An Indiana farmer’s months of anticipation finally end, but not in a way that was easy on his tired mind and body.
When you hear stories of hunters who drop a massive deer, in the majority of cases, it’s a buck which they hadn’t seen before the season. It’s the kind of thing that gives hope to us all.
That wasn’t the case for Posey County Indiana hunter Mark Lueder.
“Me and a hunting buddy (Bobby Simpson) like going spotlighting in the summer months, to see what’s around for bucks,” Lueder said. “There are quite a few farms that we keep an eye on.
“One night we saw a really nice buck, about 100 yards off the road, with four does,” he added. “We both couldn’t believe it, we could see he had a lot of points and he had a really big drop tine.
“We went back and watched him every night,” Lueder continued. “Indiana put in a One Buck rule a couple years ago, and that has helped a lot, because we’re seeing a lot more big deer — but not as big as that one.”
During the archery season, Lueder hunted for the buck, but didn’t spot him. Despite his long experience in hunting the area, he couldn’t figure out where the big buck might be bedding. The only area he hadn’t hunted was the acreage where his parents, Gary and Sherri Lueder, liked to hunt.
“I was actually hoping that my mom would shoot it, because in our family, she usually outdoes everybody in hunting season,” he said. “She’s the hunter, and we usually try to follow her lead.”
Lueder was beginning to feel that the buck might have traveled out of the area. The buck trotted through his mind as he worked to harvest tracts of corn and beans, and images of it, glorious in those summer spotlight beams, appeared at odd times as he put in third shift hours at his nearby regular job.
Hunts Shotgun Season
One morning, he worked four of his scheduled eight-hour shift and took some comp time to head to the woods during the state’s shotgun season.
“It was calm and sunny, fairly warm, in the 40s,” Lueder said. “It was getting to be late in the year, as far as rut action goes (Nov. 23, 2008), and I really didn’t have a lot of optimism.”
Lueder couldn’t know that he was about to experience a very long, challenging day. As he settled into his fixed-position stand, he’d had little sleep the previous day and was already tired.
“I hadn’t been in the stand long before the big buck came into the area, and he was on the move,” Lueder said. “I’m not sure if something jumped him up, but the way he was trotting that’s what I think had happened.
“I tried to stop him, but he didn’t want to stop,” he continued. “I was fast running out of shooting spots, but I found an opening and when I got him in the scope, I shot.”
The buck ran out of sight. Lueder’s friend, Simpson, was hunting in a stand nearby. Just a few moments earlier, Simpson had seen a buck heading toward Lueder’s stand, and assumed he’d shot that deer. “No,” Lueder told him, “I shot the big one.”
Although the big buck had run off in Simpson’s direction, he hadn’t seen it come past.
“I felt good about the shot, so I got down from the stand to look for him,” Lueder said. “There’s a big brushy pile where several trees had fallen, and the blood trail led into that.
“But as I got there, the buck jumped up and took off running,” he added. “That time my buddy saw him go by him.”
The two got together in that area to continue on the buck’s trail.
“It was a pretty good blood trail, easy to follow,” Lueder said. “He’d gone out into a field and with how good the trail was, I was thinking that he’d gone out there, went down and died.”
Tracks The Big Boy
But they jumped the buck again. It continued through the field and crossed a road, disappearing into woods.
“When it got up, I saw all that head gear, and it was pretty upsetting,” Lueder said. “Hard as it was to do, we had to accept that we were just pushing him, so we went back to the house and waited a couple hours.”
While waiting, Lueder called the landowner of the tract where the buck had gone, and got permission to continue tracking. That afternoon, the two friends picked up the trail again.
As they worked their way through the overgrown area, Lueder stepped up onto a fallen log to get a look up ahead, and that impressive headgear separated from the tangle of timber as incredibly, the buck leapt to his feet, just in front of him.
“I threw up a shot, but I thought I’d missed,” he said. “And as we tracked him from there, his trail took us by three deer stands where nobody was hunting, and we also heard a shot coming from the direction he had gone.
“I think we were both sick when we heard that shot,” he added. “We just got real lucky, and we finally found him.”
Lueder’s first shot had been right behind the buck’s shoulder, but high, and he’d hit the buck with his second shot. The farm buck had 25 points, along with the impressive drop tine. The friends field-dressed the buck and got him back to the house.
“I’d called my mom and dad, and my wife, my brother-in-law, and soon we had people coming by the house,” Lueder said. “Even the local conservation officer came by to get pictures. It was the talk of the town for quite a long time.”
The conservation officer put the buck’s age at 3-1/2.
“I’ve been hunting since I was about 10 years old, gotten bucks that would average in the 120s and 130s, but nothing like the deer we got that day,” he added. “I say ‘we got’ because I wouldn’t have gotten it without my hunting buddy, and without having a family that raised us to hunt.”
And the next generation is poised to follow in their boot tracks, especially now that the big buck’s mount has joined other deer on their walls.
“My 5-year-old daughter, Gracie, has named the deer Ellie Moosa,” Lueder said. My 2-year-old son, Jake, tells the deer good night, every night.”
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