On December 2, 2014 I got this email from Minnesota hunter Travis:
Opener of MN shotgun was Nov 8th, and the season came and went. I heard a story from the neighboring property that one of them had hit but could not find a “a 12-pointer.” A few weeks went by, I checked one of my cams and about fell out of my chair! This double-drop buck limped by my cam closest to the house on November 19. Look close and you can see the buck’s right front leg is shot off just below the knee.
Over the next couple of weeks Travis kept getting pictures of the buck on his food plots and known major trails…
My dilemma is: Do I go all in and chase him hard, or sit back at the food and wait till he makes another appearance? I have 2 more weeks of black powder and bow hunting till the end of December to wrap my tag around him. One good thing I have going for me is that everyone within about 1,000 to 1,500 acres is as done hunting, as the gun season is over and they do not bow or black powder hunt. I am very concerned this buck may not make the winter. Be a shame to find him dead come spring.—Travis E.
UPDATE: Got this follow-up email yesterday from Travis:
In December I picked the buck up on trail cam for about 3 weeks, but never saw him while hunting. He then disappeared off the cams. My thoughts are he either got shot (unlikely) or went back to his core area just off our property. Or maybe he died from the injury. I have been out a few times shed hunting but have not found much yet. I hope to start picking up some sheds up soon, and maybe I’ll find one from him. We have a turnip field that is getting pounded pretty good by the deer.
It’s tough to hear about and see a buck wounded. But it’s real, and things like this happen in the woods. I commend Travis for doing the right thing, and hunting the injured deer till the bitter end. I wish he’d tagged him.
My observations: Travis said the double-drop buck had eluded his 13 trail cams all last summer and fall. I think it’s likely the buck never walked on Travis’ property last summer/fall; the deer lived in a summer core area maybe just a few hundred yards off Travis’ land.
I theorize that when the buck was shot in gun season, the injury and pressure pushed him out his core area and onto Travis’ land. And I agree with Travis that if the buck did not die, he likely returned to his core area on the other side of the fence once some time went by and the human pressure over there had died down. All bucks and especially wounded ones return to little spots and thickets that they know so well, and where they feel safe and comfortable.
Whitetail bucks are tough and I’ve seen them do some amazing things, but I have a bad feeling about this one. Minnesota is a hard place for a buck to survive the winter on 3 legs; and that wound might have gotten infected…
Do you think double-drop made it? I’ve asked Travis to keep us posted as he shed hunts in the coming weeks.