The below blog is a guest entry by J.D. Bonnette
The wind was slightly blowing in various directions, the rut was in full swing, and daylight was burning fast. I had just gotten permission the day before to take my brother-in-law, Jamie, to a new honey hole. Jamie and I have been hunting a lot this year and he was determined to take a deer with his rifle. He had taken deer while dog hunting with a shotgun, but never with a rifle. We had a big buck run some does by us a week or so prior to this hunt. Also, the Saturday prior to this, Jamie shot at a big doe while dog hunting and missed. All of that was enough to make him lose some sleep for a few days.
I picked him up at 3 that afternoon and we were on our way. Got to the stand about 3:30 and spread some doe urine around to spice up the place a bit. The setting had us sitting in cleared pines with head high dog fennel all over with a small food plot with corn scattered about 40 yards from the stand. 15 minutes into the hunt the wind stopped completely…you could hear a pin drop a mile away. For the next hour and a half nothing except birds moved in the area. The sun soon dropped behind the trees at 5:15 and that’s when the pace picked up a bit. We started to hear shuffling and the occasional stick breaking. Finally, I saw a tail flicker in the tall brush. We had already agreed that Jamie would shoot a mature doe or a decent buck. We sat there for a little while, but nothing popped out. I started to wonder if the flicker was a bird or some other little critter. My initial instinct was right…it was a deer. It started coming towards the corn through the dog fennel and I could tell it was past mature doe/small buck size. Jamie got the .243 up on the rail and aimed. The deer popped out just past a small pine and looked straight at us. CLICK!!! I almost passed out when I realized that he still had the safety switch on the little single shot rifle on safe! I reached out and flipped it over, popped the hammer back again and……BOOM! The deer turned and bolted for cover. “Were you on him?” I said. “Right behind the shoulder, I know I hit him good.” Jamie replied. “You better have hit him good, I don’t feel like trailing one all night!” I said with a slap on his shoulder.
We climbed down and commenced the fun part of deer hunting, trailing blood. I was certain the deer hadn’t run far after finding a good splatter of blood right where he shot him. Good blood here, little here, good blood there. You never realize how tough deer really are until you trail one for 70 yards pouring blood from a double-lung shot. While we’re looking for this deer, Jamie loses a boot sole. Now he’s got one boot and one moccasin on his feet and I got a good laugh at his expense. Shortly thereafter I found him! A nice 5 point buck weighing about 120 pounds! It might as well have been a 10 point that weighed 250 pounds for all I cared. I was happy as a pig in slop! This was the 7th hunt we had been on and finally success! On the way out, we stopped by the landowner’s house to show him the deer. He told us that Jamie could hunt that stand for the rest of the year if he wanted. The land-owner quoted “Hunt it like it’s yours.” So guess where we are going to be every chance we get now?!?!
Many of you are probably wondering why two grown men shooting a young buck is such an awesome event, so allow me to explain. Jamie “Stickman” Cornwell was an up and coming horse trainer and jockey for almost 10 years. He had won a few big races in Maryland and was becoming known as a very persistent and tough horse jockey. He was traveling up and down the East coast and “Stickman” was well on his way to becoming a very successful jockey. Jamie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March of 2009. Tumors were found in his lungs at the same time and there was no possibility for surgery. He has undergone chemotherapy for a little over a year now and there have been no decreases in the size of the tumors. There are other treatment options that are going to be put in place now to try and fight off the cancer. God will take Jamie when he is ready for him, until then, he’s gonna be dropping the hammer a couple more times! It’s sharing hunts like these that make it that much more special.