11 March 2013

The Deer I Killed (?) Got Up and Ran Away After I Shot Him the Second Time!

It was on February 6, 2009 that I wrote an article entitled, GIVING A FALLEN DEER A NAME and placed it on HUNTING HUMOR & TALES. I had shot a nice 10 point buck on a friend’s property near a small town in south Alabama. What I now want to do is to tell ‘the rest of the story’. It was a very cold morning when I arrived at my destination with a strong northwestern wind hitting me without mercy. Since I had not walked to the 14 foot metal ladder stand before, I waited until I could see in the early morning light. I found it without any trouble and settled down and waited for a monster buck to make its appearance. You see, the owner’s son had cameras on trees near the stand and the bucks that enjoyed having their pictures taken were massive in size with large antlers. To my right was a pasture that had grown tall weeds and to my left were planted pine trees. The location was ideal except the freezing, cold weather and a strong wind that was penetrating my clothing and making me feel like an ice cube. I sat there until about nine o’clock and then I got down and begin walking on a small trail in the pines. It was then that I began to ‘jump’ does and not only that; I began to see several scrapes very close together. I knew that there were bucks in the immediate area.

 I soon came near the area where I had entered the pines from an adjacent pasture. I stopped and began looking down to a beautiful hollow where there was a small stream of water. In a very short time I saw a nice size buck walking easily along side the stream. It must have been about 140 yards removed from where I was standing. The buck turned away from me and I immediately decided to take a shot at him. I hit him ‘hard’ because the 150 gram bullet from my 308 caliber Browning rifle knocked him down. The problem was that the buck got up and began to slowly walk away. I waited for several minutes before I began walking down the slope toward where the deer had fallen and there I found a large puddle of blood so I knew he would not live very long. I could hear the deer in the distance but I made the mistake of taking a few steps and that caused the buck to move again. I waited once more and after a few minutes I began walking on the narrow road that I had followed earlier in the morning on my way to the ladder stand which I could now see. Suddenly I looked to my right and several yards away lay a buck deer not far from the ladder stand where I had been sitting for some three hours. I thought, the deer is wounded so I will try a neck shot and not destroy any more meat and that I did. In a moment of time, that buck stood up and I was so surprised because I knew the deer I shot was badly wounded. I was awe stricken when I saw the size of that buck and before I could chamber another round in my rifle that deer ran like it had been shot at by someone trying to kill him.

I stood there amazed and confused. How could a critically wounded deer run so fast? I walked over to where the deer had been laying and found no evidence of blood. I then walked over where he had jumped over a low fence that separated the trees from the pasture. I finally found two small drops of blood on some tall weeds but that was all I found. I called for the land owner to come down and help me look for the deer I shot. Also his neighbor who owned the adjoining property where we were looking came riding up on a John Deere four wheeler and he joined in with us as we searched for the buck I shot. We could find no additional evidence of blood or tracks of this monster of a deer. Undoubtedly, I had missed hitting the deer in a vital area of its neck but I had simply ‘nicked’ him.

We decided to spread out in our search for the wounded deer. My friend’s neighbor finally shouted, “Here he is”, so we walked down to where he and the deer were. As I stared at this buck, I immediately realized that this deer was the one I shot and wounded and was unable to locate. But, what about the very large deer I shot at and simply missed hitting a vital area in its neck? This could not be that buck. I had simply assumed that the second deer was the first deer I had shot and badly wounded it. My mind was whirling with such thoughts like, what if I had shot that second deer where I normally do and that was just behind its front shoulder, I would have had two bucks on the ground. That would not have been good. Furthermore, if I had killed the second deer, would we have continued to look for the first deer I wounded? Though I missed killing a trophy, which the second deer was, I was happy that I did not seriously wound him and hopefully he continued to enjoy life as big bucks do.
Now you may be wondering why I am now writing the ‘rest of the story’ at this time. Well, I finally informed my friend recently that there were two deer involved in my hunt that cold wintry morning. And while I am happy about harvesting a nice 10 point buck, I missed getting a buck that would make this one look like a junior size deer.  Never satisfied, are we. Deer hunters are like that.

