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- Prostaff Member Dan Braman
2008 would prove to be a year that will be burned in my memory for a long time. Like most years at Mellon Creek Outfitters we enjoyed 100% opportunity in all areas of hunting with kill success in 98% range. However, this year produced some of the funniest events that I’ve ever been around. In particular one stands out.
My client this week would be Mr. Lynn Brown (name changed ) from western Arkansas. I met him at the lodge and we began talking and getting to know each other. We had lunch and I asked if he would mind going to down to the range with me; it is ranch policy that all firearms be checked before the hunt. One never knows when a scope will be knocked off. He said that he would like to make sure his gun was on so we jumped in the truck and drove down to the range.
At the range a target was already set up and he leveled his rifle on the bags. Two shots, touching holes even with and one inch above the bulls eye. “Perfect”, I said and we drove back to the lodge. By now it was around 12:45PM and I had told Lynn that we wouldn't go out until around 3:30. He elected to sit out on the front porch and talk, which was fine with me. I always like to have a feel for my clients just so I have a rough idea of their skill level and physical abilities or lack there of.
During the next hour and half I realized this man had hunted his entire life but never got a big one. I also learned that he had saved his money for a very long time in order to enjoy this “dream week” as he called it. For me this is bitter sweet, because, I know if we do well he will be happy and excited. On the other hand if we do not do well his hard earned savings will have been fruitless. Clients like these are really my favorite, I can say that I give it 200% with every client I am with; but, for guys like this I might just give it 210%.
3:30 rolled around and we got his gear and got in my truck. My plan for that evening was to drive around and glass, allowing Lynn to see the ranch and huge numbers of deer. We saw well over a hundred deer that evening with about 35 of them being bucks in 140 class. Of course every single one of them got the same response from Lynn. “Whoa, STOP!!! LOOK AT THAT ONE!!!! HE's A GIANT!!!!!!. Dutifully, I would stop and let him look with his binoculars. Likewise, after each one I would say, “No Sir, that bucks not quite what we are after.”
Each and every time he would look at me with the most perplexed look; as if to say are you serious. We saw turkeys, wild hogs, a couple coyotes, and some quail. I considered the evening a great success as I showed him where we would be hunting and a great many animals. As we pulled back up to the lodge that evening he was shocked at the number of deer we saw. The first thing out of his mouth as we walked into the lodge was,” Chaise, we have to talk.”
Chaise is the manager of Mellon Creek Outfitters. He told Chaise that he really needed a new guide because I wouldn't let him shoot anything. He continued to say that we had seen several deer that were monsters and I wouldn't let him shoot. Everyone got a big laugh out of it, most especially when he would tell his buddies about all of the deer we saw with over 180 inches of antler. He gave me a hard time and as the evening progressed my hard time became much bigger with each glass of whiskey. At 11:00PM I said my good nights and headed to bed.
4:45am finds me standing in the lodge drinking coffee while the cook is making breakfast. I know that there will be much less noise this morning when the hunters start to stir as heads will be throbbing. The first one comes walking into the kitchen area and I swear by the looks of him he would have to get better to die. The third one out was Lynn and he didn't look too bad. Lynn filled his cup with coffee and immediately started asking questions. Things like, what our plan was, will we see the big one, how far do we drive to where we hunt. With breakfast behind us we got in the truck and headed for an oat field about six miles from the lodge.
This oat field is about 750 acres surrounded by brush on three sides. On a bad day in late November you’ll see a minimum of three hundred deer at any given time of day. We were on the backside of the full moon so I knew the deer would be bedded in the field. I also knew that once the day got light enough for us to see Mr. Brown would see more deer this morning then he had ever seen in his entire life. In fact I wrote on a piece of paper the following words; “More deer then you’ve ever seen.” After I wrote it I folded it up and asked him to not read it until after we had glassed for ten minutes.
As the first shades of blue started to take over the black eastern sky I could see bedded deer with my naked eye. With my binoculars I could see nine bucks within 100 yards of where we were parked without moving my binoculars. Lynn couldn't make them out for the simple reason he didn't know what to look for and his optics were not nearly as good as mine were. After ten minutes of me explaining what to look for he saw the first one. After the first one, he began seeing more and more. He whispered as he counted and finally quit counting at 73 bucks within 300 yards. None of them was the one we were looking for but there were a couple big enough; they just weren't old enough.
With my spotting scope mounted on my window I slowly dissected the field while explaining to him why we could try and take those young bucks. From where we were to the back end of the field was 700 yards. As my spotting scope scanned the back brush line antlers caught my eye. There was a buck back there feeding and could see just enough of his antlers to know that I needed to get a second look. Once he raised his head I knew this was our boy. I told Lynn that I had found a buck that would be worth his consideration and asked if he's like to have a look. Lynn said,” Hell no I don't want to look, if he's big enough for you I might drop dead if I see him.” Once I got through laughing I told him that we would drive to the farthest southern end of the field and start our stalk.
