The white-tailed deer hunting season may be in the recent past for most of us, but hopefully we all have the memories and some good eating to help us make it through until next season’s opener. Until then, it’s time to focus on habitat management and wishful thinking that this spring and summer will be a wet one. Almost as much as the deer hunting itself, the one thing that I will really miss about deer season is hanging out at camp discussing deer management and trading hunting stories from past trips.
It seems ironic to many non-hunters that hunters really do respect the animals that they pursue and kill. The same can be said of deer hunters across the whitetail’s range. Deer hunters relish the opportunity to tag just a single buck each year, but some lucky hunters manage to tag a couple of bucks each fall. This was the case for Illinois’ Phillip McGowan. While out deer hunting this past hunting season he never expected to stumble into two bucks, especially two bucks locked together. Here is his story:
“My name is Phillip McGowan from Bloomington, Illinois. This hunting season, while deer hunting on private property in Woodford County, Illinois, I experienced something most hunters have never encountered and never will encounter during their lifetimes. I shot two bucks; However, after shooting the first buck, to my surprise, I had all the time in the world to shoot the second. Both whitetail bucks were locked by their antlers due to a freak sparring accident that would ultimately be their last.
The buck’s antlers were so intertwined, that after shooting the smaller buck of the pair, the larger buck literally drug the smaller deer backwards. That is, until I was able to get a good, steady shot the second buck. Each of the deer were decent-sized bucks in good body condition, which is remarkable for two competing bucks during the rut and due to the unnatural living arrangements. They must have become locked shortly before I encountered them.
Eventually, these whitetail bucks would have died and someone would have came across the two skulls, cleaned by scavengers. However, to actually see both bucks alive and for a split-second and to observe how they moved in tandem–having avoided the entire bow hunting season and the first season of shotgun hunting–is an honor and a story my I and my family will pass on for generations to come. Attached are some pictures of the locked bucks.”