The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 17, 2012

Ken Maurer column: Chasing the unicorn buck

Those of you who read my column regularly might remember a couple of columns ago I mentioned that I had seen a buck with a weird point sticking out of his rack. It was hard to explain, but it kind of reminded me of a unicorn, so I named him the unicorn buck.

I decided to try to concentrate on him, though I know that sometimes you never see the deer again. So it went with this guy. The season wound down to the last week, and though the deer were moving because of the rut, the unicorn buck eluded me.

On one of the last days I was able to hunt, I was walking in the dark to my stand, and as I made the final approach, a deer snorted and stomped off, sounding very heavy-footed. I settled into my stand for the morning watch, all the time thinking that I might have just spooked the unicorn buck.

The morning went well by my standards. I saw a doe with two young ones. They kept looking behind them and about 15 minutes later, a buck came into view, hot on their tracks. He was a small one, possibly legal, but he never came close enough as he split the big doe off from her young and chased her out of sight.

I had some work to do for the mid-day period, even though I know you should be on stand at mid-day during the rut. I managed to get most of my work done and headed out for the afternoon watch.

When I finally got settled into my stand and nocked an arrow, I looked at my watch and it was 2:30. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll take inventory on the squirrel population for a couple hours, then we’ll see what happens.”

A little after 3 p.m., I was already tired of watching the squirrels chase each other around, and I caught a glimpse of a different movement. About as far out through the woods as I could see, a deer was coming towards me. I stood up and picked up the bow.

OK, it’s coming my way for sure, then I saw it had a rack.

Better yet — now, what are the chances that it’s the unicorn buck?

When he got closer, I saw the tall tines, and when he turned his head I saw the strange extra tine that swept across his face. It was him!

My heart rate instantly increased. He was coming right at me.

When he got to 20 yards, I drew, and he took his blessed time coming into the opening. When he hit the opening, I tried to give him a fawn bleat to stop him, but nothing came out.

Between being excited and holding my draw, I was pretty much a basket case. Now because of trees, I had to wait until he passed me. That took about half of forever and when he finally hit the opening, I was about at the end of being able to hold the bow steady. When he did hit the opening, he turned and was quartering away, which greatly reduces the target size.

It was now or never so with the last ounce of energy, I tried to stabilize the pin on the target. It looked good and I touched the release. The arrow hit with a solid thump, he gave a big back leg kick and bolted. He sprinted 30 yards, ran into a tree, and fell over!

I nearly fell over, too.

I hung up the bow and held onto the tree, then sat down. My knees were wobbling like a new-born calf. For a split second, it seemed like a dream, but there he was. After a few minutes, I climbed down and walked over to him. I knelt down and thanked God for the opportunity to be in the woods and to be able to harvest this deer.

He’s 18-and-a-half inches wide, with six points on one side and four on the other. The rack is hard to explain, but the “unicorn” point comes off the bottom of the base of the left side and crosses the middle of his face. That point is 10-and-a-half inches long. There’s nothing even about the rack, but the bases and brow times are gnarly and cool looking.

I doubt I’ll ever get another one like this, so he’ll be on the wall eventually. You never know what you’ll run into in the great outdoors.

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