Jan’s 1st Buck
 Euro mount with Jan
James Fox, who now works with me at Larry Smith-Vaniz Realty, LLC in the real estate business, has been a great friend and hunting buddy for over 40 years. He and I have been through numerous hunting endeavors beginning with Bucktail Hunting Club, then Dry Creek Road Hunting Club, later Spring Creek Hunting Club, T-P Ranch, Cypress Brake Hunting Club, Cameron Plantation, and most recently Scotland Hunting Club. Over the years we have enjoyed many terrific experiences, but as we all know, terrific experiences come and go. We sold Scotland Hunting Club a couple of years ago and are now moving on. James and I are currently working with Bill Gordon and John Fox in an effort to create a new (and final) hunting club to be known as either 4 Geezers Hunting Club or 4G + 2W Hunting Club or something similar (explanation later).
Now, the Reason for this Article!
Over the years, our wives, Susan (James) and Jan (mine), have been more than tolerant of our “hunting habit”, but until the 2014-2015 deer season, neither of them ever showed the slightest hint of interest in going hunting with us even though they had been invited. That said, we have no clue as to the catalyst, but Susan started going with James sometime before Christmas of 2014. Jan was a little slower to make the move, but on January 4, 2015, James and I were walking out of the house to go hunting, and I casually asked Jan if she wanted to go.
Expecting one of her standard responses, i.e., “no,” “maybe next time,” or something similar, she shocked me when she answered “I think I would like to go.”
It was one of those windy, bone chilling days, and of all days, it was difficult to imagine she would have an interest in going out in that type of weather. But she was serious, and she really did want to go, so we had to come up with a way to get her dressed for the elements.
As with most deer hunters, I have a whole bunch of insulated jump suits, bibs, coats, boots, etc., but Jan was not well equipped for spending 2-3 hours in a deer stand with high winds and temps in the low 30s. She put on her warmest outfit, and we then added layers including one of my old insulated jumpsuits, orange vest, scarf, neck warmer, knit cap, and a pair of my boots on top of her shoes. The boots were still loose over the shoes, but we ended up going to a shooting house which was fairly close to our parking spot so she was able to make the trip without falling down.
We saw a small buck the 1st day. Jan was excited about that and said she would like to go again—soon.
1st hunt
Jan’s 1st Hunt
The very next day we were in the Madison County Co-op picking out insulated bibs, an insulated hunting coats, boots, and other hunting attire. After the shopping trip, she was ready for the hunt!
Jan did go with me on several occasions after the 1st hunt, and she ultimately took a doe with a 190 yard heart shot which resulted in the doe dropping in her tracts.
2nd hunt
                                                                        Jan in her new hunting attire!
                                                Advance to Year 2, the 2015-2016 Hunting Season
No longer after a doe, Jan was intent on getting a buck. She went often and did see a few bucks, but all were small. That is, until the middle of January 2016. Neither of us recall the exact date, but it was mid-week. Late in the day 2 small bucks entered the food plot (which is named Bogey’s Bottom after our daughter’s now deceased Pug) shortly before dark. Thinking that would be it for the day, I decided to make a very soft call on my grunt call just to see if the 2 small bucks would acknowledge the sound in any way. They did not, but a very nice buck trotted into the food plot from the same trail the small bucks had used.
Immediately recognizing the buck to be a shooter, I told Jan to get ready and be prepared to take the shot as soon as the buck stopped in a broadside position. When he stopped to look at the other deer, Jan got ready, aimed, followed the breathing guidelines she had been taught, and fired. The buck whirled and ran for cover without showing any sign of having been hit. Since it was just about dark and light was quickly fading, we waited only a few minutes before going to look.

We looked for a few minutes and finally found verification of a hit so we decided to wait for James and Susan to get there to help us look. James is somewhere between a very good and an excellent tracker so we let him take the lead. James tracked the deer and the other 3 of us followed along until he finally lost the blood trail around 8:30 that night.

However, we did not give up. James and I went back the next morning at daylight and James was able to pick up the trail. We followed it back to the east toward our lake for another 150 yards before losing it again and reluctantly admitting defeat.

James and I both felt the odds were the deer was dead so the plan going forward was to look for buzzards for the next week or so and have them find it for us. Our common thought was that it would be much better to salvage the head and antlers than to recover nothing. For the record, both families eat a whole lot of venison, so the thought of losing the deer meat was much less than pleasant.

We never really gave up, but by the end of January, our confidence had dramatically diminished, and efforts to find Jan’s deer were much less intense.

On Saturday, February 6, 2016, Scott Penn and I were riding around in my Ranger looking at the trees on our home place, and we noticed a brown mound in the lake about 25 feet from the bank. Knowing that the mound had not been there before, and having seen several deceased deer floating in various places over the years, we recognized the mound as a side view of the belly of a deer. The thought that this was Jan’s buck flashed through my mind, but I wanted to remain calm and not get too excited until we could retrieve the deer and get a good look at it.

Scott had to leave, so I took him back to the house to get his truck and head out. Jan was there so I told her the situation and asked if she wanted to help me get the deer to the bank. She, of course, wanted to go since she had similar thoughts about the possibility the floating deer being her buck.

We considered getting into a boat, but instead opted to get a lake grass rake which has 10″ tines and long handle with a rope tied to the end of the handle to enable it to be thrown and to permit retrieval. By the time we got back to the area in which the deer was floating, it had drifted a few feet closer to the bank. I was able to throw the rake over the deer, snag it and slowly pull it toward shore. The lake happened to be completely full so the water was fairly deep at the edge of the bank. We were able to get the deer to the bank, but the head was down, so we still could not tell if it was a doe or a buck. 

After trying to get the deer into position to see the head, we gave up on doing it with the rake so Jan pulled her coat sleeve up, reached under water for the head, and quickly shouted “It’s got horns.” She is fully aware that deer have antlers as opposed to horns, but “horns” was good enough at the moment. While I tried to hold the deer close to the bank she tugged and pulled until an antler tip appeared from the water. She could not get the head up, but she held on until I could drop the rake and help her pull on “the horns.”
by the lake with Jan
                                                                Jan finally got her hands on the buck
We were finally able to get the head above water, get a good look at the rack, and I told her there was no doubt that the floating buck was her deer. We were both so excited that it did not immediately dawn on either of us that the deer had been dead for 3 weeks. You can use your imagination as to the smell.
Fortunately, Michael Hogg and his son Cody were there fishing in our lake, and they were gracious enough to help us. We pulled the deer totally out of the water, and got it ready for us to put the head into a bag so we could put it in the freezer.

Later, James would later deliver it to Josh Waters who would prepare a European (skull) mount for Jan to locate in our home. Josh finished the project, and we were able to get the European mount back in mid-March. Jan’s buck is now on the wall in our living room.

Jan’s buck is an 8 point with an inside spread of 17 3/8″ and good mass. NOT BAD FOR A 1ST BUCK!

P.S. It appears that Susan and Jan are committed to life as deer hunters. If we go with 4G + 2W as the name of the new club, it will stand for 4 Geezers + 2 Wives!