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There are times when we as hunters and conservationist decide to pass a particular animal in hopes that it will grow and be bigger and more mature for the following season. This is a great story that supports the decision to pass up a buck in order to hunt him the following year when he is more mature and has added inches to this antlers. But more importantly he has added another year of survival and wisdom that go along with that!
I first hunted a buck I nicknamed “Whitey” in 2014. He was a buck that lived in the fairly flat plains of SD. There was rolling hills with a few clay cuts that the bucks liked to hide in. Otherwise they could be found feeding in the ag fields and alfalfa that bordered the state land. I had numerous opportunites at him in 2014 and was well within bow range multiple times but for some reason I could never seal the deal. I could have hunted the deer harder but decided to let him live another year. Either I decided that or he outsmarted me! One of the two!
When the 2015 season rolled around I wondered if he was still around. After my rifle antelope hunt I visted the area and my girlfriend Sondra Smith turned up numerous bucks and we quickly made a plan to get her within range. The first evening was pretty tough and closing the distance proved difficult at best. The next morning the first stalk proved the same and we watched as the group of four bucks disappeared over the horizon. I knew they would likely bed in one of the cuts in the rolling hills. After locating them again in a great spot for a stalk we set ourselves up to close the distance handsomely.
We were able to get within 14 yards of the bucks bedded under a cut bank. They largest buck that Sondra nicknamed “Black Velvet” was bedded and all we could see what his antlers. Sondra was beside me and ready to make the shot when he stood. We waited patiently and he finally got up to adjust himself and bed in another spot with more shade. The shot was there but Sondra wasn’t comfortable shooting throught he grass. I commend her for that decision. A short time later we felt the wind hit the back of our necks and watch as the bucks headed for the next county! A tough break for sure!
We moved to another vantage point on the plains to glass the bucks to see where they were going. We were able to locate them some distance away and they had picked up two other good bucks as they crossed the state land. The wind picked up and was gusting up to 50 mph and we decided to come back another day. But I was struggling leaving these bucks, I wanted another stalk. Sondra kept an eye on them as I buried my head in my arms and took a quick nap. I awoke and she had been watching the bucks move about looking for a place to bed out of the wind. Again we decided it was far too windy and would head back home to take care of the antelope buck that I had shot the day before.
Something caught my eye at a very far distance. I pulled up my binos to reveal a seperate buck all by himself. Bedded in a very vulerable spot for a stalk! I had no idea what the buck sported for head gear other than I knew he was a shooter for sure! We planned our stalk and set the actions into play. An hour and a half later as I inched forward in the gusting winds I was able to get within 43 yards of the unknowing buck. I still couldn’t see all of his rack but what I could see had me thinking it might be “Whitey!”
2 1/2 hours passed and the buck began to get restless and would stand soon to stretch and re-bed. I was ready as he began to stand. I was at full draw before he got his hind legs completely under him. I settled my 40 yard pin a bit high on his vitals and adjusted left for the high winds. He stretched briefly just before my arrow found its mark!
He traveled out of sight a short distance and I could see blood pumping out both sides as he walked over the knoll 75 yards away. I was beyond elated and we celebrated the whole experience! We went from trying to figure out why Sondra’s experience was ruined to realizing that HE had a bigger plan for us! A plan for us to take “Whitey” home with us! He grew from the previous year and added to his antlers to include a couple extra points! A bonus for sure and a decision that proved beneficial!
Next year, I am sure Sondra has a date with “Black Velvet!”