This was second buck I named after a younger hunting and fishing buddy, who passed away way too soon.
I was hunting my “opening day” hang-on stand on the edge of a swamp at my parents place. At about 9:00, I heard the splashing as the buck passed by, but I couldn’t see that he had a minimum of three points on a side, like I always look for during the early part of the season.
I reached for my grunt call, and gave a few. That turned him around, and brought him back right towards me. I saw then that he was a six-point. My shot (Hornady 12 ga 2-3/4” from about 20 yards) struck behind his shoulder. He ran off about 70 yards into the swamp.
I found him laying there, body half submerged in the cool water and head resting on a log. I called my dad on the phone and we hauled him out with his side by side Polaris Ranger.
We hung him in a tree in the shade, I ate lunch with my parents, and headed out to a much more comfortable stand, to hunt for a doe.
While up there, I got a text saying that my buddy Joe, who had been in the hospital about a week after a stroke, had passed that morning.
I sure hoped to see Joe again someday, and I reached into my pack for my little red Bible. I opened it at random to the passage of Luke 23:43. I was certain I’d see him again after reading that, and the pain of loss immediately subsided.
Looking at the picture of the buck laying peacefully in the swamp, making the trip to deer heaven at the same instant, made me even more certain of that.
I brought the euro down to his southern tier camp the following summer, and we hung it up on his tractor shed, during a little send off party.