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BuckTracker: The Name Game

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April 10, 2008

BuckTracker: The Name Game

By Scott Bestul

A couple days ago, my friend Roger found a shed off a buck he knew well. Not only had Roger spotted the buck during scouting/glassing sessions last summer, but he had trail camera photos of the deer. My buddy nicknamed the buck “Mr. Ed” because its long face reminded him of the talking TV horse. And though Roger devoted much of his effort to killing the fine 8-point last fall, he never saw the buck. “Finding the antler was a highlight of my year,” Roger said. “I thought Mr. Ed had been killed by another hunter or hit by a car. Now I know he’s alive and I can go after him again.”

The Mr. Ed story got me to thinking about naming the deer we hunt. I have to admit to being pretty unimaginative on the few deer I’ve christened. A few years ago I went after “The Big 8,” a tall-tined buck that earned his nickname because he had—all together now—eight big points on his rack. I’ve been slightly more creative on a few others; “Picket Fence” and “Clyde” were both monster 12-points that humiliated me on a frequent basis. And last year I spotted “Lefty” in a bachelor group of six bucks while summer scouting. I lost a lot of sleep figuring out where to kill that deer, and when he finally showed up one evening I was shocked to see I’d misjudged him by, well, a whole bunch…so I let him walk. I’m anxious to see if Lefty made it through the fall and what he’ll be this year.

So all this got me to wondering about memorable bucks you guys and gals have chased. How do you name them? Tell me about your encounters and, if they occur, kills. Some of my favorite deer stories involve a hunter and a deer he knows well. A lot of these bucks are local legends that are old, wise or live in spots that make them very difficult to tag. Around here we’ve had deer named Garth and Moses, Bozo and Big Dan…..just to name a few. I’d like to hear about the names you give those special deer in your area!

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from robert wrote 6 years 1 week ago

my brother and i both passed numerous times this year a small buck we named mike cause he was as stupid as a guy named mike i worked with. were hoping he grows some hes so predictable u can set your watch by him

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from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Amen! I have never had Red Seal in my action, but I have drooled Red Man over my rest and sight...it's a great silencing tool!

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from Blue Ox wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Good stuff, Bubba!

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 1 week ago

In the fall of 2004, I already had a blind set up in a "pepperbush" next to a rye field. (the grain, not the grass!) I had taken a really nice 9 point from the same place the year before.About a week before the gun season opened, I decided to take my spotting scope to the Pepperbush stand and see what came out into the field. It was pretty late in the afternoon and I thought if I got there ahead of the deer, it might be interesting.I pulled up under the edge of a hill, unloaded my 4 wheeler and drug my stool, spotting scope and .22 rifle up under a plum bush near the blind. Setting the chair and scope up became problematic as deer began filtering into the field immediately! I finally got everything set up undetected and began scanning the deer in the field. One six point, another 4 point with one antler deformed and black. Several does and a spike joined the herd.Suddenly a doe jumped the fence and spurted out into the field and nervously looked back toward the fence. I rearranged my spotting scope just in time to see a yearling squirt through the fence and another larger deer come running up to the fence and stop. I raised my scope and barely got it focused on a large buck with a kink in his left beam. He broke and ran west down the fence. The doe that had run into the field broke from the field and ran back to where she originally crossed the fence, the "Kink horn" buck retracing his steps back to the crossing. I tried once again to focus my scope on his rack but wasn't quick enough as he and the doe raced out of sight to the east. My heart was in my throat, wanting a shot at "Kink horn" but knew the landowner, who also hunted, would be there opening day too.Opening morning, I stood by the fire with bated breath. As a guest, I could only take what was left. When it came my turn, I breathed a sigh of relief because no one had taken the "Pepperbush"!I rode my 4 wheeler through the dark, crossed a gully 200 yards from the stand and came to a screeching halt as the 4 point with the one black antler jumped from his bed, not 30 yards from me! As soon as he left, I moved my scooter on down to the willows and crept into the "Pepperbush" and set up.The rye field to my right had been flooded with recent rains and I was treated to the cacaphony of feeding mallards.About 7:15AM, I thought I heard a grunt back to my left. Since I had not seen anything, which was odd for the "Pepperbush", I decided to grunt back!I did my little grunt thing, picked up my rifle and waited for a reply. Nothing. I sat back and relaxed.Twenty yards to my right, a blur of grey! "Deer!"At thirty yards, with gun coming up, I realized it was a buck!"Nice deer, but not the Kink horn!"The deer came to a sliding stop that would have made a reining horse proud and looked straight at me! "IT IS THE KINK HORN!"My mind raced as I tried to get the crosshairs to settle on his shoulder, sixty yards away!I started my squeeze. He took a step. I readjusted my scope and continued to squeeze. He took another step. I slipped the crosshairs to the point of his shoulder and continued squeezing. Just as he took the next step the rifle exploded in my hands. I don't know who was more surprised, me or him!I sat back on my stool and told myself I would wait 30 minutes before going to look. Nervously, I tried reloading my gun and refreshing my Red Seal. I took the .270 round out of my mouth and shook the snuff out of my rifle magazine and managed to get the rifle reloaded.After about 3 minutes, I stepped out of the blind, took two steps and jumped a covey of quail. I nearly dropped my rifle and swallowed my snuff.Not 50 yards from the blind, the Kink horn lay behind a plum thicket, shot squarely behind the left shoulder, exiting at the front point of the right shoulder.Nine points, 21 inch outside spread, field dressed 120 pounds.Only deer I ever SCOUTED and KILLED!BubbaP.S. He's hanging on my living room wall!

