The numbers prove it. Realtree fans north, south, east and west live and breathe deer hunting. These guys do, too. Hansen’s from Michigan, Brantley’s from Kentucky, and chances are their version of hunting whitetails is a lot like yours.
First Buck Friday: Geoff Hanrahan
This week’s first buck story, sent in by Missouri hunter Geoff Hanrahan, is another tale of small-property success. Geoff killed his buck on a 6-acre piece of ground that adjoined a park in St. Louis. It’s a really cool story. You’re probably used to seeing squirrels, and maybe a few turkeys while you’re on stand. But mountain bikers? That’s not something many of us encounter in the deer woods. Check out Geoff’s story below, and email your own first buck stories and photos to us at rackreport [at] realtree [dot] com.
I’m 23 years old and have been interested in hunting since my youth, but my dad was raised against firearms and my mom doesn’t have the patience for it. I went on my third hunting trip this past year. I ended up getting my first buck in the end, after one of the most adrenaline filled mornings in my life.
I was hunting on a 6-acre piece of private property that butted up to a state park in St. Louis, Missouri. There are horse trails on this property. I followed the trails into the woods at about 4 on opening morning. Around 9, some bicyclists started coming through the horse trails onto the private property. I was about 100 yards from them up a hill with a blaze vest and cap on, but they never saw me. I figured they had strayed off from the state park into the private property. I knew they shouldn’t be there, but I hadn’t really had a problem with them until into my field of view, less than 30 yards from me, walked an absolutely stunning buck, completely calm and broadside.
My heart dropped into my stomach as the buck came into my view directly between me and a group of three bicyclists who had stopped on the trail 100 yards down the hill. I couldn’t rightly yell at them for fear of scaring the buck off, and of course I couldn’t take a shot with them down range. My heart was racing and adrenaline pumping in full force. My heart sank even more as the buck turned and walked away. I was filled with adrenaline, anger, excitement and fear. I was forced to sit quietly and watch as the buck of my life nonchalantly walked away from me. There was nothing I could do with the bicyclists down the hill. I tried calling at the buck, but he wouldn’t respond.
Finally, he walked far away enough from the bicyclists that I had a safe shot angle. But by this time he was 150 yards away, walking through the trees. I tried for the life of me to find him in the scope, but only sections of him were visible through the trees. After several moments, my heart was in my throat.
Then, it all clicked. He turned broadside, and I found him in the scope. I forced myself to steady my hands and breathing for just a moment, put the crosshairs right behind his shoulder and squeeze. The shot rang out through the forest. My ears were ringing, my heart skipped a beat, and I saw a glimpse of the buck sprinting up the hill and into the trees. I took a moment to try and sort out the previous moments, as the cyclists down the hill, completely oblivious of the deer or me, suddenly were alerted to the situation by the .308 shot echoing through the woods. They whistled to make me aware of their presence, though I was already painfully aware of it. I was too busy trying to sort out whether or not my shot had actually made contact with the buck. The cyclists rode away.
Sitting on my stool, rifle in my lap, I was trying to figure if I had hit the buck. After about 30 seconds, I had to go check. After a few minutes of walking up the hill, looking up, down, and all over with no signs of blood, hair or anything, I came around a tree and looked to my left, and there stood the buck 25 yards from me, staring at me right in the eye. He stood completely still, almost like a statue.
I brought my rifle up, put the scope on him and saw the details of his face. With blood dripping from his mouth, I knew I had gotten a good chest shot on him. Nonetheless, I put the crosshairs dead center on his chest and squeezed. Another shot rang out into the forest. By the time my eyes refocused on him from the recoil, he dropped like a bag of rocks. Satisfied that he was not going to get back up, I made my way 150 yards or so back to my gear.
I field-dressed him and had to drag him 350 to 400 yards through the trails, back to my vehicle. He’s a 9-pointer, and on my wall now (most of him is still in my freezer, too). I think about that hunt every time I look at him, and I can’t wait for next year.