09 January 2013

This “Son of the South” was Singing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”

No, this article has nothing to do with football. I have a young friend who lives in the metropolitan area of the city of Fort Deposit, Alabama and who is an avid deer hunter. He comes by it naturally. I remember the first time I visited his family who lived at that time in rural Butler County. His father, Malcolm, took me to the back yard and showed me a collection of antlers of some of the deer he had harvested over a period of time. I was mightily impressed. He had a ‘clothes line’ from one tree to another and it was loaded with some of the finest antlers I have ever seen in one collection. I think he only shot deer with 8 to 10 points on the antlers. His oldest son Benjamin (Ben) inherited his father’s genes because it was evident by his collection of large antlers. The latest set (20 inch spread) was atop the biggest deer he has ever killed.

Ben is from Benjamin and one definition in Hebrew of this name is “Son of the South” and you can’t get much further south than Lowndes County, Alabama. His surname ‘Callen’ is Irish in origin. Now I don’t really know if Ben can carry a tune in a bucket but I can just imagine he was either whistling ‘Dixie’ or singing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ because of what he was looking at after he found this buck. But here is his story in his own words.
"I've killed several deer over the past few years of this caliber. It comes from long hours in the stand and from passing young bucks. Funny thing is on this deer is I was coming home from working with dad in the woods and decided I'd stop by and check one of the several game cameras I run almost year round. I had several minutes of shooting light left so I decided to park and walk to the first camera spot I was going to check. I usually don't see many deer in this spot but as I rounded the corner in the road to where I could see the field and it was in there I saw several doe and a young basket rack buck. They caught my wind and left the field. I changed the memory card in my pocket and headed to the next camera location. Upon walking up to it I spotted this buck standing under an oak tree in the edge of the field with his head down. Immediately I could tell he was a shooter buck. I propped my Sako .270 on a corner fence post and centered the crosshairs and squeezed off on him. A puff of smoke came out of my barrel and I couldn't tell whether I hit the deer or not but as I looked up out of the scope I caught a glimpse of him running into the thicket so I knew which way he ran. I walked back to my truck and drove into the field. I searched around where he was standing for awhile for blood. Unsuccessful I decided to make a short circle out through the woods. Luckily I stumbled up on him about 50 yards from where I'd shot him. He was a great buck. No ground shrinkage at all and one of the biggest bucks I've ever killed. I actually had this deer on camera last year also and took a shot with my bow at him and missed. It's funny as many hours as you put in the woods hunting hard that it always seems to be when you least expect it when you stumble upon a big buck."
Oh, did I mention that this seasoned hunter is only in his mid 20s?!

The Mule That Could
Old timers will remember that way back in the 1950s there were mules in the movies and on television, Francis and Ed who could talk. Now if you believe that, let me tell you about this farmer who had a mule that could point a covey of quail. A gentleman from the city came to see his farmer friend and was informed about the unusual ability of this mule. The friend didn’t believe that any mule could ‘point a covey of quail.’ Well, the story goes that the farmer got the mule out of the barn and the three headed for the cover of weeds and tall grass where quail could be found. All of a sudden the mule stopped and pointed with its long snout. The farmer assured his friend that the mule had located a covey of quail. The friend still did not believe that a mule was able to accomplish such a feat. The mule then stomped with its right hoof and up flew, believe it or not, a covey of quail. The mule continued to point out birds until they came to a creek. The friend suggested they cross the creek and look for birds on the other side. The farmer replied that it was impossible to do so and his friend asked ‘why’? The farmer said that his mule would never make it across the creek and his friend with a big question mark on his face again asked, ‘Why’? The farmer replied in no uncertain terms, ‘because he is a better fisherman than he is a hunter.’

23 May 2011

In Memory of a Dear Friend & An Avid Hunter

Thomas Daniel Conway was one of the finest Christian gentlemen I have ever known. He lived in the small town of Fort Deposit, Alabama. He and Marguerite had been married for some 68 years. He was a plumber and an electrician by trade. He was well known and respected by scores of citizens in Lowndes and Butler counties where he lived and worked. He finally succumbed to death on Thursday morning, May 19, 2011, having fought valiantly for some time the awful disease of cancer. I drove from my home in Prattville on Monday, May 3 to Fort Deposit for the express purpose of telling my old friend goodbye, knowing that his days were soon coming to an end on this earth.
In his latter years he suffered greatly with pain that dealt harshly with his shoulders and back. I used to kid him that the ghosts of all those deer he killed with that Remington semi-auto rifle (caliber 30-06) and its recoil were getting their revenge on him. However, I believed his hard labor as a plumber contributed much to his health problems. I will call my dear friend ‘brother Tom’ because of our relationship in Christ in this memorial. Brother Tom told me that he hated to see the state build Interstate 65 near Fort Deposit several years ago because that was some of the best turkey hunting area in the county. He would relate how he would get the most stubborn Toms to come to him when they would not move as he called them on his Lynch box. Sometimes he would remove his cap and beat on some bushes and other times he would run his hands through the leaves or just about any other noise that might fool that ole Tom to get it to come to him.

