At 9:30 this morning I finally got the monkey off my back and killed my first traditional buck. I've killed a few does and I've been hunting deer with a trad bow primarily the early season for the past 5 years. My reasoning is that every time rut came around I didn't want to miss out on a big buck around 30-40 yards that is cruising for a doe so I always brought out the compound. This year I finally decided I was going to sit with the longbow all season (sans rifle season, I did get out the rifle) and it finally paid off! I sat on Sunday and saw 3 bucks cruise up the same trail, I sat again yesterday morning I saw 7 deer total and saw 2 bucks take the same trail so I thought - "I'm going to sit that trail Friday morning"
Well, I get in super early this morning after dropping my wife off at the airport and set up in my saddle with the Toelke Whip and just knew something was going to happen this morning. Well, nothing was moving at all. I was about ready to call it quits at 9:30 because I had to go back to the house and feed the dogs when all of a sudden I see movement to my left and it's a buck. I can't tell if he's legal or not because in my area they have to have 4 points on one side to be legal and there was too much brush in the way. So he keeps coming, and he is on a B line for the trail that I had set up on to give me a 5 yard shot on him if he's legal but at this point he looks like a decent 6 point. Well he gets to this break in the trees and stops, I'm not sure if he smells me, saw me move when I grabbed my bow, or what. But he stands there, behind a tree and I can't see him at all I just have to stay stone still and wait to see if he keeps coming. After a couple of minutes he started moving again... East, and I needed him to come North.
The buck takes somewhere between 4 and 5 steps north and I hear something coming from the south - so does he. We both look South and here comes a yearling doe just as oblivious as she can be - she's running and prancing and doing whatever it is that yearlings do to make just the most raucous they possibly can. She runs within 2 yards of the buck while he's standing completely still and she finally notices him when she's about 1 yard past him, she stops, raises her tail and looks at him, then starts to walk North, right where he was headed. She must have been my saving grace because this guy didn't want anything to do with her and he continued on his original path right to me. As soon as he clears the brush about 10 yards from me I can see his brow tines - he's legal. At this point my heart had calmed down and I was resigned to not shooting him...that all changed in the matter of an instant and I could hear my heart pounding once more. I'm going to have to take a shot from the saddle that I've never done before because instead of him coming to the trail I had set up in front of me he's going to walk directly behind me.
I twisted in the saddle, standing on just one foot on my Scout platform because that's all the room there is and he comes into an opening - I come to full draw, and notice he's quartering to me a little bit - I have a bad history with these shots so I wait for him to go behind a tree and let down. It's not worth wounding a deer just to take a shot. I know there's one more opening before I won't be able to twist anymore and it's about 5:30-6 o'clock directly behind me. waited for him to come into this opening, come to full draw again and he's walking slow enough with his head up I don't even try to get him to stop, I just pick my spot and loose the arrow. I'm a little high and a little back, but he was directly broadside and I got a full pass through. On the other side of him where the arrow went into the ground there is a spattering of blood in about a 12" diameter. I'm feeling good about the shot, but not 100% confident.
After the adrenaline wears off - the shakes and stuttered breathing set in. I didn't get to hear him drop, but he mule kicked when I shot him, ran about 20 yards, turned back and looked toward the area where he was shot and then hopped off into some thicker area. I decide since I'm not 100% sure of the shot I'm going to get down as quietly as I can and check my arrow for blood, then back out and come back around lunch time to look for him just to give him a few hours. Well, I get down, walk over to my arrow and it's bright red blood, I don't see any bubbles, but there's a lot of it and that makes me worried it's a muscle hit and I was too high and too back, missing vitals. The defeat starts to creep in a little and I was even more sure about backing out and letting him be for a while before I start looking for him.
That's when I looked to my left and see something - looks like it could be a dead deer laying about 100 yards off right before the really thick bedding area starts. I went and grabbed my binoculars - I didn't want to walk toward it at all just to be safe and walk back to the area where my arrow was - I started scanning the area and I see a brown back - facing me so I know he didn't bed down, he's on his side, I pan a little further and see antlers. At this point my excitement couldn't be contained - I started fist pumping and saying "YES, YES, YES!" as quietly as I could make myself. I grabbed my bow and went on a VERY cautious expedition to make sure he had expired and when I walked up to him my relief and the realization that I had finally
done it was immeasurable. Even though I have killed multiple does with a longbow there was always something in my mind wondering if it wasn't for me since I always botched the shot on bucks and if I should just stick with target archery and use compound for hunting. What they say is totally true - Archery is 90% mental, the other 10% is just in your head.
I had to take this photo 6 times because I was so excited I had crazy eyes.