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from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

These are great stories, guys. I live for stuff like this. Heck, if you know where a buck fornicates, you've GOT to name him!

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from Gregor wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Walt the whitetail. This healthy perfect 5x5 eluded me all last season. I had 2 questionable shots on Walt through October that I didn't take. November rolled around and i had a couple of buddies who don't get out much with me so I made a plan hoping one of them would shoot Walt. Walt had a different plan. I was up wind and did a bit of grunting and rattling in, and I swore I could here a critter coming, but nothing happened. Half an hour more passed and still nothing, our rendezvous time was approaching so I figured my 2 friends had made too much noise and scared off Walt-not exactly. I had a smoke, standing in the edge of a small logging turn around, I put out my smoke and turned around. There was Walt, standing about 10 ft from me looking at me with quite the what the f#$k look on his face. Walt started running the 80yrds to the other side of the opening, I fumbled my rifle safety and shot where Walt had been standing not a 1/2 second earlier, missing him cleanly. I stood there dumbfounded , trying to keep there iron sights of my secondary hunting rifle on a buck zigging and zagging away from me at full speed. I didn't shoot, the shot would be poor at best. I ended up standing in a fresh wet snow storm, having another smoke, shaking my head at my luck while mother nature made me wet and cold in jest. That's my story. Walt lives on, Season ended a week later, and nobody took him that I could find. I know where Walt lives, sleeps, eats, and fornicates. This year, I"ll have something to say to Walt.

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from Jon wrote 6 years 1 week ago

I admit I've never named a buck. Something about not wanting to get too chummy with the things I eat, I guess.

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from Marc wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Only recently have I started naming bucks. My first named buck was in 2006 to a 10 pointer with a 12" droptine that had a 5" hook point coming off of it. So I named this deer "Hook". This season I named two deer the first typical 10 pointer I've ever seen "Big 10" yes very creative, and "Sidewinder" he was a 2 1/2 year old 3 point buck with one antler drooping down in front of his face. I ended up arrowing Sidewinder on Christmas Eve and turned out his skull was cracked and caused the antler to hang sideways in front of his face.

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from Field and Pool wrote 6 years 1 week ago

No pictures from the trail cam, or of the shed. Come on,

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from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Blue Ox: That is an awesome story! And an even better name!My friend in western Wisconsin enjoyed filming a buck he called "Hollywood". Giant old deer that would stand around by the road and let you videotape him all summer long. Soon as the hunting season opened...you guessed it: Poof!Like magic!

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from Blue Ox wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Where I grew up in northern Wisconsin (Rusk county) there was a decent size 10 point we used to call 'Twinkle-Toes'. I watched this animal for at least 7 winters. The deal with him is he would usually stay in dense cover, but then trot out for 10 yards or so, pause, then turn a full circle, much like a dog does before he lays down. And Twinkle toes would continue on like this all the way through the field, walk 10 yards, turn a circle, walk 10 more yards, so on and so forth. Wasn't hard at all to track him. Just follow the circles. In what I guesstimate was his 8th year, I decided to track Twinkletoes down and take him. I cut his track within munutes of starting out on that late November morning, and followed it for about a half mile or so. Turns out I wasn't the only one tracking him. I walked into a small clearing, and the sharp, coppery smell of blood touched my nose. 40 more paces and I came across a large crimson stain on the snow. Paw prints everywhere. All that was left was a broken antler, a small bit of skull, and some tufts of fur. Didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the wolves got him. I wasn't upset about it (well, maybe a little) but that's just the way of things in the north woods. It's how Mother Nature intended it to be.I still have the broken antler.

