Deer Stories #4 Swimming for my buck

This is my fourth column of favorite deer hunting stories, posted every Friday. Today I’ll tell you about the time I tried to swim out into a pond to retrieve my buck.

Moose Pond in Mt. Vernon is not far from my house. The shoreline is completely undeveloped and the pond is surrounded by forests, which held lots of deer. One year I got a short glimpse of a nice buck without getting off a shot, but the next day I decided to take a seat near that spot, hoping to see the buck again.

I was hiding behind a large boulder and, sure enough, I spotted the buck headed my way. I got off one good shot, which hit him, and then another as he took off, which missed. I was able to track him as he ran up through the woods next to the pond and in about a couple hundred yards he turned and swam out into the pond.

When I got to that spot, I saw him floating about halfway across the pond. He was obviously dead and I worried that he would sink. So I stripped off my clothes and started swimming out in his direction. It didn’t take me long to figure out if I kept swimming I would die in the pond because the water was freezing.

And to this day I don’t know why I thought I would be able to grab the buck and swim back with it to shore. I quickly dressed, hiked out to my vehicle and drove home where I grabbed my canoe and my son and drove back to the pond. We had to paddle a long way to reach the buck and fortunately he was still floating. So we towed him to shore and dragged him up to my vehicle.

But he had absorbed so much water that he weighed a lot and we really struggled to get him up to and into my vehicle. I thought later, if I’d had him weighed at the country store, I would have had a new state record for the heaviest deer!

My next story involves my Dad. He and I canoed down Hopkins Stream and landed on my woodlot. I decided to hunt along the stream while Dad hiked up to a spot he liked on the Dolloff’s property, where we had permission to hunt although it was not posted.

Not long after Dad got into his spot, a large group of hunters from Vienna arrived to set up a deer drive. From Route 41 they sent a bunch of shooters who set up both in front of and behind my Dad. He did not know they were there and they didn’t know he was there either.

Once the shooters were in place the rest of the hunters up on the road started through the woods hoping to drive some deer toward their shooters. And very quickly they jumped two does and a big buck. They deer ran past the side of the first group of shooters and two of them got off shots but missed.

Dad was surprised to hear shots and very quickly he spotted the big buck running through a clearing off to his left about 50 yards away. Dad made a great shot and dropped the buck. Fairly quickly all those other hunters made their way to Dad and they were not happy that he had shot the big buck.

I heard all the shooting so I made my way up to Dad, who had just finished cleaning out the buck when I arrived. I think it weighed about 220 pounds, which got Dad a membership in the biggest bucks club. I decided it would be easier to take the buck out on a carrier so I went home and brought back our deer carrier and that’s how we got the deer out of the woods.

And by that time all the other hunters were long gone.

My final story today is about a friend’s daughter who was in her early 30s and decided she’d like to hunt deer for the first time. I decided to put her in one of my best stands on my woodlot on opening day. So before opening day I took her to the stand and pointed down to the bog to our left and told her that’s where the deer would exit the bog to walk right under her deer stand and then turn and head south down the trail.

On opening day she’d only been in the stand about a half hour when, right where I said it would, a nice buck exited the bog, walked right under her stand, turned and headed down the trail, and even turned around and looked at her before continuing on.

She was so shook up that she never even shot at the buck! But about a week later her dad and I took her to a farm over in Fayette where she made a nice shot on a small buck.

The only piece of advice I could give you based on all of these stories, is to spend your hunting days in the same area so you get to know the habits of the deer. Most of my big bucks were shot on my woodlot or the woodlots nearby.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.