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Buck #2

Hunter:     Mike Lindquist            

Score:     194 3/8" net NT

Points:     18 points

Weight:    211 lbs

Date:        November 8, 2007

Location:  Northern Minnesota

Method:    30.-06 bolt

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There's some back story on this buck. Two and a half years ago I found an interesting matched set of sheds with some unique qualities; a buck to watch. Then, last season I got a trail photo of the same nice buck after the hunting season had closed. He had turned the corner and was coming into his prime. He was really starting to grow some antler now and I knew he'd be a heck of a buck this season. I hunted him a few times before the rut with archery tackle and then a bunch more just before the rifle season opened. No confirmed sightings, but I had a feeling there was still a big boy in the area.

The woods was quiet during the midweek, and I arrived at the base of my tree about a half hour before shooting light. I was really anxious to get into my stand that morning. A good friend of mine and phenomenal bow hunter had a premonition about those days around the first new moon after the rutting moon. Some may think 'hocus pocus' but I believe the moon affects buck movement and value this guy's every piece of advice. I sneak in pretty quietly in the dark on a trail that I have memorized. I heard two deer around my area, but much too dark to see anything. I got settled into my tree with plenty of darkness to arrange all my gadgets and tools. Then I just sat and waited for daybreak. I like to close my eyes when it's still that dark and really focus on my other senses of smell and hearing. That's when I heard a twig snap way off in the distance, downwind about 250 yards. I still had at least ten minutes before shooting light and it was totally overcast so decent light was a ways off. The deer was gradually getting closer, but it was much too dim and nearly impossible to see anything but the simple shape of a deer. It made it's way into a clear spot and stopped at the trail intersection. I was glassing him all the way but could barely determine that he was, indeed a buck. But how big? Number of points?? No idea. Distance and spatial relations are very skewed in low light. Shapes move and flicker as your eyes struggle and strain to process information. He turned and looked directly away from me. His rack appeared very dark in color and with a grassy backdrop I was finally able to determine that he was outside the ears. A good buck, but that's all the info I had. He turned and began to walk east and towards thicker woods. He had about 3 or 4 more paces to go before he disappeared into the forest. I had three things working against me: 1) a bit too dark to know for sure if I should shoot 2) terrible wind direction 3) he was on his way out my set-up for good.

I knew I'd kick myself for not taking a crack at him when I have this chance. I knew he'd be outside the ears and any 8 or 10 that wide is a very respectable buck. With the extra optic quality of the scope, I confirmed my decision with 2 minutes of legal shooting light, grunted and fired a shot. It was still so dim that all I saw were flames out of the barrel. He ran out of there, from whence he came, crashed through the brushy low area and the sound dissipated. How far did he go? Was it a good hit? How big is he? All good questions for me to ponder for the next hour and a half in my tree. I decided to wait it out and just listen to the woods. There were actually a couple other deer moving around the area, but never showed. I wondered briefly if it was the big dude, the Fridge Buck I photographed via trail cam last winter. I didn't think so, he just didn't seem to be overly impressive enough to be a giant in the low light conditions. With nothing to go by but "outside the ears" I knew he had to be a pretty nice 8 or 10. After nearly two hours I got down and went to the shot spot. No blood, no hair. Hmmmm. I tracked him but didn't see much for blood. I basically just followed the path of rustled leaves and went in the direction that I thought he went. Incidentally, this buck was standing a mere 12 yards UPWIND of my bow hunting set up from the previous days.

After trailing him for 80 yards or so I finally saw white belly hair. YES!! Brown down: a relief in itself. I approached and the first thing I saw was his giant right side. There were ten points on that side alone! Oh MAN!! It's HIM!! The big dude, the FRIDGE BUCK!! I couldn't believe my eyes. I spent about ten minutes lying on the ground, examining him from every angle before I even touched him. Every time I tried to count the points I came up with a different number. Split brows, big stickers on both bases, picket fence tines, 6 x 7 basic frame with 5 garbage points. Awesome color, dark chocolate with polished ivory tips. A lot like the bull elk that I didn't get this year.  This BIG HOSS packed on some serious antler from last season.  An amazing animal, a true buck of a lifetime, no question about that.

While tipping the scales back at deer camp at 211 pounds, he was the easiest deer I've ever dragged out of the woods. I took a nice hot 160 degree sauna that evening and slept in the next morning. I spent the following day skinning, quartering, giggling to myself, drinking beer and cutting meat. A fine day it was.