First shot hit a branch...


Well-known member
Jun 13, 2018
That was my quick response to my dad's text, “what did you shoot?”

Some people don’t like to hunt windy days, but I had explained to my dad that we needed to get into the woods as soon as we could after church yesterday afternoon since this front was moving in. High winds in the right direction made for perfect conditions to hunt a public land stand that I had been saving for just the right, consistent wind direction. We both had responsibilities at church, and then as we were leaving a widow lady asked for a jump, which turned into a ride home when it didn’t work. I wasn’t mad at all, but was definitely feeling frustrated.

We took out the boat, fought the chop and white caps, climbed the bank, hike in, split up, and got setup in our locations by 3:00. Wind was hard on that ridge top, but perfect direction.

I started seeing deer by 3:30, had some does feed 70ish yards away on acorns the rest of the afternoon to my left. I was having to watch carefully since I couldn’t hear deer walk in, but turned to my right and saw a beautiful buck walking right towards me, with the sun shining through the trees in him at 75 yards. I slowly switched my new smokeless frankengun to shoot left handed as the buck kept walking straight at me, and then he finally started working a scrape behind some trees. I could see his nose sticking out behind a big oak tree at 30 yards, and just knew that he was going to take a couple of more steps towards the bottom to my right and behind me...

But he didn’t. For some reason he jumped, spun around almost 180, and trotted uphill to a small opening a few yards away, presenting a perfect quartering to shot, which I gladly took. Squeeze... BOOM!!!

At the sound of the report, he trotted up the hill a few steps, startled but obviously unhurt. We were both confused. WHAT JUST HAPPENED? As I slowly reached into my pocket for my reload, I noticed a hickory branch 15 feet away in the direction of the shot that was shot squarely. I then realized as I fought shaking hands and dumped my powder charge down the barrel that I had forgotten to grab a sabot out of my possibles bag. I fumbled a little, found one, put the bullet in, started it with the tee handle, and reached slowly back for the ramrod in my backpack. The deer started walking closer, looking around cautiously, while I inched the ramrod down. No sooner did I get the ramrod back out than he started trotting straight up the ridge across from me to almost eye level, angling towards private land, so I hurriedly swapped spent for new primer.

He stopped broadside at twenty yards, I found his vitals in the scope, and squeezed the trigger... then heard a dull “pfffttt.” The primer had barely even gone off, and apparently was a dud. The buck couldn’t even hear it, but I was very nervous. He started trotting a little again, and if he had turned to his right like I thought he would then he would have walked straight out of my life forever, but for some reason he angled back towards me and started heading down the other side of the crest of the ridge. He stepped out from behind a tree broadside again at 20 yards , I squeezed... hang fire!!!! Apparently my primer holder had been contaminated, and the 4 primers in it have been compromised. But I hung onto my follow through just long enough.

The buck mule kicked, then ran down the hill with his onside leg dangling. I thought that I heard him crash, but the two does that had been feeding in that direction decided to run off at about the same time and I couldn’t be for sure.

What had just happened???

I had felt my phone buzz in my pocket right after the first shot, and knew that I had gotten a text from my dad who was hunting 250 or so yards away. I pulled out my phone, and below is the 3-way text exchange between he, my brother (not hunting with us, but wanted to know what we saw in real time), and I:

What did you get.

(8 minutes later, after that rodeo) Me:
First shot... a branch
Me again: He was 30 yards away and quartering to. Perfect shot presentation. I squared up a hickory branch 15 feet in front of me. He ran closer into some brush which shielded me

Did you get one?

Me:I can't believe that I got reloaded, he trotted uphill a little, I shot at 20 yards broadside... popped a cap
Cap barely popped it was a dud
He thankfully started moving downhill, I got another cap on, he stepped broadside at 20 yards again, cap hang fired, but I think that I got him

Brother: How big?

Me:I think he's down 50 yards away, but can't tell for certain. Giving him 20 more minutes then will check. He ran off like his leg and shoulders were busted
Big perfect 8 point
All tines are long and hook in

Brother: Congrats

Me: No congrats yet
Apparently my primer holder is fouled up and has made my primers go bad. First primer came from a different holder
The wait is killing me

My dad offered to help me track, but I told him to keep hunting. I just kept praying, “Lord, please let this deer be right over the ridge where I think that I heard it crash.” I was worried about a leg hit due to the hang fire.

I gave it 20 plus minutes, got down, and walked over the ridge. I could see him through the brush, with a blood trail that a toddler could follow leading right to him. The adrenaline was pumping. I almost cried as I looked skyward and praised God for his blessing, and said, “thank you, Jesus” aloud.

I walked up to him and knew that he was my biggest yet by far. I’ll save the side hill drag sob stories, but my back is killing me this morning. I’m not good at this self photography thing, so I apologize for the pictures.


  • FCD658F4-CBDF-4C1B-8DCF-11691FFB2BF0.jpeg
    2.5 MB · Views: 120
  • 313F776E-A2D7-43D3-AB12-A20C19892B53.jpeg
    1.4 MB · Views: 120
  • AEF53287-849D-4922-B314-B87FBEAD0D4F.jpeg
    1.4 MB · Views: 118


Well-known member
Dec 5, 2018
Congrats - you did a good job of pulling it all back together after that first shot didn't work out.


Well-known member
Jun 25, 2018
North Carolina
Nice buck and nice story. Muzzleloader hunting can be fun for sure. Percussion caps or shotgun primers?


Well-known member
Oct 26, 2018
CA(not by choice)
Congrats! Good things happen to good people! I see it as a gift from the man upstairs for going out of your way for that widow. Thanks for sharing your story!


Well-known member
Jun 13, 2018
Great buck. I have hunted east Tennessee 4 or 5 times for deer...never did connect there
Thank you. I’ve been really fortunate to have a good deal of success here due to hunting in areas that have higher densities than most of my surroundings, and I’ve been careful to “take the road less traveled”. But the hunter pressure on these small pockets of public land has really picked up in recent years, so much so that I have considered trying to get on a lease for the first time in my life. The pressure is up, populations are down, and sometimes it just feels uncomfortable at best and unsafe at worst. Rifle season was UGLY this year, and post season scouting was discouraging
Wild Alaskan Salmon Seafood

Forum statistics

Latest member