Thanksgiving Buck 2020

amclimber

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After all the "fun" we have had in 2020, I was anxious for hunting season to roll around and get in the woods. After about a week of hunting in Southern NH, my father and I saw that snow was in the forecast up north, so we headed up on 11/16 and got some good hunting in on 11/17-11/18. Tuesday I saw a few deer but didn't cut any big buck tracks. Nevertheless it was nice to hunt in the big woods again. On Wednesday, I was moving out of a mature softwood area, and caught some movement in the hardwood ahead. I saw a square bodied deer with a good size neck quickly moving left to right. I got my scope up on him just as his head moved behind trees. I thought I saw a rack, but wasn't quite sure. There was one more opportunity where he might pass through an opening where I could get a shot, so I pulled ahead of him just as he entered it...again I could have shot, but couldn't quite make out a rack. After a couple minutes of debating whether I should have shot or not, I decided I made the right decision because even though I "knew" it was a buck, I never really saw his rack. I had good snow, so I figured I might be able to catch up to him. As I got on his track, I could see it was a buck track and I followed him back into the softwood. About 1/2 mile later I found where he stood under a fir tree and raked the branches enough to break a few and then moved on. He ended up getting onto a doe track, and I thought to myself, "This is good. He will be distracted." and moved along at a little quicker pace. Just as I came into another hardwood stand, I saw a deer at about 50 yards walking away from me and a little right to left. I quickly pulled up on the deer just as it was walking behind a few smaller trees. I got a pretty good look at the head this time and didn't see a rack. Now I'm really confused, If it's the doe, where did the buck go? I waited a few minutes until it was clear the deer had left the area and continued following the tracks. I had seen the doe that the buck had been "following", but he had actually walked right past her as she was feeding and kept going. I ended up following the buck another couple miles, but gave up on him when I realized his rack just couldn't be too special given the trees he was walking between and I was running out of time to hunt.....I was still kind of kicking myself for not shooting him, when I "knew" he was a buck.

We had to go back Wed night, but it was really nice to hunt with my dad in the big woods. He's 70, and was still covering about 8.5 miles a day up in the mountains. He mentioned he can't travel like he used to quite a few times. I told him, "Don't worry about it dad, you still travel further and hunt harder than 90% of the other hunters out there." Even at that, I really appreciate every time we get to hunt.

I continued hunting southern NH for several more days with no deer sightings, but I did find a really promising area when hunting some new ground. One afternoon, as I was cruising through this new area I found a series of about 5 rubs on trees that are about 4-5" in diameter. A couple of the rubs started at least 2' off the ground and extended to about 3 1/2'.

rub resized.jpg

"Wow, that's a good sized buck that would make a rub that high on a tree like that." As I looked around, I found the biggest, most well used signpost I have ever seen. The tree was absolutely shredded, with a pile of shavings around the base. I figured this would definitely be an area I would head back to.

Signpost.jpg

Typically, I am in northern NH with family for Thanksgiving, but this year we decided it would be better to stay south. My wife told me that dinner would be at 2 PM at our house. I made sure she realized that even though we weren't up north, the tradition of hunting on Thanksgiving day was going to continue for my father and I. She compromised with a 4 PM start and, "If you are dragging a deer it's OK to be late."....that works. The night before Thanksgiving, I saw the forecast for the next day was 36 degrees and steady rain...perfect! I don't necessarily like being soaked through my wool by 8 in the morning, but I do like how quiet you can travel, scent is way down, and I have found deer to be very active in the rain. Maybe it's because I hunt in the rain whenever I can, but I have shot several deer in those conditions As I was putting my son to bed, I told him, "Mark my words, there will be a deer hanging in the garage tomorrow night!" Truth be told, I was anticipating finally seeing a doe, but...

