John's Journal...

Cliff Hanger Bucks

Buck Missing

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Some of America’s best deer hunters have lost bucks when they’ve thought they’ve taken theClick to enlargem. Sometimes hunters recover their lost bucks, but at other times they don’t. The moments between arrowing a deer and recovering a buck are some of life’s cliff-hanging experiences when you either arrive at the summit, or your emotions and your spirit are dashed on the rocks of defeat. Most deer hunters encounter cliff-hanger bucks that become memories of a lifetime.

When Mississippi opened its first black-powder hunting season, Ronnie Strickland of West Point, Mississippi, and one of his hunting buddies, we’ll call him Ernest, decided to get involved. “Ernest bought a kit and built his own muzzleloader,” Strickland explains. On Ernest and Strickland’s first black-powder hunt together, they set up about 75-yards apart in tree stands on Natchez Island. As Strickland recalls, “Our friends made a 2-man drive through some thick cover. Then I heard Ernest’s black-powder rifle misfire three times and an unidentifiable slow-moving helicopter sound like, ‘Whop wClick to enlargehop whop whop.’ I later learned that Ernest threw his homemade black-powder rifle out of his tree stand when it faileClick to enlarged to fire.”

Two weeks later, Ernest and Strickland black-powder hunted again after Ernest cleaned the mud out of his rifle’s barrel. “Just after daylight, I heard Ernest’s rifle report about 300 yards from me,” Strickland says. “Five minutes later, I heard Ernest hollering, ‘Come help me get my deer!’ As I walked toward Ernest’s stand, he met me about halfway and reported he’d taken a big 8 point. “Ernest said, ‘Cuz, it’ll take both of us to drag him out. I don’t know where I hit the deer, but he dropped like a ton of bricks.’” When the two men reached the spot, they found no buck, no blood and no hair. “I accused Ernest of dreaming he’d shot a buck, but I saw the tracks the buck had left when he vanished,” Strickland comments. “I believe Ernest’s bullet hit the buck at the base of the antlers and stunned him. The buck must have recovered, stood up and then walked off.”

Tomorrow: The Underwater Buck

Check back each day this week for more about "Cliff Hanger Bucks"

Day 1: The Two-Year Recovery and the Statue Buck
Day 2: The Ice-Water Buck and the Vanishing Buck
Day 3: The Underwear Buck
Day 4: Buck Missing
Day 5: The Underwater Buck


Entry 476, Day 4