The Hunt For My Thanksgiving Day Buck

Rick Bramwell photo of Tripp Pitts

The Hunt And The Plan

Before the last snow, I went to the farm where I killed my Thanksgiving Day buck. Tramp, my beagle, quickly jumped a rabbit in the two-acre woods. While the chase ensued, I walked the fencerow to the spot where my buck went down. A forensic expert would have found little evidence of what had transpired two weeks earlier.

I left the liver with the entrails. Everything was gone, even pieces of fur. Coyotes, raccoons, opossums, minks, weasels, crows, hawks, and buzzards all must have participated in the feast.

The only things visible were the pieces of paper towels used to wipe my hands and knife. Rain had washed away the blood and the sun-bleached the towels white again. I put those in my coat.

Most rabbits would have tried to lose the dog in the picked cornfield, but this cottontail stayed in the heavy cover. I got but one glimpse of it.

As it was turning dark, I tried to intercept the dog and leash him for Tramp was soon to be the hunted.

Coyotes from a nearby ditch could hear the beagle bawl. They were howling with excitement while moving closer. I fired my shotgun to keep the predators at bay.

With very little light left, I was ripping through the briars and thorn bushes trying to get to my dog. If I get within 25 feet and yell “Whoa. Whoa, whoa” with authority, Tramp will cower down and stop. I finally closed the distance and snapped his collar.

I returned Monday to see what tracks were there before the snow melted. Time was not on my side, but luck was. The farmer let me drive his four-wheel-drive Blazer to the woods. There were a lot of coyote tracks along the edge. It looked like the rabbits and squirrels were conditioned not to venture too far away from cover where the predators could run them down. This, even though there was a lot of grain left in the field.

A neighbor once killed five coyotes at this woods in one evening. I plan on getting in my stand and doing some calling myself. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the coyote population has to be decimated to make a difference.

All the stub ears of corn I had put down had been eaten. I found seven more ears, shucked back the husks, and tossed them into the thicket.

Rick bramwell Thoughts from the Forest

This is a terrible place to deer hunt. This being confirmed by me not finding a single track in the show. I have not seen on trail cam or from my tree stand even one deer in two years. Then, how or why did I kill the big buck on Thanksgiving morning?


My plan was to be in my stand before the first light. A restless night gave cause for me to sleep in. I drive to the woods just before 11 am-see the buck crossing the next field with his nose to the ground, oblivious to the slamming of my door or me walking.

I got to where I hoped he was headed and shot him. This is a repeat of what I wrote in a previous column, but bear with me. Two minutes earlier I would have been in the field looking for my lost pair of glove. Two minutes later he would have already crossed and seen me coming around the corner of the woods while looking down.

This old warrior had a broken lower jaw packed with mud. His lower front teeth were missing. His life was about over with a great deal of suffering to come. In a weakened state, the coyotes might have eaten this buck from the hind-quarters up.

Was I a tool used by a higher being looking out for this old buck? I would like to think so.

About Rick Bramwell 37 Articles
Grew up in rural Indiana fishing farm ponds and hunting woodlands. Bramwell has been writing outdoors for 48 years. He harvested the record typical whitetail for his county and hunts rabbits with his beagle Tramp. He fished bass tournaments, including Red Man, until 1989. Bramwell has put together an ultra-ultra light system for catching panfish that mostly involves tight-lining a small jig. He attended college at Indiana State and Anderson University. Bramwell has two sons in their 50s, Brian and Gregory. A daughter Jourdan age 27. His greatest memory: fishing trout, salmon and halibut in Alaska. Bramwell's passion, apart from the outdoors, has been coaching high school age fastpitch softball.

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