We had a 5-10 mph northeast wind blowing, which was perfect for this approach. I grabbed his gun and slung it over my shoulder and started our walk towards the buck. Every couple hundred yards I would sneak out to the edge and look. I couldn't see him but that didn't worry me, as I knew there was no reason for him to leave. With the thick brush in places and tall grass wet from the dew we stopped a time or two for Lynn to catch his breath. About Â¾ of the way down this brush line there is a wide pipeline that runs through the field and across the ranch. Once we reached it I knew were fairly close to where the buck was last seen feeding. I peaked out and there he was down the pipeline about 200 yards from us. If I tried to get him position to shoot here we would spook the buck. So, I told Lynn we would go out into the field and crawl to the gate posts on the fence where the pipeline was.
We made it to where I wanted without any trouble. The buck was down the pipeline 200 yards away with two doe. This was when Lynn decided that his previous maximum range of 150 yards changed to inside 100. Great, he's with does and now he's too far. I grunted one time and the does very slowly started ambling our way. Lynn was beginning to hyperventilate when I calmed him down. I just kept hearing this noise and couldn't figure it out. Tick,tick,tick tick and it was getting faster and faster. What the hell is that? Do I have something lose on my pack blowing in the wind? I can't check, the buck or does will see me. Now the buck was within 175 yards and walking closer. TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK . What do I hear? Then I saw it, Lynn gun was bouncing on the wire. The poor guy had become so nervous his gun barrel was literally jumping an inch off the wire. “ Lynn, we cannot let the barrel do that Sir, if he gets any closer he's going to hear that”. Lynn said that he's trying to stop but he can't. Improvise, adapt, and overcome I always say. SO, I had brilliant idea to slide the gun barrel over about six inch so that it would be touching the big cedar post and the wire. Steady as a rock, NOW WE’RE TALKING!
Right then the buck I assume felt like he was too far behind the does and started trotting towards them. Towards the doe just so happened to be right at us. I heard one huge exhale then I heard tick tock tick tock. I’ve heard the tick but where did we get the tock. The tock was when the barrel hit the post. Now we had a steel barrel rapidly hitting wire then wood. I thought to myself, there is now way we are going to get this buck inside a hundred yards. I guessed the buck at 150 yards then I used my rangefinders and he was 137. Sweet, 38 more yards and we take the shot. The tick tock was steadily rising, he would breath and be steady for a minute and then it would start again. The buck took a couple of steps and so I ranged him again. I knew he hadn't come the thirty-eight yards needed but I could hope. The range finder said 132 yards, damn, just what I thought it would say. UGH!!
Here is when I told him, ok Lynn he's 99 yards. I no more then got the “y” in yards to my lips when BANG the 300 WSM shattered the silence of the early morning. Through my binoculars I could see a fatal would on the bucks left side. However, he didn't drop nor did he run; he simply trotted forward a few feet and stopped. Lynn was now shaking as if his entire body had been dropped in 25 degree water. His rifle was hung up in two strands of wire not to mention the sleeve of his jacket. My client is tied to a barbed wire fence, he has made a great shot and thinks he missed. I said, Lynn he's going down. Somehow, Lynn understood me to say THE BUCK IS ALIVE AND WELL AND GETTING READY TO RUN FOR THE HILLS SHOOT HIM AGAIN NOW NOW NOW. Now understand that Lynn's barrel is somehow under the bottom strand of wire but over the second strand. At least three barbs on the wire have a firm grip on his right sleeve keeping him from reaching the blot on his rifle. He is jerking and saying some things that have no business printed.
So, he crosses over and starts to untie himself with his left hand at which point the wire grabs that arms as well. I’m trying to help but not doing any good then RIP! There went the right sleeve, now we have blood. He had really scratched the heck out his hand breaking lose. Note: The buck has been down and dead for 30 to 40 seconds now. Once I saw the blood I changed gears and grabbed his wrists. With a firm grip on his wrists I said, Lynn, Lynn, and he calmed down. The he looked at me and yelled,” WHAT”. I said,” You got him buddy.” “ I what, I g-g-g-got him” “Yes Sir, you got him, that's what I’ve been telling you.” Unlike what I expected he jumped up with an angry look on his face, shaking like a leaf, and bleeding; he yelled HOLD MY GUN I’VE GOTTA PEE RIGHT NOW.
I fell over on my back and laughed until I couldn't breath. That was the most hilarious thing anyone has ever done in all my years of hunting. Now done with relieving himself, he can't button his pants. I said,” Lynn, I will do anything to make your hunt a success, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I help with that little problem.” Finally he got it done and we started walking towards the buck. Lynn was telling me how he thought he had missed him the entire time. As we approached we could see one side of his rack sticking up above the weeds. This bucks tine length was good, his points were good, his spread was good, but his mass was great. Lynn was beside himself as I shook his hand and congratulated him. As he looked over his buck tears filled both eyes and ran down his cheeks. I can't deny that I didn't tear up a little too. I was so proud to have helped this fine gentleman live a lifelong dream. His buck had 11 points and 20” inside spread. Back at camp we scored the buck 161 inches. Lynn was ecstatic.
Although Lynn's hunt was a dream come true for him, I have to say it likewise was one for me. Yes, it was one of the most comical adventures I have ever been on. But more importantly we fulfilled a dream and without dreams we have nothing. Lynn is saving up again and coming back. I can't wait for round 2.