2007 Eight Point Buck
Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
Some hunters are so successful at hunting that harvesting game is simply taken for granted. I used to be that way years ago, living in Oregon, but since moving to Michigan in the early 1970’s … having a “convenient” piece of property to hunt that holds any game to speak of is almost stuff that “miracles” are made of … from my perspective anyway.
After years of struggling as to WHY God wouldn’t pull strings for me to get permission to hunt on private property within a “reasonable” amount of driving time from Grand Rapids, Michigan – to the point of essentially giving up on hunting altogether – God dropped about 40 huntable acres of private property in my lap about seven years ago. Drive time is approximately 15 minutes from home, depending on traffic, and how rushed I am to get into my deer tree stand.
About four years ago I took a rushed shot at a 10 point buck (Eastern count; we count 1 inch or bigger eye-guards as a point) and may have hit him. I could never find my arrow, but I never found blood either. Other than taking that shot, I’ve never had any other bucks close enough to take a shot at.
This year there were probably 30 – 40 deer on the property at least, at various times, and at least 50% of those were yearlings. No one can remember seeing so many young deer in quite some time. That little fork-horn from last year must have had so potent genes! Seems like does had a lot of triplets this year.
There was probably at least six bucks crossing the property (most likely bedding on other private property however) that I saw, so double that number and that was probably closer to a dozen total – perhaps even more. A week before season opened I surprised an average sized 10-pointer going out into the soybean field to eat at dark, and a much larger deer stayed back in the cover of the woods that I assumed must have been a much larger buck.
I was able to spend quite a few evenings hunting from primarily two tree stands through October. I had a number of does beneath me that I could have shot at, but felt to pass up. Most of them were very young deer; nothing of much size.
On November 7th, 2007, I was nearly decided to shoot a big doe if a decent shot presented itself. With over a month of bow hunting pressure from surrounding properties by then, the deer were now hanging in deep cover almost right up until dark, before coming out of deeper cover.
The deer rut is basically the last week of October through the first week of November here in lower Michigan. With hunting pressure now so intense, bucks were courting does after dark or early morning. Only once did I see a buck (nice six-pointer) during the daylight hours during the rut thus far, and he was over 200 yards away chasing does around an open field.
So on November 7th, I was in my tree stand by 4 p.m. About 5 p.m. three yearlings came out and walked behind me. I put this particular stand up the first year I started hunting the property, and found out after the second year that I should have put the stand on the other side of the tree, because it’s on the other side of the tree that 99% of the deer travel as they tip-toe through the hardwoods within shooting range, out to feed in the big open field not 75 yards away.
As the three yearlings were behind me and out of my ability to see them without making a major turn in my tree stand (which I’ve done and spooked the deer every time I’ve done so!), I see a buck coming out of cover and he has a decent set of horns. He cautiously looks for danger, and not finding any, slowly walks down the lane that goes right past my tree roughly 20 yards away. He walks up to a small tree to my right and starts rubbing it with his horns. It would have presented me with a shot had I been turned to my right, but sitting down, that was not something I could do without either the three yearlings behind me catching my motion, or even the buck catching it, so all I could do was wait to see if he would keep walking down the lane in front of me as it leads out into the meadow.
By now I could easily count his horns: A decent 8-pointer. His body size was average for this area for whitetails, roughly 140 pounds on the hoof. Suddenly things got a little more exciting. A small 6-point buck comes out of cover and starts following the tracks of the first buck.
I have to stop long enough to say that 15 minutes prior to this, I watched through the trees at least 15 deer out in the field feeding, and then saw them running all over the field. That told me there was at least one buck in the big open field chasing after a “hot date,” and perhaps one of the does would play real hard to get and run out of the field into the woods where I was, and perhaps a buck would be hot on her tail. As a flurry of activity continued out in the field, albeit clear visibility obscured through limbs and leaves from where I was sitting … the 8-pointer suddenly came to the conclusion that rubbing his horns on that tree was not impressing any ladies, and that he had competition out in the field cutting in on his harem, so he had better get out there soon. You could almost see it in his eyes and by his body language.
The 8-pointed moved forward a few yards and stopped in the center of the lane, yet still about 10 yards shy of when I could safely pull my bow back and release an arrow without him catching my movement. While he stood rigid, looking through trees and limbs out into the meadow, the 6-pointer walked up to the very same tree and started rubbing his horns. He then started pawing leaves on the ground to where he had open dirt, and squirted some yellow liquid in the “scrape.” (This is called “marking their territory.”).