Brother Tom would tell me that a good friend of his, John Arthur Moorer, who had a farm a few miles west of Fort Deposit, would call him and tell him that there was a Tom turkey down in his pasture ‘gobbling up a storm’ so brother Tom would go out take care of the problem. I don’t know how many gobblers brother Tom killed in his life but it would be in the dozens. I will tell you that he killed 100 deer in his lifetime. And that is not a bad record to have if you are true deer hunter and hunting according to the state’s laws and regulations. He lost the use of his left eye back in the 1970s and his right eye had a cataract on it and thus he eventually became unable to hunt deer and turkey as once he did. And because of the arthritis in his shoulders he was unable to shoot his favorite 30-06. I personally believe that brother Tom would have hunted all of his life had it not been for his health hindering from doing so.

While living in Opp in the 1970’s, I become addicted to hunting deer and wild turkey. To simply state the matter, I was a novice and I had much to learn. Brother Tom called me one spring day and asked me to come up to Fort Deposit and we would go out to John Arthur Moorer’s farm and go turkey hunting. Now, it didn’t matter that it was 70 miles one way to Brother Tom’s house and so I replied immediately that I would be at his home early the next morning. I think I got up about 3:30 a.m. for the trip. I believe that was the only time I knocked on the front door of his house. The following years I always went to the back door where family and friends would enter.

He was awake and ready for me to arrive so we got in his truck and drove out to the Moorer’s farm. Brother Tom instructed me to go ahead of him some distance and sit down and wait until the break of day. I did and I heard gobblers gobbling and hens yelping. I tried my best to get a gobbler to come my way but due to my inexperience in calling, I failed to do so. Later in the morning I heard the blast of shotgun. A few minutes later I walked to where brother Tom was and I immediately saw a dead gobbler at his feet. With a smile on his face he said, “Raymond, I was afraid you might not kill one so I shot this one for you.” I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Brother Tom, I don’t want a dead turkey.” Well, we drove back to the house and I sat down in the ‘living room’ for a spell. Soon Marguerite told me that breakfast was ready and I moved hurriedly to the dinning table to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by an excellent cook. About that time brother Tom came walking in the room with ‘my turkey’. That gentleman had cleaned that bird for me and it was all ready for my wife to bake it when I returned home. Now, I am going to tell you that was true friendship; because if you have ever cleaned an ole Tom turkey you know why they are called ‘fowls’.

I often told that story of him killing ‘my turkey’ in his presence and he would grin from ear to ear. In fact, my last visit with him, he related that he had gone over to the Grady church of Christ to hear me preach and that I told that story about him killing ‘my turkey’. He always enjoyed hearing me tell it. Well, during the funeral service for brother Tom on Sunday, May 22, when I was mentioning many of my memories of him, I related that story and it brought laughter from those present, especially from his wife and family since they had heard the story before from brother Tom himself. The hunting of deer and turkey was an integrated part of this good man’s life and the many hunting stories he often told delighted all those who heard them. But the 30-06 rifle and the 12 gauge shotgun of his will remain silent now since the owner has departed to the place where the Tree of Life now exists in that beautiful Paradise of God.

29 January 2011

A Two Headed Deer??

(With apologies to the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”)

They say, “seeing is believing” but sometimes even that is hard to believe, at least to fully comprehend. When I was but a lad, I heard the rumor that there was a two headed calf down at the Veterinarian’s office in my hometown so I just had to go and see for myself. Well, I did and as I stood looking at that freak of nature I had a hard time believing what I was seeing. The poor calf died in a very short time after it was born. I can remember that we used to kid about having a dog that chased cars to have it chase a Studebaker because both the front and back of the car looked very much alike, thus, causing the dog to be confused and not knowing which end to chase. But I am about to relate a story concerning two deer hunters from the state of Texas that is known for exaggerating hunting stories about the size of their deer but this story tops them all because of the unusual and rare aspects of this particular deer.

