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The Bucks We Pass Don’t Always Make It

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December 22, 2011

The Bucks We Pass Don’t Always Make It

By Scott Bestul

On October 28th, almost two months ago now, I passed a shot at a pretty 10-pointer. The 3-1/2 year old buck was lazily following a doe toward my stand and at first glance looked so nice that I picked up my bow, clipped my release on the string, and prepared to shoot him if he gave me the opportunity. But then he stopped at 30 yards to nibble on some standing soybeans, and I got a long look at him through binoculars.

I’d decided to pass by the time he strolled by at 16 steps. He was a gorgeous whitetail, but it was early in the rut and I knew there were more mature animals in the neighborhood. So I put the bow down and in doing so I confirmed something my wife has long suspected—that while I do hunt hard for a chance at a big deer, I’m hunting just as hard for an excuse to stay in the woods!

Well I still haven’t tagged a buck this fall, and on a scouting walk behind my house last week I ran into the same pretty buck I’d passed. This time he was lying 20 yards from one of my treestands—dead, for at least a week. The crows and coyotes had started to work on his hindquarters, but other than their chewing I could find no mark on the sleek 10-pointer. He could have been injured by a car, gored by another buck, or had a wound I couldn’t identify. I’ll never know.

Naturally I’d have liked to have seen the buck make it another season. But I was also relieved to have the closure. I’ve passed shots on other nice bucks and never seen them again, and if I’m hunting near home and it’s a buck I’ve seen or have pictures of, I always wonder what’s happened to them. This time I know. And after a call to the local warden, who gave me a possession tag for the antlers, I’ll always have a reminder of a great encounter on a gorgeous afternoon in late October.

Comments (10)

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from The Long Sit wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Probably not the type of closure you were hoping for but mother nature is a powerful thing and this is a perfect example of not only how tough the animals are but also how delicate

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle Hardie wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

It's too bad you didn't get another chance at it. But passing up deer is something we all go through, and hopefully that means our patience will pay off!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Several years back I found a total of 13 dead bucks in my hunting area. I am sure some were winter kills, hunter kills and some by poaching. It's not easy being a deer.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I have passed on relatively few bucks in my hunting career, but a few. I often wonderered how they fared as i've never seen one of them again for sure. Hunters, poachers, cars, coyotes, stress, etc. As buck says being a deer ain't easy.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nebraskahunter18 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Most of the time the rifle hunters kill them after i pass on them then the ones that live the winter gets some of those.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I'm impressed you were able to pass on such a deer at close range, I don't think I would have been to! It's unfortunate he died soon after, hopefully he didn't suffer and went quick. I found out recently that a buck I've been after for 4+ years had his jaw shot about clean off with a muzzleloader. He was on the run and the hunter misjudged the buck's speed. His entire hunting group searched all day but nothing, no blood even. He will starve to death for sure which is terrible way to die. Hopefully we find his remains and his rack can at least grace a wall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnow wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I don't think the bucks I pass ever make it. I have passed many small to decent bucks in hopes of seeing them the next year and never do. I think this is because my neighbors never pass on anything. It's a futile effort I suppose but when you pull the trigger, it's all over, and I'm never ready for it to be over either.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Been there done that. The latest was a young 8 point my wife's cousin decided to shoot. The good news is now he won't get to shoot the local Giant I've been after. It looks like the big guy will make it thru hunting season. Here's hoping he makes it to next fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Hopefully in those weeks between when you passed on him and when he died, the buck was able to breed some of your local does and you will get a chance to hunt his off-spring in the future.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Berardi wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

You can bet your bottom dollar e almost every trophy buck harvested in pressured areas was most likely passed by a hunter or 2 when he was a younger deer. Don't assume just because you don't see those deer the next year they didn't survive- more than likely plenty of them do but just go nocturnal after they spend several seasons eluding arrows & bullets!! Many trophies on hunters walls wouldn't have been there if it we were all meat hunters & had the mentally "if it's brown it's down".

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from The Long Sit wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Probably not the type of closure you were hoping for but mother nature is a powerful thing and this is a perfect example of not only how tough the animals are but also how delicate

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle Hardie wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

It's too bad you didn't get another chance at it. But passing up deer is something we all go through, and hopefully that means our patience will pay off!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Several years back I found a total of 13 dead bucks in my hunting area. I am sure some were winter kills, hunter kills and some by poaching. It's not easy being a deer.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I have passed on relatively few bucks in my hunting career, but a few. I often wonderered how they fared as i've never seen one of them again for sure. Hunters, poachers, cars, coyotes, stress, etc. As buck says being a deer ain't easy.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I'm impressed you were able to pass on such a deer at close range, I don't think I would have been to! It's unfortunate he died soon after, hopefully he didn't suffer and went quick. I found out recently that a buck I've been after for 4+ years had his jaw shot about clean off with a muzzleloader. He was on the run and the hunter misjudged the buck's speed. His entire hunting group searched all day but nothing, no blood even. He will starve to death for sure which is terrible way to die. Hopefully we find his remains and his rack can at least grace a wall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnow wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I don't think the bucks I pass ever make it. I have passed many small to decent bucks in hopes of seeing them the next year and never do. I think this is because my neighbors never pass on anything. It's a futile effort I suppose but when you pull the trigger, it's all over, and I'm never ready for it to be over either.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Been there done that. The latest was a young 8 point my wife's cousin decided to shoot. The good news is now he won't get to shoot the local Giant I've been after. It looks like the big guy will make it thru hunting season. Here's hoping he makes it to next fall.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nebraskahunter18 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Most of the time the rifle hunters kill them after i pass on them then the ones that live the winter gets some of those.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Hopefully in those weeks between when you passed on him and when he died, the buck was able to breed some of your local does and you will get a chance to hunt his off-spring in the future.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Berardi wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

You can bet your bottom dollar e almost every trophy buck harvested in pressured areas was most likely passed by a hunter or 2 when he was a younger deer. Don't assume just because you don't see those deer the next year they didn't survive- more than likely plenty of them do but just go nocturnal after they spend several seasons eluding arrows & bullets!! Many trophies on hunters walls wouldn't have been there if it we were all meat hunters & had the mentally "if it's brown it's down".

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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