A PHOTO FINISH
I spent years thinking that tagging a big buck was my ultimate goal. Then I shot a buck that I’d known for a while— mainly via trail-cam pics. One day, staring at him in my trophy room, I realized that I liked the pictures as much as the mount. Over two seasons, I’d assembled quite a photo album of the buck, and each image was like finding a puzzle piece that showed me where he lived, when he moved, how he behaved around other deer. Once I killed him, the puzzle was finished.
Since then, trail cams have helped me get to know some great deer, little by little filling in the details of the animal’s life. With each new glimpse, I find myself dreaming of the buck and wondering what the next pic will reveal.
They say when you’ve hunted long enough the killing becomes less important. That’s true. But I still work hard to get within bow range of a monster each year. Except now, here’s my ultimate goal: As that giant approaches, I’d sift through pictures of him in my mind: the first one, the one showing the biggest antler jump, the best of a mock scrape. Then he’d stop within bow range, I’d draw—and then I’d decide if I wanted the puzzle to end. Or not.