Tales from the Timber: Keep looking
Here is the story of 64-year-old Morton resident Tom Maranville’s hunt for a big Mercer County buck on Nov. 22, 2009.
I was sitting in a tree stand on a fenceline with woods on my left and a picked cornfield on my right. At 4:40 p.m. a doe and a yearling came out of the woods into the cornfield, located in Mercer County near Joy.
Two minutes later a big 10-point buck was standing at the edge of the woods looking at the doe. She had gotten a little whiff of human scent and was acting very nervous. The buck followed the doe out in the field and stayed about 40 yards from her. The yearling just ate corn and messed around clueless, like they do.
The doe could see me in the tree and actually came right over to about 10 yards away and stamped her foot trying to make me move. I held my breath and shut my eyes so she couldn’t see my breath or see me blink. She finally turned her back and went on feeding.
The buck came a little farther out until he was about 60 yards from me. Every once in awhile the doe would turn toward me trying to catch movement. But I finally got my muzzleloader up.
I shot the buck at 60 yards, but he did not go down. He must have been hit too far back, because he ran parallel to me for 50 yards and stopped about 80 yards from my tree. He was humped up like deer will do when they are paunch shot.
I was trying desperately to reload my Knight .54 caliber, but the doe came back over and stared up at me. I didn’t want her to spook because if she did, I thought the buck might run as well. So when she looked down, I poured powder.
When she looked up – I froze with my arm up.
She looked down – I rammed the bullet in.
She heard that and really looked me over again – me with the ramrod down the barrel and my hand up in the air.
Finally she let me get a new cap seated so I could shoot again.
My son Paul was in a tree about 50 yards from the cornfield. I had gotten on the radio and told Paul to drop the buck if he was still standing up after my second shot. I did not want him getting into the neighbor’s timber. At my second shot I could hear the bullet whack him but the buck still did not go down. Instead, he ran another 40 yards away from me and into long range for Paul.
Paul shot once with his 12-gauge shotgun and the buck dropped flat. We both mentally marked where the deer went down and began to get out of the trees to go retrieve him.
Well, when we got out in the cornfield there was no deer to be seen and it was getting very dark. We looked for that deer and/or blood up and down the corn rows for nearly three hours.
We searched by row.
We gridded it out, we checked each row several times. No luck.
The third man there, my neighbor and hunting pal Dave Valerio finally said “Are you guys sure this deer is here, or did he somehow run off?”
My response was “Dave, If I have to go to Muscatine and buy a barge searchlight we’re going to search this whole field until daylight. I know this deer is here. He has three big holes in him.”
Just moments later, Paul found the deer just past where we had stopped searching because we knew “he couldn’t be that far. I know he was closer than that, etc.”
The next day we measured Paul’s coup de grace at 152 yards. Without that shot the buck still would have died but there wasn’t much blood and he might have gotten into the woods and not been recovered.
Thanks to Paul (pictured below at right with Tom Maranville) for a good finishing shot and to both Paul and Dave for a hard night’s work. I bought them both dinner and beer as a small token of thanks.