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What a “Trophy Buck” is to me…The One That Got Away

Tonight was my last official bow hunt this season. The end of bow season is always sad. Soon the woods will be filled with “The Orange Army” and with every gunshot that rings out in the quiet my heart will sink as I imagine it to be one of the big bucks I have had my eye on being shot by my neighbor or heaven forbid a poacher.
There are several bucks I have my eye on this year but for me it isn’t the giant 12 point or the big bodied 8 point that I cringe at the thought of someone else shooting. Instead it’s a decent sized 6 point buck with a scar on his left shoulder that haunts my dreams.
It was my second night out this season and my first in the new stand on the south part of the field. The sun was setting and the woods were coming to life. I hadn’t seen much that day on my side of the field, instead all the deer were having a party across the field directly underneath the stand I decided not to sit it. So as I sat there silently cursing under my breath and getting more and more discouraged as the light faded, I saw something step out of the trees to my right. He was a decent 6 point buck and I ranged him with shaking hands at a mere 30 yards away. (Which was perfect news for me since I’m a very small woman with a pathetic 30 yard bow range.)
I drew my bow and watched what I thought was a beautiful shot hit him just behind the shoulder. I’ll never forget the way it looked as he ran across the field, Lumenok glowing on the arrow in his side.
I was beyond excited because not only was it the first buck of the season but it was my very first archery buck EVER!! So after doing my silent happy dance in my tree and waiting what I thought was a good amount of time I got down to look for blood. Halfway across the field I found my arrow and a faint blood trail. By this time my husband and father in law had arrived to help me track down my buck.
But the faint blood trail through the peanuts quickly went cold and my heart began to sink. Had I misplaced the shot?
We searched forever in the dark until finally calling it for the night. Bright and early we looked again still with no luck. He was gone, my first buck with my bow was gone.
After keeping an eye out for several days for vultures circling I gave up the fight.

Fast forward to tonight…Tonight was the last night of bow season and as I sat in my ground blind scanning the field with my binoculars out steps a buck hot on the trail of a doe. He’s a decent 6 and there is something all too familiar about him. He turns and there on his left shoulder is a scar. My heart skipped a beat. It’s him, my buck, my nemesis, my “great white buffalo” standing right in front of me and still out of reach.
I’m not sure what draws me to this buck. If it’s that he’s the one that got away or that even though he wasn’t very large he was a survivor and had the scars to prove it. That in that way he reminded me that the old saying was true and it wasn’t the size of the buck in the fight but the size of the fight in the buck that mattered. Maybe he will be my trophy or maybe just my inspiration and I’ll always hope to see him over the years. But today he felt like my friend, small but tough and full of scars and I felt we shared a kindred spirit, a sameness.

So if you are down in south GA and see a 6 point buck with a scar on his left shoulder let him walk. Shoot all the trophy bucks you like but leave him for me because one day he and I will have our score to settle. Until then it brings a smile to my face just to know I might see him again and I imagine a day years from now when I will shoot the largest buck of my life to discover a scar on his left shoulder and know that it was him. My old friend. Until that day I think I will always cringe at the sound of another’s gun shot near my small piece of woods.

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