I have another article I wrote entitled "The Buck of a Lifetime". Here is the link http://www.luvtohunt.com/lifetimebuck.htm Kelsey The buck of a lifetime. That statement alone sparks a hunters imaginations with images pictures of deer with wide and massive antlers. The envisionment of pictures in Eastman's Journal of the Cactus Buck or the latest Kings Outdoor World Calendar featuring the “Dirty Dozen”. These are deer with such enormous and unusual racks, hunters and enthusiasts will line up for miles just to be in the same room with them. They are the embodiment of the passion. The vision of what drives hunters to the brink and beyond. They represent all things working together in the pursuit of one moment. The shot, the elation, the fulfillment of a dream so tangible it could almost be tasted. The stuff of legends all wrapped up in a beautiful shoulder mount on the wall. Every hunter is looking for that one great buck to call their “Buck of a Lifetime”. We put in for raffle drawings for limited access wintering ground hunts. We embark on journeys to distant lands in search of the one to bear the "title". We watch the outdoor channel, constantly hoping for a glimpse of the buck we dream about and sometimes live vicariously through another hunter's trophy hunt. We spend months in the woods, tracking and scouting, trying to determine where our trophy could have gone or where he will be when the season opens. A few years back while I was on another adventure into the wild, I had a slight revelation. I am, like any hunter, looking for a mammoth deer worthy of legend. I am always searching for the biggest rack and the best opportunity for another trophy. The funny thing is, I already have my “Buck of a Lifetime”. In fact, most hunters have theirs as well. The trick is acknowledging it and understanding the significance. My buck of a lifetime is currently hanging on my gunroom wall on a plaque I built out of Indian mahogany. He is not a full head mount, but simply the skull plate dried out with the hide still attached. The antlers are not big, in fact, this particular buck was a spike mule deer about 8” inches tall. At first glance, you would hardly notice it among the other trophies and pictures, however the size is misleading. The underlying significance is clearly written on a small brass tag mounted just below. Nothing fancy but states simply, “Kelsey Hilderbrand – First Buck 1988”. I was 14 years old when I shot my first buck on Perrygin Ridge above Winthrop, Washington. I had been hunting for about 5 or 6 years with my dad and grandfather, but had yet to tag a deer. It had been an unusually dry summer and the brush of the woods announced our movements with cracks and pops. Such conditions did not make for high expectations of finding deer. We were on an early morning horseback ride, leaving camp at daybreak and following a closed logging road to the top of the ridge. About an hour in, we came upon a small herd of does and yearling fawns, working their way up from the valley. They weren't alarmed by our presence and continued to slowly graze their way towards higher ground. Dad and I dismounted and sat down on the hill to watch them when another previously unseen deer stepped out of the brush. Even my inexperienced eyes could tell there was something special about this one. The deer's mannerisms and posture were different from the others. It also proceeded with more caution than the previous group of does. I could feel my heart pounding and started to lift my rifle up to the ready position. I bumped Dad and whispered “It's a buck!”. Dad sensed excitement and cautioned me to wait. Evidently, he was unconvinced of my belief one had antlers. I raised my gun slowly, coming to a full shooting position with the deer in the scope and safety on. Excitement was pouring through me as I looked for the antlers I had hoped would be present. The deer was looking straight at me almost like he was staring through the other end of my scope. It felt like he was looking right through me and I could feel the hairs rise on the back of my neck. We both held our positions, challenging each other in a full on stare down. Then, the challenge was broke as the buck turned his head to follow the does' path. The glint of sunlight on antler seemed as bright as a welding arc. I barely heard dad's excited whisper, “take him!” The deer was now standing broadside to me, taking a bite from a bunch of grass as I placed the crosshairs behind his shoulder, released the safety, and slowly began to squeeze the trigger. I was using my .270, which I inherited from my uncle when he passed away. He had used it for years before me and the trigger was light and crisp, but for the few moments between initial squeeze and break felt forever. It may have only been a 3 pound pull, but it felt like 40. Finally, the rifle made it's tell tale crack. The gun jumped and through the recoil I watched the deer fall. Dad quickly reminded me to reload and watch to make sure he was down. After a second eternity of waiting, we headed up the hill to claim my prize. I still remember my hands shaking while I notched my tag for the first time. I proudly tied it to the buck's left ear and then held his head up so dad could take pictures. I had just killed my first deer and I couldn't have been happier. He may not be the biggest deer I have ever shot, but the memories and feelings of the first deer never fade. The smells, the adrenaline, the sounds, everything of that day is perfectly engrained in my mind. I have yet to have another hunt which bears the same significance to my hunting career. Every deer I have shot since has created its own memory and story, but has also re-evoked the memory of my Perrygin Buck. I hope some year, in fact, I hope every year, to take a Boone and Crockett class buck, but even if I claim the next world record, he will have to share the wall with my “Buck of a Lifetime”.