This story is mildly embarrassing but it's too good not to tell. It is 100% true. Early on the morning of December 9th, 2006 I woke up about thirty minutes earlier than usual. My dad and I liked to get to the stand before shooting light. This would usually have us parking the truck and walking a fair distance. On this particular morning my dad didn't really feel like hunting and being I would be hunting quite close to the county road he just dropped me off and headed back to the cabin. I got into the stand and settled about thirty minutes before shooting light. Right at shooting light I spotted a pale antlered buck traveling a trail about seventy five yards off. He was obviously big enough to meet our eighteen inch beam camp requirement. I knew, given the trail he was traveling, that I only had a small window to get a shot on him before he was gone. I put the crosshairs just above his shoulder and fired. Of course the smoke, made even worse by the cold morning air, obscured seeing what happened next. I quickly reloaded while keeping most of my attention focused in the direction I had fired. I know what the TV hunters say about waiting but I've never done that. Well, I did manage to wait about ten minutes before going to check things out. I eased down and slowly made my way toward the last place I'd seen the deer. Before I got there I caught sight of a pale antlered buck with his flag flying, running in the direction the one I'd shot at had been heading. I made a brief search for blood and not seeing any returned to the stand. I figured I had missed. I just knew I had screwed up. I always clean my muzzleloader after shooting it. So at the end of the '05-'06 season after I had killed a doe one January evening and cleaned my T/C Encore .50cal barrel (hot water, bore butter and all) I reloaded it for the morning hunt the next morning which didn't lead to me firing a shot. Later that morning I put the weapon in the safe and figured that being it was freshly loaded with pyrodex pellets and that it was in my safe, in my climate controlled home, it would be silly to unload it. Besides, I'll fire that shot sighting it in next year but I didn't. I had arrived at camp after dark the night before. (I know, don't start on me.) Once back on the stand, I texted my Dad that I thought I'd missed a nice one. He said he'd wait until about ten o'clock and come help me look while we made preparations to have another stand set up to hunt this deer. (We were anticipating a change in the wind direction making my location poor for the evening hunt.) I just knew that by not having reloaded the gun since the year before and not sighting it in this year I had just missed this buck. At ten my Dad showed up and we looked around for a little bit and still didn't see any blood or sign. We walked across the bottom the trail was in and up onto the next ridge. As we stepped into an old ghosty road when I saw him! He was laying down only about ten to fifteen yards in from of us and he was looking right at us! I knew instantly he was bigger than any buck, me, my Dad or my Grandad had ever killed! As he went to get up I unslung and fired a shot and killed him! It turns out my first shot was low and broke both front legs. He had doubled back and then gone straight away from me. The pale antlered deer I'd seen was a different animal. I back tracked his bulldozer like path and found that he somehow managed to go a good distance before he was on the ground. I feel guilty that this animal suffered on my account and I freely admit that I killed this buck in spite of myself and not because I was a some great hunter... ...BUT I'D RATHER BE LUCKY THAN GOOD!!! I had him, and the one I killed two weeks later, scored at the Wildlife Extravaganza that year. He grossed 149 and netted 147.