November 11th has historically been my best hunting day. I have taken more bucks on that day than any other. November 11th, 2014 was foretasted to be cold, in the 20’s, clear and sunny…perfect flintlock weather. I had identified a likely looking “hot spot” on Google Earth and had checked it out on November 4th. I had found heavy deer usage and several huge rubs on shore pine. I waited to the 11th to try an extended calling sequence. I left the house at 4:30 to begin the hike at first light. It was about ¾ mile from the road to where I wanted to call. I set up to call by 7:30 am. I combined doe bleats and doe estrus bleats from the Primos “Long CAN®” with grunts, snort wheezes, and rattling for about 20 minutes, light calls for about 20 minutes, and sat motionless for another 20 minutes. Beautiful sunny morning, nothing showed but a couple of ravens, a winter wren, and a jay. I decided after the hour to move to the forest above the muskeg and see if I went into the bedding habitat if I could stir anything up. I put away my calls, slipped on my pack and gloves and picked up the rifle. I took a couple of steps up the slope from behind my cover and looked up. There, just over 100 yards distant coming down the timber edge was a huge 4 x 4, a Sitka dreams are made of. He turned sideways, a bit farther than I wanted to shoot. I was caught in the open and he knew I was there. He was in the full sunshine, his brilliant red antlers gleaming. He was huge, his double white throat patch contrasted with his rich brown coat, his roman gray nose suggested his maturity. He was not as fat as he would have been in September but his body was on the upper end of Sitka’s. Steam rose from his body and each breath was visible from his nose. He turned and slowly walked away. He stopped many times looking over his shoulder at me. He disappeared into the timber. I dropped the pack, primed the pan, and rested on a shore pine. I used the “CAN®” to call him back out of the timber twice. He eventually, slowly walked into the upper muskeg bowl and disappeared from site. I worked my way up to the saddle, standing at the edge of a roughly oval muskeg basin surrounded by timber. I could see his tracks in the morning's frost. I hit the “CAN®” call once more. He stepped out at about 50 yards directly across from me. He rose is nose to catch my scent, then scratched his butt with his antlers. I dropped to one knee to fire but the curvature of the muskeg would not allowed it. I stood and took careful aim. His sweet spot was behind a bit of blue berry/cedar barrier. I would have to slip a round ball just at the upper edge of the brush. I mentally prepared for the follow through, took careful aim, and fired. When the smoke cleared I was alone in the muskeg. I returned for my pack and to reload. I walked to where he last stood. His tracks were in the heavy frost. A tuft of hair rested on the frozen muskeg. There was no blood, no indication of being hit other than the hair. No meat was attached to the hair. I followed his tracks in the frost to where he ducked to enter the forest. There was a few more hairs on the end of a stick he broke off. I spent the next three hours retracing his tracks, looking for blood, looking for anything. He last movement suggested he had bolted down hill into the cedars. There were a multitude of heavily used game trails so I began to follow each one out carefully. Nothing. The site picture was perfect when I shot. I convinced myself I must have pulled high, grazing his back. I cut a tag. I had touched this buck. I owed him that much. With nothing more to go on, I hunted a huge muskeg complex to the north calling in a few doe. Mid-way through my trek while still sitting after a calling sequence I ranged a large snag at 70 yards, there was a 2” knot on the tree trunk. I aimed at the knot and hit it center. If the jerk behind the trigger did not screwed up I should have hit that deer center. I ended up about a mile distant still reliving the shot in my mind. Though later in the day, I returned to where I had shot hoping to find something else I had missed or birds. Nothing…two more hours of searching. I heard birds in the muskeg way down off the ridge. Though it would mean I would have to come out in the dark I went to investigate. It was a flock of ravens on cranberries melted from the frost. I came home and told Karen my story. I kept replaying the shot in my mind. I woke twice during the night reliving the shot in dreams. I had to work the next day. I could not keep my mind on work. I took off the afternoon and hurried to the spot to call and search. The 13th I climbed the adjacent mountain and shot 2 bucks. On the 14th I returned and set up 3 trail cameras hoping to get a glimpse of him following one of his rub lines. I searched some more and called again. The afternoon of the 14th, Karen and and a friend flew back to Thorne Bay. The 15th we had a wine tasting, the 16th we all went for a drive. The 17th -19th I had to work. The 20th we went south so Karen could fly to El Salvador for 3 weeks and I visited my mom and family. I returned on the 26th. Thanksgiving day was also cold and sunny. I decided to go back to check the cameras and have one last look for the buck. I climbed to the saddle where I had one of three cameras. It was beautiful and sunny. I had images of a few good bucks but not him. I decided to call. As I was setting up, I noticed a mature bald eagle 40 yards away in a cedar. I thought “what the hell was he doing there?” He took flight and soared down to the lower muskeg where he joined a 2nd eagle. I noted a raven nearby. Were the bird there because of the buck? I picked up my pack and moved down slope curving around the knob and into the forest. Birds exploded from the forest. At least another 6-7 eagles and an untold number of ravens. I followed my tracks from the 11th still frozen onto the trail to where the birds rose from. There, not 15 feet from where I had stood at least 4 times on the 11th was the buck where he had died on that day, just off the trail in a small depression behind a log. I set down in both disbelief and relief…closure. A wolf had chewed off the rib bones accessing the chest cavity. The birds had eaten all but the front shoulders and neck. An autopsy showed a perfect pass through double lung shot a bit high. His death was swift. The shot WAS true. It took me 16 days to find him. He died 60 yards from where I shot him. To make sure all legal considerations were addressed, though slightly soured, I salvaged the remaining meat before the antlers. I packed both out. I am sorry to not have utilized all of this great animal, but days of agonizing and at least 8 hours of searching finally paid off…with the help of the eagles and ravens. My thanks to my friend for making such a fine rifle. The first buck it shot will score high in the Longhunter Records, and be forever remembered for the search it led me on. The image of his steaming body in the sunlight is burned into my memory. God I love these deer!