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Author Topic: BAGGING OLD TANGER - Jack Howard & Charlie Lamb  (Read 1893 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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BAGGING OLD TANGER - Jack Howard & Charlie Lamb
« on: August 05, 2004, 08:17:00 PM »

by Jack Howard & Charlie Lamb


I have been asked to write a little about the taking of the large buck I refer to as old Tanger. I had always wanted a non-typical buck and Old Tanger certainly was that.
 I think it’s best if I say a little about my bowhunting history, maybe this will help explain why I can not always recall exact details of some of my hunts.

In approximately 40 years of serious bow hunting, I usually would hunt a minimum of 4 states each year. Usually it would be Utah for big old bucks, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, for Elk, and might include Wyoming for Antelope.

 I would only hunt for trophies. I expect that may seem strange to some, but my hunting never involved taking game just for the meat. Though I was a trophy hunter, we all know that what constitutes a trophy are in the eye of the beholder.   What really kept me hunting were the excitement of the hunt, and the anticipation of bagging that all time big one.

For my Elk hunts, I usually used my horses. Such trips might involve 25 miles of travel into the Bob Marshall Wilderness... I finally I had to stop hunting the Bob Marshall because of the Grizzly  bears. Not that I was afraid of them, but they would eat up my 3 weeks supply of food over night. I did have a few late night arguments with these bears, but that is another story.

When I was hunting just for a deer trophy, it was common for me to pack in with an ultra light camp set up. Using a plastic tarp for shelter and some dehydrated food, I kept things as light and compact as possible. That way I had a good amount of flexibility of movement and could keep with a certain group of deer or an individual no matter where they might go.

More often than not my hunts, although always exciting, were uneventful as far as bagging the elusive all time big one. I have had my share of good luck.  A typical hunt involved hunting when the game was out and about. Early morning and in the evening. This gave me time in mid day to write notes on the events of my hunt, practice, and get a little rest.

I did find some of my old notes for my hunt of Old Tanger, and will write from these notes.  A year or so prior to this particular hunt, I had taken an old moss back, and
had high hopes of repeating that success.

After scouting around for two or three days, I did find two areas that had nice bucks. I chose what I considered a good spot to make some sort of blind. Contrary to what some may think, mule deer have habits that often can be used to the hunter’s advantage.
On this hunt I had noted that the deer usually followed a general path into an area where they like to bed during the day.

I had actually done my scouting and constructed a blind a few days before the season began, I wanted to save as many days of the season as I could for actual hunting and going into an area that one plans to hunt and making a blind, could spook the deer somewhat. If that had happened, a few days without disturbance would help the area to calm down.

The opening day of the season, I was on my spot at last. I had picked a spot just above a deer trail that led into the area I knew the deer liked to feed in. I had snuck into this area pretty much in the dark, using a flashlight to find my way to the blind. It‘s important to get to your spot early enough that you don’t spook the deer. Spooking animals could ruin the spot for a few days or longer. One thing I have found about the older bucks, they do not always follow the same habit pattern as the usual deer. I suspect this is probably why they manage to survive and grow a nice rack,

After a few days of observing from my blind, I spotted my quarry moving by at long range. By now, though, it was late in the morning and Old Tanger was making rapid tracks back to his bedding ground. I had hunted deer in their bedding grounds in the past, but the odds of bagging one is about 100% against you. On top of that, what is most likely to happen, the deer will spook out of the area and you will lose your chance for the season.

 I really had to restrain myself from at least taking a long shot, but better judgment got the best of me, so I thought better of it. I knew if I spooked Old Tanger, I would never see him again (at least not in this lifetime and who knows about next). I knew from experience that these old bucks do not come out in the evening until all of the smaller deer show up. It is usually too dark to accomplish much by the time they make themselves visible.

I decided to hunt my other blind that evening and try for Old Tanger again the following morning.

I hunted from my morning blind a few more days, but Old Tanger never showed up. Now that I had found this buck. The type of buck I had been looking years for. I knew I would devote all my effort to taking this fine animal. The season was nearing its end so I would spend the rest of the trip waiting and looking for Old Tanger.

