Best Bucks (and does): Three years, a funeral, and there he was

Maine Press Association 2014 Award

Best Sports Blog, 2014

George’s Outdoor News

“Goes beyond the obvious in coverage of outdoor sports and related issues.

Well-written, opinionated, and on point.”


NOTE: This is the first in a series I am writing on my best bucks and does.

Nothing is more important to deer hunting than spending lots of time in an area you hunt. I’m on my woodlot year-round and spend a huge amount of time there in November and December, hunting deer. I know my deer, where and when to find them, and how to hunt them.

And this story is one I have used in the past to illustrate this point: even if you only have a very brief amount of time on any given day, get out there in the woods with your gun.

I had seen this buck during the last two hunting seasons but never gotten a shot at him. I was pretty sure he was still hanging around my woodlot, but it was mating time and he could have gone elsewhere in search of love.

He was a big buck with a big rack and I really really wanted him. I hadn’t seen him that year, at least not yet, and it was the next to last Saturday in November. I’d had some chances at other deer, but none matched this one, so I was (uncharacteristically) patient.

I had to attend a funeral that afternoon, and I got home late in the afternoon, jumped out of my suit and into my hunting clothes, and trotted about a mile through the woods to a small ticket of fir trees where I like to stand on a knoll above Hopkins Stream.

By the time I got to that spot, I was sweating and out of breath and there was only 30 minutes left in the hunting day. Half of that time was gone when I heard a snap and glanced to my right to see the buck move quickly past me and out of sight. Darn it! Well, I silently muttered something like that.

He was headed down the knoll to the stream and I thought I’d seen the last of him. But about five minutes later, here he came, moving slowly through the fir trees toward me. He was well hidden in the firs, but every few steps he’d raise his head and I could see his antlers.

The next minute or two were agonizing and exciting. He kept coming. There was a huge boulder about 15 feet in front and to the right of me, with a nice opening to the left of it, and the buck stepped right into that opening and right into my scope.

One shot, two leaps, and he was down and dead. I’m pretty sure I was hollering by then. But I didn’t have too much time to celebrate.

I had shot him with just 5 minutes left in the legal shooting time and it was getting dark quickly. So I got to work, dressing him out and dragging him to the canoe. He was definitely a big buck, weighing 198 pounds, and it took a while to get him down to and into the canoe.

It was pitch black as I paddled toward home, a big smile on my face, and when I got to the Hopkins Stream bridge my wife Linda and 5-year-old son Joshua were there. Linda called out a greeting and aimed her flashlight into the canoe.

Josh saw the buck and hollered, “Great fishing Dad!”

Indeed it was.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.