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December 7: Brandy Hampton

I was in a pickle. That's just to put it lightly. And then the answer to my problem came from the most unlikely person, my 13 year old son...

Rod Owen, my Dream Season Team-mate was supposed to be coming to film my son Coltin, and I was going to take my wife Brandy to try to film her kill her first whitetail buck. Like I said "supposed to". It just didn't quite end up that way, but it was nobody's fault.

Rod and I were on our way to Hadley Creek Outfitters for a late season muzzle loader hunt when Rod killed his fourth buck of the season. A few rolls of athletic tape and some choice words about nighttime deer movement during a full moon, and we were back on the road at 11:30 p.m.

After a successful hunt at Hadley, Rod's truck was losing parts like a 50% off sale at the local O'reilly's! It was kind of funny watching stuff fly off and trying to guess what it was. But that brings me back to the pickle that I was suddenly put in. My son and my wife were both on their way when Rod said he was not going to be able to make it due to the appointments with the insurance agent and body shops. When my wife and son picked me up in Kansas city, I explained the situation and just honestly didn't know how to handle it. Do I take one and leave the other one at the motel? Or do I take them both and let them draw a straw for who is going to shoot? And that was when Coltin said " Dad, Bran can shoot the first deer and then I wait on the next one". It was a very unselfish act that lifted the monkey off of my back. I love that kid.

The next morning when my alarm went off, my total sleep for the night was at 2 hours. I felt like I was beaten by a truck load of baseball bats. Undoubtedly I turned off the alarm without realizing it. When I woke up at 10:30 a.m., I was disappointed but felt like a champion. The three of us were going to stop and eat before heading to the stand. After lunch, we had just turned on to the highway when Rod wanted the play by play. I told him we were headed to the "Badger Farm" because we had some daylight Reconyx photo's of a couple of different shooters. "Oh, I figured you would be headed to the bean field with these cold temperatures", Rod said. I slammed on the brakes, whipped the truck around, and got some puzzling looks from my wife and son. "Good Idea Rod, we're headed there now," I exclaimed as my wheels finally got back on the highway.

Arriving to the beanfield, I offered to let Brandy and Coltin off on the fence line while I went to park the truck. Brandy declined, but Colt took me up on the offer. "The blind is right there son," I whispered as I pointed down the fence. He got out, grabbed the extra chair and his gun and away he went. I strategicly placed this blind on the southeast side of the 1/2 acre of standing beans that the farmer could not get due to the wet weather. "The deer should all be bedding to the southwest side of the beans and with a northerly breeze, we should be golden," I was telling Brandy when we turned down the treeline just 70 yards from the blind. And this was about the time I saw Coltin 300 yards past the blind, and directly up wind of where the deer should have been bedding !!! I lost it! Oh, it's funny now. But I totally went nuts when, in my mind, he had just totally blew the place up!

In his defense, I had spent 2 hours turning that blind into a ceder tree, and so far not one animal had payed it an ounce of attention.

At about 4:30, the first deer entered the field where Colt had already did his "deer drive". It was 3 does and a button buck. I knew then that we were going to be o.k. and my nerves were suddenly calmed from the minor temper tantrom that I had previously thrown.

As soon as the deer made it to the standing beans, one of the does threw her head up and stared to the south. Turning to see what all the attention was about, I was focused on the brushy fence line when a big deer suddenly jumped the fence at the easy bow range of 30 yards. Oh my Gosh, I thought when I realized that I was looking at a buck that we had 3 years of Reconyx pictures of but had never layed eyes on! "Curly", a five year old buck, disappeared each September only to return in January. But now he stood before us and was at point blank Thompson Center range. He walked through the beans eating, while moving at a snails pace. He was either facing us or had another deer directly behind him for 16 minutes, not offereing a comfortable shot for the practicly first time hunter. When he had eaten all that he wanted, he decided to head to the north." It's now or never sweetheart, he's leaving," I said with a strong sense of urgency! Bahhh, I sounded off to stop the legend. Booooooom!!! The Thompson Center blasted while my son and I watched and waited for the verdict. When the smoke cleared, Curly was down in his tracks and Brandy's reaction was priceless!

As with any big deer that you get to know through the Reconyx camera's, I was extremely excited to have finally caught up with him. I was glad to be there to pay him the respect that he deserved.

In a strange way, I was saddened that the buck that had outsmarted us for two straight seasons, would not be there anymore to keep tabs on. He will however be placed in our living room to be honored each day as I look up at him and remember the quest that came to an end on this cold December evening...