Do you have a favorite buck on your wall or in your memory? Not the favorite just because he is the biggest but for other reasons. I do. The 2018 hunting season will mark the 20 year anniversary of my favorite. Shot him, with a shotgun, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1998. He is on my wall but not the biggest. Not even close really. As far as scoring would go, I don't know. Never scored him but I would guess that he would struggle to make 120". He has good mass but is short in tine and beam length and is an eight point. Not a formula for a high score. I had almost no history with this buck. Except for the day that I got him I only saw him one time, preseason. He was at least 3.5 years old but most likely 4.5. I did not have a big awareness of age back then. So why is he my favorite? Because he changed my whole mindset of deer hunting and how I wanted to go about it. I will apologize now for this being a long post. In 1998 I hunted an 80 acre farm on the edge of town that was owned by a good friend of my father. It was about 15 acres woods and the rest fields and fence rows. My dad and I shared permission with another hunter a few years older then me and his dad, and couple of the owners neighbors. The owner did not hunt and was one the nicest men I've ever known. He did not say no to many. Throw in all the trespassers and treestand thieves and it could be a real headache at times. In spite of this it was still a good place to hunt and it was what we had so... At this time, I had just started passing young bucks although not always. It was sometimes tough to see any bucks with the pressure on that property and the buck to doe ratio being way out of wack. The other hunter that had permission had lost his dad that year. To fill the void he invited some coworkers to hunt with him. Understandable. Three of them, ouch. All nice enough but now we had replaced an occasional hunter with three who were literately there everyday that I know of from October 1st until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. They all worked nights and hunted during the day. Hunting was tough and maintaining any level of confidence was even harder that season. Two days before Thanksgiving we got a couple of inches of snow overnight. On my way back to my stand in the dark that morning I found it odd that were no tire tracks or hunter footprints. I thought "No way the gang is not here." I sat all morning without a single deer sighting and decided to head in about 10:30am. As I walked along I realized there was still no sign of another hunter. When I came back upon my own tracks from the walk in I spotted two sets of deer tracks on top of mine that cut into the core of the main woodlot. There was a small but very thick area, maybe 1.5 acres or so, of treetops and regrowth from logging. What the heck, I started following. I spent over an hour picking my way through that jungle mostly on my hands and knees trying to follow those tracks. When I reached the other side, with no sign of the deer, I relaxed and stood up. Wrong move. About 30 yards from me the brush exploded and all I could see were flashes of two deer. They were headed for a cut bean field. I took off on a dead run just hoping to see what they were. (I know, not exactly a lesson in hunters safety. Please never run with a 12 gauge in your hands). When I got to where I could see the bean field I saw a nice buck and a doe running like race horses tails tucked and heads down just "gitten it." On the other side of the bean field was a crossing of fence rows and then a half picked corn field. I decided that even though these two deer were in the next county by now I was going to circle the bean field and try to pick their tracks up on the other side. By now it's noon and pushing 40 degrees. The tracks were easy to find and follow until they got to the half picked cornfield which was full of tracks from night time feeding. With the snow melting, it was getting hard to tell fresh tracks from old (at least for me). The deer I was following (now walking) appeared to head out across the cut part of the cornfield and onto neighboring property. Not wanting to walk in the wide open I walked the fence row to the other end of the field. There were no tracks of any kind crossing the fence row or leading onto the next property. Hmmm. I backtracked myself to where the tracks got confusing and looked for a clue. Now I'm standing in the cut corn looking. South of me is the standing corn which had grown poorly and was very scraggly. Most of it only chest high. Wind was out the north. As I'm standing there figuring that it's over I actually cussed out loud. "What the $#*! is going on!" As soon as those words left my mouth I glanced toward the standing corn and not more then 25 yards and four rows into that crappy looking corn stands my buck looking right at me. And then in an instant he wasn't there. He disappeared so fast and without the slightest noise that I questioned if it all had just happened. I stood there not knowing what to do next except listening hoping to here him running off to get a direction of travel. Nothing. Ten minutes go by. Nothing. Now I figure "what have I got to lose." This buck that I jumped 40 acres ago, has now at 25 yards seen, smelled and heard me cuss. He's got to be gone and I just missed it somehow right? So I very slowly walk straight to where I apparently dreamed that he was standing. When I get to the first row of corn I stop and look and look and look. Nothing. Now I am thinking this is all in my head. And then about 20 feet away down by the ground something black catches my eye. As slow as possible I raise my gun and put my scope on it. It is his left eye looking right at me. Then I make out his nose and a tiny spot of his throat patch and nothing else. I settle the cross hairs below that throat patch and squeeze. He rolled up throwing corn stalks everywhere and I popped him again. This is one of the coolest things I've ever witnessed a buck do. To just lay down out of site rather than run. How many times had that tactic worked for him? Heck, it was the blink of an eye away from working this time. How many times has any of us walked right past an old buck doing this? Whitetails are an magnificent species and the ones that have survived to see their fourth hunting season are on a different level IMO. From that day on I was hooked on hunting older bucks. I just didn't realize how much more there was (and still is) to learn. It never gets old. You got a favorite?