Old Moss Back

No matter where you go there are tales of unhuntable and unkillable bucks. Names like “The Ghost” or “Old Moss Back” abound. Whether in the north or South it matters little. This is one tale of such a buck. Lets go way back to the winter of 1983 in deep East Texas. Deer were not as plentiful in the early 80’s as they are now and a big buck was even more rare. Even the spotting of a big set of tracks was big talk around the camp fire. I while only being around 12 years old was quite the accomplished procurer of squirrel and rabbits but I had yet to get the opportunity at a deer. All I had was an old Stevens bolt action .410 shotgun and while quite the death dealer on small game and birds it was a severe handicap to a young hunter who was often placed on stands where the shots were geared for a rifle .

All November I hunted and watched deer after deer walk just out of range . They seemed at times to taunt me with their prancing and playing. No matter how badly I wanted to shoot I knew my limitations and that of my gun. Smooth bore and with only a bead for a sight even the closest of shots was a hail Mary with a slug . Christmas came and waiting under our tree was a well used old Remington 870 20ga….It might as well had been the finest custom made shotgun. It couldn’t have been more precious to me. Along with the shotgun I got a half dozen boxes of high and low brass shells . My dad must have gotten a deal on the whole lot. In the mix were a dozen or so #3 buck shot. No other presents mattered that day. I don’t even think I opened them. I ran to my room and threw on my hunting clothes. As I headed for the door my dad asked what I was doing. I told him I was going to go kill “OLD MOSS BACK” …This was a legendary buck in our area. Many had shot at him and some claimed to have hit him but no sign was ever found.. My dad laughed and handed me a bottle of doe in heat and a can of apple scent spray that someone had given him and off I went…

We Lived on a beautiful piece of land, 600 acres of beautiful Sabine river bottom land and my stand was a short walk from our house. Upon getting to my stand which was a nice 5 gallon bucket behind a brush pile I found a fresh scrape no more than 30 feet from my bucket. Not being well educated in use of scents at such an early age I proceeded to pour some in the scrape and then I doused the branches and my boots with the entire bottle. Needless to say I was RANK! I quietly made my way to my bucket and sprayed some of the apple scent . Heck it said it would draw deer in like ants to sugar.

I sat for about an hour but hadn’t really noticed the time. I was too busy admiring the fine shotgun I had been given. Pondering the possibilities . I had been passed the torch I now had a mans weapon no longer the insignificant little boy but a man. A man holding a mans gun and trusted to hunt alone like a man…Now, while I was so busy admiring my new gun and myself I neglected to notice that indeed “Old Moss Back” had indeed smelled the concoction of doe pee and apples . He didn’t however go to the scrape. He had walked right up behind me and was standing no more than ten feet away. I heard him exhale and as I turned and my eyes wet directly to his head and the enormous set of bones it sported. We looked at each other for what seemed an eternity but could not have been more than a few seconds. My hear jumped into my throat and the world went blurry. I tried to spin on my bucket and only succeeded in falling dead on my rear end. The buck bolted and as it ran by me I raised my new deer slaying machine and squeezed the trigger…..CLICK!….In all my haste to get out the door and after all my admiration. I had shoved the buckshot in the magazine but never had ran one in the pipe….

I walked back to the house exited yet ashamed of my being so stupid as to not even load my gun. The next day I took my first buck on the same bucket. A nice 6 point, taken with a single shot from my new shotgun from 40 yards away while he smelled the same scrape I had been hunting.. Odds are the 6 point was the same deer from the day before but I had “Old Moss Back” on the brain…I got my buck but better yet from that day forward I never had an empty chamber.

TF&G Staff:
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