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Ole Club Foot
By Pat Jordan
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Pat Jordan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBruce Turner was waiting for the buck he hoped would come. He had been scouting this buck all fall long and he knew where it bedded down. He didn't want to hunt close to its bed for fear of spooking him out of the area or turning him nocturnal. It was early in the pre-rut; the buck had been checking his scrape line and making a rub-line that Bruce used to locate where the buck's core area was. There was a mixture of mature hard wood with brush and tall marsh grass. He was standing on a fallen tree that was half of a big maple, the other half of the tree had fallen the opposite way leaving a five-foot sliver of the tree still standing. This sliver was big enough to help conceal Bruce's form. The fallen trees both extending in opposite directions, allowed Bruce to look over the tall grass and walk quietly on the trunk of the trees to get closer to the buck. There were two nice trails on each end of the fallen trees. He was pretty sure the buck used one of the trails to come from his bedding area. The gentle breeze was in his face. All he had left to do was stand there and wait.
Waiting was what he had been doing all of his life. Being that he was only 15, it wasn't all that long. His friends had to ask him, "What are you waiting for". They had all killed small bucks and they teased Bruce because he couldn't kill a buck. But Bruce said that he wasn't going to kill a small buck. He wanted a buck that would score at least 125 Boone and Crocket points. This area of the state was well known for producing big bucks. But a buck that would score 125 points was not easy to come by. The area had good farm crops with abundant forests and a huge track of state land covering 80 square miles. The climate was warm with barely any snow during deer season.
His friends thought he was a little weird because of all the time he spent in the woods and the time he spent practicing with the bow. While his friends went to football games he was perfecting his accuracy until he could place arrow after arrow in a two-inch circle at twenty-five yards. His parents teased that he was born in the wrong century and that he would have made a great mountain man. Bruce knew the woods well including some of the state land. He also knew the score's of all the top ten typical and non-typical Boone and Crocket bucks in the record book by heart. He knew the stats of these bucks as kids his age knew the stats of baseball and football stars. He could tell you the inside spread and length of the main beams on all of the top bucks. He knew where they were killed and by what method. He didn't do many of the things that a normal kid of his age would do, like going to dances or sporting events. He was a loner and he liked it that way, he was quiet and shy around most people, especially girls.
He didn't participate in any sports although he did lift weights at home. Even in that he would do weird exercises along with a full body work out. Some of the strange exercises that he did had to do with balance, like one-legged squats. He could do thirty at a time with one leg, then thirty with the other. He had just recently added weight to this exercise. He would also put a foot up on a three-foot platform and with strength and balance he could raise himself up on the platform without using any other body part. He felt this was important for hunting because sometimes a hunter needed to get up on a stump or log using minimal movement. He would practice standing on one foot, then on the other, almost like a gymnast does on a balance beam. His thought was that while stalking an animal, a hunter would have to stop with one foot in the air, frozen in position, until the animal looked away.
He knew all the bird and animal sounds and could mimic most of them. He learned to make all the grunts and bleats that deer make with his mouth, including the snort grunt, wheeze sound a buck makes when challenging another buck.
His senses were far keener than most people, partly due to the fact that he was half Indian. His mother was full Cheyenne. His sense of smell was unique and very sensitive from using it all the time. He always checked the wind direction even when he wasn't hunting. His ancestors had developed their senses out of necessity just to stay alive. As modern man, we have kind of lost these abilities, due to lack of use. Bruce's senses were developed to a high degree just from constantly using them.
Now his senses were on full alert as he waited for the buck to come. Oh how he enjoyed the beauty of the woods. The trees so straight and tall, as they raced skyward for the sunlight, the marsh grass as it swayed with the breeze, how he saw God's wondrous hands in all things. For his relationship with God was strong and alive. He loved to talk to God while he waited and took in the beauty of nature around him.
He heard a slight rustling of leaves coming from the direction where he expected the buck to come from. He couldn't see what was making the noise because there was a thick patch of brush and small trees in a low area that had been burnt over by a muck fire some years back. Now the odor of a buck freshening his scrape came to his nose. His heart began to pound as he thought of the buck he had seen earlier.
He had sat up in a tree stand overlooking the area before season had started about 200 yards away. He had a good set of binoculars and he watched this buck come from the burning. That's what they nicknamed the burnt area at home. He watched this buck for quite some time and he was able to estimate the score of the buck since he knew the scoring system by heart. He could see that the buck was a ten pointer.
