Richard started his morning off in the climber he placed on a trail head on a ridge between an alfalfa field and the creek. He had seen good buck traffic in this corner from his original stand. He did see several bucks this morning but the only one that came in shooting distance was not one he wanted to harvest. At least he saw bucks—I saw a doe and yearling…and of course the turkeys. I had thought about purchasing a turkey tag and trying to get one with my bow but fall turkeys are so much harder to hunt and these are parading down the middle of a 250′ wide alfalfa field and into a cut corn field off of our property everyday and it would just about be impossible to pick the exact spot they would use any given day. Trust me…I watched them just about every day this week trying to get a good pattern in case the opportunity arose to go turkey hunting. I do want one with my bow this next season and it is on “The List”.
Having such a slow morning, I convinced Richard to leave the stand around 10:30 a.m. to grab a quick lunch before the afternoon hunt. We changed out of our hunting gear and grabbed a hamburger to go. We ran a few errands and headed to the field for the afternoon hunt. As I was getting my gear gathered up, I reached up on the counter and grabbed the “bunny tail” that I found earlier this week and told Richard “You know, some people carry a rabbit’s foot for good luck. I think I am going to carry this bunny tail into the woods with me today for good luck.” He just laughed at me. I stuck it in its own little pocket in my backpack. Off we were to the woods for another afternoon hunt.
Walking into the field we gave each other the customary good luck rituals…but deep in thought as I was walking I remembered my Mom telling me that it was not good to wish Bingo players good luck….it actually brought rotten luck. So as Richard and I were walking apart from each other I said, “Saying good luck hasn’t brought us any. So let’s wish each other bad luck.” What did I have to lose, I had my lucky bunny tail with me right?? So we did just that—we wished each other bad luck.
It was nearly 5:15 before we saw any movement. I had a beautiful young 8 point come around the creek, cross over in front of me and walked by the camera. He had short tines and he was just at his ears. I thought to myself that he would make a beautiful mount. His coat was deep sorrel and he had beige around his eyes and muzzle. He probably had one of the prettiest coats I have ever seen on a deer and everything about him looked like a picture in a magazine. But he was much too young; this guy needed a couple more years. So I watched as he walked across the field, out of site. I was sitting there thinking to myself that one part of me would have loved to have had that beautiful animal mounted but the more ethical part of me wanted him to be a mature buck and experience all he needed to before leaving this world. I thanked the good Lord again for having great mentors and giving me the knowledge to make those decisions.
It wasn’t but another 15 minutes when I heard movement behind me. A doe had snuck in behind me. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as she gave me a wide birth and kept a wary eye on the blob in the cottonwood tree. When she couldn’t get a scent downwind of me, thanks to my double layer of ScentLok and my chronic scent destroying regimen, and she didn’t seen any movement she became confident that things were okay and she walked out onto the alfalfa field below me. It was at this point that I heard a sniffing sound and thought that there must be another one right under me. I slowly, little increments at a time, tuned my head and used my peripheral vision to pick up anything that I could. There was a nice 8 point buck about 15 yards from the base of my tree looking up and around, trying to pick up a scent. Then he started toward the Northern Whitetail Scent Fighting Mad Gel that I put out, sniffing the leaves on bushes, the ground and then the air. He was definitely picking up the scent. However, seeing how wary the doe was when she came in, I think he was a little nervous.
I liked how thick his main beams were and his G2s were long. I thought to myself, I like this buck….and at that point I decided if I had the opportunity I would shoot him. He was not an absolute monster like some of the other bucks that we have seen in the area but who is to say that I will have the opportunity to harvest a bow buck before Saturday and that is what I came to do. This buck was a mature 3-4 ½ year old deer and pretty stout. He had a thick neck and was definitely over 200 pounds. I thought to myself, I think I really want this buck—I like the angle of the G3s and how his beam turned up at the center. He was, by far, not the best deer I seen all week but he would be a great bow harvest and I wanted to claim him as mine if I had the opportunity.
He circled back behind me then came up on the right of me just the other side of the creek. He crossed the creek and crept up the side of the bank right below me less than 8 yards. He looked up at the stand and because it took me a minute to decide if I was going to shoot this buck or not, I had my hand up on my bow that was hanging on the bow hook. I was just suspended like this for about a minute. Finally, he relaxed when he didn’t see any movement and he walked along the bank away from me and gave me the opportunity to pull my bow down. For a minute, I had my doubts that he would be back in front of me unless he circled across and went to where the doe was eating. He stopped on the other side of a forked tree right behind the Buckmister and tried to pick up the scent from it. I didn’t have a shot. He walked straight and crossed at 30 yards but because of all the trees and branches, even if I did stop him, I wouldn’t be able to take a shot.