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from I'm in school right now wrote 6 years 1 week ago

We had a nice 6-point come up to my cousin who had his youth license. When he shot, we just heard a click and the deer ran. My dad said it was the only misfire he had ever seen with that gun. The next shot two hours later at a range worked, though. We named him lucky because it was a broadside shot at thirty yards.Never saw lucky the rest of the weekend...Nate

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from robert wrote 6 years 1 week ago

my brother and i both passed numerous times this year a small buck we named mike cause he was as stupid as a guy named mike i worked with. were hoping he grows some hes so predictable u can set your watch by him

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Amen! I have never had Red Seal in my action, but I have drooled Red Man over my rest and sight...it's a great silencing tool!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Good stuff, Bubba!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bubba wrote 6 years 1 week ago

In the fall of 2004, I already had a blind set up in a "pepperbush" next to a rye field. (the grain, not the grass!) I had taken a really nice 9 point from the same place the year before.About a week before the gun season opened, I decided to take my spotting scope to the Pepperbush stand and see what came out into the field. It was pretty late in the afternoon and I thought if I got there ahead of the deer, it might be interesting.I pulled up under the edge of a hill, unloaded my 4 wheeler and drug my stool, spotting scope and .22 rifle up under a plum bush near the blind. Setting the chair and scope up became problematic as deer began filtering into the field immediately! I finally got everything set up undetected and began scanning the deer in the field. One six point, another 4 point with one antler deformed and black. Several does and a spike joined the herd.Suddenly a doe jumped the fence and spurted out into the field and nervously looked back toward the fence. I rearranged my spotting scope just in time to see a yearling squirt through the fence and another larger deer come running up to the fence and stop. I raised my scope and barely got it focused on a large buck with a kink in his left beam. He broke and ran west down the fence. The doe that had run into the field broke from the field and ran back to where she originally crossed the fence, the "Kink horn" buck retracing his steps back to the crossing. I tried once again to focus my scope on his rack but wasn't quick enough as he and the doe raced out of sight to the east. My heart was in my throat, wanting a shot at "Kink horn" but knew the landowner, who also hunted, would be there opening day too.Opening morning, I stood by the fire with bated breath. As a guest, I could only take what was left. When it came my turn, I breathed a sigh of relief because no one had taken the "Pepperbush"!I rode my 4 wheeler through the dark, crossed a gully 200 yards from the stand and came to a screeching halt as the 4 point with the one black antler jumped from his bed, not 30 yards from me! As soon as he left, I moved my scooter on down to the willows and crept into the "Pepperbush" and set up.The rye field to my right had been flooded with recent rains and I was treated to the cacaphony of feeding mallards.About 7:15AM, I thought I heard a grunt back to my left. Since I had not seen anything, which was odd for the "Pepperbush", I decided to grunt back!I did my little grunt thing, picked up my rifle and waited for a reply. Nothing. I sat back and relaxed.Twenty yards to my right, a blur of grey! "Deer!"At thirty yards, with gun coming up, I realized it was a buck!"Nice deer, but not the Kink horn!"The deer came to a sliding stop that would have made a reining horse proud and looked straight at me! "IT IS THE KINK HORN!"My mind raced as I tried to get the crosshairs to settle on his shoulder, sixty yards away!I started my squeeze. He took a step. I readjusted my scope and continued to squeeze. He took another step. I slipped the crosshairs to the point of his shoulder and continued squeezing. Just as he took the next step the rifle exploded in my hands. I don't know who was more surprised, me or him!I sat back on my stool and told myself I would wait 30 minutes before going to look. Nervously, I tried reloading my gun and refreshing my Red Seal. I took the .270 round out of my mouth and shook the snuff out of my rifle magazine and managed to get the rifle reloaded.After about 3 minutes, I stepped out of the blind, took two steps and jumped a covey of quail. I nearly dropped my rifle and swallowed my snuff.Not 50 yards from the blind, the Kink horn lay behind a plum thicket, shot squarely behind the left shoulder, exiting at the front point of the right shoulder.Nine points, 21 inch outside spread, field dressed 120 pounds.Only deer I ever SCOUTED and KILLED!BubbaP.S. He's hanging on my living room wall!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

