Monday was the opening day of the Pennsylvania rifle season. My eye surgery this fall caused me to miss the entire archery season, but I made up for it with this opening day buck. He strolled by at 1:55 PM on the way to a bedding area. He was the only deer I saw.
When I first saw him I knew he was a buck. When I realized he was a shooter I thought I might not get a shot opportunity. He was in some really thick stuff and I could barely see him. Only one opening was ahead. When he hit it I hit the trigger. I didn't see him go down, but I thought I heard the bullet hit.
He is a pretty good 8-point, but what is unusual is that he has a severe underbite. Some people call it "parrot jaw." He field dressed at 120 pounds, making him much easier to drag than last year's 190 pound buck. Plus, he walked to the top of the hill for me before I shot him, so I had to go through about 100 yards of thick stuff, and then it was mostly downhill.
In the picture I'm holding the lower jaw shut -- if I left it slack open it would be misleading. It seems like he would have had trouble eating, with his lower jaw half the length of his upper jaw. I figure he was 3˝ years old, so maybe with better nutrition he would have had better body size, but his rack wasn't bad for a deer of that age.
The last three times I've hunted this spot on opening day, I haven't seen many deer but I've had pretty good luck:
2012 -- I saw two bucks and a doe. One of the bucks was a 10-point and I shot him at 7:30 AM.
2015 -- I saw two bucks, and shot one of them at 11:00 AM, a 190-pound 6-point with 17" main beams.
2016 -- I saw one deer, this buck, and shot him at 1:55.
That's only 6 deer in three opening days, five were bucks, and I shot three of them. I guess you don't need to see a lot of deer if you see the right one.
The shots were not especially easy, bu I was fortunate to be able to make the shot all three times. The 2012 buck was about 80 yards away, and I had to shoot offhand. I actually missed the first shot because of my backpack strap. (I now wear a cross-shoulder pack with only one strap.) The 2015 buck was 140 yards away and I had less than a second to make the shot. The 2016 buck was only 50 yards away, but I could hardly see him and needed to get a bullet through the brush with no time to hesitate. I shot at the last possible second before he disappeared.
Have you ever seen a jaw like that?