Roaring Bucks

November 11th has historically been my best hunting day. I have taken more bucks on that day than any other.…Veteran’s Day 2015 was no exception. Sophie Gilbert and I returned to where we had seen some gigantic rubs in hopes of finding their maker/makers. The weather was a combination of rain/hail/snow and sunshine. The afternoon was mostly good weather. We called, rattled, grunted, and saw nothing until about 1:30 in the afternoon. We were hunting a riparian spruce patch and looked out onto the muskeg edge to see a cruising buck with his nose to the ground working the timbers edge. No call would deter him from his quest. I grunted loudly causing him to pause for a moment, then it was back to his tracking a doe. We ran to the muskeg hoping he would still be visible. No go. We decided to move to a cedar patch overlooking several huge muskegs in hopes he might come back or we could call in the doe of his focus. We got Sophie set up and I faded back into the brush to call. Before calling, I looked about 200 yards across the muskeg and there stood a huge, tall racked buck with a doe. He glimmered in the sunlight. Steam rose from his body. I got Sophie’s attention and she came low to my side, borrowing my binoculars for a look. We crept forward to a good rest watching the deer. I highly suggested she shoot the buck where he stood. Sophie wanted to call, I wanted to shoot the buck. Sophie has the unique ability to perfectly mouth call deer. I told her to do her fawn imitation. She mouth called and the doe slowly began to walk our way. She came to about 100 yards and we were set up for the shot. The big boy was in tow, he needed to turn broad side. At about 60 yards she turned to our left walking parallel. A few more steps and the buck would be in the open. Then out of nowhere came another huge buck trying to get between the doe and buck. The second buck was the first one’s twin. All heck broke loose. The big buck roared and gave chase to the 2nd buck grunting all the way. I grabbed the Hawken and began to run along the muskeg edge weaving in and out of the shore pines and cedar trying to cut the bucks off. They ran into the forest’s edge in front of me. I heard antlers clash and another huge roar. I remembered the grunt tube on my arm. I gave it a challenge roar-wheeze. The first buck roared and wheezed back at me and came running. At about 75 yards my round ball found his vitals. The second buck came out but I was unloaded. He looked like the first bucks twin. This one should have been Sophie’s. I really wanted it to be. Alas…is did not work out. Crazy vocalizations and sequence of events. Did I mention how much I love these deer. There may not be a pot of gold but there are bucks at the end of the rainbow. Sophie wrote this description of the hunt to Casey Brown who had hunted with us earlier in the week…Wednesday was awesome! I ALMOST shot this buck in the picture… he was tending a doe across a muskeg, we spotted him, I called the doe in by squeaking at her, she came right towards us, the buck followed her… I had a bead on him, and was just waiting for him to turn broadside, which I think he would have done… and then this other huge buck runs out of the trees towards the doe, and then the doe gets scared and starts running sideways, the two bucks chase each other and her at a dead run. And then Jim Baichtal turns into a hunting animal, runs through the sparse trees at the edge of the muskeg, cuts them off, grunt calls the bucks back (one of whom roars at him!!), and shoots it with his muzzle loader. It goes down, but is still alive… I have caught up with him by this time, and see the second buck is still there, too, and there’s a good shot on him. The second buck goes back into the trees along with the doe, and the story has a happy (rainbow) ending. Big, gorgeous boy, beautiful day, and someday I swear I will have the instincts to be able to run, cut off those animals, and take that shot myself. Awesome.