Cliff Hanger Bucks
The Two-Year Recovery and the Statue Buck
Editor’s Note: Tears welled-up in my dad’s eyes as he said, “Son, that buck would have been a tremendous trophy. I just don’t know what happened. I shouldn’t have left my gun lying against the tree. I had my hands on him, and then he disappeared.” As Pop had sat in his stand deep in a swamp, a big buck had appeared. Pop took his time before squeezing the trigger on his old .12 gauge, and the deer fell. Pop leaned his gun against the tree where he sat, walked over to the buck, put his hands on the deer’s huge antlers and reached into his pocket for his hunting knife. The buck suddenly jumped-up and ran-off as though he’d never been hit. Pop’s trophy had left, and his hunt had ended. For the rest of his life, Pop treasured the memory of the biggest buck of his life springing from the ground and running away. Some of America’s best deer hunters have lost bucks when they’ve thought they’ve taken them. Sometimes hunters recover their lost bucks, but at other times they don’t. The moments between arrowing a deer and recovering a buck are some of life’s cliff-hanging experiences when you either arrive at the summit or your emotions and your spirit are dashed on the rocks of defeat. Most deer hunters have encountered cliff-hanger bucks that become memories of a lifetime.
The Two-Year Recovery:
Some years ago, Mark Drury of Columbia, Missouri, the creator of M.A.D. Calls, bowhunted from a tree stand in southern Iowa when a nice-sized 7-point buck stepped into a clearing in front of him. The buck had about a 17-inch spread of the main beams and would have scored about 120 points on Boone & Crockett. But Drury couldn’t get a clear shot at this nice buck until it moved farther away. Then just as Drury’s shaft cleared the rest, Drury heard a clanging noise. “I hadn't seen the limb in front of me when I released the arrow,” Drury explains. “The buck took off running, and I knew I’d blown the hunt.” Two years later Drury hunted in that same area and spotted the same buck. “I knew I’d found the same buck I’d missed 2 years before because I remembered the buck had an unusually-wide rack and very-short G3 points,” Drury explains. Drury successfully took the buck that measured 20 inches between his main beams. The rack gross-scored 142 Boone & Crockett points – the best buck Drury ever had taken with a bow. “For 2 years I’d cursed the limb that had spoiled my shot,” Drury says. “But now I thanked the limb for allowing me to take this bigger buck 2-years later.”
The Statue Buck:
Ronnie Groom of Panama City, Florida, a bowhunting teacher and owner of C&G Sporting Goods, never will forget the buck he watched for over an hour at 60 yards from his stand. “I was bowhunting in Moody’s Pasture when a nice-sized 8-point buck came by my tree stand,” Groom says. “I released the arrow, hit the buck a little low and then watched the buck run into a field, too far for me to shoot again, where he remained still for 1 hour and 15 minutes. A limb blocked my shot.” At the noon hour, Groom realized his hunting companions soon would come by his stand to leave the woods for lunch and probably spook the deer. A master bowhunter, Groom decided he could make the 60-yard shot with his bow. “I drew, aimed a little high and watched the arrow arch and land in the buck’s chest cavity,” Groom recalls. “The buck took 10 steps and finally fell. But I’ll never forget watching that buck stand at 60 yards for more than an hour, not knowing what to do.”
Tomorrow: The Ice-Water Buck and the Vanishing Buck