This story starts 40 hours before these photos.
Thursday evening with perfect conditions I was watching a couple of does feed. They left and 10 minutes later I see the body of a deer in the same spot. As I get my binos up, he lifted his head and I saw a long sweeping left beam and what I thought were 9 to 10 points. But as quickly as that happened he walked such that his head was behind a bush. I debated long and hard to shoot him. Finally I decided to punch my Indiana tag. With a solid rest, I touched one off, only to watch him run full speed out of sight. I checked for blood and it was crazy how much blood he lost, so I tracked for 300 yards the most insane blood trail ever ... and then I found his bed without him there. I backed out. Knowing I had to be in Indianapolis all day Friday for business, I went back in at midnight to look for him, 7 hours later. 700 yards later trailing blood that was CRAZY, I actually jumped him again when I got to within 10 feet of him ... 1000 yards and how this deer was alive was beyond my comprehension. I watched him run in my head lamp towards an old swamp that I know like the back of my hand.
Friday I spent sun up to sun down in Indianapolis for business that could not be rescheduled. It was gut wrenching.
This morning I grabbed my gun and decided to dissect the swamp to find this deer, I assumed laying dead. With no more blood to go on ... I went on a mission, inch by inch ... an hour into looking I heard a deer get up, I looked 20 yards in front of me and it was him, hunched over, barely walking, he had been bedded along the waters edge. Zero hesitation and I put 2 rounds in him and dropped him ... it was over ...
This is the painful side of hunting. 40+ hours of an animal suffering is not something to take lightly. Turns out my original shot was 2 inches too low. The buck would have died a long miserable death had I not put in the effort this morning.
This deer will always be special to me, as he is a reminder of everything that can go wrong and right in hunting at the same time.
Thanks for putting up with the long read.