After our camping trip I had even more fire for bowhunting, I loved watching a friend succeed and especially a new hunter. It was awesome to teach him some of our family traditions when it comes to shooting buck, bulls or boars. Anything with a “pair” gets a certain dance so the gods of nature will shine on us again!
Over the next couple weeks I wasn’t able to get out a whole lot but I did get out and I got to see some doe’s and fawns and that’s it. We were getting down to crunch time. I pride myself on the fact that we don’t buy red meat until September and we have been out for a couple months already. We love wild game, if I could I would never buy an ounce of red meat again. I believe that eating an animal that has lived a wild life gives more energy (life) than any animal raised in a pen. At this point in the fall I am ready for more of that feeling. Luckily at the camping trip Jason let me cook the heart of his buck for dinner. But other than that I was eating chicken, pork and fish.
But the rut was in full swing. I went to sit in a new stand on a Saturday, November 1st. Within 2 hours of sitting I saw something moving in the corner of my eye. I slowly turned my head to look and it was a very nice 8 point buck, he wasn’t a monster but he was probably 3 and a half years old. I ranged him at 50 yards. He was on the move and wasn’t stopping. I tried grunting, nothing. I tried bleating, nothing. Finally when he was getting to be about 100 yards out I tried rattling, nothing(Mistake #100millionsomething). He kept on his merry way like nothing even happened.
About an hour later he was coming back towards me. I watched as he got closer and I started ranging openings, there was one at 35 yards. Of course he avoided that one. At one point he was quartering away at 35 yards, not a bad shot. I drew back and stopped him with a grunt. I had the shot, all I had to do was release, but there was a couple thin twigs in the area that the arrow would be flying. I decided to let off. I did not want to risk wounding this buck. He has potential to be a very big deer this year and I wouldn’t want to screw that up, besides I still have one week until its pumpkin season(firearm opener). I sat back down and relaxed and 20 minutes later out came a doe and she was heading straight for an opening at 13 yards. She was one tree away from the opening so I drew back and readied myself for the shot. She came out and stopped, I steadied my pin and released. Instantly my arrow hit a tree 2 yards from my stand!! My knock exploded and the doe took off. Now I don’t know how I pulled this horrible shot off; did I look through the wrong eye, did I raise my head just before releasing, or maybe I flinched. To this day I still have no Idea how I pulled off such a colossal mistake.
I decided to spend some time shooting again before heading back out. The next time I would be able to get out was Friday, November 7th the day before Minnesota Firearm Opener. I made sure to get out of work early so I could spend at least four hours in my stand before heading up to the deer shack. The hunt was bound to be a good one, the weather was perfect. There was a front moving in and it just started to rain pretty heavily on my walk to the stand. I decided to sit in the same stand that I shot at the doe the week prior. I sat for about an hour and a half without seeing any movement when out of the corner of my eye I saw antlers! It was the 8 pointer again and this time he was on the opposite side of me. I tried the same thing called with everything I had! I waited until he was in some brush about 60 yards out to try the antlers. Not 5 minutes after I put the horns down a spike walked by my stand at 15 yards quartering away, it was a dream shot but I opted to let the little guy go. After everything settled and the spike was about 50 yards out I texted my wife and a friend and told them what had happened. My wifes response was, “why didn’t you shoot the spike?” A question I was starting to ask myself. I was telling my friend how I really wanted to get some venison since my freezer has been empty for a while. Finally I made a deal with myself that if I could rattle him in and if he presented a shot I would take it. He was about 70 yards out and just milling around so I grabbed the horns and started rattling. Not ten seconds later he was racing towards me! Once he was at about 35 yards I stopped and he slowed his pace. The path he was taking was going to put him at 20 yards with a broadside shot, so when I got the opportunity to draw I did. He stepped into the opening and I stopped him with a grunt. I made sure everything was right before touching the trigger but as soon as I did I heard the familiar sound of THWACK and I knew when I saw where my arrow hit that he was not going to go far. He jumped off the trail and headed into the path that the 8 pointer used earlier and died right there. The deer made it ten yards from where he was hit and died less than 30 seconds after he got hit by my arrow. This was what I was hoping for all season, a quick ethical kill. I immediately got down since I knew he was dead. I called my dad and my wife and told them the story. Finally I was going to get to lay my hands on my first archery kill (before the coyotes did anyways).
The first thing I do when I get to any big game animal that I harvest is stroke the pelt and give thanks. This is a very peaceful moment for me. I know people don’t agree with me on it, but I truly think that any animal I harvest is a gift. When I thanked this young buck all I could do was think back at what a tough season it had been for me. But overall I learned a lot of lessons and I still came out with a positive attitude towards bowhunting. I plan on sticking with it as long as my body will allow and I hope that my sons will do the same. There is no greater satisfaction then taking a big game animal with a stick and string.