I always enjoyed watching tag team "pro" wrestling on TV when I was a kid in the fifties and early sixties.
Well, I'm happy to say our youngest son, Evan, and I "tag-teamed" a 7-point buck on the second day of the Wisconsin gun-deer season.
It was a hunt I will take to my grave, and I hope that's a long way down the road.
It all began about 9:30 Sunday morning. I was in my comfortable 20-foot high "condo" deer stand. Warming my hands in front of a propane heater with worn carpet below my feet, I was looking for deer. That's what you're supposed to do when you're in a deer stand... right?
Evan, 27, was in his stand deep in the brush on a sidehill. The plan was for him to walk through a major bedding area at 10 a.m. to hopefully, roust a deer toward me.
"Dad. My feet are super cold," he radioed me at 9:30.
"Can you wait another 15 minutes?" I replied.
"Nope. I'm too cold," he said.
The moment I put down my two-way radio, I heard "BLAAAAAAAT."
"What the heck. That was a buck bleat?" I thought.
Looking out the window below my stand was a buck with its antlers glistening in the morning sun.
"Oh, boy," I thought.
The buck was no more than 5 yards below me.
I knew I had to move slowly to reach my .223 rifle, but I also had to avoid the hot heater in front of me. I also knew I had to get a good kneeling shot with the barrel rested against the window frame.
The buck couldn't have cared less about me. He was looking north, up the logging road.
As I maneuvered into shooting position, he moved out of the small meadow toward the edge of a hill... still no more than 30 yards away. For some reason, he kept looking toward his left.
I had a pretty good shot, but the second I fired, he bolted. I knew I hit him. He ran only about 10 yards and stopped, looking all around. I watched him stumble through some brush as I tried to get off another shot, but couldn't.
Before I could radio Ev and tell him the deer was coming his way, I looked up the logging road and saw Evan standing by "the big oak tree." Then, I saw the deer doing the military "low crawl" on the logging road in front of Evan.
"It's down, but I'm going to shoot it again," he said on his walkie talkie.
"Do it," I replied.
Ev pointed his 30-06 toward the deer. I thought for sure the deer was dead meat.
Ev didn't fire. He brought down his rifle and fumbled with it. He raised it again and repeated the same motion.
"Why doesn't he fire?" I muttered under my breath.
Later, Ev told me his rifle jammed and a bullet wouldn't chamber. It happened not once, but twice in those few hectic seconds.
The deer crawled off the logging road with Ev in pursuit. I saw him point his rifle again. This time he fired as the deer crawled up the other side of the ravine. A few seconds later, he fired again.
"It's down," he blared on the radio."
"Are you sure," I replied.
"Yup. For sure this time," he said.
As I walked up to the 3 1/2-year-old buck, Ev said," Nice goin'. Dad, it's your deer. You hit it first."
"No, it wasn't a killing shot. It would have gotten away. It's your deer," I said.
Ev sort of agreed, but knowing my physical condition, Ev understood there was no way I could have trailed that deer.
We checked the entry and exit holes in the deer. It was easy to see that I hit it just in front of the hind quarter. Evan's killing shot was right through the heart from 100 yards away. His other shot was through the neck.
"This deer was an ironman. I can't believe it. Actually, I think I missed it the second shot," Ev said, rolling up his sleeves and preparing to field-dress it.
"Remember, the doctors said I can't gut it or drag it," I reminded Ev, as I watched him field-dress the buck.
I called the "Friendly Farmer's son-in law who brought the Gator to transport the deer to our Jeep after Evan dragged it downhill about 200 yards.
"It's your deer, Dad," Ev repeated, shaking my hand. "You drew first blood."
I told him, "No, as I told you, it's your deer. You made the killing shot because I would have never been able to keep up with it."
We finally agreed we tag-teamed it.
That's what hunting is all about. Not so much the kill, but the enjoyment you get by going with family and friends.
Personally, I think 2017 is my best hunt ever, knowing my son and I shared in the harvest.