When everything comes together on a hunt and it plays out to plan, a hunter can take pride in his actions.Nathan Dunn was absolutely beaming after killing a buck with his muzzleloader last week, especially under the circumstances. The 18-year-old used his knowledge of the terrain and stalking skills then settled down from a case of buck fever to make a great shot.
“I’m very proud of myself. Kind of shocked actually,” Dunn said.
“That’s the best deer I’ve ever killed, the highest scoring, a few days after my birthday. This was the best week of my life.”
Nathan and his father, David, were the last two hunters on their lease in east Arkansas near Brinkley when Nathan saw a large-bodied deer head past his stand and into the brush. He went into action.
“I waited a few minutes after the deer passed by, and I got down off the stand,” he said. “I know the area pretty well and I knew where he would be headed to. There’s an uncut soybean field about 200 yards away.”
So with the light waning, Dunn headed for the intercept. Easing up over a levee, he spotted the deer, then needed to get in range for a shot.
“I immediately crouched down and took off my binoculars and managed to belly crawl about 75 yards away from the deer,” he said. “It was getting that dusky feeling, so you start thinking maybe the shot was going to be tough.”
Dunn admitted it was even kind of risky, what with iron sights, his heart pumping and being slightly winded. But the deer was grazing and had no knowledge of him when he slowly stood up and took aim.
“My heart was racing, da-dump, da-dump, da-dump,” he said. “I somehow managed to take that deep breath, let it out and pulled on the trigger.
“There was white smoke everywhere. I fired and ran forward and saw one deer running off. I saw a mass lying on the ground and didn’t know if it was a bush I hadn’t seen or the deer.”
After retrieving his ATV and his dad, who at a stand 1,500 yards away said he thought he saw a “real cow” in the field but wasn’t sure Nathan had hit it, they went to recover it.
“He looked at it and said that’s a really nice deer,” Dunn said. “I finally looked at it; I was too excited. I was jumping up in the air and everything.
“We thought 5 or 6 years old. It was a mature buck with a nice rack.”
Hunting since he was 8 and with three of his four deer scoring over 125, Dunn knew he had his largest, and it was green-scored at 132. There’s been a 180-inch class buck taken at the property, but he was told his 300-pounder was the oldest at 7 ½ years.
“It was real exciting,” he said. “There’s a droptime coming from the left beam. It’s really unique. An 18 ½ spread, which is pretty impressive. The kickers are real long.”
With his hunting limited to weekends by football practice and games – he’s a defensive lineman for 9-0 Pulaski Academy – staying late and killing such an impressive deer meant a lot to him.
“I can’t really hunt during the week. I have to take my weekends to go up there during the summer to get everything ready. I don’t have very much free time after getting everything ready for hunting season.
“This is my favorite time of year between football and hunting. Everything but school is pretty much awesome.”