A Season to Remember

By Shawn Thompson

September 8, 2015

I can still remember almost every detail of taking my first deer at the age of 14. I used a Thompson Center Renegade muzzleloader with the old round ball and patch. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that was 26 years ago, but that moment created my passion for hunting that I still hold today and some of the best times of my life have been spent in the outdoors creating great memories with family and friends.

I love opening morning. The sleepless night before is spent thinking through my hunting pack making sure I hadn’t forgotten a single thing. Then as I settle into my stand for the day, waiting for the sun to come up, I am filled with anticipation of what I might see this season. I heard several shots around where I was sitting but the only deer that I saw were way off on the other end of the field. I saw two nice bucks and a couple does but never had anything close enough to get a shot at.

I got to take my five year old son and 7 year old daughter out to hunt several times and was unable to get anything while they were with me either. Between work and helping on our families’ farm, I spent every day that I could in the woods. I was seeing deer but the Indiana firearm season came to an end and I still had not filled any of my tags. I was feeling defeated with how my season had gone. My wife decided to surprise me with a brand new muzzleloader the week before our late muzzleloader season came in. Wow! I had a second chance to get back out and try to get a deer this year.

I went out to my old hunting woods earlier in the week and had the same old story, no deer at all. I had gotten permission to hunt a new woods and I decided that I was going to give it a try and see if my luck would change. It was December 10, 2014. I got my hunting gear on, and started walking in. I hoped that I would see something and maybe get a doe for the freezer at lease. It was about 9:30am when I decided I would start out to my truck. As I worked my way around this huge thicket I was amazed at all the rubs I was seeing. I knew there had to be a good buck in the area. When I came to the end of the thicket I stopped to check out the open field before I walked out. Just then, as I looked to my right, I saw this huge rack sticking up out of the weeds about 30 yards away. I froze and knew right away that it was a monster buck. As I pulled the hammer back on my Traditions muzzleloader I could not believe he was still standing there. All I could see was his head in the scope and he was looking straight at me. I lowered the cross hairs to the bottom of the white patch below his chin and pulled the trigger. He dropped to the ground like a brick. I could not believe what had just happened. I was shaking so bad I almost couldn’t get the muzzleloader reloaded. After fumbling with my speed loads and dropping the primer, I was finally able to get it completely reloaded. I started walking up on him and I was in total disbelief. It was the biggest deer I had ever seen. That’s when all the emotions started flooding in. I knew he was big, but didn’t know just how big. I stopped to show him to a friend of mine and he started going nuts at just how big he was. Every one that saw him just went on about how wide and heavy his rack was.

This will definitely be a season that I will remember for the rest of my life. Not just because of the beautiful deer that I harvested, but because of the time I got to spend with my kids in the woods. I have to give a special thanks to my wife Nicole for letting me pursue my passion of hunting. I also would like to thank the land owners for allowing me the opportunity to hunt their land and harvest this once in a lifetime buck.

Traditions™ Buckstalker Muzzleloader

Hornady® XTP® Mag™ Bullets with Sabots

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