December 12: Tom Gallagher

Just because a buck has turned and is walking directly away from you, it doesn’t mean that the story is over.

Hunting with his Traditions Strikerfire Muzzleloader during the second shotgun season in Iowa, Tom watched a mature old warrior of a buck appear at the edge of a bean field. The deer only stayed in sight for a few moments, but long enough to get some footage. The two bucks Tom was hunting never showed that night so he headed back to the house to share the video with Mark.

It’s a rare instance when Mark isn’t immediately familiar with a deer on his property, so Tom was surprised when Mark said he hadn’t seen this big eight before. From the footage, he was able to determine that the buck was indeed a shooter and at least six years old, so he gave Tom the greenlight to take him if the opportunity presented itself.

Tom chose to hunt from a different blind on the following day. From 1:30 pm on, all he saw were does and small bucks. At 4:00 pm, with all the windows in the blind closed, 500 yards from where he appeared the night before, the mature eight stepped out and into the mix of does…but there was a problem.

These deer were so close that Tom feared getting a window open to shoot from and a window open to film from would spook them. He waited for an excruciating 20 minutes for an opportunity to get the windows open. Afraid he’d run out of daylight or a chance to shoot, Tom took a risk and began opening windows.

Immediately the does broke to trot away, but the buck remained browsing in the field. Knowing this was his chance; Tom positioned himself for the shot, only to watch in heartbreak as his buck turned to walk away. Suddenly, another buck appeared at the field edge, drawing the attention of Tom’s buck enough to cause him to turn broadside.

Tom settled his crosshairs just behind the buck’s shoulder and pulled the trigger. It looked like a solid hit from 50 yards, but they went back to the house to verify it. The hit still looked good on a bigger screen, so they went back out and made quick work of the 100 yard recovery job.

Tom’s buck scored right around 145 with an enviable amount of mass on his rack. Getting his hands on that deer was the perfect ending to a story of a buck that almost walked away from the script.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik