The Birch Creek Buck

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Joined: 06/03/2010

The Birch Creek Buck
            I’m not sure of the exact history of Birch Creek but it probably started as a wayside rail stop alongside the only road (now U.S. 41) into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from Wisconsin. When I lived in the Birch Creek area the village, if it could be called that, consisted of several taverns, a couple of small stores and one or two houses at the junction of a county road that crossed the highway (Birch Creek is still there today minus a few buildings).  Half of the roads in the county at that time were unpaved and most of the houses were and still are scattered on the various farm acreages across the area. As teenagers we hunted those lands quite freely with the permission of the landowners. This is the setting of my story about my older brother’s big buck which I named “The Birch Creek Buck”.
            My older brother Larry shot the biggest deer of his life at 11 A.M. on Thanksgiving Day, 1969.  November can be cold and that year was no different although there wasn’t a lot of snow, just lots of ice in the ditches and swamps. The way we hunted in those days was for hunters to post on a stand the first few days of the season then when deer got scarce some drives in the cedar swamps around the area were the next thing on tap. There were a lot of forty acre and larger parcels with wet and swampy land interspersed with small hillocks of dry land and trees which the deer loved to hide in during the hunting season. A drive through these swamps sometimes produced a deer or two and if the hunters were lucky sometimes a buck. It should be noted that deer were not as plentiful back then as they are now so driving a woods was often the only way to even see a deer.
            Larry was using his 03-A3 Springfield that he had sporterized a few years earlier. It was a 30-06 which was considered to be a good deer cartridge at that time before “magnumitice” took hold of the country. Most of the hunters thought they were well equipped with Winchester 30-30’s or 32 Specials or shotguns with buckshot. Scopes were an accessory that you only put on bolt action rifles and then usually only when you had some big open areas to hunt; not too many hunters in my circle used scopes much but Larry had equipped his 06 with a Weaver 4 power because he sometimes hunted at a neighbor’s big farm with lots of open fields. The day he shot his big buck the scope didn’t help much!
            During our drive  that day he was a “poster” in a roadside ditch near a logging road that led into the swamp where the drivers were trying to push the deer and where it was hoped a “poster” would get a shot at a buck as it crossed the open space.  The area we were driving was actually quite a large tract so we were going to just drive a small section back out toward the posted hunters. A hunter usually only had a chance for a quick shot since the deer didn’t wait long as they jumped on the track and off to the other side. That day several does came out running from the drive and then a huge buck leaped onto the trail road about 30 yards from Larry. He shot and the rest is his tale.
            Larry related how the noise of a deer coming through the brush had alerted him as he waited and how a huge buck had jumped up off the trail over the ditch following three does and how he had only a split second as he forced himself to raise his rifle and shoot. Larry was quite excited and said the deer had been so big in his scope he didn’t know exactly where his shot went but he was certain he had hit the buck in the chest because it had jumped up at the shot before it lunged off back into the woods. After we all converged on Larry and heard his tale we started a search for the deer.
            There was a blood trail to follow and it led to the deer and it was a huge deer indeed with a spread of antlers quite unlike anything commonly seen in our area. His shot had hit the shoulder and ranged back into the belly damaging the heart and lungs as well as most of the internal organs of the belly.  My brother had a right to be excited as that was a true trophy rack. I still marvel at it hanging over his fireplace with its massive beams and tines. The exact details are as follows: the huge rack is a ten point typical rack scoring 154 on the Boone and Crocket scale. It has a 20 inch spread and the longest tines are about 10 -11 inches long. It dressed out at 198 pounds and the live weight was estimated to be about 240-250 pounds! It is listed in one of the Michigan big buck record books as one of the all time big racks although I don’t know the actual ranking.
             The rest of the story is my brother’s luck after that season. Larry went on to endure a few years of no deer and some seasons with a few nice typical and non typical bucks including a 13 point with tines sticking out in all directions  but the racks are small and don’t even come close to the big one. Perhaps that was the price for getting a trophy deer that one year but a once in a lifetime giant size buck is still something to be proud of and I think my brother feels very fortunate to have been that lucky.  The picture really doesn’t give the viewer a good idea of how large it is but it is truly a huge rack. We looked for a picture of Larry standing by his big buck but over the years it has been stored or hiding so, sadly, I couldn’t include that.
The Birch Creek Buck