Ah, November – a much better buck than expected

No question, November is my favorite month of the year. It’s a time of several weeks or so of vacation, with times taken out for covering the opening weekend of pheasant season and whatever other outdoors event that’s both fun and worthy of an outdoors page feature.

From time to time this November I’ll be blogging on how the month is going.

So far, so great.


The soft, calm words from my mouth were “Yep, here comes another buck.”

The loud, panicked words trapped in my mind were, “Holy @#@$%, and it’s a really big buck!”

Eleven-year-old Jake was willing to let about any buck be his first, but ended up taking a real trophy with a crossbow.

Eleven-year-old Jake was willing to let about any buck be his first, but ended up taking a real trophy with a crossbow.

One of my main goals this November was to get my 11-year-old friend, Jake, a buck. Since it would be his first deer, about any buck would work.

Going into a pleasant November afternoon we’d already had some close calls. On a morning when Jake froze-out, trail cams showed a dandy nine-pointer passed the blind about 20 minutes later. We’d come but for a little too much movement from buck fever from getting a crossbow shot at a whitetail with mainbeams like white licorice sticks with a few ivory gum drops for tines per side.

One morning we watched a good eight-pointer play ring-around-the-cedar tree chasing a doe. Another similar buck literally about ran us over as we were exiting our cedar tree hide that morning.

And on the pleasant November afternoon, which I think was the 14th, Jake and I had watched a fat, 2 1/2 year-old six-pointer piddling around before our ground blind for about 15 minutes. Seeming to know it was being watched through a scope, the buck just wouldn’t quite give us that perfect broadside shot as it grazed, looked around and finally began staring to the south.

I followed the buck’s gaze down the mowed path through the pasture, and saw a buck trail cameras said had moved into the area within about the past 10 days. The main thing about his rack was that it was tall, with second points on both sides pushing 12 inches, and third points pushing nine or ten. The buck’s big body, and assortment of stickers, burrs and bumps on the antlers, told me it probably had some age.

As soon as it saw the six-pointer, the bigger buck took an aggressive and dominant posture. His walk turned into stomped steps, and he curled back his upper lip and let out a his that sounded like a leaky tire as he warned the smaller buck to move on. Unlike that younger, smaller male deer, the bigger buck sauntered around the edge of the meadow to come up in front of the smaller deer, nose to nose. It stopped 14 yards from the blind, as perfectly broadside as the one on the proverbial barn. He looked as big, too.

I’d already figured that me showing a little excitement would cause Jake to show a lot, which could lead to a bad shot. I calmly said, “Jake, shoot the buck on the right.” Seemingly surprised he was getting asked to shoot a deer, after so many years of waiting to go hunting, my friend took a little convincing that the time, and the buck, were right.

The shot was good, the buck was off, and within six seconds we heard brush breaking nearby where it fell.

Jake looked at me with hoot owl-big eyes, and whispered that it had looked like a nice buck. “No,” I corrected, “Jake, that was a very nice buck…I’d have shot him in a minute, myself.” That’s about when excitement swept through Jake and he about fell off his bucket because he was shaking so hard.

I was trembling a bit, too. I’d been pretty sure I could get the boy his first buck, but I wasn’t expecting it to be bigger than a lot of hunters ever kill in their lives.