My son, hunting buddy and best pal Michael Bunch took a nice five pointer during the Tennessee juvenile hunt Saturday Oct. 29th. Mike and I had gotten busted earlier that morning by a spike, four point, six point and two does. We had been set up in a blind in the Deer Lodge area on 125 acres we just acquired to hunt on when the deer pulled a fast one on us and came in from the rear left of the blind. They walked right up to the blind and busted us.
Later that day we decided to go to one of our usual spots that I have hunted for many years. Knowing this place like my own back yard, I knew precisely where we could find a buck. This place was thick with brush, riddled with swampy areas and it was the type of place no other hunters wanted to go into. I knew the bucks were there and sure enough on our way in we started seeing sign. Before too long we located a crossing at the edge of a creek and decided to set up there. The creek had a large embankment that was elevated about fifteen feet above the flat we were watching and it gave us plenty of cover.
Once we set up behind the embankment I located a clearing the trail ran through and we decided we would take the deer in that clearing, giving us a good shot and a good camera angle as well since we were filming the hunt in attempt to finish up at least one shoot. The rest of the area around us was thick underbrush. We had the plan set and now all we needed was a deer. Well things don’t always work out the way we want them to. We set out our sponsors Triple Heat, 3 does in heat scent lure by Harmon Deer Scents, got settled in and I had my back turned when my son whispered, “Dad, there is a deer!” He was calm, collected and cool about it. I was the one who got nervous.
This buck walked in, nose in the air. He was staying in heavy brush all the way, never once going near the clearing. I was trying frantically to get him in the camera frame to no avail. He stopped right near a bush I had sprayed with the scent lure and when I did finally see the buck clearly, he was fifteen yards from me staring me right in the face. He was down over the embankment so low that I could barely get him in the shot. Mike stayed calm and waited for his opportunity. The buck, after about a five to seven minute stare down, walked slowly to his left and presented a shot.
The brush was so thick I could barely see him so I told Mike to take him. The next sound I heard caused my heart to stop. SNAP! Mike had forgotten to jack a round in the chamber. Being the safe hunter he is, Michael had opted not to chamber a round into the 30/30 Marlin due to the heavy brush until he got set up for fear of a snag engaging the hammer on the gun. The deer moved a little farther out and about 40 yards away and gave me a small bit of footage, Mike chambered a round calmly then he dropped the hammer on him.
The buck ran about sixty yards and dropped. We located him right at dark, did our retrieval and closed out the shoot. Then the real work began. The place was so thick it took us nearly three hours to drag the buck the 500 yards to the road.
This place is riddled with tree tops, swamps that have six feet of mire in them and briers so big you need a chain saw to cut them. Looking back at the shot he made, it makes me proud. This 14 year-old took a shot through a one foot open space in the brush, calculated every move he made and did it calmly. The result was a nice deer, one happy kid and a very proud father. Way to go Michael!
I would like to take the opportunity to use this article as a very good learning lesson for any new hunter. Despite the fact Mike had forgotten to chamber a round once set up, he did the right thing by opting not to chamber one while moving in the heavy brush. Any time you are navigating heavy brush areas there is always the chance of engaging the hammer and accidentally discharging the gun. If your gun does not have a hammer there is still the possibility of snagging the trigger mechanism. Never rely primarily on the safety mechanism. The safety on any gun is a secondary, YOU are the primary safety device! Always unload if you access any risk of discharging your weapon.
Our goal at the Tennessee Outdoorsman is to help make hunting as safe and enjoyable as possible for the younger generation. Keep this important safety tip in mind when you are out hunting, just don’t forget to chamber a round when you get set up!