John's Journal...

You Can Have a Second Chance to take a Buck in January

Day 2: Whether or Not to Shoot at a Buck When You Have a Second Chance

Editor’s Note: To bag a buck during January and possibly have an opportunity for a buck a second time, decide whether or not to shoot.

Click for Larger ViewIn the driving rain, I moved quietly and deliberately down the woods road, while searching for deer on either side. About 50-yards into my stalk, deer appeared. One, large, high-racked buck and two does bounded from cover through a thicket, before I could raise my rifle and take a shot. Once again, as soon as the deer left, I studied the facts of what had happened. Because the wind was in my face, I felt sure that the deer hadn’t picked-up my scent. Watching the animals bound-away, I noticed they didn’t run hard or far and didn’t throw-up their tails. Click for Larger ViewUsually when deer are spooked by something in the woods that they can’t identify, they’ll run a few yards, stop and look back. I also know that often when a deer’s spooked, there’s still the opportunity to bag him, if he doesn’t smell the hunter’s scent. So I sat down, waited for about a minute and then blew on my deer grunt call, which I considered an act of desperation. However, I also decided I had nothing to lose, because the deer had already left the site.

I looked carefully in the direction that the deer had run toward. In less than 5 minutes, off to my right, I spotted the big buck come bounding back in – only 130 yards or so from me. I realized that if I turned quickly I’d spook the animal and probably not get a good shot. Therefore I sat still and watched. When the deer was 20-yards from me, he turned, jumped across the road and stopped behind some thick brush, which would have been an easy shot, except that all I could see of the animal in the scope was his hindquarters. Now I was faced with a dilemma.

Whether or Not to Shoot:

Click for Larger ViewThe buck standing behind the brush was majestic with more than 8 points in a high, wide, heavy rack. He was also a big-bodied deer, weighing close to, if not exceeding, 200 pounds. But I didn’t have a shot that I knew would down the animal instantly. As I watched the animal’s hindquarters through my scope, I knew that all I had to do was touch the trigger on my .243 rifle. The velocity of the bullet would probably break the animal’s back legs, and then I could jump-up and run to the deer for a better shot before he got away. Even though I felt I might severely cripple the animal enough to take a shot and finish him off, I also realized that deer shot in the hindquarters often managed to elude hunters - only to be found dead weeks later with the meat and the trophy ruined. I faced the decision of whether to take a chancy shot and know that a second shot would be required to put the deer down or to hold my shot and let the deer take two more steps out of that thicket. Click for Larger ViewThen I’d have a clean neck shot that would down the animal instantly.

I chose to wait for the better shot. For 10 minutes, the deer and I were at a stand-off. I concentrated my vision through the scope in anticipation of the deer’s taking those two fatal steps. But after what seemed like an eternity, I felt a breeze on the back of my neck.
I knew my hunt was over. Instantly the deer picked up my scent and bounded-away. But I’d added another bit of information to my bag of hunting knowledge. Often a hunter gets a second chance at a buck.

Tomorrow: The Importance of the Wind and Human Scent for Taking a Second Chance Buck

Check back each day this week for more about "You Can Have a Second Chance to take a Buck in January "

Day 1: The Importance of Knowing Where to Hunt January Deer
Day 2: Whether or Not to Shoot at a Buck When You Have a Second Chance
Day 3: The Importance of the Wind and Human Scent for Taking a Second Chance Buck
Day 4: Other Ingredients Critical to Having the Chance to Take a Buck the Second Time
Day 5: The Best Places and Calls to Help You Have a Chance a Second Time to Take a Buck

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Entry 648, Day 2