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A 100 Year Old Man

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Barry Wensel:
I had an interesting experience this morning. As most of you know I've been a whitetail fanatic for over fifty years. This morning I passed up an old warrior which I believe was the oldest whitetail I've ever seen. I obviously have no idea but he looked absolutely ancient. The big nontypical I shot last fall was 9 1/2. This buck could have been his grand daddy. His antlers had degenerated to next to nothing. They were basically massive spikes with a bunch of heavy beading and no main beam. I watched him come to me from a hundred yards. He was a "slow walker" but not because he was waiting for thermal currents. He was obviously in pain. It took him a solid fifteen minutes to walk a hundred yards. I considered doing a mercy killing because he looked in such bad shape. I got great video footage of him at fifteen yards that you'll hopefully all get to see someday. You could see the age/pain in his face and eyes. He was gaunt and having a hard time simply walking with arthritic hips and a kyphotic (humped) spine. I know he won't make the winter but you have to respect an old animal like that. I wondered what he looked like when he was in his prime; how much he weighed, how big his rack was; how many trophy bucks he sired; how many times he survived sub-zero temps with winds blowing at 25 MPH while he hunkered down under a pine as his only protection; how many red coats he made it by; the gang bangers, the inline muzzleloader guys with their "primitive" weapons with thumb hole stocks, bipods and scopes who can shoot them in the head from 200 yards. Not to menton the late season antlerless rifle shooters who pop the biggest antlerless deer from 200 yards only to find it's a shed mature buck. Then there's the packs of deer running dogs, coyotes, bobcats, increased vehicular traffic and the rednecks who just closed the bar heading home with a spotlight out the window. Harsh conditions, drought, ticks, chiggers, flies, etc. He was a true survivor. I also guarantee he watched me in the woods more times than I watched him over the years. I had plenty of time to think about the situation. I felt genuinely sorry for him. I've had to put good dogs down in the past. I hated it. I even thought about justifying the kill. But the meat would likely not even be palatable. I have a thing about old animals. I have absolutely no desire to shoot an elephant because he'd likely be older than I am. That's just me. I have a soft spot in my heart for old animals. Yes, I managed the farm he lived on. We gave him the chance to grow old by keeping it limited to bowhunting only. I was torn. I know we are supposed to be stewards of the land and the game. Maybe I'm getting soft in my older years. I felt sorry for him. Maybe I got too good of a look at his face and his eyes. I ultimately decided to let him live out his life as nature intended. As I watched him walk away I honestly got choked up. I'm still not sure I made the decision. God did good when He made bucks like that and granted us the opportunity to pursue them. BW

nah man you did the right thing,,, seriously he earned the right to choose his last bed.  if he was down thats one thing but if he's walking let him roam his trails..

Rob W.:
Many times hunting as with most parts of life is bittersweet. Your words always paint a vivid picture. Thanks for sharing. :campfire:

Wow, thanks for sharing that. I try very hard to explain to non hunters that we arent simply killing machines. That summed it up nicely. Enjoy the rest of your season.

Jason Kendall:
Great story Barry.    :campfire:


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