Back in July, my trail cams captured a neat-looking deer. The broad-bodied buck toted a dandy 6-point right side, but his left antler was very odd. Four small points sprouted from a main beam not much larger than a yearling’s rack, and a 4-inch “kicker” point grew back toward the buck’s hindquarter. Because the antlers were so imbalanced I nicknamed the buck “Tilter.”
I’m a fan of funky racks, and I decided if I ever got a chance at Tilter I’d try to shoot him. Of course, taking a buck’s picture and getting him in bow range are only slightly related, and I jokingly told a friend “That photo is probably the last I’ll ever see of that buck.” I was nearly correct, as neither I–nor anyone else who hunts that farm–had seen Tilter all fall.
All that changed Friday evening. The farm where I snapped Tilter’s photo is owned by my neighbor Vernon, and his brother Terry had a muzzleloader tag in his pocket. Vernon asked if I’d help Terry get on a deer, and I was happy to help. Vernon told me he’d found some good feeding sign in the same bean field that Tilter had enjoyed last summer, and a quick scouting run confirmed this. So I set up a snow-camo ground blind for Terry and after the afternoon hunt on his second day, Terry called to say he’d shot a buck, and would I help get him out of the woods?
Of course I recognized the buck as soon as we found him, and I was absolutely ecstatic. Not only had a good friend had tremendous success under brutal conditions (16″ of snow and 4 degrees), but a deer I’d been looking for all fall had finally shown his face. Whether Tilter had gone nocturnal for much of the fall, or had simply relocated, I’ll never know. But the cool-looking buck had finally come home, and it was neat to see him up close and personal!