The 8-pointer then starts walking … then begins to accelerate his pace rather quickly. I had to quickly jerk my arrow back, otherwise he would be out of my “area of opportunity” to take a good shot. In yanking the arrow back in haste … wouldn’t you KNOW … the arrow fell off the arrow rest! (How many times has THAT happened in my bow hunting career?!)
In keeping my eye on the buck to make sure my timing would be perfect, I couldn’t flip the arrow back up on the rest with my left thumb. Finally I had to look down at my cold thumb to get the arrow back on the rest, and by that time I realized the buck was in a split second going to have his heart and lung area covered by a big tree between me and him. Beyond the tree there would be no shot.
I had to make a snap decision. If I released, I would have to try to hit him in the back half of his spine to try to paralyze him. Terrible shot. He’s moving way too quickly. I’m not that good of a shot when they stand completely still! My sight pin only is good for 20 yards. He’s somewhere between 25 – 30 yards. Don’t shoot, stupid. At best, you’ll just wound him and never get him.
Time out – sorry. Let the suspense build a little. For years now, I always pray a prayer before settling into my stand: “Lord – I ask that if I release an arrow this hunt, I ask that you help it either be a lethal hit, or a complete miss. I simply don’t want to wound a deer that I can never find, or that suffers needlessly.”
The first two times I prayed that prayer, it seemed to work. Then the next two deer I hit, both got away. The prayer didn’t seem to work 50% of the time. Then I went for years and couldn’t hit the broad side of a billboard 10 yards away with an arrow … I still kept praying that prayer, figuring I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. This evening was no different.
Well … here goes. Twang! Visibility was down, but it sure looked like that arrow was headed in some right direction. Then the buck ran off the lane almost immediately, down into the steep ravine below. That was an “interesting” move. Why not continue on down the lane a few more yards instead of immediately down into the ravine. Hmmmm … I think that buck may have an arrow in him, or has gone through him.
Okay: the 6-pointer. You will not believe the 6-pointer. He’s standing just a few feet away from his rub/scrape tree, looking up the lane where all the action had just taken place, like nothing had even happened. He HAD to have “breeding” on his mind. This stupid buck is going to present me with a much better shot!
Only one problem with that. My arrow quiver is hanging on a limb on the opposite side of the tree, higher up. I have to stand up, twist around, make noise popping an arrow out of the quiver, and expect a buck to STILL be standing there after all that commotion? NOT!
So I sit there quietly trying to take him out through mental telepathy, and the little critter walks right up into my 10 foot shooting range and just stands there perfectly still – not a care in the world. After standing there for at least half a minute, he slowly starts walking again, up the lane and out into the field to find him a sweetheart.
I waited over half an hour, then climbed down to search for my arrow. Well, that was my plan anyway. My light in my fanny pack had been on, and oh so wonderful … the batteries were now dead!
Okay – walk to the car; drive into town; buy some high-priced batteries at a convenience store; drive back out to deer country. Saw at least 30 deer in the open field – eyes shining in my headlights. Deer ran every which direction, knowing killer Norm had returned.
Couldn’t find my arrow in the heavy layer of leaves on the ground. Not a drop of blood. “Not good, Lord.”
Well, self. If you hit him, he went to the bottom of the steep ravine, and most likely continued down the ravine, which would be his path of least resistance, and beyond the ravine was a little creek. They always run to the nearest water to clot the wound. Walk back down the lane where he was rubbing on the tree, go down to the bottom of the ravine there, and see if you can find any blood.
No blood. Okay – walk up the ravine. See if he crossed the ravine, and ran up the other side. Directly below where I had released my arrow … there he lay in the bottom of the ravine, deceased. He hadn’t gone 30 yards.
The arrow hit him just below his spine, just at the top front portion of his left hind quarter. It was embedded only about eight inches into his body, at nearly a 70 degree angle. I pulled the arrow out; blood gushed from the hole; the broad head evidently had hit a major artery. What were the odds of that happening?!
Okay – time to open him up. Stick the flashlight in your mouth, use your left hand to keep him up-righted, and use your right hand to do the cutting. Punctured his stomach. He had to have been feeding on pig poop! Corn and soybeans actually, but man was that odor rank! Takes the fun right out of hunting, I’m here to tell ya’.
