Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge participant Blair Dunbar was hunting the hardwoods of Iron County when he got his crack at a buck.
Blair would make good on his chance, killing an eight-pointer with a 12-3⁄4-inch inside spread.
The Lake Tomahawk 12-year-old was hunting the second day of the two-day Wisconsin youth gun hunt when good fortune came his way. He had missed the hunt’s first day because of a football game.
Blair was hunting with his father, Jack Dunbar. They got an early start and spent quite a few hours on stand the morning of Oct. 7 before the action heated up.
“We went out to the stand at around 5:30 in the morning and ... we didn’t see anything until 10 o’clock,” Blair said.
When they finally did spot something, it was sporting antlers, but a chance to shoot would prove elusive.
“We saw a fork ... the fork would not get broadside,” Blair recalled.
But any frustration would be short-lived. Blair and Jack would soon see another buck — and this one would be more cooperative.
“The eight-pointer came in – which we thought was a fork also – and it got broadside immediately,” Blair said.
He was able to stay relatively calm as he readied the .243 he was holding for action.
“I didn’t even think about it. I just turned, saw my target, and fired.”
Blair was pretty confident that the 40-yard shot was a good one.
“As soon as I fired I knew I got it because it did a little step, and looked like it was about to fall over — and then it just ran,” he said.
Blair and Jack went to look for the buck, fairly certain it was not too far ahead. But it would take a little sleuthing to recover the animal.
“We couldn’t find any blood to begin with and it ran about 40 yards where we found the first blood. After that was all uphill,” Blair said.
The cover the buck ran in to was thick enough to conceal it pretty well, even when Jack and Blair approached very close.
“We barely noticed the deer,” Blair recalled. “My dad tripped over the deer. He didn’t even see it – he tripped over it.”
After Jack tripped over the buck, they realized it wasn’t the fork buck they were expecting to find.
“When we got the deer we realized it was an eight-pointer,” Blair said.
He said the eight-pointer is his first deer. Of course, once a deer is on the ground, the work begins.
“My dad gutted it,” Blair said. But he noted that his father treated the field-dressing chore as an instructional.
Happily, a deer on the ground turns into meat in the freezer. Blair said he has already enjoyed venison steaks and hamburgers made form his buck.
Blair said he plans to hit the woods in search of whitetails some more this fall.
“I’m going to try for a doe,” he said. “I still have my doe tag.”
Blair said the November gun season will be his next chance to fill that doe tag.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org