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One of my favorite stories from the BIG DEER archives:

Our friend Eliot Strommen (Luke’s dad) shot this massive buck on his Montana ranch several years ago. My friend Randy took this portrait of Big E and the “Sticker Buck.” I think it is a fantastic picture.

Luke, who had a lot of history with this buck, and who had found his sheds 3 years in a row, says the brute was least 6.5 years and maybe 7.5. Most of us will never shoot a buck so old. Most of us will certainly not do it with a longbow and wood arrow.

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Eliot and Luke never scored the buck officially. These guys hunt for the fun, the challenge. the mystery…don’t worry with stuff like official scores or record books. But Luke and I have talked about it, and we think the Sticker Buck would go mid-160s. And that is with no brow tines to speak of and short points on a 4×4 frame. But the monster has 25-inch-plus beams and nearly 50 inches of mass. Both those measurements are world-class.

I had some history with the Sticker Buck. I saw him a couple of times while I was hunting out on the Milk River with Luke back in the day. Most notably one November morning when I was making a nudge for Luke, who was set up down on the river with his recurve, hoping for a ground ambush. Sticker Buck was running with a bunch of does and several other bucks, and when I pushed him out of a willow patch, he eased off down into the river bottom, missing Luke’s outpost by 50 yards or so. I remember seeing the buck glide off in the lightly falling snow, antlers massive and gleaming, a spectacular sight.

Eliot killed the buck while hunting on the ground a couple of weeks later. That is how the guys like to hunt out on the Milk, old-school, dressed in their wood plaids and simply crouched behind a cottonwood tree or sunk low amid logs and brush, their longbows or recurves at the ready. The massive buck came by and Eliot shot him at 6 steps, what the trad archers proudly call “wolf range.” Ran a fir arrow and a Snuffer broadhead fired from his 68# Robertson Longbow through the back of the deer’s lungs.

Luke and Eliot tracked the buck together and found him lying dead and calm and magnificent down by the river. They sat with the deer awhile, not saying much, just smelling the smells and listening to the sounds of their beloved Milk River hunting ground. It struck them that this is how deer hunting has been here for the last 100 years. It is how deer hunting will be here in this remote land forever.

Eliot’s voice still cracks as he remembers that day. “Heaviest deer we ever hoisted into the pickup,” Luke says.

Aren’t old hunting stories and our memories of them great?