The longest pull back to the truck

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The text from my son Clayton read "just shot a nice buck having to track blood." I answered that I was just driving around and could come help. It was 9:20 a.m. Saturday.

I don't sleep in very many Saturday mornings, but I had needed the rest. My intention was to slip into one of our stands about 10 o'clock and sit through the middle of the day. The weather is cooler now, and the whitetail rut is kicking in, so deer movement could happen any time.

Clayton sent another text. "I'm going to need a hand dragging, once I find him." I answered "Okay" and headed that way. In a few minutes, I got another text. "He jumped up and ran again lots of blood." What does he mean - again? That can't be good.

I answered "Stop! Back out for a while." I realized that he was anxious to get his hands on the deer and was pushing him too quickly, so I responded, "If you keep pushing him he will get away give him some time to lie down." He answered, "Okay, I just don't want to lose him."

When I got to the land I met Clayton walking out from the stand. He told me about the hunt as we walked back to the truck.

He had went in early - about six o'clock, wanting to be in the stand well before daylight. On up in the morning, he had three does come in to the corn pile, just down the hill from his stand. They never knew he was there and eventually wandered down the hill toward the creek.

By nine o'clock, he was getting restless and decided to get down. At the bottom of the ladder, he stopped to look over the woods one last time. He heard a grunt and saw a nice buck coming toward the stand. He squatted down and brought his rifle up to his shoulder. The buck walked up to within 20 yards and stopped facing him straight on. At the shot, the buck wheeled around and ran down toward the creek.

Clayton couldn't believe the buck hadn't dropped in his tracks, but there was a good blood trail, and he followed it carefully for about 150 yards. At the creek, he stopped to look for a crossing. The buck jumped up from the other side of the stream and crashed away through the brush. He waded across the creek and went on after the deer.

He trailed blood for another 300 yards and jumped the buck again in a thicket. That's when he stopped and texted me that he had jumped him again. He took my advice and backed out.

Back at the truck, we decided to give the deer a little more time to expire and rode around for a while just talking. I was concerned about how far the buck had gone after the shot, but I was hopeful that we could find him.

We returned to the land and walked in to Clayton's stand. We took a shotgun with us in case the buck wasn't down for good. The blood trail was easy to follow, and soon we were at the spot where Clayton had jumped the buck and backed out.

Clayton took the lead following the blood trail. We went another 100 yards and headed into a thick cut-over. The blood ended, but the deer had been following a faint trail, and we were able to find running tracks in the soft ground. We stopped in a small clearing, and there ahead of us was the buck. Dead.

It was a good buck. A 9-pointer with a 16-inch antler spread. We guessed his weight at about 175 pounds. He had been shot straight in the chest, and the bullet had come out through his ribs. He had managed to go nearly 600 yards and left a blood trail that you could follow without bending over. It was amazing. And now we had to get him out. There were no trails, roads or fields nearby, so we had to go back the same way we came in.

We took turns pulling him back through the cut-over to the more open woods where we could each grab an antler and pull together. I told Clayton that it would take us two hours to get him back to the truck, and it did. We would pull for 50 yards, then stop and rest. It was approaching midday, and it was heating up.

Clayton called his wife, Kristy, to bring us some bottled water. He said that she knew how to get to his stand. We took a long break near the creek while we waited on Kristy. She brought the water and even helped us drag the buck back up the hill to the stand. We still had about 200 yards to go to get to the truck. There was just no other way to do it. It was the longest pull.