Seymore Buck

David Stephens

Anaconda, Montana

It was a cold morning here in the Pintler Mountains of southwest Montana. The wind was blowing steadily out of the west as I drank the last cup of coffee from my old Thermos jug. I was here to hunt a buck I had seen when I was scouting for the archery season. It was a few days before the first hunters were to arrive from places afar, and I was looking for a quiet day to myself before the wood cutting, water hauling, and the thousand other things that big game guides do, started in earnest.

I left the warmth of my pick-up cab about an hour before sunrise, and started up the trail toward Upper Seymore Lake. I had located the buck two days before when I was taking a load of feed for the stock into the camp we had set up. He was nothing short of a monster. He had a perfect four-by-four rack that had to be thirty-four inches from tip to tip. I had not seen a buck this nice for several years, and was hoping for a shot at him before I was obligated to give that shot to someone else.

I set up on the edge of a beaver pond that had dried up long ago, but was great for taking a stand, as the wind was cut by the beavers' leavings of old dams and food caches. I sat there with the sun coming up and the wind finally starting to abate, just really enjoying myself and the nice day. I must have started to doze off as the chirruping of a squirrel got me alert. The ridge to my right was where I had seen the buck, and there was definitely something there now. Stones were clicking and I could hear something walking, but I couldn't see anything. I took an arrow out of my quiver and nocked it, then got into what I was sure was a good shooting position.

Seymore Buck

A deer came over the ridge and started down toward the beaver pond. It was a buck, but only a small forkie. I relaxed and watched the deer feed down the ridge, about twenty-five yards away. I was tempted to shoot this buck, as my family is always in need of meat. I held off though, and a few minutes later I was rewarded with the sight of antlers coming down the ridge. Four bucks were walking toward me, and all of them were definitely something to shoot at. The first animal was a nice three-by-two, and the second and third were four points to each side. The last one was the big boy, the one I had spotted earlier.

I was very excited and ready as the smaller bucks passed where the first had gone. As the big buck passed a tree I raised my bow, and came to full draw. The buck paused and looked over his back, then stepped into an opening. I let the 2117 arrow fly and the buck dropped like I had shot him with my trusty 06. I was really getting the shakes as I let out a war whoop that I bet they heard in Butte.

I started toward the buck and watched in amazement as he staggered to his feet and shook his massive rack. It was apparent immediately why he had gone right down. I had shot him in the left side antler, right at the base of his velvet rack. As I fumbled another arrow out, he saw me and left like he had only been a wisp of smoke.

For days after that I was almost sure that he was a figment of my imagination. It was only after archery season was over, and my buddy from Seattle, Dave Wilkinson, shot a really nice buck with another guide in our outfit, that I saw what my shot had done. There, at the base of Dave's buck's left antler was a brand new Rocky Mountain broad head, sunk almost all the way through the horn. It didn't matter whether the buck had died from my shot or his, a lifelong buddy had gotten him, and I had given him what had to have been one heck of a headache. By the way, I was wrong. The rack was over thirty-six inches, tip-to-tip.

David Stephens

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