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There is an old–and very truthful–saying that goes something like “a deer hunter is only as good as his ground.” I’d like to add a corollary to that maxim: “A hunter is only as good as his friends.”

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I shot a very nice buck this past weekend, and I consider it a gift deer from one of my best friends. My neighbor Dave Olson is a fine and passionate bowhunter who, among other obligations, is a dairy farmer. Those of you familiar with this branch of agriculture can appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and labor that Dave invests, and that free time is a virtual rarity for my friend.

What does my neighbor’s lifestyle have to do with my buck? Plenty. About a year ago, Dave bought a hunting acreage, an 80-acre parcel about 25 miles from home. He set to work making the property more whitetail-friendly, and I volunteered to help. Dave and I have been working since last spring, scouting, prepping and planting food plots, hanging stands and laying out a rough blueprint of future habitat work. It is a labor of love for both of us…and one I can enjoy without worrying about making payments.

Whether it was to reward me for my help or just because he is a great guy, Dave asked me to bowhunt this parcel with him this fall. A generous offer, made even more special when you consider that Dave’s scout-cam survey this summer revealed two jaw-dropper bucks and another pair of shooter-almost-anywhere deer. Given Dave’s limited hunting schedule and considerable financial investment, I was determined to either delay hunting this ground until my friend was tagged out, or hold off on any buck I know he’d consider tagging.

But my friend was having none of my self-imposed discipline. Dave not only invited me to join him this weekend, but insisted that I take any buck that I saw, “and that includes the big ones,” he said. “I’ll be really mad if you pass any deer that you’d want to shoot somewhere else.”

So of course the buck that showed for me was a giant, and I was lucky enough to take him. I am proud as can be of the deer…but even more proud that I can call a man like Dave my friend.

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