If you claim to of never had buck fever then you have never really hunted or have no pulse. Buck fever is what keeps us going back year after year.
Of course watching someone else get buck fever is about as entertaining of a thing as a guy can see. Those of you that have it know what I am talking about and those of you that have seen someone else with it will surely appreciate this story.
My Daughter turned 11 this year and she drew a Junior's only hunt in Arizona for any antlered deer over Thanksgiving. This would be her 1st deer hunt and she was very excited. Her brother drew the same unit as well but has already shot 3 bucks so this hunt was about her until she tagged one..
8 day's in sunny Arizona over Thanksgiving was surely a treat. Cool nights and warm days made for great sleeping and pleasant hunting.
As we scouted and glassed the unit it became apparent that there was not going to be a lot to choose from as far as bucks go, in fact the entire 8 days we only saw 4 different bucks. But for an 11 year old girl it was the time of her life.
Day 2 found us 60 yards from a spike and her 1st reaction was that of excitement. Of course after she put her binoculars on it her desire to shoot it went down as she said "that one is a dink". I chuckled and told her it was her choice and she then asked if we would see any other bucks. I told her I believed we would but it is hunting and who knows if we will get another shot. she weighed her options and chose to pass.
As we got to camp that night you could see she was doubting her decision to pass and now thought she would not have another chance. So the next morning back to the "spike" canyon we go because she had decided the spike was better then nothing.
Of course as hunting goes the Spike was nowhere to be found that day. Tears welled up as she had thought she passed up the only opportunity she would have to kill a buck,'
A couple days passed and we hunted some new country, she actually picked up a good 4 point shed from this last year and of course it revitalized her. All she could say was he was probably a 6 or 7 point this year and that she was glad she didn't shoot the spike because she would not have the opportunity at this buck if she would have.
Of course we all know that the chances of finding that buck was pretty minimal but for 2 days we sure looked to no avail.
So back to "spike" country she decided, and wouldn't you know it there he stood. 300 yards away feeding was a bit far for her so we decided to sneak in for a better look. As we crested this little knoll looking downhill towards where we had last seen him out busted the doe. Frantically I glassed and glassed and glassed but could not turn up the spike as 11 deer filed out in front of us.
Where did he go she asked? And of course I had no answer other then he must of slipped out 1st. Then all at once light a spotlight on the hillside there he lay bedded at 100 yards. Broadside and partially hidden by a bush she could not see him. I thought to my self here was her chance and she can't find him.
As I was repositioning her the buck stood up and looked at us, she found him with her naked eye but could not put him in the scope. one, two bounces later he was gone where the does had gone. Tears rolling down her face she thought her chance was gone.
The next day was Thanksgiving day, we went to a new part of the unit we had not been and found a good group of deer. Yes, my son said as he saw a 2x3 mule deer buck with the does. And her days of discouragement changed in a heartbeat.
As we frantically got her set up over the hood of the truck her arms, legs and lips were chattering like she was in the North Pole. Of course it is Southern Arizona and 75 degrees, the cold had nothing to do with it.
The buck never presented a good shot as he was in and out of the does. The frustration for her and me was mounting by the second and they slowly worked their was over the hill. We followed the group of deer for nearly 8 hours as the bedded and fed and made their way down and around for about 3 miles.
Each time we would set up on him the situation just didn't play out for a shot. During the 8 hours of the stalk, this group of deer picked up two other small bucks and my daughter was ready and willing to take any of them. But again, the chance never happened.
Finally as the day wound down we crested a ravine and there were the deer and the 2x3 bedded at 80 yards. We slowly worked into position and got her sat down for the shot and the strangest thing I have ever seen hunting happened.
78 degree's outside, warm sun, slight breeze in our face and her buck of a lifetime bedded broadside at 80 yards and her buck fever kicks in. Now this was not like the traditional buck fever where you shake a little or start breathing fast, no this was a whole new level of buck fever. She was so nervous it gave her the hiccups. Yes that is what I said the hiccups.
This was day 7 of an 8 day hunt, we had walked miles and glassed for hours and now her buck was bedded at 80 yards and she could not hold the gun steady. Tripod set up with her sitting and the gun resting on the spotting scope and every 2 seconds the end of the barrel would jump in unison with her little hiccups.
Funny? To me it was much more then that. It was the single most memorable moment of my hunting career which spans 40 years and 5 continents.
My 11 year old daughter had buck fever so bad she got the hiccups. They were uncontrollable, in fact they were so loud I made her turn her head around as to not scare the buck off. Finally after 4 or 5 minutes her buck of a lifetime stood up and posed as to say here is one more chance.
The hiccups still steady, her lip still shivering her teeth still chattering and her heart still pounding. She could not hold the gun still. The buck now moving over the ridge, the tears once again filling her eyes and the sense I felt from her that she would never get another chance all are burned vividly in my mind.
Why do I hunt? It's easy to explain. Moments like that are priceless. I would not trade that trip nor those 8 hours or even that 5 minutes of her buck fever for any hunt in the world.
No she didn't get a buck or even a shot. No my son didn't get one either and yes it was worth every minute I spent to see her have the excitement I once had myself.
Buck fever we have all had and buck fever is what we all live for. Next year we will be back at it again and she will be 1 year older and 1 year more experienced. But to tell the truth, I hope the buck fever is there again. I hope the teeth chatter and the lips quiver. I hope she wants to do this year in and year out for as long as we can.
I just hope the hiccups stay away.
The next buck to have a fawn will be the