bucks legs hit his chest before he hit the ground. He slid about 5 feet and came to rest. I breathed a big sigh of relief and stood up to make my way towards him.

At this point, the draw was in complete chaos. There were deer running in all directions, some deer standing just looking around. A small herd of elk down the hill stampeded out of sight. An extremely tall 4 point came running from my left where I couldn't see him and stopped not 40 yards from me trying to figure out what I was. It was a surreal moment and despite the chaos, I might have been the calmest I've ever been after a shot. It felt like I was walking towards a ray of light through a tornado. It was a weird sensation that I hope I never forget.

At this point, I had no idea what I'd killed other than it was the biggest buck in the group. I've never been a big buck hunter, I usually kill the first legal animal that I encounter so I never take time to scrutinize antlers before the shot. As I'm walking down the last 50 yards or so I look down the hill to soak in the view for a second and notice, "Hey those antlers are sticking up a ways". I look down at the grass I'm walking in and it's almost knee high, and that bucks antlers look to be a foot above the grass. "This is a nice buck!" I'm thinking.

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I get a little closer and think again, "This is a REALLY nice buck!" When I finally got to him and got my hands on him I was blown away. Wide, tall, mass, great eye guards, symmetrical. He had everything. I sat quietly with him for a moment, giving thanks. I don't take taking animal's lives lightly. I'm a hunter, and will always be one but I get no pleasure from the death of these awesome animals. I took a few pictures and was getting my kill kit out when my Dad and Alex made their way over the hill and down to me. Alex says, "hey that's not the same buck!". "I know!" I said. "That first shot was the luckiest shot I ever missed!" I pulled out my phone to text my wife, but no service. Hadn't had it since I got the text from Alex... lucky.

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We got the buck broken down in short order and loaded into our packs. It was long after dark at this point and we had about 5 miles to go, all up, to get to the truck. It was at this point I realized that my knee wasn't feeling quite right. Somewhere along the way I'd torqued it badly and it was quickly tightening up. As we started up the hill I didn't make it 100' and it buckled. I was on the ground in excruciating pain. I dug my first aid kit out and popped a few ibuprofen and tried to figure out what we were going to do. Alex and Dad graciously split most of my load, and then Alex gave me his trekking poles. I was able to hobble to the trail and then make my way to the truck. It took about an hour longer than it should have and when we got there I could not bend my leg. But we'd made it. At that moment I felt extremely lucky and grateful to have great hunting partners who work together to get the job done. It would have been a long miserable night had I been by myself.

We got chained up as everything was a sheet of ice at this point and eased down to the highway, finally arriving in camp at about 1 am. We choked some food down, had a celebratory shot, and hit the sack ending my luckiest day hunting.
I hunt therefore I am. I fish therefore I lie.
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby Indian Summer » 08 23, 2019 •  [Post 2]

All of the sudden I won’t feel so bad if I miss the first thing I shoot at this year. Congratulations and thanks I enjoyed that campfire tale.
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 08 25, 2019 •  [Post 3]

Great buck and awesome write up mister. Love that part where you’re walking up to the downed buck and start realizing just what a dandy it is! ;)
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby 7mmfan » 08 26, 2019 •  [Post 4]

Thanks guys. I've been trying to put a lot of my hunting stories down on paper the last year or so. It's amazing to me how many details begin to fade when you don't recount them regularly. You can remember the hunt as a whole, but the small bits and pieces begin to blend together. I'm hoping to have something in completion that I can add to in the coming years that my son can read if he's interested.
I hunt therefore I am. I fish therefore I lie.
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby Lefty » 10 14, 2019 •  [Post 5]

I finally reread the whole story
Sometimes luck does play its hand
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby Swede » 10 14, 2019 •  [Post 6]

Excellent story and a great buck. Is your knee all healed up now?
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby Roosiebull » 10 21, 2019 •  [Post 7]

Man! That was a really fun story to read! Absolute awesome buck, and your pics are great. You avatar pic is one of the best harvest pics I have seen, you depicted things well... awesome!
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby 7mmfan » 10 23, 2019 •  [Post 8]

Swede wrote:Excellent story and a great buck. Is your knee all healed up now?


Thanks Swede. The knee is much better, but never will be 100% again. I have put a lot of effort into leg strengthening this last year and it showed during my most recent trip to Idaho. That country will eat you up if you're not ready for it, and I was the most ready I've ever been. Good stories coming :D
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Re: The luckiest shot I ever missed...

Postby Swede » 10 23, 2019 •  [Post 9]

Sounds great. We will look forward to the stories to come. Good stories really help in the off season.
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