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Don't always count on luck when hunting

During the first week of November, my wife and I were going for a ride across the south end of the farm on the Gator. This is not a quiet machine. The engine is fairly loud, something to do with an exhaust leak, and the frame on which the cab is mounted is loose, causing a continuous rattle. I have tried to tighten assorted braces and bolts to no avail. Driving the Gator slowly across a moderately rough pasture sounds a whole lot like an empty garbage can rolling down hill.

As we drove up a hill, we met a buck coming down toward us. His nose was on the ground and he was on a mission. He paused briefly to look at us and continued on his way. We obviously had not sneaked up on him, but he was not startled or concerned. A good sign the rut is on is when normally wary bucks do stupid things. This particular buck was distinctive in that he had only one antler. The right side was a normal five point but the left was broken off about six inches above his head. In telling about such a close encounter with a mature buck, we started referring to the deer as "One Horn."

Our paths were to cross several times before the end of deer season. I was able to call him in by rattling antlers together just a few days later. He came running in, stood broadside to me for a few minutes, and wandered off when he could not find the fight he came to observe. He came back to check it out the second time when I rattled again. Most bucks are not fooled by the same trick twice.

The next week, when I checked the pictures on the trail camera, there was One Horn. The picture was taken at night and One Horn was looking directly at the camera from less than a foot away. The flash of the camera caused him to be a perfectly white silhouette against a black background. He appeared to be closely examining the camera to see if it was dangerous. It was then I decided this was not the brightest deer in the herd.

He had walked up on us in the Gator, fell for the rattle trick after he knew it was a trick, and finally checked out the camera from inches away. I decided we probably should eat this one. He has a large body, is fat and healthy, but does not seem to have the brains to survive. I do not want stupid genes being passed on to the next generation. We could take him out during shotgun season.

Gun season came and went with no more sightings of the not-so-smart deer with only one antler. I am not sure where he went, but he was not up to his usual routine. We took out several does and had plans to get him out of the gene pool, but he did not cooperate.

Bow season started up again after shotgun. My first day out, I saw One Horn. I was well hidden behind a tree as he walked up the path toward me. He came well within range and suddenly stopped, turned to his right, and took a couple of steps into the timber. I would have preferred he continue into the clearing in front of me, but that was not going to happen. He was among a few little hickory trees and was as close as he would get. His next move would be further into the timber and out of sight. If I was going to take him out it would be now or perhaps never.

I drew back, placed the sight on his shoulder, and released the arrow. I could see the arrow flying straight and true when I heard a thud. It was more of a thud like an ax hitting a log than an arrow striking a deer. One Horn spun around and disappeared into the timber. It was only then I saw the small hickory tree that was directly between the deer and me. My broadhead was buried up to the shaft.

One Horn has learned several lessons this year, and will perhaps be a bit more careful in the future. He needs to remember not always to count on luck.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.