We see a ton a sour attitudes and poor sports with the rise of social media. Everyone has a microphone these days. Hunters can be jealous, backstabbing, overly negative... the list goes on. But we're not all like that. In fact there are more good guys than bad. The bad guys just have much louder mouths! Here's the story of a good guy, that if we didn't speak up for him you would have never heard about him. His name is Matt, and the chain of events that took place and the extra effort he put forth to do the right thing is as heart warming of a story as you'll read this year. It happened to one of our Contributors Ryan Saucier. I'll let him take it from here.
"This whole story started when I was on my annual out of state rut hunt in the beginning of November. I gut shot the biggest buck I had ever seen. I just got shook up and fudged the shot. He was at less than 20 yards, broadside, didn’t know I was there. I drew back, settled on him, moved my head to the side to look outside the peep and before I got settled back on him, I punched the release. The arrow sailed wide and I wanted to jump out of the tree.
I got down to pick up the arrow and, to my surprise, the arrow was bloody. I thought there was a chance I may have caught liver and might find him. There was still a lot of doubt about the shot so I decided to back out and go back to the hotel. I waited a restless night and combed the area in the morning. We found a blood trail for 100 yards or so but it dried up. I got permission from the game warden and called in a guy with blood dog to help me try to recover the buck. We got on the trail again but after finding only a few blood drops in an open picked bean field, we called off the search assuming he was not mortally wounded. This was 28 hours after the shot, after a rain storm passed over night. I was thoroughly impressed with the dog’s work.
The shot happened at 2:45 PM on November 6th and the search took place on November 7th.
On November 21st around 8:00 PM, my phone rings, I look at it and it is the guy I hired with the blood tracking dog (Doug). “Someone found a buck; game warden thinks it might be yours.” He passes my contact info along to the game warden and once again, I have a restless/sleepless night, anxious for the next call.
11:00 AM on Wednesday the 22nd, the Game Warden calls me. “A buck was found in the general area you were hunting, the guy that found it said if you could describe the deer and it matches, he’d be glad to get it back to you.” I spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with the Warden; he decides that I said enough to pass my phone number to the guy that found the deer.
11:30 AM my phone rings again and it is the guy who found the deer (Matt). I talk to this him for 10 minutes as well. Describing every little detail I can remember. “He was on my right; his left side looked like a tall 10pt frame; definitely a kicker or something on his right G2…” This went on and on. His final questions were, “What broadhead were you using and send me a pin of the location you were hunting to make sure where I found this makes sense.”
I send the location and a minute later I get a call back, “This is your deer, man.” I legitimately had buck fever all over again. It felt like I just shot a deer. Hands shaking, short breathing, everything. Elated doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. Talking to him later he said he could hear the excitement in my voice after we realized it was my deer.
Matt and his buddy who were duck hunting happened to find the deer. They were trying to go hunt this pond that no one ever hunts, but at the drawing, a guy right before them tagged their target pond. Having already made the trip they decided to pick a different pond and try their luck. The wind was wrong for the set up so they made an adjustment and threw out some decoys. As they’re getting to the bank to hide the boat, the light catches something on the bank. They go over to check it out and find out that not only was it a buck, but it was a giant buck!
They make the duck hunt and then call a local game warden that Matt has known for a long time. They explain the situation and the game warden tells him to cut the head off and he’ll bring over a salvage tag. During this time, the warden Chris called another game warden that works the public land and filled him in on the situation. This was the same game warden I talked to when I shot the deer to make sure we were legal to try to track it with a dog. It was mentioned that a guy from Louisiana had shot a big buck in that area. They asked Matt if they were able to track me down and if I could describe it, would he be willing to get it back to me which he said, "Absolutely." The game warden then contacted the guy with the blood dog to get my contact info and that’s how I was ultimately tracked down.
So many tiny little things happened, that without the ultimate recovery of this deer would have been small after thoughts. Talking to the game warden to make sure using the dog was ok, therefore he knew about the wounded buck and where I was hunting. He asked for the blood dog guy’s number in case anyone else needed help. Matt was not able to select the pond he wanted to hunt and then made an adjustment to the pond he eventually did hunt which lead him to find the deer. If one of these things didn’t happen there is a great chance that the deer is never found and even bigger chance that I would have never been tracked down.
I cannot thank all those who were involved in this process enough. Matt is a true gentleman and a sportsman, he was as happy to get the deer back to me as I was to be able to bring the buck home. Both game wardens involved went above and beyond what they needed to do in this situation to attempt to get this deer back to me. Finally, Doug was as on edge as I was to see if this was the same deer we tracked that night and genuinely wanted this to work out for me.
Obviously this isn’t the ideal situation you want to find yourself in after you have a 173-inch buck standing broadside at 17 yards. Mistakes can happen when you are bow hunting but it’s our duty to do all we can to minimize them. Although when you spend enough time doing it, unfortunately, it might happen to you too.
Everything came together, but I came unglued. Seeing the buck standing there, my nerves took over. No matter what I told myself, “Calm down, take a breath, just focus on the shot,” I kept shaking. Chances are that everything likely would have gone as you imagine it if I didn’t prematurely punch the trigger on the release. My finger should have been behind that trigger but in the heat of the moment I went away from the basics. I hope my mistake can be a lesson to anyone reading this. Practice in real hunting situations. Go through the scenario in your head and make sure you do everything you’re supposed to do when the time comes. "
- Ryan Saucier