By Mark Kenyon
Last night around 7 o clock, I decided that it would be a nice night to take a stroll in the woods and see if I could locate a few spots where the local turkeys were roosting. I took off on a walk of the perimeter of my main hunting property, and quickly found myself in a far back section near one of my favorite hunting locations.
I spent 20 minutes walking here and there, hitting my crow call every once in awhile hoping to elicit a shock gobble, but nothing took the bait. After hiking what seemed to be a country mile, something finally caught my attention. But it wasn’t the raspy, heart stopping explosion of a turkey’s gobble. Instead it was a spire of ivory, peeking out from a curtain of wispy swamp grass. One solitary white tine, shining in the setting sun, was staring back at me and it stopped me right in my tracks.
An antler! I had shed hunted for days and days this winter/spring and had yet to find a single, legitimate shed. And now, of course, while I’m out scouting for turkeys I finally found a nice piece of bone.
After a few quick pictures of the antler as it lay, mostly buried in grass, I finally pulled it out. I couldn’t believe what I saw.
This was no normal shed antler. This was a shed from “Six Shooter”!
If you’ve follow Wired To Hunt for the past couple years, Six Shooter is a buck you’ll probably remember. He was the deer I was chasing during the 2011 season and he was a buck that haunted me for many months to come after the season closed. This buck was the first “shooter” that I got on camera in my new area after making the move to Southern Michigan and he immediately entered my dreams leading up to the season. Several months later he also became the first big buck I saw while hunting in this area and I had four very close encounters with him over the first half of the season.
In fact, over the course of those four encounters, Six Shooter was nearly within 50 yards each time and I spent well over six or seven full hours in his presence. He truly was a special buck. In the video below, you can see this beautiful deer, as I encountered him three hunts in a row near his bedding area or you can read about these encounters in the article linked here – A Day With “Six Shooter”.
The tale of Six Shooter sadly ended in mid November of that season, when he limped along in front of me, just as I was losing light. It appeared that Six Shooter had been seriously injured, and I honestly thought he had been just shot by a neighbor and that he was going to die at any minute, right in front of me. Finally light faded, and Six Shooter disappeared out of sight and out of my life. I never saw him again or caught him on trail camera. My assumption was that he died soon after due to his injuries.
Now though, almost a year and a half later, I have proof that Six Shooter did in fact survive that injury and made it at least into the spring of last year. Just this realization itself is incredibly encouraging, and it immediately got me excited, wondering if somehow Six Shooter had made it through the 2012 hunting season too. What if he shows back up in 2013?!
While unlikely, the possibility is thrilling. On top of this new found hope, I now have a physical token, representative of this beautiful buck and the memorable experiences I had with it. It’s a shed unlike any other that I’ve found, given the history I have with this deer, and it will be an antler that I will forever cherish.
After so many miles of shed hunting this year, it’s funny how when I least expected it and when I actually wasn’t even trying, I made my greatest discovery. And I guess thats a big part of why I love chasing whitetails so much. No matter how much we prepare and obsess over these deer and our plans, you just never know what’s going to happen. Living the whitetail hunting lifestyle is one filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad. But in the end, any way you look at it, it’s still a life filled with whitetails.
And that’s a beautiful thing.