About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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November 16, 2007

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The One That Got Away

     Here's another great discussion topic idea that I can't take credit for! Laura Bell just emailed me this heartbreaking story of a buck that entered her life--and left it just as quick. She figured, and I agree, that most of us have had near misses like this at one point or another. Here's what Laura had to say about hers--complete with a moral at the end! --K.H.

     I'm sure there's been a few times where we've all had close encounters with an animal but just couldn't seal the deal. I remember one Ohio Gun Deer Season a couple years ago. I wasn't seeing anything and my Dad went to put on a drive for me. He was going to walk through a chunk of grape vines and brush, just to see if anything was laying tight in it. My dad walked off and I stood ready for action. Not long after he left I heard the brush cracking and small grunts. A second later a doe trots out, and not 30 yards behind and hot on her heels is a nice, I mean nice, buck! There's also a smaller buck, but my gun is up and on the big one. I try and pick him out, not wanting to shoot the doe or little buck or the trees they're passing behind. I shoot and miss two times, but finally as they pass an opening I let my last shot go and the big boy falls. Yes! He doesn't move an inch and I just stand there watching him, beautiful buck he is. I excitedly call my dad on the radio and tell him I've got a big one down and to hurry up through the drive and come see him! Just then the buck jumps up! I flip my safety off and go to take another shot at him...Click! I forgot to reload. In my excitement I never reloaded and just called my dad. I quickly dig in my pockets for another load and all I can do is watch him run away. I can see he's staggering, but heck he's sure taking off good enough! I'm all reloaded now, but he's gone. My dad arrived and found no deer... I had to tell him he got up and ran away. We start the track job. We had good blood and hair, and dirt turned up from where he fell. He made it down to a creek and that was the last we saw of blood. He disappeared from there. We searched for days, nothing, no trace of him, dead or alive. I was sick over that, but a valuable lesson came from it. Bragging comes after reloading...and tag soup isn't all that bad...  --Laura Bell


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NorCal Cazadora

Ow, that hurts!

I once had the opposite problem. When my boyfriend was teaching me to hunt, one of the first things he said was that when I dropped a duck, I needed to take my gun out with me when I went to retrieve it, and I needed to make sure it was loaded.

We were out one day when a flock of spoonies landed in our decoys. We jumped up to startle them into flight, took our shots, and dropped two. It took me three shots to get mine, so I looked down in my pit blind to grab three more shells out of the box before going out to retrieve the duck.

But by the time I'd jumped out of the blind, my duck was no where in sight. Turns out spoonies are notorious for finding cover, and this one had hunkered down somewhere on a long, narrow strip of land (the earthen "check" between flooded rice fields), and she was GONE.

I hate losing a wounded animal. I know that nothing goes to waste in the food chain, but when I go to the extreme of taking a life - or trying to - I really want to finish the job quickly.

What a drag that some of the most important lessons have to be learned the hard way. Now I always keep the shells in my pocket so I can reload as I walk out to retrieve the bird.

Wanda H

This post was just perfect for today... I went this morning & took my sister, she hunts on one side of the property & I on the other, at 9:30 I couldn't sit there any longer, was daydreaming of a glass of sweet tea... I called her told her I was going to the truck, she said ok, see ya there, when I got there she wasn't out yet, so I go in, turned on the heat, decided to call our mama to talk about Thanksgiving & then I got off the phone & decided to pick up some pecans by the field, was half way across the field & i heard kaboom...kaboom, she had shot twice, so I waited a few minutes & called her, she was panting "I just shot a big buck," she was walking out & jumped 2, said he was the biggest one she has ever shot at... I get down there & start scouting & all I found was white fur.. no blood what so ever... she sure was disappointed.. as well as I was for her.. the acorns on the ground are as big as my thumb.. we are headed back at 3. told her I was going to cut her shirt tail..


