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November 20, 2006

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Special Report: Vacationing Blogger Bags P&Y Buck

Last week, before I left for Minnesota, I asked if bloggers should be able to take a week off just because they want to get in a treestand during the rut? You gave me the green light, and thank goodness. Turns out I arrowed the biggest bucks of my life.

Here’s a short photo essay (okay, more of a bunch of hero shots, but I know you guys will be good enough to indulge me):

Davescott_1F&S contributing editor and whitetail expert Scott Bestul (right) not only hosted me on his home stomping grounds in southeastern Minnesota—something most people would not tolerate two years in a row—but he also put me up at his house and let me sit at the dinner table with his wonderful family, which most people with young children (rightfully worried about what the tots are exposed to) would never allow. I think he was trying to teach them a lesson in forbearance. Many thanks to all.

Davebuck_1Long story reasonably short: On the first evening, wind and snow concentrated the deer, and Scott put me on exactly the right stand. I saw 27 critters—13 bucks and 14 does, including a big 10-pointer that was running girlfriends in every direction and had zero interest in my grunts, bleats, snort-wheezes, or rattling horns. On the next morning, a different, absolutely giant 10 chased three does past my stand. I stopped him for half a second at 32 yards but didn’t have a shot. Five long, slow sits later, I figured I’d used up all my luck for the week, which was fine by me. Then came Tuesday morning.

Scott walked me into a stand overlooking a very small pond and said, “You’re going to like this spot. A couple of guys said they’d seen a big buck coming right through here.” At about 8 a.m., he was coming through again. I’d been rattling and had put down some do-in-heat urine leading to the stand. I can’t say for sure that either helped lead him down the alley so perfectly. I just know that I heard his footsteps and looked up to see legs moving toward me. Then I glimpsed all the bone I needed to see. I never looked at his antlers again. And thank goodness. If I’d known it was a 140-class deer, I’d have been shaking too hard to shoot.

The buck worked a scrape about 40 yards out, then started trotting toward the pond. I drew before he got in the open. He skirted across the far side of the water, slowed down, and turned broadside at 12 yards. I didn’t move or make the slightest sound. But he stopped short, rotated his head to the left and up, and stared right at me. I was going to wait for him to relax, put his head down . . . but he started twitching his face. I had a good shot and I took it. But the instant I did, he ducked and whirled, and instead of taking the arrow behind the front, left shoulder, he took it high and forward. I watched him scramble away with several inches or arrow shaft and bright green-and-orange fletchings sticking out of him. I heard him crash about 70 yards away.

I had to force Scott to let me take a picture of him with this buck. Of course, he deserves most of the credit. All I did was manage not to screw it up, and I made a passable shot. It’s as much his buck as mine (maybe more).

Dave_fourwheelerWhen Scott came with a four-wheeler to get me and the buck, our hunting partner Greg Brush, who’d been sitting in a stand across the valley, was with him. I thought this was odd, but Scott explained it: “Just after you called my cell to tell me you stuck your buck, Greg called to say he was cold, wasn’t in a good spot, and wanted me to pick him up.” I shouldn’t have bought it. Greg doesn’t come out of stand early, and he wouldn’t question any stand location Scott chose. But what can I tell you, I wasn’t quite thinking straight. So I ate it up, we loaded my buck, and on the ride back Greg said, “Looks like you’re buying dinner tonight, Dave.”

“No problem,” I said, still flying high. “You got it.”

Winking at Scott, he added, “I could probably get him to pay for the rental car, too, right now.”

“You probably could,” I admitted.

While he and Scott laughed a little to heartily at this, we turned the corner and I saw Greg’s buck laying on the ground where they’d left it. It took me a full 30 seconds to understand what was going on.

Dave_gregbuckAt almost the same time I arrowed my buck, Greg (who after every long, cold sit kept saying, “All it takes is one”) was surprised to see this one under his stand at 8 yards. He’d been watching a fat doe, waiting for her to step out of a thicket. He kept hearing footsteps. They seemed to be getting louder. But the doe wasn’t getting any closer. Greg was baffled until he turned to his left, caught his breath, drew, and made a perfect shot on this pretty 8 pointer (which would be a 9 but for a broken left G2).

Dave_girlsWhile Scott, Greg, and I were patting each other on the backs and taking pictures, the rancher’s three daughters, Haley, Harper, and Hannah (sorry girls if I spelled any of your names wrong), hiked out to see our bucks. I have to say, Minnesota folks raise their girls up right. Look at these three get right in there. What’s more, Haley, I believe it was (and maybe one of the other girls as well) was proud and excited to tell us that she was going hunting in a week when the second gun season opened. Good luck, Haley.



Nice buck, Dave. I've always enjoyed your candor regarding your foibles, but it's nice to see you have such a success story. I keep hoping they bring back Dave's Place.
Joe C.

Ted. D.

I was also a fan of Dave's Place and have been waiting to hear a success story involving your famously inept brother Dan. Any chance he has ever done anything other than mess up your hunts? And that is a nice buck you shot - what did it weigh in at?

Dave Hurteau

Thanks Joe and Ted. As for the buck's weight, I don't know. We meant to put it on some scales, but the taxidermist spun the head off before we got a chance to. I think someone guessed it at around 230 dressed, which might be a tad high, I'd say. As for Dan, I'm not sure what you mean; he bagged that wood duck back in '98. Remember?

Dan Hurteau

I think the comments from Ted are rather harsh. For those not familiar with Dave's Place - his wiser brother Dan - that's me - was mentioned as Dave's companion on several hunting trips. But if I recall correctly, it was Dave that typically messed up. Like the time he pushed our empty canoe across the river and we waited all morning to be rescued. Or the time he dumped me in the lake, leaning too heavy on the gunnels. But I would be the first to admit that my successes are few and far between - and although it is nice of Dave to attempt to defend me - I never shot (let alone killed) a woodcock. I do remember - sometime in the early 1990's killing a goose on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes.

Dan Hurteau

Before you all jump on me for being stupid (which is a true statement) - I cannot remember ever shooting a wood duck and/or a woodcock.

Dave Hurteau

No one here would call you stupid, Dan. Maybe forgetful, though. You shot a wood duck in that little marsh we used to hunt off Lake Champlain. It was a nice drake going left-to-right, and you dropped him stone-dead with one shot. Given the rarity of such an occurance, I supposed you'd remember.
I'm pretty sure you're right on the other point, tough. To my knowledge, you have never shot a woodcock.

Joe C.

In all fairness, I distinctly recall Dave jumping to your defense and claiming that you were not the worse shot ever in a piece of writing for which I should thank you both. Though I read it for the entertainment, not the information. I happen to be closely acquainted with the worst shot ever and knew without having ever met you, Dan, that you were not that esteemed gentleman.
Thanks again,
Joe C.

Jill Ambrosino

Davey! Nice buck! (oh... and just for the record... I was a big fan of Dave's Place too even though I was always a little jealous that even Bertie got a shot-out but I never did!) just kidding! ;) seriously though, your buck is HUGE! are you gonna make some more jerky? don't you think now you should go on that hunting show we were watching (in between baseball innings, remember?) you'd be way better than any of those guys... and you'd have your great big giant buck to back you up! (and just in case any of "those guys" read your blog... i really mean absolutely NO offense to any of you. I'm just joking around. I'm Dave's wife's sister & I don't know the FIRST thing about hunting so please don't be mad, thanks)

Jill Ambrosino

oops! in regards to Bertie (who is my mom!) I meant to say "shout-out", not shot-out. but you probably knew that...


Great buck, Dave. Glad to see you had such a fun and fruitful vacation.

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