With more deer being taken, deer hunters have more stories to tell this year.
Evidence of the improved prospects this year are already visible on the bulletin board at Pete’s Surplus near New London. The photos of trophy deer registered there are adding up fast.
Some 96 deer had been registered at Pete’s Surplus by Tuesday, and they continued to trickle in.
So have the stories behind the photos.
The most unusual belongs to Kim Eickhoff of Willmar, who has a 12-point buck to his credit. It should be a 14-pointer really, but a busted antler cost him two tines.
Yet the bigger story is the one Eichhoff discovered when he brought his buck home.
Eickhoff has been deer hunting for 39 years, but his best bucks have been taken out-of-state. Until this 12-pointer gave him the chance, two Michigan bucks were his best.
This guy showed up towards the end of the day on Sunday, November 8 on Eickhoff’s favorite hunting grounds north of Pennock.
Last year from the very same stand, Eickhoff also watched a 12-pointer emerge. At a range of about 100-yards, he pumped two slugs into the big buck’s right shoulder and watched him bolt away to oblivion. There was no blood trail to follow; he had only a story to bring home about the big buck that got away.
This year proved different. He spotted the 12-point buck about 34 yards from the stand “and dropped him his tracks’’ with one shot from his 12-gauge Mossberg.
He brought the buck home, skinned him, and there in the upper right shoulder he found the last thing he ever expected: The two slugs and even some of the wadding he had fired into the deer exactly one year earlier.
About 1 ½ inches of fat covered the slugs, which were roughly the same distance into the meat.
The big buck with a story is now processed and the meat was being marinated as Eickhoff shared his story.
Twelve-year old Wyatt Staffanson has a big buck story to tell for the rest of his deer hunting days.
His first deer ever proved to be a trophy, 12-pointer that he shot with his dad, Jamie, at his side.
The two were in a stand on land just a short ways northwest of Pete’s Surplus. It was day two of the firearm season, and the sun was falling behind the trees and the shadows lengthening. It was that magic time when a hunter is hoping for the best and in this case, it happened.
A 12-point buck that neither son or father had seen before showed himself.
Dad had just enough time to advise his son to “take deep breaths’’ and hold his composure while putting the sights of his 20-gauge on the buck.
Wyatt dropped the buck at about 40 yards, taking advantage of what his father estimated was about a 15-second window for a shot.
Hard to know who was more excited of the two.
And what did he tell his son? “It’s all down hill from here,’’ Jamie laughed. There’s no doubt that Wyatt will be back in the stand for many years to come in hopes of besting the 12-pointer.
No doubt either that Kyle Swenson will return to the woods next season with his trusted, 10-year-old Hoyt compound bow in hand.
It helped put his photo on the bulletin board with one, hefty 10-point buck.
Swenson has been bow hunting deer for 12 years now. Every season, he hopes to take a buck prior to the firearm season. If he fails to do so, he returns in pursuit of either doe or buck.
In the last six years, he has taken a doe, and in each of those years he harvested his deer on either December 30 or 31. That’s meant a lot of freezing cold sits in the stand.
This year Swenson said he was thinking that if the right doe showed up, he might just take it to spare himself the long, cold sits in the stand during late November and December.
He was enjoying the warm weather in his stand on October 30 when none of that mattered anymore.
Swenson said he was probably in the stand for no more than 40 minutes when his eye caught something behind him. He saw tines. “Holy mackerel,’’ he said of what he thought.
Swenson held tight. He said the buck got a whiff of his scent, but did not seem too spooked. The buck stepped forward. Swenson unleashed an arrow that embedded itself in the area of the buck’s right-side lung.
With the arrow in him, the buck dashed into brush and was soon out-of-sight. Swenson waited as the fading light disappeared.
He returned home and enlisted the help of his brother and a friend to find the animal. It started raining. They picked up some batteries for a flashlight and made their way to where he had last seen the buck.
They circled the spot. No blood. They looked for ruffled leaves, believing the falling rain would wash what little if any blood might be found.
Suddenly, the friend spotted a dot of blood, and ruffled leaves showed the way. The buck had ran downhill on a four-wheeler track, and there was evidence he had slipped as he scampered.
And sure enough, there he was. It was obvious that the buck had died quickly, maybe 90 yards from where he had been arrowed.