Buckmeier ends 23-year streak
Gary "Bucky" Buckmeier and his wife Loretta moved to New York Mills in 1985 and bought a farm east of town and for the next quarter-century the local deer population was safe from Bucky's gun.
Upon arrival to town, the couple quickly befriended Arnie Weller and his son Doug and the rest of the family. For two years, Lyle Teberg and Don Nesges hunted the fields on the Buckmeier property.
"I know each year Don shot a 10-point buck," Buckmeier said. "One day, Doug asked if I would like to join the hunting party."
This is where the lessons in patience began.
In 1987, Doug and his brother Wayne built a tree stand on the 17 acres of Buckmeier land. This would begin a streak of 23 years with no deer brought home, but plenty of stories.
"I have had a lot of so-called close shots over the years and kept missing. There are a lot of shots. You can ask at the hunting shack. Maybe I only went once or twice a season but I bought a license and went every year."
While short on venison over the past two decades, the tales are tall.
"One day I was in my stand eating a candy bar, crunch, crunch. I looked out on a big deer with horns, eating, as well. I could have jumped on him. He caught me off guard. The gun was bouncing up and down so far when I shot he just kept eating. When I shot again, that white tail when up high. Missed again."
Eventually, the old stand went bad before Bucky got a deer and Wayne built a new one on the edge of Bucky's land.
"A few years ago, a big buck got up in the tall grass. When I got him in my sights I could see Beer Wagon Road with a lot of cars and people in orange. I moved the gun around the corner of the stand. I sighted the deer in again not knowing the 308 was not on over my shoulder but instead on my cheek. I shot twice and missed the deer 100-feet away. I came home with blood running all over my face and chin. My wife asked what happened and being the joker I am I told her I shot myself two times. I'm kind of a goofy, old fool. I shot at the deer and shot myself. Went to the dentist the next day, 250 dollars later, I'm still hunting."
Loretta, not only blessed with patience, also had to man the farm while Bucky was out missing deer.
"We used to milk cows, that's how I got in the hunting party. My wife milked cows until 2002 when we sold the cows. She was faithful to help milk while I was hunting."
Bucky might miss with the deer but he's dear to the missus.
"Loretta, she usually asks what time it is; I always say the usual, half past kissin' time, time to kiss again."
Obviously, Bucky's talent for deer misses did not bleed over into his ability to get dear kisses.
Two strokes in 1996 left Buckmeier with a few manageable disabilities, but not enough to stop him from hunting and missing. The strokes of bad, hunting luck also continued.
In 2005, Brent Weller was hunting along in Bucky's stand with him when another deer approached.
"He said, 'there's a deer.' My clip fell out of my gun. Another one got away. That's how things happen."
Buckmeier sold his hunting land in 2006, but out of sympathy, torture or just neighborly kindness, Jake Miller, the buyer, said Bucky could still hunt from his stand as long as he was able. Bucky can see his stand from his kitchen table.
This year, he got out by sunrise opening weekend, around eight in the morning with Nate and Ashley Meyer.
"Bucky there's deer on your trail!"
"Get ready to shoot!"
"One shot, that's all it takes."
Bucky pulled the trigger and got his doe.
The kill brought to life a little promise around the hunting shack.
"They said if you ever kill a deer we're going to take you to Bluffton."
The hunting buddies took Bucky to The Powerhouse in Bluffton for a few celebratory beers.
"We had a few drinks; not 'polluticated' and told some stories and had a good time. The owner even shook my hand when I was partying there. Him and his dad used to hunt my land two years before I started."
With a new streak to begin, Bucky is far from finished hunting and probably not finished missing either.