My antler-seeking laser homed in on what looked like a smallish, but very nice buck. But he was obscured. Being a buck, I figured he'd stay that way, so I got up in one fluid motion, grabbed the big rig, trained the Canon 7D on him, and started shooting. This might well be the best shot I'd get. I was trying to count tines, in case he decided to go deeper into the woods.
I found only one imperfection, and that was a hole on the underside of his left antler, a gouge, which probably happened when the antler was in velvet, and soft and vulnerable. It had long scarred over.
His antlers, not enormous or massive in the beam yet, but his tines are long, high and proud. He's a beauty. He's perfect. And he's nosing around for bird seed under my Colorado blue spruce. I couldn't be more tickled!
He fixed a liquid eye on my beloved Japanese Stewartia treeling, which I've been growing for five years, from a tiny seedling. I only planted it out in fall 2014, and it wintered over fine, grew a lot this summer, and got some nice fall color, too!
My inner chimp was pant-hooting, seeing this magnificent beast ambling around the side yard as if he owned the place, at 3:30 in the afternoon on December 11. We've lived here since 1992, and I've never had a big buck do this. Ever.
He made a thrillingly close pass, and looked me right in the eye as he came by.
Next: Bucky, I believe we've met before...