By: Jim Kushner.
Nov. 15 2023 marked the 50th year that I have been in deer camp(s) throughout the State.
Based on that I decided to hunt this season with the same gun I used back then. It is a Marlin model 336 in .35 Remington, it still has the same Weaver 4x scope that came with the gun the Christmas I received it. That was a great Christmas gift but it sure was difficult having to wait almost a year before I could actually use it. Well, “carrying” it may be a better description. I didn’t shoot a deer with it until my Senior year in High School. A six point on opening day.
About mid October this year I started bow hunting my Dads property & saw deer almost every morning that I was there. I didn’t see any bigger bucks there but it was obvious that the rut was still going on as Nov. 15 approached & that means anything can happen. I decided to hunt the mornings at Dad’s and maybe evenings at home.
I saw lots of chasing at Dad’s opening morning & one decent buck but he was well onto the neighbors property. Though he was headed my way I never did see him again.
On the morning of Nov. 17 I was back in Dad’s elevated box blind waiting for daylight. Like I’d seen in the past, a couple of deer hurried past the blind just before it got light enough to see anything more than a silhouette.
A small buck followed a doe through a while later. I looked at my phone intending to send a text to my Dad as he enjoys the real-time updates. I saw a message from my wife apologizing for not setting up the coffee pot the night before. That’s my wife, always helping even when she doesn’t need to.
As I was half way through a line in response I heard the distinct sound of a deer quickly walking beside the blind. Of course it was on the doorway side where there are no windows. But it didn’t matter, a pretty nice buck popped into the clearing right in front of the blind. He stopped at around 40 yards just as I got the scope on him. I counted 5 points on his left side & the right side looked about the same. I didn’t try to count that side.
Having a little time I looked over the scope at him as he stood there quartering away. I had seen some really nice bucks prior to the season & was hoping to see one of them while I was hunting. I quickly dismissed the thought of not taking this buck. In six weeks of hunting this was the biggest buck I had seen, and he was potentially a 10 point. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder and launched the 200 grain soft point. It knocked him off his feet & other than a few feeble kicks he never moved…proving that the classic old Michigan lever gun is still up to the job.
Looking at my phone later I saw that my response to Mary was interrupted by this buck at 7:56 am. Just a little too soon to go in so I sat and enjoyed the moment for another two hours or so. No other deer came by so I went up to the house & had a quick cup of coffee with Dad while filling him in on how I was able to tag a nice buck from his blind. Then I used his tractor to bring it up to the house. Thanks Dad.
It wasn’t until I was able to see him up close that I discovered the buck had two broken points, the same point on each side had been broken off. It’s not ‘quite’ the same but still a ten point. Ten points just don’t walk out and stop in front of you very often, trust me I’ve been doing this 50 years and two days.
The gun season ended with me seeing several small bucks and a couple of bigger ones but I never did see one of those really big bucks. They were in my apple orchard every day for two weeks and just as the velvet was starting to peel off their antlers they stopped coming. Although I had seen several nice bucks in the orchard this year I don’t think I saw the one I got. I only remember one other ten point & he had much smaller tines. Who knows where this one came from, he may have been in the area all along & I just didn’t see him.
As I mentioned earlier, during the rut anything can happen.