deer mistakesI wrote this article several years ago, back when I was writing a ton of deer-hunting  stuff for Outdoor Life the magazine. I really miss my old writing days—I graduated college cum laude w/a degree in English, and magazine writing is what I trained to do—but the opportunities to write regularly and well for print mags these days is limited. It’s mostly online writing now, which is fine, but it’s not the same.

Anyhow, here are 3 of the sometimes humorous, bone-headed and serious hunting mistakes I wrote about in that article. Click here and read the rest.

Muzzle Break

The Mistake: One day on the plains, a high-profile hunter (who wishes to remain anonymous) shot over the back of a 160-inch 10-pointer at 200 yards. The rattled deer bolted and ran straight toward the rifleman, who fired and missed again. The buck kept approaching, and our guy finally dropped him at 60 paces.

The Fix: As the hunter sat wondering what had gone wrong, he checked his .270. The barrel had bulged and split! He figures that dirt must have gotten lodged in the muzzle as he crawled on a previous stalk. His first shot at the buck cracked the muzzle an inch. Who knows where the first two bullets flew. It was a miracle he got the buck—and a second miracle he didn’t get injured. “I always tape the muzzle in the snow,” he says. “Now I’m sure gonna tape it every day of the season.”

(Note: I can now reveal that hunter was me! Again, I feel lucky to have not gotten injured. BTW, I had a new barrel put on that custom .270 and it now shoots fine. Watch where you put that muzzle!) 

Shut Your Mouth

The Mistake: My buddy John told his buddy Pete about a drop-tine buck he’d been seeing and hunting for weeks on a lease the two shared. When John went out of town on a business trip, Pete slid in and as luck would have it killed John’s drop buck. John and Pete are friends no more.

The Fix: When you find a big buck, keep your mouth shut and hunt him yourself. You might get the deer—and keep a friend. Of course, who really wants a friend like Pete anyway? Only a scoundrel will try to snooker a big buck that a friend has scouted and is hunting. Casual acquaintances or relative strangers are an entirely different matter (definitely don’t tell them the whereabouts of a big buck or they’ll move in on you for sure).

Never Forget: Buckle Up

The Mistake: One day in archery season, Wyatt Pope of Holcombe, Wis., had climbed 16 feet up a tree and was heading higher when the top of his climbing stand gave way, sending the (then) 15-year-old sprawling backward to the ground.

The Fix: The kid got lucky and fortunately only suffered having the wind knocked out of him. But he could have been paralyzed or killed. Never go up or down a tree, whether in a climber or on steps, without wearing a climbing belt. Once you’re up and hunting, a four-point, full-body harness offers the best protection from a fall and will provide you with the most support should you find yourself hanging from a belt after plummeting from a stand. Tree-stand falls are among the leading causes of injuries to hunters. One thing that Wyatt did do right on that day: He hunted fairly close to his father, who was able to rush over and give him some help.

Remembering back, that was a fun article to write. Read the rest.

(Art/Photo credit: Outdoor Life)