These are great stories, guys. I live for stuff like this. Heck, if you know where a buck fornicates, you've GOT to name him!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gregor wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Walt the whitetail. This healthy perfect 5x5 eluded me all last season. I had 2 questionable shots on Walt through October that I didn't take. November rolled around and i had a couple of buddies who don't get out much with me so I made a plan hoping one of them would shoot Walt. Walt had a different plan. I was up wind and did a bit of grunting and rattling in, and I swore I could here a critter coming, but nothing happened. Half an hour more passed and still nothing, our rendezvous time was approaching so I figured my 2 friends had made too much noise and scared off Walt-not exactly. I had a smoke, standing in the edge of a small logging turn around, I put out my smoke and turned around. There was Walt, standing about 10 ft from me looking at me with quite the what the f#$k look on his face. Walt started running the 80yrds to the other side of the opening, I fumbled my rifle safety and shot where Walt had been standing not a 1/2 second earlier, missing him cleanly. I stood there dumbfounded , trying to keep there iron sights of my secondary hunting rifle on a buck zigging and zagging away from me at full speed. I didn't shoot, the shot would be poor at best. I ended up standing in a fresh wet snow storm, having another smoke, shaking my head at my luck while mother nature made me wet and cold in jest. That's my story. Walt lives on, Season ended a week later, and nobody took him that I could find. I know where Walt lives, sleeps, eats, and fornicates. This year, I"ll have something to say to Walt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jon wrote 6 years 1 week ago

I admit I've never named a buck. Something about not wanting to get too chummy with the things I eat, I guess.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Marc wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Only recently have I started naming bucks. My first named buck was in 2006 to a 10 pointer with a 12" droptine that had a 5" hook point coming off of it. So I named this deer "Hook". This season I named two deer the first typical 10 pointer I've ever seen "Big 10" yes very creative, and "Sidewinder" he was a 2 1/2 year old 3 point buck with one antler drooping down in front of his face. I ended up arrowing Sidewinder on Christmas Eve and turned out his skull was cracked and caused the antler to hang sideways in front of his face.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Field and Pool wrote 6 years 1 week ago

No pictures from the trail cam, or of the shed. Come on,

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Bestul wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Blue Ox: That is an awesome story! And an even better name!My friend in western Wisconsin enjoyed filming a buck he called "Hollywood". Giant old deer that would stand around by the road and let you videotape him all summer long. Soon as the hunting season opened...you guessed it: Poof!Like magic!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 6 years 1 week ago

Where I grew up in northern Wisconsin (Rusk county) there was a decent size 10 point we used to call 'Twinkle-Toes'. I watched this animal for at least 7 winters. The deal with him is he would usually stay in dense cover, but then trot out for 10 yards or so, pause, then turn a full circle, much like a dog does before he lays down. And Twinkle toes would continue on like this all the way through the field, walk 10 yards, turn a circle, walk 10 more yards, so on and so forth. Wasn't hard at all to track him. Just follow the circles. In what I guesstimate was his 8th year, I decided to track Twinkletoes down and take him. I cut his track within munutes of starting out on that late November morning, and followed it for about a half mile or so. Turns out I wasn't the only one tracking him. I walked into a small clearing, and the sharp, coppery smell of blood touched my nose. 40 more paces and I came across a large crimson stain on the snow. Paw prints everywhere. All that was left was a broken antler, a small bit of skull, and some tufts of fur. Didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the wolves got him. I wasn't upset about it (well, maybe a little) but that's just the way of things in the north woods. It's how Mother Nature intended it to be.I still have the broken antler.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from I'm in school right now wrote 6 years 1 week ago

We had a nice 6-point come up to my cousin who had his youth license. When he shot, we just heard a click and the deer ran. My dad said it was the only misfire he had ever seen with that gun. The next shot two hours later at a range worked, though. We named him lucky because it was a broadside shot at thirty yards.Never saw lucky the rest of the weekend...Nate

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