Big Buck Down! (Unfortunately)

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.

Buck Down

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.

Buck Down

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.

Buck Down
The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Chris Pung

    That sucks Mark. Such a sad way to see a giant go.

    • SoleAdventure

      Most bucks don’t get a chance to become this mature…I think you can see why.

  • Erin

    We found a beautiful 8 pointer a couple of years ago that the coyotes had taken down. We took his antlers and you are right, there is nothing worst than knowing such a beautiful animal was taken illegally!!

    • SoleAdventure

      Most of the time antlers represent a wonderful memory of a successful hunt. These antlers have a whole different meaning for me; they are a sobering reminder of a different type.

  • DeerPassion

    He was beautiful… Nothing saddens and disgusts me more than “hunters” who refuse to obey the law or respect the animals that they are hunting. I still hope you can get your hands on another gorgeous deer before the end of season.

    • SoleAdventure

      That’s the sad part…whoever did this probably still considers himself (herself) a “hunter”. I hope I’m wrong about how this happened, but I honestly can’t see another explanation.

  • Randy Hynes

    What a gut-wrenching story! Brother, you must have had a thousand emotions. In spite of the travesty, I’m happy someone with some respect found him. Really pulling for you and hope you can harvest this guys big brother.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Randy. I definitely have a ton of different emotions…the waste and abuse of the animal is hard to stomach and it is only compounded by all of the effort and energy that I put into doing things the right way.

  • HighCountryBowhunter

    It is too bad that a buck of this caliber was taken this way. That’s one of the hardest things as a lawful hunter is to have the wind knocked out of your sails by some “hunter” who decides to go out and take a deer illegally. I just keep telling myself that karma will come back around sooner or later for them as well as us law abiding hunters…. Good luck Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      Yeah, this definitely took some of the wind out of my sails, that is for sure! I’ve always appreciated the wisdom of Joe Dirt: “You gotta’ keep on keeping on”.

  • Al Quackenbush

    That is not only sad, but this kind of thing angers me. Poachers are evil. Did you report the kill to Operation Game Thief or contact a warden? I would have been on the phone quickly and reporting it to inform them that it was going on. While I know there isn’t much they can do now, it would be worth while to report. I hope your season improves and you are able to get your deer! Thanks for sharing, Mark. Heart breaker there.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Al! Yes, I am going to be working with the landowners and other authorities to make sure everyone is aware of this.

  • Pushing the Wild Limits

    People continue to give us a bad name, that is a real shame. My dad just shot a deer that had a poacher hole in it from like a .22, I hope everything gets worked out.

  • Hunting Pro Store

    To bad a hunter couldn’t have gotten that nice buck, looks like coyotes.