A baffling hunting story from 1942

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D.S. Pledger
Sunday, October 6, 2013

While rummaging through a stack of old archery magazines, I came across an interesting article titled “A freak shot and a freak buck.”

The year was 1942 when Lawrence Becker of Madison made what he called a “freak shot” on a huge 10-point buck that dressed out at 219 pounds. The arrow hit the animal’s left hind leg three inches above the knee—probably a good three feet from where he was aiming. It nicked an artery, however, and the deer quickly bled out. It was hardly the shot that bowhunters brag about, though, and drew a lot of wisecracks (such as “You were lucky”) from his pals.

The following season Becker was determined to do better. Bagging a bigger buck would be hard to do, but at least he’d shoot this one properly.

He and his wife were coming back from an unsuccessful hunt in central Wisconsin near the town of Poynette. The day was rainy and miserable; they’d seen very little game that morning and decided to head home. But as they passed a high, barren hill, our ever-optimistic hunter spotted what appeared to be a big, lone buck, and he said to his wife, “I’m going to try for that baby.”

He took two arrows and his 65-pound osage bow and started up the hill after the large animal—a distance of about a quarter of a mile.

“Walking very carefully,” he recounted, “I neared the peak of the hill but my prey had disappeared. I looked around and spied the deer about 200 yards distant, standing under some small trees in a very sparsely planted wood. There were also a few clumps of scrub oak surrounding him, and after lining up with one of these clumps, I started to crawl Indian fashion across the vacant field.”

He was sopping wet and covered with mud when he finally reached the cover of some berry bushes. The buck was only 30 yards away, but that wasn’t close enough for Becker.

“Since the distance was too far for a sure shot and with my determination to make a perfect hit so that I wouldn’t have to run the gamut of jeers I heard last year, I very cautiously moved on to another clump of bushes flat on my belly to within 18 yards of the deer.”

As he crawled into position he cleared away all twigs on the ground and other litter with the purpose of creating a place to set his knees silently when he was ready to shoot.

“Rising slowly, I reached my shooting position and as I slowly drew my bow, many thoughts flashed through my mind, such as ‘Do this right.’ Without much pausing on my part, suddenly the bow string twanged and the arrow hit the deer with a thud.

The stricken buck shot up in the air “as if he were on springs” and dashed toward the hunter. About six yards from Becker, it stopped and looked around.

“I could very easily have taken another shot,” Becker commented, “but I could see that the way he was hit he couldn’t travel far.”

Sure enough, the animal walked off only a short distance before dying. When Becker walked over and took a good look at it, however, the archer wondered exactly what he had shot.

“He had a moose horn with seven points on one side, a billy-goat horn on the other with three points, a body like a barrel, very short legs, a cow’s neck, goat’s whiskers and feet three times the size of a normal deer.”

One can only speculate on the reason for this genetic freak of nature. A hoax? Perhaps. But Archery magazine was a national publication, and if the editors has smelled “fraud” they wouldn’t have printed the account.

“Freak” deer are still reported from time to time, but I’ve never heard of one as bizarre as this.

D.S. Pledger is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at maus16@centurytel.net.

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