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Sunday, March 08, 2009

First Bow Buck

I said back last October that I would at a later date document in more detail my taking of a six-pointer on opening day of bow season. Well here it is March already and I still haven't done it, so I will take this opportunity to do so.

I arrived up to the hunting area at about 6am last Oct. 1st. It was still dark as we made our way to our stands. I had chosen the stand we call The Sniper Slayer. This stand had become our hottest stand and we had seen more deer while in that stand the previous season than the rest of the stands combined. So I settled in on this cool fall Michigan morning. It was about 40 degrees and was only going up to about 50 for a high.

Surprisingly we didn't see many deer. I had one come through about 60 yards away that I could barely see through the brush. It was headed in the direction of Don's stand, but he never saw it. That was the only action I had that morning. Don got blanked. We headed in about noon, and took a break.

We decided to head back out about 2pm. Since it was October first, that meant we'd have about 5 hours of hunting before dark. Unfortunately, much like that morning there was little to no action. We were beginning to wonder if the no baiting rule the DNR had enacted just a couple of weeks before the season was taking a toll on the deer traffic we were used to.

In fact, the only action I had was when a hawk tried to land on the platform of my hunting stand! He flew right into my left leg. Not knowing what happened he then flew to a branch about 10 feet in front of me and turned to see what he had encountered. When I reached for my cellphone to tell Don what just happened, the hawk took off like a shot bullet, bouncing off branches as it went. You know your camo pattern is effective when a hawk can't even see you.

About 5:15pm a saw a cat headed my way. This was a stray that Don and his family had taken in, and it had a bit of a wild streak. Since there was nothing going on I called Don and joked about shooting the cat. He wasn't as amused with my jokes as I was, so we hung up. No sooner had I put the phone away then I saw a deer in almost the exact same spot as I had seen the one that morning. 60 yards away, same trail headed towards Don's stand. Except this time when it got just a little to the west of me (the stand I am in is facing east), it turned toward me.

The freezer was empty as we had gone through all of the venison from the small doe I had taken the previous season. So I got ready in case this doe gave me a shot. When she got about 45 yards away, she stopped. Took several looks at something behind me, and slowly turned and went back to the other trail. I thought she had busted me, though she hadn't seen me.

She was no sooner out of my vision when I heard directly under me something crunching in the leaves. It was a small doe walking straight out from under me. Behind her was a big doe! And behind her a button buck. I slowly stood up, put my release on my string loop. When the big doe was 25 yards away she stopped. I drew back, hoping she'd present me with a shot. But then she continued on the same path, straight out away from me. No shot, so I let down.

I was just processing what had happened, how without bait there was no reason for them to stop, when all of the sudden I heard something else coming from behind me. I turned my head just in time to see another deer heading down the hill behind me, and it was a buck! I could only see 4 points, but since I had never taken a buck with my bow I wasn't going to pass him up if he gave me a shot.

Unfortunately for him he was a little more to my right, headed parallel to the path the other deer had taken. This meant I would have a shot. As I watched him come down the hill he threw his head back and grunted once at the deer that had just passed. I picked out a shooting lane, and drew. I waited for him to enter the shooting lane, and then for his shoulder to clear the shooting pin on my sight. As soon as it did I let fly with the arrow. I saw the arrow go in behind his shoulder, and the fletched end sticking out. I saw him kick once and crash off on in the same direction he as headed. Then I thought I heard him go down and thrash around on the other side of the swamp from where I was hunting.

I called Don, he told me to sit tight. If it wasn't a perfect shot we didn't want to push him and cause him to run again. About 15 minutes later it start to rain lightly and I was afraid to lose the blood trail in the rain, so I called Don. He headed over and arrived at my stand about 10 minutes later. I got down and showed him where the buck had been when I shot it. We found blood immediately. And lots of it. As we followed the trail, more blood. More blood than Don had ever seen (and he has hunted for years).

I found two pieces of my arrow as we followed the trail. The broad head had come out the far side of the buck right through its far shoulder, and hadn't passed through because the shoulder is such a tough joint. My arrow had been sticking out both sides of him and he had broken each end of the arrow off on trees.

It turns out he only went about 25 yards after I shot him. The broad head did its job, and the shot placement was excellent. The blades sliced through the top of his heart, he lived only about 2 minutes after I shot him. Turns out he was a 6 pointer, not a 4 like I had thought when I shot him. Don and I dragged him out, I field dressed him, and there I had my first bow buck!

It was a good season as I added a big doe with my bow on Nov. 14th, then two more smaller does on Nov. 16th, both of the latter with shotgun. So the freezer is stocked with venison and the family has been enjoying the meat in all sorts of dishes ever since.

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