An Honest Tale of Fiction
By: Mark Banta
I've often found myself suffering from a sense of distorted vision. I have noticed that these episodes often occur when a deer comes within my line of sight. When I shot my first buck, for example, I hesitated momentarily beforehand, because I first thought I was looking at a horse with a bush tied to its head. I guess I got so caught up in the adrenaline that my sense of reality suffered. Even now, when I shoot what I think to be a monster buck, I often find myself wandering if it is the same deer when I walk up to claim it.
I have noticed that this ailment of distorted vision seems to be quite common in the deer-hunting world. Some people refer to it as buck fever. Others just think it to be an over active imagination.
Illustration by Anita Hollis, Copyright 2001.
"How big is he?" I asked.
"BIG" he replied, again holding his hands high above his head.
"What does he look like?" I continued.
His hands began to shoot off in all directions as he described the tangled mass of antlers that stood tall and wide and seemed to shoot out in all directions.
At this point, my heart began to accelerate again. I could tell by the look on his face that this was no average buck. By the way he described the beast, I thought it must be some kind of record.
I lowered my bow and climbed down to help him recover his prize. As we walked to his stand site to begin the trailing process, he must have told and retold the entire story a hundred times. Each time the buck got bigger, and his hands shot out further when he described the tree-like rack that grew from the bucks head.
When we arrived at his stand site, we quickly found a blood trail and slowly began working our way down it. After about a hundred yards out, the blood trail ran out. We circled around for a few minutes trying to pick it back up, but had no luck. I decided to walk a little further, leaving Jeremy there looking for blood, as I continued forward in the direction the blood trail was leading. About a hundred yards from the last speck of blood we'd found, I spotted a patch of white in the tall weeds ahead. As I got closer, I expected to see massive antlers protruding upwards from the ground, but at fifty yards, I still couldn't make out anything about the bucks size. Finally, the antlers began to come into focus, and I began to wonder if this could be the same buck Jeremy was talking about. This buck only had 10-points and an inside spread of maybe 12 inches.
I began to chuckle to myself as I called out to Jeremy.
"I found him," I called out.
Jeremy came running with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. I closely watched his eyes as he approached the buck. His face turned from a look of utter elation to extreme confusion in just a matter of seconds. He picked the buck's head up by the rack and looked it over.
"Monster buck," I said with a snicker.
He stood there silently for a few minutes, assumedly trying to come up with some reason for his hysterical behavior over such an average buck. Don't get me wrong. He was a nice buck, but not nearly the Pope and Young class animal both of us expected.
Finally he broke the silence. "You know that stand I was in is about 30 feet off the ground.' He paused, 'Being that high up must make things look bigger than they really are."
I couldn't contain myself any longer. I began to laugh. This caused Jeremy's eye to squint and glare in my direction with some disdain.
I still tease him about it now and then, imitating how he threw his hands off in all directions describing the buck. We laugh about it now, but I honestly believe that he thought he had shot a true monster buck.
Stories like these are common place among hunters, though most don't talk about the trophies they shot and recovered. More often, we hear about the one's that got away. This is where some of the really fascinating deer hunting stories come from. It seems as though every deer camp has got one. At night, when everyone is sitting around the fire making plans for opening day, it never fails that someone brings up the legend of "Old So and So." To make it even better, by the time deer camp is over, at least a couple of people in your camp will have spotted him. The curious thing about it is that you rarely ever hear about anyone taking one of these trophy legends. I figure the legends are often killed by the same hunters that tell about them, but are not recognized as "Old So and So".
Some may think those who tell such stories are lying. I would bet however, that many of these storytellers would pass a polygraph test if one were administered. They believe what they are saying to be the truth. After all, whom are they harming by telling such a story? Likely, such stories only serve to make the hunting a lot more exciting.
So next time your sitting around the campfire at deer camp, and Old Whistle Britches starts in about the 30-point buck he saw on the ridge just South of camp, don't dismiss it as a lie. And don't think him to be dishonest. At worst, it is simply an honest tale of fiction.
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