The “Surprise Buck”


By: Jessica O’Connor

Last week Charmin Gleaton was tucked away in her Branchville tree stand for an early morning hunt when she received an unexpected (but decidedly pleasant) surprise visitor.

Around 6:20AM, a deer stepped into view. Still shrouded by the cloak of nightfall, the animal presented a vague picture to Gleaton. She could make out the outline of the deer, but details were just a little too far out of reach in the darkness.

At a quarter to seven, the breaking dawn finally gave Gleaton a clearer view of the deer that had made his way to her line of sight. When the buck lifted his head, she immediately recognized that this was not the deer she had expected to show up.

“When he lifted his head I said ‘Oh my God, that’s not the deer I’ve been watching’,” Gleaton laughed. “I didn’t have this deer on camera. I’d never laid eyes on this deer. He wasn’t the one I’d been looking for!”

The hunter knew she’d need to act fairly quickly if she was going to have a shot on the monster buck, but overcoming her nerves proved to be a bit of a challenge.

“Buck fever kicked in on me so bad it wasn’t even funny,” she said. Powering through her thoughts, Gleaton forced herself to take several deep, steadying breaths and smoothly squeeze the trigger of her 30.06. The result was a clean shot that left no need for a tracking job.

The reality of just how massive the unexpected buck was didn’t fully register with Gleaton until she approached it on the ground.

“The closer I got to him, the more excited I got,” she exclaimed. “By the time my help got back there I was jumping up and down.”

Upon first inspection, Gleaton thought she’d shot an 11-point. A friend counted behind her and determined that she had in fact harvested a 199 pound 13-point with a 21 inch spread. The buck, one that a neighbor had been catching glimpses of on camera for 3 years, far exceeded her expectations.

Chamin has hunted on and off throughout the years since she was a teenager, first with friends from high school and later with her son. She was quick to note that this early season buck is her nicest harvest yet, and he’s earned a place on her wall.

As usual, I asked her what advice she had for any other ladies or new hunters in general trying their hand in the woods this season.

“I think my biggest thing is patience,” she quickly replied. “Because it does take patience and not giving up. It does get frustrating, especially if you go every day. I see people get frustrated and not want to go back to the stand because they don’t see anything for several days. You’ve just got to keep going at it, and don’t give up on it. Once they have that first one down and they get that feeling, they’ll be alright, you know?”

Congratulations on a superb buck, Charmin!


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