By Larry Weishuhn
Experience is sometimes a harsh teacher.
One August morning I promised to my parents I would be home by breakfast to start my chores of feeding our animals before it got too hot. I ran to woods behind our home and was watching a trail leading to a waterhole. I spotted movement, a young four-point followed by a bigger four-point. A third buck appeared back in the brush. Like the other two, he was still in velvet. He wore the biggest antlers I had ever seen and I already was 8-years old! My heart beat at an alarming rate.
I dearly wished I had binoculars such as I had read about in hunting magazines to I see the big buck, up closer! Even so I could count fourteen fuzzy points. His beams spread to just beyond the tips of his erect ears as he looked for the source of noise which I suspected was my beating heart. The big buck and the two others disappeared into the oaks.
When they disappeared I ran home. I could not wait to tell my Mom and Dad what I had seen! I hoped they would believe me.
I started hunting squirrels with my grandfather and dad while still in diapers. When I was six my dad let me hunt deer alone using a .22 single-shot, legal back then. I dearly loved deer hunting even though those early years I seldom saw any
Fast forward to the hunting season after I seeing the big buck. Opening morning I crawled into my tree at 4:30 am. Two and half hours later, I saw movement coming my way through tall bluestem. It was the big buck from August. I started shaking, buck fever! I gripped my the 12-gauge shotgun and prayed the buck would keep coming my way. He was slowly closing the distance. When the buck was still 75-yards away, I felt the wind shift to blowing across my back. The monstrous buck stopped, raised high his nose, snorted, turned and walked away. That was the last time I saw him. Where he went or what happened to him I have no idea.
I learned two very valuable lessons that morning. Deer use their nose to avoid encounters with hunters, and, I needed a “real deer rifle”.
It took me years to take a whitetail of that buck’s equal. But I did not forget the lessons he taught me. Through hauling hay and working cattle I finally earned money to buy a “real deer rifle”, a used bolt-action .257 Roberts. A couple years later I bought a Ruger Model 77 in 7×57. More Rugers followed.
After over 60-years of hunting am still learning about whitetails. Today I hunt exclusively with Ruger’s single-shot and bolt action rifles topped with Trijicon scopes and shoot Hornady ammo. I consider the combination the best!