A Morning to Remember: by Greg Lease

It was late September, one of my favorite times of year to hunt. I was in a familiar set, a large oak tree standing tall over a good set of hardwoods. My spirits were high as the clear sky’s sun broke the horizon to the east and illuminated the multi-colored forest I overlooked. With bow in hand, I was hunting my northern Minnesota property and was set up between some clover food plots and a pretty good bedding area. The morning was the first cool one since opening day, and I hoped that one of the several bucks I had recorded on my trail camera would leave the food sources a little later than usual. It had been a tough September so far. My food plots were being ravaged but due to the warm weather, deer movement had been mostly at night.

The hardwood stand I sat above served as a good transition area between feeding and bedding areas and also provided a light but tasty snack of acorns for the deer during their travels. I knew of one or two “shooter bucks” in the area and hoped I might finally get an up-close and personal look at one of them.

An hour after daylight I was startled out of my daydream by the sound of movement. Eighty yards in front of me and to my left I saw the body of a deer protruding from behind an oak tree. The deer was large and my heart skipped a beat as I realized that this was no doe. The deer’s head was obstructed as it slowly fed through the brush and I watched as it munched its way toward my twenty-five foot high perch. The buck soon fed into an opening. That’s when I took my first in-person look at one of the two good bucks my trail-cam had photographed the month before. The three and a half year old buck sported a ten-point rack which stood high and fairly wide, with good mass and tine length. I estimated him to score 125 to 130 points but his body was the real marvel.The buck’s neck was thick and grew thicker as it made its way down to his broad chest and shoulders. The trophy’s belly was round and obviously full of clover as it married up with large hind quarters.

As the buck fed toward me, it slowly veered to my left and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be fortunate enough to get a point blank, no-brainer, shot. I picked an opening in the foliage for a shot and estimated it to be thirty yards. As the deer methodically browsed by, it finally stepped into the opening. I drew my bow, settled the pin just behind his left shoulder, and touched the release. The arrow flew true, however I had overestimated the yardage. This, coupled with the deer slightly “jumping the string,” caused my white crested arrow to connect with the spine instead of the coveted “sweet spot” behind the shoulder. Regardless, the buck dropped in its tracks.

I patiently waited for five or ten minutes to compose myself. By then, he’d expired. I excitedly climbed down and walked the twenty-five yards to where my prize awaited. I held the ten-pointer in my hands and savored the moment for a long while. I realized just how big of a body this buck had. He would later weigh in, field dressed, at 207 pounds, and the ten-point frame rough scored 124 4/8. As the sun rose high in the sky, the festivities commenced with a photo session and finally an ATV ride back to the truck And of course, I had to show him off a little to family and friends.

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