He stood there looking back toward the doe and the Buckmister, which was in direct line with my stand, so I didn’t have an opportunity to stand up. The doe was at 20 yards and she was facing me and would more than likely see me if I stood as the buck crossed over through the thicket in front of me. It was now or never. I brought my bow to full draw, struggling with the 60 pounds for a second from the cold and the adrenaline that was now flooding my veins. Once I was at full draw he stepped out of the thicket but was still not in a position I could ethically shoot him. As I brought the bow string to my nose to line up my peep, my thick face mask was in the way. I was not going to let down at this point so I took my finger completely away from my release trigger and took my thumb and raked at the face mask until I could feel my lip. While I was doing that the buck stepped toward the doe. The doe stuck her head out and then put her nose back to the ground. The buck walked up casually. I still did not have the opportunity to stand up or even turn my left knee in, so I was going to have to make this shot sitting down.
This past spring, I spent time in practice shooting from a kneeling and seated position for a turkey bow hunt that I was going to in North Carolina. I never knew how much that would pay off until I took this shot. I brought my nose back to the bow string and corner of my mouth, did my little smirk which I always do to make sure I am anchored correctly, opened both eyes, lined up my 20 yard pin, and as the buck picked his head up, I slowly squeezed my release trigger. I heard the arrow make contact and the doe jumped backwards, the buck sprung forwards, stuck his nose to the ground, coughed and took off running toward the back of the alfalfa field. He broke to a trot at one point and coughed again and it was then that I knew I made a lethal shot from the sound of the cough. He trotted up the ridge stopped a second, staggered a step and took off down the other side of the embankment that led to the creek below.
Richard was sitting in a stand on the other side of the field and he actually didn’t think I was going to shoot the deer based on his size so when the deer took off running he thought it had spooked. When he coughed the second time Richard saw blood and knew that I shot him. He stood up and followed the buck with his binoculars cross over the ridge and down the back side. As soon as the buck came through the creek he crashed. Richard saw him and this made the tracking a whole lot easier.
I text messaged Richard and told him I thought we should sit tight a little while because I didn’t think I had a pass through, my arrow was not on the ground and I didn’t see it in the field. I also thought I was pretty sure I had seen the fletching sticking out of the buck. Richard said we would sit tight until he couldn’t shoot. Sitting there replaying the entire incident in my head I couldn’t quit texting Richard asking him if he saw blood, or if he saw the arrow. He said he thought he saw the yellow fletching…but my arrows didn’t have yellow anywhere on them…so I started to get nervous and Richard just kept saying, “No, I think he is down”—that is all he would say. He didn’t want to tell me he saw him go down because he wanted me to be surprised.
Finally, I got down on the ground, left my stuff at the stand base and walked across the field close to Richard’s stand. I told him exactly where I saw the buck go in. I told him that I took a sitting shot and hoped that it was a good shot and we didn’t have to track him far—all the same fears and hopes that any bowhunter goes through once they made the shot and didn’t see the deer go down within their eyesight. He just calmly asked me where I thought the buck went in; this is his usual tendency to test me…and I got that feeling for a moment. So I started the whole story from the tree to the ridge top. We walked over the ridge top and Richard went ahead of me then called my name, when I walked over to him he shinned his SureShot beam across the creek to where the buck laid motionless. We waded across the creek and I was ecstatic. But where was my arrow?? We searched the ground with flashlights taking advantage of the reflective wraps I have on my arrows. It took us a few minutes but we found it in the water. The broadhead and about 4 inches of the arrow had broken off in the buck. We took a few pictures in the field and loaded him up to take to the house…the work had just begun.
This buck is my second harvest with a bow, but my first buck with a bow. He is a 4 ½ year old 9 point that weighed 242 pounds. He is indeed the buck that got his tail whooped by the Flambeau Boss Buck Decoy earlier in the week on this Kansas hunt–now he has been whooped by a girl. Thanks to everyone who sent luck my way and thanks to the good Lord for allowing me such an awesome experience in all his glory. I hope Richard will tag his Kansas buck before we head out on Saturday afternoon—he really deserves the big boy we seen.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009