Christmas Day started with 6-year-old Emma wide-eyed and bouncing like a ball toward the lighted tree. Amy and I staggered to the living room in the pre-dawn hour while Emma shredded presents like a tornado. She made out like a bandit–a new bike, new doll, clothes, and more.

By lunch we were all exhausted, but I decided it was a good afternoon to hunt by the river. The girls took a nap while I snuck away. I made it to my stand by 3 p.m.

The first visitors were 17 turkeys. They were all fluffed up in the biting cold, pecking through the alfalfa hay for kernels of corn. It was 4:20 p.m. when I spied a deer to the north coming at a trot. Through the binoculars I thought it was a doe, but it looked too big. When it got to bow range, I could see two bloody circles on the deer’s head–a buck that had already shed both antlers. As I was watching him at 20 yards through the binoculars, I spied an antler lying in the green hay by the feeder. The buck was the old 8-point I’ve been after all season, and now here he was, for the first time ever, less than 20 yards. But with no antlers! Next year.

Two more small bucks showed up around 4:45. At 5 I spied antlers 200 yards to the north–a good buck, headed my way. Through the 10X glass I could see it was the tall-tined 10-point I’ve had several encounters with this season.

When he turned at 20 yards, I sucked the 64-pound Hoyt to full power. My muscles were cold and did not want to work. I dropped the string and the buck went straight down. Another arrow ended things quickly.

The buck had lost a noticeable amount of weight since his peak back in October, maybe 40-50 pounds. I remember watching him wildly chasing a doe back in November. No wonder he was skinny. His rack has ten symmetrical points. The right side G-4 has about 2-inches busted off. The rest is perfect. He is perfect. I rough-scored his rack in the 140s.

I’m so thankful for this fine buck. The memories and the rack are great, but the meat will feed my girls next year. We love venison at my house. What a gift on Christmas Day!