Bruce always wore a calculator watch, so he just estimated the inside spread at 18 inches and main beams at 24 inches times two, add the forty eight onto the 18, then add the tine lengths, plus 8 circumference measurements to get roughly his score. Bruce used to do this all the time with pictures of bucks in books and magazines that had the actual score next to the picture. He could usually come within five points of the score. He estimated that this buck would score right around 140 points. That was well within his self-imposed limit of 125 points for a bow, which he was hunting with now, or 140 points with a gun. It would be great to get a buck that would make the Pope and Young record book for his first buck. The buck has to net score 125 points just to qualify for the Pope and Young record book.
Bruce was intently watching the area from which he heard the rustling noise. Then he heard a twig snap closer to him, this made him more excited so he had to calm himself down by breathing through his nose and out through his mouth. Then he caught a glimpse of gray moving through the marsh grass to his right. The deer stopped and raised his head. There were those magnificent horns; this was the same buck he had seen earlier. Now he must plan his move as the buck came down the trail. Bruce bent over and silently moved down the tree trunk, when the buck stopped he stopped. His form was covered by the high grass. This move took him within 20 yards of the trail. He could see the buck was nearing an opening. When the buck's head went behind a tree, Bruce rose and drew his bow back. When the buck came out from behind the tree Bruce let out a little grunt and the buck came to a stop. Bruce let the string slip from his fingers and the arrow buried itself deep behind the front shoulders. The buck jumped, kicking its hind legs high in the air. Then the buck sprinted off and disappeared in the thick brush and tall marsh grass. Bruce listened to the buck as it went crashing off, the sound faded and then all was quiet.
Bruce had seen where the arrow went and he knew the buck was hit well. He was calm and steady during the shot, but now he began to shake and shiver as the excitement overcame him. Once again he had to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth to calm himself down. He had to fight the urge to take off after the buck's trail. He remembered his dad's advice that a deer can live quite a while after being hit in a vital area, especially if you only get one lung. Bruce thought that he should have hit both lungs. The buck was just a short distance away and was at the perfect angle. Bruce marked the spot from where he shot at the buck, from where he was. There was the big white ash tree that the buck had come out from behind. Then he marked visually the path the buck had run down. He checked his watch; it was 5:15 p.m. He would wait an hour and then take up the trail.
As he waited, he thought of all the smaller bucks he had passed up. He had begun to doubt whether he really had the ability to kill a buck, but now he had put an arrow in a good buck. The waiting and persistence had paid off.
The time dragged on and he checked his watch several times. Finally it was 6:15 and he still had lots of daylight to track the buck with. He found the spot where he had hit the buck. There was a little hair and a couple of specs of blood. He started on the trail looking for hoof marks where the buck dug in as he ran. He also found broken twigs and bent over marsh grass. He had learned from helping his dad to track wounded deer, to track even without blood. There are many things that a person can learn from people with more experience and Bruce was always anxious to learn. He learned that there is no pattern to what a wounded deer might do, and to expect the unexpected. That way he could go slowly and check out all possibilities. He had already become known as a good tracker. His friends would call him when they needed help in tracking a wounded deer. He had helped them find several deer when they had already given up. He found some of the deer by smelling them when he was down wind from where they were laying, especially if the deer was gut shot or had lost a lot of blood when they died.
But now he was tracking his own buck. He came across the first sign of blood since the first couple of specs where he hit the deer. At first, it was specs of bright red blood, and then it became heavier with air bubbles in it. The buck had been going fairly straight but now it was making a slow curve to the right. Bruce could follow the blood trail fairly easily; as he slowly walked he kept looking ahead, checking for the buck. He noticed that the buck had run right over a small tree and there was blood smeared on a bigger tree that the buck had bumped into. He recognized these signs of a deer that was losing his eyesight and balance from lack of blood. Then he spotted a patch of white up ahead and his heart jumped into his throat. As he slowly snuck up to the fallen buck he knew that the buck was dead because it was lying on its side with its tongue hanging out and its eyes glazed over. He took his eyes off the deer's body and looked at those horns and let out a yell of triumph. He could have been heard a quarter of a mile away. Now he took a hold of those horns and admired their beauty. What a magnificent crown on this wonderful animal.
Then he knelt down to thank God for the chance to kill this animal. There was always a little regret when he killed an animal, but he knew it was all a part of God's plan for man and animal. Hunting had been a part of life since man and animal existed together, and he was participating in the oldest of sporting events.
As he was touching and looking at the horns, he did a rough estimate of them and he thought that the buck would score closer to 145 points. He looked at his arrow that was still sticking out both sides of the deer. Sometimes a wounded deer, especially if not fatally wounded will pull the arrow out with its mouth, but this deer had run until it died.
