Hot Pursuit
Published in RACK Magazine
October 2001
by Edson B Waite, Jr.

It was the fifth day of the Ohio’s 6 day shotgun deer season, brothers Clarence and Hermal Reffitt and cousin Eric Reffitt were up at 4:00 AM and ready for the 22 mile drive to their Uncle Jim’s farm. As daylight came on, the hunters decided to split up and head for different parts of the farm.

Eric headed off to his favorite spot but Clarence and Hermal were heading in the same direction and would walk a bit farther together before splitting up along the
trail. Suddenly several shots rang out from the back of the farm, very soon several does came by moving pretty fast. Clarence decided to stand at the edge of a field along a fence line while Hermal would continue on. He waited there for 15 minutes but nothing else was moving. Clarence scanned the area of the large field and over near the center by a hay ring stood a large buck. Unfortunately it was most of 300 yards away.

After several tense minutes the buck started to move across the field and towards a small tree filled gully that bordered one side of the field. Clarence knew this was a keeper buck, but it was still way too far for his Remington 1100, 20 ga. shotgun. When the buck entered the strip of trees, Clarence could see it turn towards him and continued moving in the same direction as the earlier does. At about one hundred yards, the buck exited the trees on the far side and started angling away and towards the fence where the does had crossed.

Just as the buck stopped at the fence, Clarence dropped to one knee and took the eighty yard shot. The deer tried to jump the fence and fell flat on the ground. It then got up and ran to the corner of the fence and crossed over. Clarence fired two more shots but missed with both. “I reloaded my shotgun and then waited for about five minutes, I couldn’t wait any longer. I knew it was hit, but I wasn’t sure how bad,” Clarence continued. “When I got to the spot I found a lot of frothy blood and was sure I had a lung shot.”

Clarence then took up the chase in ernest, following the blood to the last place he had seen the buck before it passed over the top of a hill. He suddenly saw the big buck lying along the fence next to a large white oak. “I tried to keep the oak tree between me and the deer as I tried to get closer for another shot,” Clarence said, “But when I was about 80 yards out he saw me and jumped up, but he got his antlers tangled in the barbed wire fence. The big drop tine was hooked in the fence and it was trying frantically to get free. While he was thrashing around, I fired three more times, and missed again.”

Now there was another problem, you might call it a Bryce Towsley moment in time, Clarence was out of slugs. The big deer got free of the fence and started running again, moving towards a nearby highway. He would hope the deer tired and again laid up to rest and maybe die this time. There was still plenty of blood, but the deer continued to move on. Just then, brother Hermal arrived on the scene and offered his shotgun to Clarence. However, Clarence would have none of it. “I started out with the 20 ga. and I will finish it with the 20 ga.”, spoke Clarence. “You go back to the truck and get me some more slugs, and I’ll keep an eye on the buck.”

So Hermal goes back to the truck for the slugs and Clarence waits by the trail. After 25 minutes or so, Hermal returns with the slugs and Clarence resumes the pursuit. He slowly approaches the spot where he had last seen the buck and realizes it has moved farther away.
“I was on a hill now, overlooking the nearby highway, with a small hollow between me and the road. Suddenly I see the buck, laid up along the bank leading up to the road. I am 200 yards away from the buck and it is about 75 yards from the road. There was plenty of traffic on the highway and the buck seemed to be watching it go by. I tried to work my way closer but because it was very dry in the woods, I could only move when a big truck would pass. There was no way I could get a safe shot,” Clarence said.

Just then, from out of nowhere, three does came over to the resting buck. He got up and started walking away with them, but after ten yards, he laid down again. The does then made their way straight to Clarence and when they spotted him. “They started snorting and stomping, I just stood as still as I could. Then I guess they saw me move or smelled me or something, cause they stomped again and ran off,” stated Clarence. “Still, the buck never moved, he just laid there watching the traffic.”

Clarence was still to far away for a safe shot and was having trouble getting closer without spooking the buck. The last thing Clarence wanted was for the buck to bust across the busy highway and get slammed by a semi.

Now, of all things, a pick-up truck pulls over to the side of the road just above the resting buck. The driver appears to be looking for the deer and might be looking through a scope or binoculars or even a camera. “At first I thought he was going to let out a hunter, then I thought he was just going to haul off and blast the buck from the truck window. I froze where I was, and tried to hide myself from the truck, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to shoot my deer,” Clarence related.

Finally, after several tense minutes, the truck started to pull away and Clarence made the decision that it was now or never. “I took a shot from about 75 yards and hit the buck just forward of the rump and crippled him. He started to crawl using the front legs. I ran up and shot again from 60 yards hitting the buck just back of the neck. I kept going towards him but I only had one slug left. When I got very close, he tried to get up a final time and I put my last slug into his lungs from 25 yards. That finished it,” Clarence replied, almost out of breath from the retelling.

About then the pick-up truck re-appeared. Seems the boy in the truck had been on his way home in a semi when he saw the buck along the bank. When he got home he
grabbed his camera and returned, hoping to take some pictures. Turns out that Clarence knew the fellow as they had been schoolmates. Anyway, he helped hold the buck while Clarence did the field dressing. Then they hauled the deer up the bank to his truck and drove it back to Uncle Jim’s farm.

There were four bullet wounds, with the first coming in through the gut and hitting one lung. The second near the tailbone, breaking the back, the third just above the shoulder and the forth taking both lungs. The pursuit had covered most of a mile and had taken exactly three hours from the first shot to the last shot.

The Cross Creek check station had been forewarned that a thirty point buck was on its way in and the local wildlife officer jokingly stated, “I guess I will need to go in the back and get my high top boots for this one.” He would eat those words. Brother Richard was there when Clarence arrived with the prize.

The thirty point buck was aged to be over 6 years old, and when scored by Buckmasters, it measured 222 6/8 inches.

To view the official score sheet, click here.

 Congratulations Clarence!!!