Legends never die, at least not because of me. The first time I remember this deer showing up was Fall of 2014. It was right around rifle season in Pennsylvania. The buck had above average mass through-out his beams and a busted up 9pt frame. He continued to show himself on camera through rifle season and into winter as one of the better buck to survive that year. Recently however while looking back through old trail camera pictures, I realized this buck did show up one day in September that year, hard horned and probably just passing through. While shed hunting in 2015 after the 2014 season came to a close. I was able to find his left side shed but never the match. I was excited to see this buck going into the 2015 season but the deer was a no show. I focused on other properties that year and filled my tag in early December without focusing much on Mario.
As I do every year when the season is coming to an end I littered the woods with cameras to see what deer had survived the season. In the same place as the year before this buck appeared and it was clear as day that it was the same buck I picked up a shed to the previous year. He had more mass and a perfect 10pt rack with average length tines that stepped down shorter and shorter as they went out all slanting slightly forward. He also had distinct bumps after his g4s on both sides that is where he got the name Mario. The thought and hope was for him to become a 6×6 typical, therefore he got the name Mario Lemieux after #66 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. From then on he was known as Mario.
February of 2016 I was hiking to check some cameras and in a well known shed spot I came across my first shed of the year. It was no other then Marios right side. Being one of the largest sheds I found in the area I was eager to get out and find the match.
Before I knew it summer had come and I was not able to pick up the match. Mario was a no show all summer long. I ventured out further than ever in hopes of finding his home range but had no luck. My plan for that season would be to get setup early for where I knew he would eventually show up. I set a stand in a prime bedding and rut location that I would be forced to hunt all day when I decided the time was right. I checked cameras leading into and out of this spot frequently as the archery season got closer to the end. The last week I could hunt him before rifle season I decided I needed to get in there and hunt without proof he was even around. He didn’t show and the season came to an end.
The following week I went back to where I was setup for him to check a camera and wouldn’t you know it he showed up 3 days after the archery season ended. He was on both cameras and in daylight heading right where I was hunting him just 70 yards away. At night, morning, and evening leading into that spot he showed up on camera. I was happy to see he was alive but was surprised his rack was beat up and broken and he did not put on any more points or length. His mass got better and he was certainly the mature 4.5-5.5 year old buck that I expected him too be.
Like he had for the past two years, I expected him to stick around through winter. My gut tells me that he has died because he did not show up once this winter. He disappeared shortly after he showed back up. The winter was not harsh and part of me thinks he may just be wintering somewhere else this year. As a bonus though I was able to find and match up his shed from the year before while shed hunting in March 2017. It lay untouched for a year and was in great condition. The story on this buck has not yet been closed, we will see where 2017 takes us and go from there! If he comes back he might get upgraded to Super Mario and will certainly receive an arrow given the opportunity.
Cole Mountain Seitzinger