The last five days have been an awesome time with family. I hunted hard from late-October through most of November, so it was great to take a break and spend some quality time with loved ones. Of course, I couldn’t have five days off of work and not hunt at all.
On Thanksgiving it was 72 degrees, but a cold front was rolling through on Friday afternoon and the lows for Friday evening were dropping to nearly 20-degrees. My alarm went off at 4:00am on Saturday, and just as the forecast had predicted, it was blustery!
I bundled up and made a long, end-around hike to get to a treestand location that I have been saving for these exact conditions. I was hoping that the cold snap was going to have a mature buck on his feet, cruising for some late breeding action. This saddle on the high ridge was the perfect pinch point to catch some movement.
The first couple of hours after the sun came up were uneventful. Then I heard some movement down the hillside. I turned, scanned, and was disappointed to see a coyote trotting away.
It wasn’t long and this ‘yote was back, but this time he had another one with him. Once again they trotted away in the same direction.
Thirty minutes passed and I heard something else move in the leaves; this time there were 3 coyotes and they were acting aggressively with one another.
At that moment I knew that they were battling over food. But what exactly was it that they were feasting on?
I knew that my hunt was spoiled so I decided to cut my losses and head home. I climbed down from my stand and made a quick glance down where the coyotes had been fighting.
I spotted a long tine sticking up and my heart sank.
I wasn’t about to risk invading the kill site with three aggressive coyotes in the area, so I decided to head home, grab a gun, and come back to investigate.
As you can see, what I discovered was a beautiful 10-point buck. This buck had been shot with a rifle, and though the coyotes had just begun to tear into him, he was largely intact.
The primary firearms season had ended 5 days prior and there is no way that this buck could have been fatally shot that long ago. There is also no way that this buck could have been shot in the legal firearms season and survived his wounds for that many days. The only explanation is that someone shot him out of season and failed to recover him.
An extended, limited firearm season was still active at this time, but it was only for antlerless deer. My guess is that someone was out hunting for does, but encountered this buck and couldn’t resist shooting him. Apparently the lust for a trophy was greater than the burden of the law.
A buck of this caliber is a rare thing for this specific area. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to discover such a glorious animal that had been treated so poorly. I have hunted hard for over 10 weeks, and passed many younger bucks, to get a chance at encountering a buck like this. Here he was – the buck that I was after – and my hands were on him, but not in the way that I had hoped.
A big buck down…unfortunately.