For many of us, the day we kill a buck marks the very first time we’ve ever seen him. I have waged a few campaigns against individual deer that lasted the better part of one season, and were sometimes marked by multiple encounters.
But if you’ll allow me to divulge a fantasy, I’d love to tag a buck that I’ve known for awhile. You know, the kind of pursuit that’s marked in years, not days or even weeks. I’d see the buck up close as a 2-1/2 year old and pass the shot. Find his sheds that spring. Get another encounter when the buck was three and, recognizing his potential, decide to let him go another season. As the buck aged I’d get the occasional trail cam pic. Find his sheds. Luck into a sighting now and then.
It would be a cat-n-mouse game of epic proportions. One day, if I got truly lucky, I might slap a tag on his leg. Or he might beat me thoroughly, eventually dying of old age or simply disappearing as some of those aged giants often do. What I want is not so much the trophy on the wall, but the experience of chasing one deer for more than one season. Unfortunately, the hunting pressure in my home area–where such a campaign would have to take place–is heavy enough that most deer I can recognize one fall will not see another November.
The deer pictured above is one of the ancient warriors I dream about hunting. And the hunter (Lee Lakosky, of “The Crush” tv fame) had a long history with this buck. Lee hunts on a large chunk of private ground in southern Iowa, where he gets to watch whitetails age gracefully. He’s also a tremendous deer hunter who was killing big bucks long before he moved to the Promised Land.
So how ’bout you? Have you tagged a buck you knew well and hunted for awhile? Or does the pressure in your area (or other factors, such as limited hunting time) make a multi-year chase nearly impossible?