Hunting & Fishing

Hunting &  Fishing

Hunting and fishing aren’t just hobbies…they’re ways of life to those who take them seriously. At Vault we understand this because that’s who we are. We know how important the right tools of the trade are to hunters and anglers. All Vault products have been tried and tested by our Men in the Field, so you can rest assured that your cargo will get where you’re going without a scratch.

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Stories from the field

Sometimes when you’re alone in the wild, you see some things that are too insane not to share. Every hunt has a story, here are a few:

The Blood Trail by David Draper

The rifle seemed solid in the shooting sticks, crosshairs steady. The shot felt good, one where you almost expect to see the buck flop. Instead, he bolted, clearing a four-strand fence before disappearing into a windbreak that lined the CRP field.

Andre, my guide, saw a hitch in his gait, and we agreed: The buck was hit, but not well.

Soaking into the rusty barbwire was only a speck of blood. Across the fence, where he landed, was a bit more, lightly splattered in the dead grass. Every hunter who’s ever shot an animal knows there’s good blood and bad blood. This was bad blood—the spotty, bright-red droplets of a flesh wound, each one nagging that you alone are responsible.

During the next few hours, between specks, occasional vivid splashes on the monochrome landscape would make me think, Maybe he’s lying just up ahead. At one point the buck had stood in an island of big bluestem, no doubt watching us work out the details of his trail before limping away. The blood that had pooled in his tracks gave me some hope.

But then the trail lined out, crossing a huge pasture—and all but disappearing. I hate to admit it, but without so much as a glimpse of the buck, we talked about giving up then, rationalizing that maybe the wound wasn’t as bad as we thought. Instead we broke for lunch.

It was a full eight hours after the shot when we picked up the trail again. The pin-size drops led to an abandoned corral packed shoulder-high with tumbleweeds. In the thick cover I had to stoop to work out the blood trail, which had begun to wander back on itself, like that of an animal getting ready to bed down.

“There!” Andre shouted, as I heard a rustling in front of me. Fifty yards ahead, antler tips plowed through the brush. In the tunnel vision of the scope all I could see of the buck was a spot of hair where his head and neck met. At the crack of the rifle, the buck crashed.

And just like that it was over—the deer’s suffering, the eight-hour tracking job, my own personal torture. After missing a shot that I should have made, I followed up with one I probably couldn’t make again. It didn’t make everything right. I didn’t feel good. But I’ve never felt so relieved.

The Fight by Scott Bestul

It was the first week of November—the heart of the seeking-and-chasing phase, magic time. So I stood up, bow in hand, as soon as I heard the mincing steps of a deer. The sleek head of a doe emerged, her forehead and eyelashes dusted by snowflakes. She shook her coat clean and looked down her backtrail as I heard heavier, shuffling steps—and spotted the chocolate antlers right under my stand.

The doe was still staring behind me, and when I followed her gaze, I saw three more bucks walking into bow range—a forkhorn, a small 6-point, and a tall-tined 10 with a white rack and a sorrel face. The chocolate-horned buck instantly laid his ears back, bristled, and stiff-legged it toward the 10.

Most fights—man, dog, or deer—start with some preliminary bluster. Not this one. The chocolate-horn lowered his head and crashed into the antlers of his rival so hard it sounded like a 2×4 cracked against a telephone pole. The impact drove the white-racked buck back, his hooves scrabbling over the snow-dusted oak leaves. With a groan, he dug his hind feet in and pushed back.

For nearly 10 minutes, just 20 yards from me, the bucks mashed antlers, pushing with a force that would roll a small car. Twice they stood in a seeming stalemate, their flanks exposed and heaving—and it occurred to me that I could slip an arrow into one of them. But each time, the bodies quickly shifted, and the opportunity vanished. Almost relieved, I let the show unfold.

Physics won the day. Although the white-racked 10 seemed stronger, each time he’d shove, the ­chocolate-horn deer would slide his back legs slightly more uphill until he had the advantage. Finally he drove hard downhill, twisted his head, and flipped the 10-pointer on its side. Once, twice, three times chocolate-horns plunged his tines into the exposed ribs. Miraculously, the white-rack popped to his feet, then whirled to flee. Chocolate stabbed him once more in the hams and chased him out of sight.

The woods fell silent. The doe, the reason for the fight, wriggled nervously into some brush. The two smaller bucks looked briefly at each other, and then followed her up the long, tangled hillside.

The Emergence by Dave Hurteau

I’d seen only his dark form shrink away down the long length of a ryefield at dusk and then bank west onto a grassy lane that divided a knob, with hardwoods on one side and a mess of saplings and ragweed on the other.

I knew exactly where to kill him.

The next day at noon I hung a stand on the wooded edge in the fork of a silver maple and waited. For hours, there was nothing. There was the deserted, grassy lane; and the byway of deer tracks running its length; and the faint trails cutting in perpendicularly along the knob, through the ragweed, between the saplings, every one raked bare and shredded.

It was early November, not quite 5 p.m. The northwest wind, which had been flipping red leaves silver-side up, settled. The fox squirrels stopped thumping in the litter. The jays quit their shrill piping. And there he was.

He didn’t weave through the saplings or step onto the grassy lane. He was just there. Twelve soaring, clean points—180 inches, give or take. Fourteen yards away, facing me, front legs standing on the lane, rear ones in the weeds, whose edge I’d hit with a rangefinder.

Right then I felt as though I hadn’t climbed into my stand but had levitated there and was still floating. More than that, I felt certain I was going to kill this giant. When I reached for my bow, the stand made the faintest creak. The buck lifted his head and stared beyond me. I froze, thinking that like many deer only vaguely alerted he’d soon flick his tail and keep coming. I’d let him walk by and arrow him quartering away.

But he just stood there and stared, for an honest five minutes…10 minutes…then he spun, as if on a heel, and slunk back into the ragweed and saplings. Fifty yards away and out of range, he circled over to the sunlit side of the knob, stepped broadside into a small clearing, and stood there for the longest time—muscled and giant and perfect—as if to show me what a whitetail buck could be, and exactly what I couldn’t have.

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