In retrospect, I call him Kringle. The morning we got his picture, we’d taken our 3-year-old son, Anse, to see Santa Claus. Santa was haggard, red-faced, and not his jolly self that day. I had to promise to buy Anse a toy myself, just to get him to sit on the fat man’s knee for a photo.
As we drove home, Michelle, my wife, mentioned what a good morning it would’ve been to hunt. It was clear and frigid, and sure enough, a trail-camera check showed that a giant 170-class buck had fed on acorns for half an hour within 50 yards of her favorite stand that morning, about the same time that Anse was in the throes of his Santainduced tantrum.
The campaign for this buck was short but intense. Kringle appeared in daylight photos almost every day on both our farm and my neighbor’s place. My neighbor almost got a shot at him one afternoon. A buddy flew in from Colorado to hunt Kringle specifically, and left with an unfilled tag.
Michelle hunted him six straight days, and her seventh sit was on a cold, clear morning, just like the day of the Santa visit. I got two texts that morning—one from her, saying she had a good feeling about the day. The other was from my neighbor, saying that he’d just found the buck dead on the road—hit by a car—with its antlers sawed off at the bases.
We’d have preferred a lump of coal.