The last day of bow season 1990 saw me in a hang-on watching a big buck chase a bunch of doe around in a brushy field. Way early the next morning, the opening day of gun season I took my time and snuck out into the field with a 10 ft ladder stand strapped to my back. When the sun came up I had deer all around and under me but couldn't really see any clearly. Except for the antler tips sticking above the brush. I had no idea how big he was until he walked away from me and stepped into a clearing.
As I shouldered the gun he turned and looked back at me from about 60 yards away- I was a bump in full camo perched in the biggest version of a tree I could find. In the scope I saw him turn and look to his left and I caught some movement ahead of him. The buck I was hunting originally (whole other story) was stepping through the hedge and someone was gonna get their butt kicked hard. Hard to explain, but even though the second buck was bigger I had already commited and had a shot at the first. But he had also turned and was facing directly away from me rather than the quartering shot. My inexperience came through and I cracked the trigger. I can still see the sight of this really big buck flailing on the ground and then getting up, running a short distance, and then disappearing in the brush.
When I got there I had significant blood that disappeared quickly. He had left on a well used trail. In retrospect I should have waited as I quickly pushed him and he disappeared again. I crawled back into my stand and sat there thinking about it for an hour or so. I decided that based on the sign, sooner or later he should not only leave more, but not survive his wound. But where? Cutting through the area of thick brush was an old farm lane. The only open pc of terrain , and when I had heard him last he was headed for it. I circled way back, found the lane and began to walk it towards the scene of the crime. One drop of blood in the middle of the lane that I almost missed caused me to freeze, and scan the area around me. Two steps away in a small pile, hidden in the brush was the biggest deer I have shot before or since. Two days hanging and he still weighed 183 lbs. Great mass but a real small 14 inch spread that carries 13 points and a real weird, long brow tine. He had turned too sharp for me to pull off the quartering away shot. Left ham, Texas heart shot. The Active slug took everything out and lodged behind his right shoulder. 99% of his bleeding was internal after he got up. he hangs in the living room not because of his antler size but for the sheer adventure, and reminder of lessons learned. One drop of blood.