The Plan "B" Buck: I Love it When a Plan Comes Together
By Ed Turner
It seems we hunters plan and plan and then plan some more as our deer seasons get closer. Once they are upon us, though, we need to go with the flow, as the saying goes. Perhaps you had scouted and placed a stand in a very special location, two weeks before the start of the season. However, when you arrive the day before the gun opener with camper in tow, you see a couple of trucks parked near your stand site.
Then, the worst of horrors, as you make your way into your spot in the pitch dark and just as you begin climbing up into your ladder stand, someone whistles and blinks his light at you from 50 feet away in his climber. Yup, I did let him know what I'd thought of his intrusion before I left the area, after his obviously seeing my stand already there before setting up.
What happened next though is what keeps up slogging through the mud, waking up on rainy days and sitting with numb toes. The rest of the story follows, plan "B."
I did see one small buck that opening morning after my chosen area had been become someone else's. However, even with Tennessee's multiple buck tags, I was not tempted to take him. My thought now was to come up with a plan "B." I re-checked some other areas close by my camper's location. There was a nice area where a stream bed (dry) ran down and past a section of planted pines that looked promising about a half mile away.
I cleared a few areas that would make decent ground spots depending on the winds, sat at one for the afternoon and then headed back as light left the woods. On the way up the last low ridge I paused to catch my breath and realized that where I stood looked to be a pretty good spot. I was looking down the point of this low ridge that had two seasonal stream beds coming from either side of that point, meeting and then continuing on as one.
I spent a couple of minutes clearing this one last spot that happened to be only about 250 or 300 yards from the camper. I met my Dad back at the camper, we fixed some dinner and after a purely medicinal half glass of adult beverage, we turned in early for our 4:00 AM wake-up.
The alarm sounded on time, although I'm still surprised we even heard it through the gale force winds and pelting rain blowing outside our snug little retreat. I simply said, "I'm not going out in this" and heard my Dad reply, "Heck, I hope not!". I rolled back over and dozed listening to the rain and wind for another two or three hours.
Finally, I unzipped my sleeping bag and said that I thought the weather sounded like it was improving some. We both got up, ate our typical hunting breakfast of instant oatmeal, and headed out the door just after 7 AM. About 40-degrees F and still windy outside, but not raining nearly as hard as it had been just a few hours before. We headed for our chosen areas on either side of our dead end logging trail.
I slowly walked into my side and decided to simply sit at the last spot I'd cleared, since it was no more than 300 yards from the camper. If it started really pouring again, I could be back inside the camper within 10 minutes. I found my spot and set my little hunting seat directly behind the 18 inch diameter tree I'd found the afternoon before.
"Not too nasty" I kept telling myself every two minutes, as I sat scanning the still dimly lit woods around me. I turned my head to the left and saw a deer walking slowly along that little stream bed, headed towards the point of my ridge. The Winchester Model 100 Carbine in .308 came to my shoulder, the safety was silently pushed to fire and, as what appeared to be a dandy buck stepped past a tree directly below me, I fired.He dropped to the shot and I waited a few minutes, watching him, making sure he was done. I finally exhausted my patience and headed down to my buck. He was most definitely a keeper. Ten points total (a four-point by Western count) and a very tall, but not overly wide, rack. He was clearly my best buck to date. My Dad was soon whistling to me as he made his way down the point, after seeing me at the bottom.
He'd not been sitting five minutes when he heard me shoot and I'd only been seated less than 20 minutes myself. We just stood and admired that pretty deer for a while and then took some photos. We gutted him on the spot and dragged him (slowly) up that ridge to the logging road.
We enjoyed some lunch and decided to go home and dry everything out. We checked-in the deer en route to my house and that was (and still is) the only time I out-guessed the "check guy" on the weight of a deer. I guessed 150 and he guessed 145, dressed. He went 148 pounds.
Two lessons here, perhaps. I still think this was the worst weather day I ever went hunting, but it certainly worked out okay. Also, we need to remain calm and optimistic even when plan "A" gets totally blown out of the water. Hopefully, you have not put all your eggs in one basket. Even today, I sometimes feel a shiver when I glance at the shoulder mount of my buck, hanging on the den wall. After all it was a very cold, rainy and windy morning when plan "B" worked for me.
Copyright 2011 by Ed Turner and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.