I was in the woods at sunrise and planned to make a big loop through a large chunk of land that includes the rubs I found. My father would make it in the woods a little later and join me. As expected, I was soaked an hour into the hunt, but as long as I kept moving it wasn't any trouble keeping warm. At about 9:30, I was moving through an area adjacent to a beaver bog thinking, "This is a really nice spot for deer, I'll have to keep this in mind if I bow hunt next year." I was about a mile from the rubs I had found. I was enjoying checking out some of the areas the beaver had been working, but decided to move further out of the bog and more into the edge with a hemlock/hardwood transition. As I eased up over a small hill, I caught movement ahead of me at 40 yards. A large deer was quickly moving left to right. It took about a tenth of a second to identify this deer had a serious rack and I needed to find a hole through the trees to get a shot. About three steps later, the buck cleared a big tree and I was on him. BOOM! He immediately went down, but tried getting back up...down again. At this point I still am ready for another shot, but figure he's down for the count. Just then, he gets up to his feet and starts to go....BOOM. I put another shot in him. He immediately made about a 90 degree right turn and charged directly at me! There was a completely clear path between him and I, and he was closing the distance between us very quickly. Although, I could see in his eyes that he was pretty much dead on his feet, I quickly took two steps to my right to put a tree between us. He went flying past so close I could have easily spit on him. I jumped back toward my original position and took another snap shot at him as he was making a 90 degree left turn. He ran another 20 more yards and piled up, not to get up again. Wow! That was exciting. I took a look at him laying on the ground and couldn't believe what I was seeing. Here I was struggling to see a deer, and now I just shot the biggest racked buck I have ever seen in the woods. I pulled out my cell phone (one advantage of hunting in southern NH), and called my father. He answered with, "Was that you doing that shooting?"
"Yeah, it was me"
"What did you shoot?" It's always the same exact conversation when we are on radios...it hit me right then how much I love hearing my dad say those words.
"I shot him."
"You shot that big buck you were talking about?"
"Yeah, he is massive. He's absolutely unbelievable"
"OK, Share your location and I will be right there"
I shared my location via cell, and just stood there looking at the buck from 20 yards. I didn't even want to approach him until my father could be there. My father was about 3/4 mile away, so I knew I had some time.

buck on ground resized.jpg

After I thanked the Lord for providing this buck, and His goodness to me in all facets of life, I called a good friend that I had told about the area I was hunting. He answered with, "You just shot that buck didn't you?" "Yeah, he's a big one." I said. My buddy quickly offered for him and his 18 year old son to come meet us to help drag him out. "Aren't you doing Thanksgiving stuff?" I asked. It was about 10:00. "No problem. I don't need to do anything until 1:30." I gratefully accepted the help, as I knew it would be a chore for just my father and I to get this guy out of the area we were in. We've done it before...and worse, but the help would be really nice.

My father made it to me in about 1/2 hour. As he approached me he asked where the buck was, and I pointed 20 yards down the hill, "Holy Mackerel, J! Holy Mackerel, that is some buck! Wow!" The joy on his face was indescribable. We took a while to admire the buck and I retold the story about seeing and shooting the buck...and him charging right at me. We were laughing about how crazy the whole thing unfolded. Then we took a few pictures prior to dressing him out.

Deer in Woods3.jpg

After I cleaned him out, we were waiting for my buddy and his son to arrive, so we took a couple more.

Deer in Woods2 (2).jpg

My buddy arrived with the jet sled, and we started dragging him out at about 11:20. With four guys, it only took us about an hour. I got him to the registration station, back home, took a couple more pictures, hung in the garage, garage cleaned, heart and liver cleaned and in the refrigerator, tenderloins removed/cleaned/in the refrigerator, and got a shower myself....by 4:05. Not bad, and the turkey wasn't done yet!

What an awesome experience. The buck is awesome, but doing it with my dad is by far the best part. I truly am thankful for the opportunities the Lord has given me, and the blessing of close family and friends to share it with.

Dad with Buck resized.JPG

Another pic because I always get one of these, and I know there are a few on here that appreciate them also.

Bucks with Hayden resized.JPG
 
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benny8

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Congrats AM climber! That is a stud! Awesome that you were able to share it with your Dad and the last pic is priceless. That's what its all about, spending time in Gods creation with family and friends. The kill is just a bonus. Congrats bud!
 

NH Mountains

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Congrats AMC, that’s an awesome heart warming story. I look forward to your stories each year. I’m glad you got to spend time hunting with your dad. Cherish those moments. They are precious.
 

VTHunter08

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wow what a buck! and what a story!!! Looks like your boy is interested, I have a feeling similar pictures in about 20 years. Nice work!
 

Junebugg2.0

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Beautiful buck! and to get to share the moment with your dad... that's what it's all about.
 

SportsmanNH

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Terrific buck , story and pictures once again Amclimber !
Always great to see your whole family involved as always ! Congrats !
 

NoDeerHere

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If you let him walk how big would he be next year? Just kidding I am dropping the hammer on him too. That just might be the biggest rack for the season? Congratulations big time.
 

longbow

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Wow, great story and absolutely beautiful buck. Great to be able to share it with your Dad.

What was the weight?
 
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Browseline

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What a great story and pictures!! And as nice a buck as anyone can hope for. Your dad looks to be in great shape to travel like that. Thanks for posting. Congratulations.
 

NH Hunter

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Absolutely awesome!!! Great buck but even better, great memories with a hell of a story!! Thanks for taking us along. X2 on the weight ? My guess........ 188
 

amclimber

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What a great story and pictures!! And as nice a buck as anyone can hope for. Your dad looks to be in great shape to travel like that. Thanks for posting. Congratulations.
I hear you. I have hoped to shoot a buck like this for many years. Really grateful to have the opportunity as I know they dont come around very often.
 




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