Years of training and instinct took over as my heart was beating so loud I was sure the deer would hear it. I twisted silently around in the stand taking a rest on the tree and lined up the sights on an opening that the buck would soon pass through. Approximately 70 yards away, easily within the range of my rifled 12 gauge loaded with sabot slugs. As the deer stepped into the opening I settled the Iron sights on his vitals and gently took up the slack on the trigger. It’s difficult to believe the range of emotion that I experienced in what would be the next few seconds. I was surprised and devastated by the click that happened when there should have been a loud bang. I had never loaded the chamber of the gun after climbing into the stand. Without thinking I worked the bolt on the gun and brought it back to my shoulder expecting to see the white tail of the disappearing buck, but I found myself looking down the barrel at what appeared to be an empty timber.
For what seemed like an eternity but could have been only a moment I waited at the ready, asking myself how the deer could have gotten away so quickly and how I could insert the clip and not load the chamber. Then he started moving. The buck hadn’t gotten away or even spooked, just stopped in a place that he blended in particularly well when not moving, but now was easily visible again. I can only guess that the noise of the farm activity masked the click and the working of the bolt. As the deer entered the new opening in the forest that I had chosen, I once again took up slack on the trigger and this time was rewarded with the loud report that said the gun had fired. The deer tucked his tail and lifted favored his left front leg as he turned north at a run and disappeared over a ridge.