I remember one day in my 8th grade math class the teacher, Miss Wilcox, told everyone to clear their desk top we were having a pop quiz. My heart sank. While I was used to making good grades in school, math was by far my poorest subject. I tore English class up. I struggled in Math. However I was relieved to hear Miss Wilcox say that our test would not affect our grade. OK that took the pressure off. I immediately quit worrying.
She went onto to give us one equation, one problem to solve. I don’t remember the problem and I don’t remember the answer. I just remember it being a little weird and while working on it I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Glancing around the room most everyone else had already completed solving the problem and had placed their pencils on their desk. I just couldn’t get it. Something wasn’t right. Finally I came up with an answer and wrote it down. Miss Wilcox was waiting on me. I was the last one to finish.
‘Alright who came up with, and she called out an answer?’ Everyone in the room raised their hand except me. I can tell you that in the room were some of the sharpest students in my class including the future Valedictorian and Salutatorian when we graduated. I admit I was tempted to raised my hand as well but I didn’t.
“What answer did you come up with Roger,” the teacher ask me.
I reluctantly told her and she smiled and said, “That’s the correct answer.”
OK I admit I was pretty excited to hear that. I remember being disappointed that this one was not for credit. That was my luck. I also remember what Miss Wilcox said after that, “ You need to always think through everything you do first. Don’t be afraid to be different either. You just might be right and everyone else wrong.”
I never forgot that. And I’ve learned over the years to do my own thinking and not pay any attention to what others do or say. I think it through and do what I believe to be right, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing. So goes my whitetail hunting as well. I’m always looking to find news ways to hunt and new and better places to hunt in order for me to be the most successful. I’ve come up with some pretty strange ideas from time to time. My ideas haven’t always been popular but when they work they’re popular with me and that’s all that matters.
I was deer hunting in northern Missouri one year during rifle season. It rained hard the first two days of the season. That put a little bit of a damper on the opening weekend for me. I got wet and didn’t see much deer movement. I only had one small piece of property to hunt, so on Monday morning, the 3rd day of the season I stayed over to try and find a different place to hunt. While speaking with one of the local hunters from Princeton, Missouri he told me of a piece of land where the land owner allowed anybody to hunt. This was a fairly large piece of property and after getting directions I decided to drive out and take a look at it. It was fairly open country but it did have some timber on it with a cut corn field and another large field that had been planted in soy bean. What I didn’t know was how much pressure it had received over the weekend. I didn’t get very far into the property that my question was answered.
I hadn’t driven a few hundred yards when I came upon two trucks parked along side the road. The two trucks had a total of 9 different hunters. All were decked out in blaze orange. Several of the hunters were setting in the back of one of the trucks. I just pulled up beside them, rolled down my window and ask if they’d seen any deer. They all informed me that they had been there all weekend and none of them had seen a legal buck. I remember one guy setting in the back laughed and said, “It looks good but there ain’t a single buck deer on this property. They must have shot them all off last year. We’re leaving it all to you buddy. Have at it.” And they all laughed.
Well there’s the answer to my question. There had been 9 guys deer hunting this all weekend and who had not seen a single buck. There certainly wasn’t going to be any use in me hunting it was there? But as they all loaded up in their trucks and drove off I decided to just pull over closer to one of the fields to get a closer look. It had rained all weekend and the ground was pretty soft so I had to be careful not to drive off into a hole. Afraid of getting stuck I finally stopped short of the field and walked over to it.I don’t know what kind of mud that was but it was the sticky, gummy kind that you just couldn’t shake off. You know. It was the kind where you put your foot down, lifted it up and there would be about 3 pounds of mud stuck to the bottom of your boot. It was really nasty. And there was no mistake about whether you had been there or not. Your foot steps were easy to follow.
As I finally got to field’s edge I noticed there were no foot prints anywhere to be found. If someone had been out there in that field you would have seen the evidence. None of my fellow 9 hunters who had just left had been there. None of them had been across that field. And across that field was what looked to be about an 8 or 10 acre patch of timber. I threw my glasses up and at the edge of the other side of the field I could see a very large, what looked to be, fresh rub.
