Beginner's luck can still be great luck

WORTHINGTON -- In Mondays' Daily Globe there was a picture of a 22-point buck that was harvested by Rushmore's Rob Renken while hunting in the Ellsworth area.

First-time deer hunter Cody Ingenthron
Scott Rall/Daily Globe First-time deer hunter Cody Ingenthron is shown with the eight-point buck he harvested on Nov. 12.

WORTHINGTON -- In Mondays' Daily Globe there was a picture of a 22-point buck that was harvested by Rushmore's Rob Renken while hunting in the Ellsworth area.

This was certainly a magnificent deer and true trophy of a lifetime for almost any hunter. I have been on record as having the opinion there are very few truly spectacular deer in our area due to high harvest pressure and limited places where deer can take refuge, hence giving them the ability to grow to at least 4 years of age.

There has been a higher number of nice deer taken this season than in recent memory. This goes against the grain of my contention that there are not many big deer around here.

One important factor many in the deer hunting world don't remember consider is that due to a very late crop harvest last year, many bucks went un-harvested. I read somewhere that almost 10 percent of the area's corn acres did not get harvested until spring. Couple this with the fact that the corn that did get processed was combined very late in the year (after the deer firearms season was, for all practical purposes, over) and this sets the stage for a better than average season this year.

I am impressed with just how much difference this one year reprieve on bucks changed the overall age ratio of older deer, many more nice deer and many of those with impressive antler racks. This season is the exact opposite of last and I believe that, with virtually 100 percent of the crop out and the fall tillage work completed before the deer firearms season began, the harvest rate on any antlered deer was very high. Only time will tell if I am right.


I had the opportunity to hunt with a first-time white tail deer hunter last Friday morning. He is a student at Mankato State University and actually took his firearms safety training from me many years ago. His name is Cody Ingenthron, and I had to see if I could help him harvest his first whitetail deer.

I checked the regulation book for the sunrise/sunset table and we made plans to be in the deer shack at one hour before legal shooting time. I have been using my son's Remington 1187 shotgun with a rifled slug barrel for the past few years, but this year it was in Lakewood, Colo., where he is studying to become a gunsmith. He graduates on Dec. 9. I told Cody that the only other gun I had zeroed in was my Thompson Center 50 caliber muzzleloader. This was a one shot gun but it was dead on.

We met at the agreed upon time and I found that Cody had his dad Casey in tow. My deer stand is on private ground and looks a little more like an observation post than a deer stand. We fit all three of us in the confines and waited for legal shooting time.

While we waited, I covered the basics of muzzle loading and how the gun differs from traditional firearms. We loaded the primer into the gun and with the safety on we started the waiting game.

It was about an hour later that Casey stepped outside. As I looked out the windows, there stood a nice deer at about 85 yards to the south with the wind in our favor. When you are not on ground level your movements are not as noticeable. I told Casey "Don't move."

I whispered that there was a nice buck in shooting range and that his movements need to be like a mouse with the cat present. He slowly moved out of the way and Cody made his way to the opening and got into a kneeling shooting position.

At this point, the buck knew something was up but was not startled. He started to walk away at a leisurely pace. As he was doing so, a school bus came rumbling down the road about 300 yards away and temporarily blocked his exit. His answer was to lie down, which he did.

We could see him in the spotting scope but knew if we tried to put the sneak on him, our exit down the ladder from the stand would give our position away.


It was more than likely he would or could lie there all day and not move again until last light. After about 30 minutes, I hatched an idea that would be boom or bust. Cody was in position and I took the coffee pot and, after pouring a cup, I tapped the coffee pot on the camp stove with just a little ting.

It was just enough noise to roust him up and he slowly started to walk to the east, quartering away. I gave a bleat sound from my mouth with no effect. I gave another bleat call a little louder and the buck stopped, turned broadside and at that instant Cody let the 50 caliber bark.

After the smoke cleared, we could see the deer was down. Five seconds later, he got up and walked slowly about 10 yards and lay down again.

We knew he was hit well but didn't know how well. After 30 minutes we slowly exited the stand and, with Casey remaining in the stand to give directions, we walked right to the spot and there he was.

On Cody's first Minnesota deer hunt with his first shot -- shooting a gun he had never used -- he harvested his first Minnesota white-tail deer and it was a nice one. It was hard to tell who was more excited, his dad, Cody or me. We tagged it and field dressed it and off to the locker it went. This deer was nowhere near as impressive as Rob Renken's, but for a first time deer hunter, the satisfaction of success was I'm sure just as high.

I told Cody and Casey this is not how deer hunting normally works. I have spent countless hours in the same stand and have never been in gun range of a deer as nice as the one Cody shot. Beginner's luck or a lucky guide I'm not sure, but at the end of this day it really didn't matter.

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