Man, I know the feeling!!!! It happened to me last weekend(opening weekend of gun season.) I had just bought a new bolt action Remmington 30.06 and I hadn't set the scope in yet so the guy who owns the farm said I could borrow his 30.06 automatic. As we were getting ready to head to our stands he hands me the gun and tells me he has already loaded the clip and all I had to do was chamber a bullet. I sling the gun over my shoulder and head to my stand. I climb up, get settled,and pull the lever back to chamber a bullet. I was set for opening morning. At first light I saw two young does that I let pass. About an hour later two more deer came out about 100 yards away into the wide open. I looked through the scope and it was a doe and a HUGE 8 pointer!!! It was going to be the biggest buck and best shot I ever had. Their rear ends were toward me and I kept the crosshairs on the buck waiting for it to turn for a better shot. I mean this deer was in my crosshairs for two minutes! It finally turned and I squeezed the trigger........all I heard was CLICK!!!!!! A bullet hadn't chambered. I reached up to chamber again and the entire clip fell out and to the ground 15 ft below. Of course the clip hitting the ground alerted the deer something was amiss. I had to sit there in my statue position and watch this buck walk back into the tree line and disappear! I was devastated and wanted to laugh at the same time.Turns out that the guy who lent me the gun had had the same problem before. Two things I know that will never happen again. 1. I will never use a firearm I am not familiar with and 2. When chambering I will absolutely make sure there is actually a bullet in the chamber and not take it for granted. It was a very hard but valuable lessoned learned.


Hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving, and great hunting seasons! My wife has said that she wants to go deer(whitetail) hunting with me(YEA!). I've taken her to the range and she shoots my 30-06 very well, but she doesn't want to use it in the field. She says it's "too loud and kicks like a mule", her words, not mine. I was wondering if I could get some advise from you about what might be a good gun for her. In case it matters, she has been through army training and qualified as "Expert marksman" in everything. Any recomendations? Any and all help will be greatly appreciated! Again Happy Thanksgiving and great hunting to you all!


Midnight Banjo,
I use a Remington model 700BDL 270, it's a bolt action. It's a great shooting gun with some kick. I hate sighting the thing in if I have to do it more than 10 rounds! My shoulder is pretty sore! My brother had his gun (same model and caliber) magna ported to lessen the kick, but it's really loud.
However, out in the field it defintely has knockdown power and I never feel it kick when I'm hunting. I feel a .243 would be too small and not get the job done. My dad likes to use his 25-06 and he says you really need to aim right on because it doesn't do nearly the damage a 270 will,nor does it have the knock down power that the 270 has. I've also hunted with semi-auto 308. Hated that thing for other reasons, but never had a problems shooting it in the field.

As far as missing deer, wow. One year, I missed a nice 7 point. Well, shouldn't say missed it. I hit in the brisket and during muzzleloader season a neighbor found it dead. I felt horrible. I've totally missed other deer which is better than not finding deer. I hate that.

This year I got a nice 7 point with a 11 1/2 inch spread. My biggest buck yet! However, I hit it poorly. We did find it after 2 1/2 hrs of tracking. We went through one swamp, crossed a creek, crossed a busy road, and went through one more swamp. Finally, found it. I was very happy. I am getting it mounted! My first one in over 20 years of hunting.


I lost a 6 point like that one year. It was an awful feeling.

I normally hunt right on property line and unfortunately the neighbor won't let us track deer on his land. I always shoot for the shoulder, and it usually works. If I hit a deer in the shoulder, it's never gone more than 40-50 yards.

That year, I must have shot a little too far behind. The buck ran, crossed the property line and got into the neighbor's corn. I was really upset. The last thing I want to do is take the life of something wastefully. It turns out that two days later my uncle found my buck. He had cut a diagonal line across the field and dropped right on the fence row that we walk next to to get to where our cars are parked. But it's always dark at that time. I always wonder if I had just walked that way during the afternoon if I would have found my deer.

Lou Alexander

Midninght Banjo,

I admit, I'm a whimp when it comes to gun recoil. I used a .243 for several years, then needed a bigger caliber to elk hunt with. I have a .280 Ruger with a muzzle break added to the barrel and a Limb Saver recoil pad on the stock. It is very loud, but the kick is comparable to the .243. I really like this gun, it is now my choice for whitetail hunting.

Monica Williamson

I have a Howa 308 and I love it! I take it deer hunting but also took it to South Africa hunting...and it did great...came back with 5 nice trophies!