As Bruce dressed out his deer, he was very careful to do a clean job and to study the organs as he took them out, so as to know exactly what damage the arrow had done. He noticed that the broad head had sheared off a rib on its exit wound, preventing the arrow from passing all the way through the deer. Bruce only used a sixty-pound compound bow. He preferred a bow that he could pull back with minimum movement.
Now he had to get the buck out of the woods. He thought that he could get his dad's four-wheeler very close to the buck. His dad and mom were out hunting too, so he would have to get his little brother to help. He went home and got the four-wheeler and his brother. He wanted to get the buck out before dark and before his parents got home, so he could surprise them. He got the four-wheeler to within forty yards of the buck, and with his brother's help they dragged it to the four-wheeler and with a lot of effort, they got it loaded. The buck was in pre-rut shape, so he was as heavy as he was going to be.
They got home before his parents did, and when they got home, Bruce asked them if they had any luck.
His dad answered, "We saw some smaller bucks but nothing big enough to shoot at."
The excitement that both Bruce and his brother tried to contain was all over their faces.
"What is going on here, you two are excited about something? Bruce, did you have any luck?"
Bruce acted nonchalant, and answered, "Oh, I had a little."
They had put the four-wheeler, with the buck still on it, in the pole barn.
His mom impatiently asked, "What did you get, and where is it?"
Bruce answered, "It's in the pole barn."
So his parents followed Bruce and his brother, as they both ran to the pole barn and opened the door. They couldn't believe it.
His mom said, "I am so proud of you son."
Dad echoed his mom's words, "I've killed a lot of nice bucks, but I have never killed one that scores as high as yours, I am so happy for you Bruce."
Then they weighed the buck on scales that they had right in the pole barn. The buck weighed 205 lbs dressed out.
His dad asked him, "How did you get him out and onto the four-wheeler?"
Bruce looked to his brother and replied, "We were both pretty pumped."
His dad chuckled and said, "I guess I would say you were."
Then they did a step by step measuring of the horns and found them to be fairly close to what Bruce estimated. The final net score came to 144 3/8 Boone and Crocket points, well over the minimum of 125 points to make the record books for a bow hunter.
His dad turned to Bruce and shook his hand and said, "I am so proud of you son. "Then Bruce called his friends and they all came over to look at his prize. They were all astonished at the size of the horns and they listened again and again as Bruce told his story.
After his friends all left and he was getting ready for bed, he remembered thinking this is truly one of the happiest days of my life. As he said his prayers that night, he thanked God that he lived where he lived and that he had the freedom to hunt.
Chapter TwoIn the following years, Bruce killed a 144-class buck with a gun and another 135-class buck with a bow.
His parents continued to let him go deeper into the state land. There were no roads that went into the state land and you could only penetrate a little ways inside the outer boundaries with a four wheeler, because of the thick and rough terrain. All the hunting, deeper in the state land, had to be done by foot, which eliminated most of the hunters.
When Bruce was eighteen, he had scouted out a ridge that was two and one half miles inside of the southwest boundaries of the state land. This ridge showed there was a big buck in the area. There were big rubs on some popular trees and scrapes all over the ridge. There was quite a large area of water surrounding this ridge due to it being a low area with several beaver dams. The water covered about a square mile with only the ridge running through the middle of it for several hundred yards. There were small humps of land here and there in the water that were big enough for deer to lie on.
There wasn't a lot of deer in this area, but Bruce figured that this buck probably laid on one of the humps and came to the ridge at dusk to mark his scrape, for it was the only ground out of the water except for the little humps. The ridge also had a number of oak trees scattered on it. Taking in the low population of deer, the oak ridge supplied acorns along with other food the deer could eat.
Bruce figured if he could find out where the buck entered the ridge most of the time, he could set up an ambush. He scouted around the ridge until he noticed a nice rub line heading off to the south at the east end of the ridge. He kicked a couple of deer off the ridge as he walked around it. He didn't go far on the rub line for fear of kicking the buck up. He didn't hear any thing and the wind was out of the southwest so the buck wouldn't have smelled him. He wore rubber boots and always wore gloves so that he left as little of his scent as possible. The does weren't in heat yet so the bucks were doing a lot of traveling, checking scrapes and refreshing them. He didn't see any old or recent sign of any other hunters. Maybe with the lack of any human scent this buck wouldn't be nocturnal and would check his scrapes in the day light.
Excerpted from Ole Club Foot by Pat Jordan Copyright © 2012 by Pat Jordan. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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