Ground shrinkage, deer and elk version

antlerradar

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To piggy back on the boo boo bear thread and at @MTTW half serious request it is time for a ground shrinkage thread on the bucks and bulls you have taken. Ground shrinkage happens to everyone sooner or later. They say confession is good for the sole so it is time to fess up and post up some stories and pictures of those bucks that turned out to be far less than thirty tall you thought he was when you pulled the trigger.

My all time biggest ground shrinkage buck was the one I shot back in 88 on the Custer. In Jan of 88 I located two bucks, one was to this day the best clean 4 point I have ever seen and the other was flat and well into the thirty's wide buck with some big cheaters. It was quite a sight seeing those two bucks standing together on a snowy hill. Naturally come fall I was in the same place hunting. I spotted this buck with some does and he looked real big, not tall but wide and some cheaters. I figured I was looking at the wide buck I located in Jan. so I shot him. When I got down to him I was not looking at the buck I thought pulled the trigger on. Yes he is wide, over thirty, a nice buck by almost anyone's standards but not near the buck I thought. His body is small he has young written all over him. A three year old future monster most likely.
I left him over night and the next day my brother and I hunted our way to him. My brother shot the other buck that morning, A much older and better deer. lwf1.jpg
 
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MTLabrador

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I’ve had ground shrinkage on muleys trotting away a time or two. I’ve had ground shrinkage on elk before and I’ve also been pleasantly surprised walking up to them.

Honestly any grown up general tag 6 point is a hell of a good bull for most guys.
 

BTripp86

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Nov 2017 watched this buck nosing a doe around in a thicket for a good 15 minutes. Never could get a real good look at him but when the doe made her way out of the thick stuff and walked through an opening he followed. I shot him when he stopped in that same opening. In my mind, watching him bump that doe around and the suspense of if he was gonna come give me a shot etc, I pictured him as much bigger when I took the shot. My surprise, once I got to him I remembered him as a buck I had passed 2 days before. No biggie, fun hunt, got my heart pumping and I made a good shot. Nothing to complain about.
FB_IMG_1636301217746.jpg
 

Bc1992

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I don’t have a picture but about 12 years ago during bow season I missed about a 130 inch wide 8 point. fast forward to rifle season and I’m easing to my stand on opening day and top a hill and see what appears to be a huge buck (probably the same one from bow season) at the bottom of the hill. One shot and he hit the ground like a wet rag. I’m so excited I could barely wait 5 minutes. I eventually make my way to him and realize it’s the biggest/only 1 1/2 year old 10 point I’ve ever seen. I was still excited because it was my first 10 point but the ground shrinkage was disappointing. That deer had potential to be a booner.
 

Gerald Martin

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Most of the deer that I have experienced ground shrinkage when I walked up to them had weights in pounds similar to inches in width of the rack of that buck that @antlerradar shot…

I regret nothing.
 

bigsky2

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MONTANA
Went on a big hike all day and was hiking back to the truck at last light. I came over a hill and this buck was feeding going straight away. Everyone knows you should never judge a buck based on what they look like going straight away. It was getting dark but I still would have had time to look him over. For whatever reason I thought I needed to hurry. When I got up to him I realized how small his body was. He isn't thin horned but his bases are small. I'd guess he was a three year old buck. The fact that nice mule deer bucks are so rare in Montana anymore makes you feel even worse when you screw up and shoot one that had real potential.
DSC06584_2.jpg
 
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Shortbowshot

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Years ago I was the caller with my older brother up front on an archery elk hunt. These were otc Colorado days. 4 pt rule in force. So most of the bulls were rag horns. I called in a bull that I couldn't see. I heard the shot and what sounded like a good hit. As I came into sight a very shaken brother said ( I finally got me a wall hanger!!) I'm pretty sure 6pt was thrown in there a couple times in the next few minutes.
After the appropriate wait the blood trail concluded in a moment of silence. As we gazed at his trophy. He said (Is it even legal?) It was a 3pt bull with luckily a 5" Eye guard. I guess all that velvet makes em look a bit bigger.
 

Chad Gus

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Clark County WI
Haven't really experienced ground shrinkage, but had 2 bucks with similar looking racks, just 30 inches difference in size. Seen the bigger buck 2 days prior crossing the road into my uncle's. Last day of season, closing minutes and I'm getting ready to shoot a doe, when i hear something walking toward me. It walks past at 10 feet and out of the corner of my eye i see the upturned main beam and focused on a spot behind the shoulder, never looking at the rack. Walking up to him i quickly realized it was the smaller of the bucks, still happy to get him, but a bit of a let down.
The bigger one. Screenshot_20220109-193703_Gallery.jpg
The one i killed. Screenshot_20220109-193639_Gallery.jpg
 

npaden

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I’ll play. Don’t think anyone will be intimidated after I post up these two monsters.

First one was purely mistaken identity. Big bruiser of a buck that I had several trail camera pictures of and seen a few times in person. Not much for score but a solid mature buck. Neck goes right into the brisket, etc.

Toward the end of the season, decided to go ahead and take him if I saw him. This guy shows up with the same dark antlers and the same side of his main beam broken. One of the deals where I looked at the antlers instead of the body because if I had looked at the body I would have easily figured out this wasn’t a mature buck. Shockingly the antlers weren’t that much smaller than the mature buck, just not quite the mass.

854AB583-F61C-402A-8709-A6D2C3C9E305.jpeg
B9EE32C2-BE6F-420E-9ECB-0FE311B03421.jpeg

This one was just a pure misjudgement. I actually looked at him for quite a while before deciding to shoot him. Lots of potential for such a young buck. Not sure how I didn’t notice that before I pulled the trigger.

E6D47390-E23A-4C77-9671-B1206D81CCE8.jpeg DDE455A6-4A75-4054-9F6A-A55A1196532D.jpeg

Those were back to back years in 2015 and 2016. Hopefully I’ve gotten a little better at trigger management.
 

BTripp86

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On an unrelated note, while attempting to relieve myself during late muzzeloader/archery season, many times I've experienced both ground shrinkage and "in tree shrinkage" once those cold fingers finally make their way through 6 inches of clothes. Depending on if I'm hunting off the ground or letting 'er fly from 15 ft up.
 

Hilljackoutlaw

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On an unrelated note, while attempting to relieve myself during late muzzeloader/archery season, many times I've experienced both ground shrinkage and "in tree shrinkage" once those cold fingers finally make their way through 6 inches of clothes. Depending on if I'm hunting off the ground or letting 'er fly from 15 ft up.
It's real!
 

antlerradar

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Leave it to @antlerradar to still end up with a 30+ inch buck after his worse case of ground shrinkage, haha.
ground shrinkage is not about how small the buck is, but about how poorly you are at judging and how much you are wounded by the error in judging.
What really applied the salt to the wound left by my large judging error was the next day was the most spectacular morning of hunting I have ever experienced. Not only did my brother take a much more impressive buck than I, We saw at least three other bucks that were better than the one I took.
 
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antlerradar

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SE Montana
Went on a big hike all day and was hiking back to the truck at last light. I came over a hill and this buck was feeding going straight away. Everyone knows you should never judge a buck based on what they look like going straight away. It was getting dark but I still would have had time to look him over. For whatever reason I thought I needed to hurry. When I got up to him I noticed how small his body was. He isn't thin horned but his bases are small. I'd guess he was a three year old buck. The fact that nice mule deer bucks are so rare in Montana anymore makes you feel even worse when you screw up and shoot one that had real potential.
View attachment 223999
Three year old bucks with top end genetics are the toughest to judge. The better than average antlers and small body size just about always adds quite a few inches to the ground shrinkage.
 
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