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Lange makes one shot count

Tom Lange Jr. of Hastings shot this 14-point buck near Cannon Falls two weeks ago with a muzzleloader.

This fall, Hastings' Tom Lange Jr. placed a trail camera on a piece of property near Cannon Falls that he had permission to hunt on.

The camera showed Lange what he had hoped for.

It showed a big 10-point buck was often on the land. The season couldn't come soon enough.

So on Dec. 6, when Lange's friend, Rich Sande of New Hope, shot a 10-point buck on that piece of land, Lange was not surprised. It was the biggest buck of Sande's life. The two good friends were elated.

But what that trail cam didn't show was that there was an even bigger buck in the area. That buck showed up the next morning. This time, it was Lange's turn.

There he sat in his tree stand, freezing. Temperatures on Sunday, Dec. 7, were either at zero or below zero. He wasn't going to be out there long. In fact, he and Sande had agreed to head home by 9 a.m. if they weren't seeing any action.

At 8:30 a.m. or so, the action picked up. Sande saw, way off in the distance, a big buck. It was too far away for a shot, but it was headed Lange's way.

Fifteen minutes later, a shot from Lange's muzzeloader rang out. Sande got off his stand, walked over to Lange's stand and was hoping for good news.

"He just walked over to me, looked up the tree and said, 'Just tell me you got him,'" Lange said. "I just pointed."

Lange's one shot hit its mark.

"I knew it was big," he said. "We started getting closer, and he was even bigger than I realized."

The buck was a 14-pointer. It weighed 210 pounds and had a green score of 170.5. It had an outside spread of 22.5 inches. In other words, it was the buck of a lifetime for Lange. He took it to John's Taxidermy in Hastings and is having it mounted.

"He said that's the biggest ones he's gotten in this year," Lange said.

The story

"We were just sitting out there in the stands," Lange said. "It was real cold. We kinda figured we'd give it until about 9 o'clock. It was a quarter to nine, and I heard something coming through the woods."

Lange was positioned at the top of a ravine. He saw the buck coming down the other side of the ravine. It was on a trail that led right to Lange's stand.

"He was real calm," Lange said. "He'd take three, four steps and just kind of look around. He was real relaxed. He just kept working right toward me. When he got halfway down the hill, I could see he was a huge buck."

"I just kept telling myself to be patient. That was the main thing going through my head. He was coming my way. He had no idea I was there, and the wind was in my favor."

Lange had a shot at 50 yards. Then 40. And the buck just kept coming. He got about 30 yards away and started to angle off the trail, which was welcome news. The buck had turned broadside, stopped for a second behind a tree and stepped out. Lange took his shot, and got the buck of a lifetime.

"It took a little bit to even hit me," he said. "I've been kinda flying high ever since."