The elusive one’ never forgotten
By Dennis Jensen
STAFF WRITER | December 30,2012
“Hey, why don’t you just come out and admit it. You blew it.”
Brother Tom, my longtime deer hunting companion and the man who runs Camp Swampy, is a good man but, sometimes, he can be a real pain.
“I don’t think I made a mistake that day,” I responded. “It was just one of those things ...”
“No,” Tom said, interrupting me. “You blew it, plain and simple.”
Tom went on to explain how, for more than 20 years now, he has been on a quest, a journey, if you will, to fulfill his dream: Shooting what is clearly the most difficult buck there is.
And yet, after all of those years, he has not been able to shoot the buck of his dreams.
He went, chastising me, judging me, reminding me about how foolish I was to pass up on the buck of a lifetime.
“But you, oh you had the chance, that day at the Gifford Farm, didn’t you? How far was that buck? Twenty five, 30 yards? And you chose not to pull the trigger, didn’t you? It was early in the season. You were looking for something with a little more weight, if I recall correctly. So you let him walk.”
Seated at the kitchen table, it occurred to me that we had had this conversation before, what, 50, 60 times?
“How about I make a pot of coffee,” I offered.
“Yeah, go ahead and try to change the subject,” he said, shaking his head. Then he just went on and on:
“You’ve seen the pickup trucks, the stickers on the back windows, with their tally there for all to see. Ten-pointer, 8-pointer, 5-pointer, 4-pointer, even spike horn,” Tom said. “But have you ever — ever beheld a sticker that boasts that oh-so-rare, almost-impossible-to-come-by 1-pointer?”
“Yes, Tom, I have seen the stickers and I really don’t care about all of that ...”
“Oh, yes you do. I can see it in your eyes,” he said, still with that oh-so-lecturing tone of voice.
My mind wondered back to that day, that morning I made a decision that would haunt me to this day.
It was a gorgeous morning when I climbed up into the cedar tree stand. Daylight was just breaking and I settled in for what I expected would be four or five hours.
I had only been in camp for two days and had another eight days of hunting ahead of me. About an hour into daylight, I caught movement, off to the east, coming out of a thick stand of cedars.
I brought the 30-30 up to my shoulder and watched as the buck turned, then walked by my stand perhaps 25 yards away. I settled the scope on his head and was surprised to see just one single spike emerging from the top of his skull.
He stopped for a moment and looked out toward the broad alfalfa field, checking for does. It was time to decide. I brought the cross hairs of the scope to that spot just behind the front shoulders and had my index finger on the trigger.
Then, I decided to let him pass, hoping to kill a buck with a bit more weight to his frame.
When my brother got back to camp just after dark, we talked as we always do, about what we had seen that day, in the woods.
“You did what?”
He just sat there at the table, shaking his head. Then he got a can of beans out of the cupboard, while I set out to fry up a pack of venison chops in the big, black skillet.
We were just finishing up dinner when he pushed the plate aside, filled his coffee cup and spoke up once again.
“You’ll never get a chance like that again — the chance to put your tag on a 1-pointer. Never again. You know that, don’t you?”
I just sat there, saying nothing. What could I say? I poured myself a cup of coffee sat back down and looked at my brother.
“Never again,” he said.