You guessed it. I trudged back to my truck, got my rifle and made my way across that field. It was like walked in knee deep quick sand. It was a miserable journey. It was the toughest 100 yards I ever walked in my life. About 1⁄2 way across it I actually thought about giving up and just going back to my truck. By the time I made it across I was worn out. I felt like I’d been mountain climbing all day. All I could think of was, ‘When I’m done, I’m going to have to walk back across that same field.’ I was already dreading it.
However, once I got over to that rub my tune changed in a hurry. It was fresh alright. It was huge as well. That was not the only sign I found there. There were other rubs and fresh droppings to boot. There were deer trails in there that looked like cattle had made them. I knew I was onto something good. I quickly forgot about the 9 fellows who had had a laugh about this property and at me for being there. I put my game face on and got serious. Less than an hour later I stumbled into a doe who had a big buck nosing her around. I raised my rifle and just about the time they noticed me, I squeezed a round off. The buck dropped like a lead balloon. He was a giant. The big 11 pointer had 6 inch bases and 26 inch main beams. He grossed nearly 170 Boone & Crockett points.
The simple fact was this little honey hole was just setting here for the taking. I just happened to be the guy who put his thinking cap on and who was willing to make the treacherous journey across ‘the mud’ field to get to it. What’s really nice was that on the back side of the timber was a little path that led up to an old wire gate where I could pull my truck in and I loaded this buck up without having to drag him across that horrible field. I’m glad I didn’t pay any attention to what those other 9 guys had to say. I just put my thinking cap on and went about my own business. I shot a giant trophy whitetail buck too.
A few years ago I called a friend of mine who I remembered was raised in central Kansas. I ask him if he still had relatives living there that might let me deer hunt. So I drew a deer tag and I drove up there a couple of days before the season began. However after hunting the opening weekend I decided I was going to need to find additional places to hunt if I wanted to be successful.
While filling my truck with gas I struck up a conversation with one of the locals there in the town where I as staying and he informed me about a legendary buck that a lot of people had seen.
“I know where the biggest buck in the county lives,” he was quick to denote. “He lives right out here at the edge of town. I’ve seen him crossing the road many times. So have a lot of other people.”
“Why hasn’t somebody shot him?” I ask.
“Because he stays over on the Miller’s place most the time and they don’t let no body deer hunt. Ever.” he said.
You never know when someone is telling you something, you can believe or not. For some reason though, I believed this guy. At least I believe he probably saw a big or at least a good buck crossing the road at one time or another. I just kept asking questions and before I left, that fellow helped me put together a little game plan for hunting this ‘biggest buck in the county.’
He directed me to, literally, the very edge of town. On one side of the highway was the Miller’s posted property. That’s where the big boy spent most of his time. On the other side of the road was a large plowed field. I could hunt that, but there just wasn’t any timber on it accept one small patch of brush that was a low spot in the field. There was one other small piece of timber on that property – about 1⁄2 acre – that sat right up against the fence line along the highway. The only way to get to that piece was to walk about 1⁄2 mile from the properties gate.
Even the station attendant said, ‘you’ll look like an idiot walking across that open field but you’ll have to do it if you want to at least be close to where that buck lives.’ That was the least of my problems. I had long since gotten over what anybody thinks or says about what I do when it comes to deer hunting or anything else for that matter. I decided to give it a try.
Once I finally got to the small timbered area I could not believe my eyes or nose. It just reeked with deer smell. There were several trees nearly rubbed into. There were deer tracks as wide as the palm of your hand. And there was a huge culvert running under the highway connecting the posted property that a man could easily stand up and walk through. There was no doubt in my mind a big buck was using this area. He was using the culvert to cross back and forth between properties as well. I had this buck’s number.
The problem is I also had a cold. And by the next morning I had gotten extremely sick. The worst thing about it was I had developed a cough that I couldn’t control. I was just plain noisy. I couldn’t breath without coughing. I tried to tough it out but after a day and a half I gave up and went home.
Even after all these years I still remember trying to hunt that buck. I believe with all my heart I would have killed that buck if I had been healthy and could have set there quietly for a couple of days. I know I looked silly walking across that open field to get to that tiny patch of timber next to the highway. I didn’t care. I didn’t care then. I don’t care now. I’ve learned over the years to do my own thinking and not pay any attention to what others do or say. I think it through and I do what I think is best.
Good deer hunting to you!
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