Now the work begins. Wet clay soil on both sides of the very steep ravine. Big leaves covering the clay ground - making it slick as lard on the dance floor, only a dance floor titled at a 75 degree angle. Getting any footing to pull that deer up that ravine was impossible. I spent over an hour not getting that buck 10 feet out of that ravine. Drenched with sweat and my bad aching back crying for relief … I decided I might better either go pay some third string football players to come and pull this buck out, or ask God to see if Michael the ark-angel could maybe lend me a hand.
Seriously … I did pray, asking God for a means of accomplishing this task with the tools I had to work with at that moment. Lying there on my back in the dark, breathing so hard I was getting concerned that maybe I might get my ribs cracked from the inside out, a thought came to mind. At age 60, I don’t have the stamina I once had at age 16.
Okay, Normy boy … you have this 100 foot nylon rope. It is strong enough to hold you. Tie one end on a sapling a few yards up the steep side of the ravine. Take the opposite end and wrap it once around a big oak tree way up near the top of the ravine. Pull that loose end back down to the deer. Tie that lose end in the center of a sturdy limb about two feet long. Put your buck pulling harness on your back with the attached short rope tied to the buck’s head … and start twisting the tree branch with the long rope attached until it tightens. Once it tightens, stand as erect as you can yet remain balanced so as to take the strain off your lower back and to where it is displaced to your upper back and shoulders, and tug on that buck for all you are worth!
When you gain a few inches, twist that limb in both your bare hands as quick as you can, so slack is taken up, and the buck can’t pull you back toward the bottom of the ravine. Hey … this will work. I might end up with some bleeding hands, but they have always healed since I was a kid.
It took me about an hour to move that buck roughly 25 yards out of the steepest part of the ravine. I continued to use the rope/limb apparatus until nearly on level ground, then only had less than 30 yards to drag Mr. Buck to where my car was at the edge of the meadow.
Okay – so WHY did God allow me to get this buck. Long story, as this already is too long … but I surmised that God had someone in store who needed the meat desperately. Upon making a few calls to our local church folk and finding that wasn’t where he was supposed to go … I made a call to our local Western Michigan Teen Challenge (Christ centered drug rehab ministry). Oh yeah … they take all the venison you can give them. Feeding nearly 200 students a day is no cheap task with limited funds for food – very often.
I dropped the buck off yesterday, November 10th. A couple of TC staff guys said while smiling: “This is so cool. We’ve been praying diligently God would provide some venison to the ministry. Afterall, it is deer season, and now your buck is the third deer brought in today. This is awesome to see God answer prayers like this!”
Three deer will feed 100 students just a few meals, so perhaps you can more appreciate their joy at the moment. Otherwise they settle for outdated beef and chicken at food stores … if and when it is available. (Teen Challenge students often get to be vegetarians whether they like it or not!).
This buck is the first deer I’ve bagged now going on about 10 years. The one before this was a doe I shot at about 70 yards away, in a blizzard, with winds blowing somewhere around 30 miles an hour. You’ve heard of the “ol’ Kentucky windage shot?” Yep – that was what I had to do. This was the last day of bow season: December 31st. Because I was downwind, I heard my arrow hit that deer like it hit a concrete wall. That deer ran with an arrow in its lungs. It ran for nearly 300 yards before it lay down to die. It was lying less than 25 yards from where my car was parked, the very last place it should have ran! That deer ended up going to a Spanish brother starting an evangelistic outreach in the ghetto of Grand Rapids. He had several children in his family to feed and had no means of having any meat. He had been praying and trusting for God to provide his family with some meat, and through a series of phone calls by my wife (because I had to work), God brought him to our house to pick up the deer. He couldn’t speak a lick of English, so Kathleen, (my dear wife), contacted her older sister, Carol King who taught Spanish at high school. Carol translated. The two girls watched the brother load the deer into his trunk … tears rolling down his eyes. He was so blessed that God heard his prayer for meat. Wasn’t any doubt in my mind that deer was meant for “someone special” – the moment I found the deer lying near my car.
Well, not much else to say other than the owner of the property I’ve been hunting, are putting it up for sale. This might well be the last year I ever get to hunt it, which means this might be the last deer story I’ll have to tell.
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