I thought about sayings like ‘if a person had a problem about getting drunk, seeing this deer would sober him up – in a hurry’ ... Or, ‘here is a deer with a split personality’ … Maybe ‘two heads are better than one' ...  'You must be drunk because I see two of you’ … ’you might could have a coin with two tails or two heads but what about a deer with two heads’ … Which end would you believe?’ ... ’You are just ‘two-faced’ about matters … Wait, if you had another face, you would be wearing it’ … ’I really don’t know which end
to believe” (usually said regarding a dog barking at you and wagging its tail at the same time) … The lady on a GPS might say: ‘Turn right, no, turn left, no, turn right … re-calculating’ … If these hunters were preachers you could say that the bullets from the preachers’ rifles went in both ears and came out the other two … Couldn’t you imagine informing your friends that we killed a deer with 19 points and they were located - ‘where did you say?’ … ‘that deer does not know if he is coming or going’ … With apologies to the writer biblical James (1:8): ‘This deer is a double-minded animal, unstable in all his ways.’
Here are several links to this internet-spreading story. I found it in The SeaBreeze News and you can also read about some questions surrounding this deer at Buck Manager.  After reading these fascinating theories, come back and leave me your thoughts. I'd be interested in knowing what you think.

B. Raymond Elliott, Esquire and Exaggerator(?)

05 August 2010

Did You Shoot Them in That Sequence?

It was a cold day in January that year when I got dressed to go with a couple of friends to the Butler County Management Area to hunt deer. I had to ride between Timmy and Foy in a small Datsun pickup truck. On the back was a box that contained a few hound dogs. The distance was about 60 miles and most of that was covered during the darkness of that early morning. It was so cold that the red dirt had spewed up with ice and the wind was blowing to boot. It was a dreadful morning to be exposed to such weather for man or beast. At the set time I was placed as a standard in a cut-over area where I stood fully clothed with so many layers that made movement on my part rather difficult and I was still freezing. Foy was to the east of me and over a small hill.

Timmy had turned the dogs loosed and was located to the west of me and over another small hill and near a stream of water. I had deer coming by me but they were does and perhaps button bucks but nothing to shoot at because I might shoot the wrong sex and have to pay a fine and receive a cussing out by the top ranger.

Permit me to interrupt this here story by informing you that the day before this great hunt began, Timmy ‘borrowed’ 10 rounds of 12 gauge, 3 inch magnum, and double O buckshot from me to shoot in his Browning shotgun. His Browning and mine were both manufactured in Belgium with a 30 inch full choke and vented rib barrel, the top of the line for shotguns in my humble opinion. But, let me continue with this tale about three hunters from Opp, Alabama on a very cold day in south Alabama. The dogs were running and a-barking and jumping deer. All of
a sudden I heard Timmy shoot five times and then there was a pause between the next five rounds. As you know, the Browning can be loaded from underneath and that was what he was doing as fast as he could until he shot up all ten of the rounds I had loaned him. Shortly afterwards I heard him yelling, “Hey Raymond, get Foy and ya’ll come over here.” I shouted for Foy and we both went as fast as we could with about 30 pounds of clothing on us. When we got to where Timmy was there lay three bucks. Now remember we were on a management area and you were only allowed on that day to kill one buck per person. But what I saw were a six-point, a seven-point and an eight-point buck lying on the frozen ground. I believe that comes to a total of three bucks!

The first words out of my mouth were “Did you shoot them in that sequence?” I also said to him that he should have allowed one of them come my way. Timmy said he was standing on a stump along side a small stream of water when all of a sudden all that he saw were antlers everywhere. That is when he began to blast away with his 12 gauge shotgun. Now, we have a problem. One hunter could not claim three bucks at the ranger station. Foy said he would claim one and then Timmy looked at me. It was then I simply said, without a ‘holier than thou attitude’ that I could not conscientiously claim one because I would have to sign a paper declaring that I killed the deer. It was then a preacher friend of ours said he would. I think maybe he ‘fell a little from grace’ with that decision.

Well, my friend Timmy mounted all three deer heads and when you visit with him you will see the 6-point, 7-point and 8-point deer hanging on the wall. What did I get out of the hunt on an unbearable cold day near Georgiana, Alabama? Why it was my 10 rounds of buck shots that kill those three deer. I had the ten hulls mounted and I placed them over my fireplace in my den. Now if you believe that you will also believe this story.

A man kept bringing back a sack full of dead squirrels when he returned from hunting. Friends noticed that he did not have a gun with him and someone asked him how he killed the squirrels. The hunter replied that he “uglied” them to death. He also said that he used to carry his wife with him hunting squirrels but she always torn them to pieces. (Oh my!)