I knew this old buck would not come out of hiding until after dark so hunting for him on my evening hunt would be useless. My plans were to hunt for this buck from my morning blind and use my other blind for the evening hunt. I do not always hunt from blinds, only when I find a few deer concentrated in an area.

After a few mornings of waiting and anticipation, the object of my affection had not showed up, I feared I had been out smarted again by one of these old fellows. I guess I was growing impatient so I left my blind a little earlier than usual, I started down the hill, my heart gave a jump, there was Old Tanger below me.

  I quickly ducked down behind a small bush and tried to force my heart back down out of my throat to it’s original position. Taking a brief moment I focused my thoughts. I didn’t dare look up again until I had calmed down a little. After a couple of minutes, I took another look, Old Tanger was as close as he would come in my direction, I could hardly move a muscle, much less try to get any closer. I estimated the buck to be out there a little farther than my usual shots but it was certainly within the limits of my ability.

Honing in on the spot behind the buck’s shoulder, I held very steady and took a shot. Just as I shot, the buck moved his head down to take a bite. The arrow missed the chest cavity and caught him at the base of his antlers. The impact from the speeding shaft knocked him to his knees. As the buck jumped to his feet I nocked another arrow and drew it full then let it slip.

It was a clean miss and gave Old Tanger the opportunity in his dazed state, to stumble down the mountain and put quite a distance between us. Of course you can see the bind this put me in. The buck was moving around in circles. Pretty alert, but yet dazed somewhat.

 I was pretty far away and at that distance and with the movement of Old Tanger, my chances of any hit were not great and the probability of killing shot even poorer. At any moment the buck could regain his senses and take off like a lightning bolt. Although my chances of a good hit were not great, there was no other alternative.

I have always relied on my razor blade broadhead to kill, even on a poor hit. I had been attaching razor blades to my long, lean, three blade heads for years and trusted them fully even on marginal hits. I have hit game in the lower leg and they have died in a short period from excessive bleeding.  With this in mind, I shot 3 or 4 more arrows at my moving target. I have always had trouble with moving targets. Even at close range. This would be anything but close range shooting.

 Watching the buck making his short circles, I felt I had a fair chance. The problem was I wasn‘t hitting anything but air. As I reached back for another arrow I almost passed out.  I had only one arrow left and that was not a good feeling.

 Using up most of my arrows on one animal is something new to me, I seldom shoot more then 2 or 3 arrows for the entire season. Therefore my arrow supply is always more than sufficient in hunting situations.

The buck seemed to be shaking off the dazed feeling  and looked to be snapping out of it.
Suddenly he bolted into thick cover. Running quickly to the opposite side of the brush I tried to position my self for Old Tanger to pass my position. It seem at this point in time, that my only chance of getting a shot with my last arrow was to wait him out.

Soon my patience was rewarded as I spotted Old Tanger moving in and out of the brush not far below me. As stealthily  as I could I followed along above him with bow partially drawn. With my last arrow I waited for the proper time to shoot.

Old Tanger stopped momentarily  to sniff the air. This was the moment.  It was now or never! One last arrow, one last chance! In a few more steps, the buck of my dreams with a wound from my arrow would be totally out of range and into thick brush and with that very possibly out of my life forever.

 I released my arrow.  As the shaft arced away from me, I could see it touch some brush
just in front of me.

 I was not sure if the arrow was deflected or not. It had felt good and the arrow didn’t appear to have been affected by the brush. At the shot, the deer bolted directly
toward me. I felt certain that I had missed and a moment of dejection swept over me. To my surprise and relief my great buck dropped in full stride about fifteen feet in front of me. The Old Tanger was dead.

That last arrow had passed completely through both of the old buck’s lungs.
I had to spend the next few days taking care of my trophy. He was carefully skinned and quartered which were then packed out on my back, one at a time. It was a tough physical chore, but my heart was light and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

I really do not know if I could consider this particular hunt was based on any sort of skill or simply a lot of luck. I did happen to wind up with the buck I was looking for, but certainly not in my usual way. Even though there was a lot of  pure luck involved, I still came home a happy camper.

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