Pawlenty to Talk About


“Better to be lucky, than good.” I have always heard that phrase but didn’t really understand it until this deer hunting season. Of course, most deer hunters already agree that it takes a lot of luck just to see a deer much less a decent buck … and even more luck to have everything go your way to make a good shot and bring home the bacon (venison in this case). Sure, we think we know how to scout new areas, read the signs, and set up the perfect stand to steer “luck,” but reality has us sitting in a deer stand for long periods of time watching tweety birds and squirrels … or nothing at all.
It was no different this year. First scouting trips to set up stands yielded very little sign of deer in the woods we hunt and with the recent reports of wolves in the area, our hopes were not very high. 
To make things more interesting, my hunting party of 16 family members and friends put $2 each in a pool for the first deer of the season and another $2 for the biggest buck (antler size) which means I had a hefty $64 to win if I could shoot a nice buck early in the game. Well, luck struck my nephew, Ben, when he was the first one to shoot and secured a very nice eight-point buck 20 minutes into the season. As I write this, the season closed with Ben collecting both prizes … well-deserved and showing up all the older hunters in the party was just an added bonus. There is some plotting to make him do drives or something real hard next year to make up for the offense.
For the rest of us, opening morning had us watching the woods intensely for several hours without even seeing a squirrel … and trying to stay awake. After a late breakfast and a quick nap, we were back out for a three-hour evening stand. Again we had similar results … no deer sighted. Sunday morning stand was just more of the same. We were starting to think there were no deer in this area and it was surely going to be a very tough year. That all changed a little when my brother and my son got “lucky” and each scored with a buck (fork and a smaller eight-pointer). I still had yet to see a deer. Next was Monday morning stand, again, no deer. With our attitudes pretty beat up by now, we went out to evening stand with not much hope. 
Well, here is where “better to be lucky” really struck home for me. After sitting for 2 ½ hours, I finally saw my first deer and it looked like a nice eight-point buck. He was walking quickly up the ridge on my left at about 70 yards in the fading light just after sunset. I quickly put the scope on him and picked my shot. Everything looked good and I squeezed off a shot. A quick review in the scope showed the buck standing there untouched. I quickly centered the crosshairs again and squeezed the trigger … this is where it got interesting … nothing happened when I pulled the trigger. I shoot an automatic, and yep, it malfunctioned due to the colder temps. I moved very slowly to push the hung-up bolt forward to chamber a bullet as the buck was looking directly at me. I figure he was going to blast off any second from the movement or any metallic noise I was making, but he just stayed frozen in place. I pulled the trigger again … nothing. Now, I was stumped on what was wrong and did not have a lot of time to figure it out. I slowly turned my rifle on its side and pulled the bolt back to see what was wrong. Everything looked good but it would not push another shell into the barrel. Guessing there was no shell in chamber, I pulled the clip out, plucked out a shell and tried to load it into the barrel. The shell would not go into the barrel. Realizing that there was a shell already in the barrel, I now had to put the clip and the extra shell in my pocket, level the rifle again, and let the auto bolt slam forward, hoping the buck was still there. This all felt like an eternity, but when I finally looked through the scope, he was still there. This time, when I squeezed the trigger, everything worked. The shot rang out and the buck fell in its tracks … and I was feeling very “lucky” since nothing went right and the buck should have run off in all the commotion.  
There’s more. Tuesday, after work, I hustled to get back out for the last hour of hunting. I was going to hunt a field stand when my brother-in-law convinced me to try his stand. After some consideration, I hustled out to his stand and settled in for a quick hour. About 35 minutes later, all heck broke loose with a nice eight-point buck chasing a doe. They came in fast and within seconds, passed the stand at 30 yards on a full run. Things happened quickly and I rang out two shots that I thought were right on target … how could I miss at that range? Well, the buck stopped about 70 yards out behind some trees and I could not see him. I continued to keep the scope trained on that position and sure enough, after about a minute, he casually walked off to the left like nothing was wrong … I had completely missed him at 30 yards. I quickly tried to pick a window in the trees, found one, and squeezed off the shot … the buck fell in its tracks. Now, I’d like to think that I’m a good shot, but that obviously is not the case since I couldn’t hit him at 30 yards and when I finally did make contact, it was not where I was aiming. Wow … two nice eight-point bucks and neither one should be hanging on the deer pole. Sounds like I should have gone to the range this year … might want to get the eyesight checked, too. I know, I know … go buy a lottery ticket … I guess it really is ”better to be lucky, than good.”