I was on a roll until the dreadful bad shot took place. Yes, I will say it again - I made a bad shot. Of course not on purpose, it just one of those unfortunate things that happens in the bowhunting woods.
The season has been going quite well up until this point. I have been seeing a lot of deer, shooting just about every day and most all of my gear has been working great. I was riding high and feeling good about my chances at harvesting a nice buck this fall. That is until the other night!
My evening hunt started off by checking with weather.com to confirm the wind was out of the East, and it was. I was pumped and I knew exactly where I was going to go. Back in 2004 I harvested a nice 145 inch buck out of this very stand. In the past I have had some incredible luck hunting this spot early in the season because I can get right up on a big buck bedding area without them even knowing I'm there. This spot has it all – thick cover, beans, corn, hardwoods (acorns) & a pond all within a 100 yards of the buck’s bedroom. Early in the season these big bucks don't like to venture far from their bedding areas during daylight, so if you want to get a shot at one you need to get in close.
My 2004 early season Illinois buck.
After arriving at my spot I was able to slip into my stand perfectly and without being detected. My camera was ready to go and just like clockwork the does started to funnel out of the bedding area well before dark. I watched them feed out in front of me for awhile, hoping a buck was nearby.
With about 15 minutes of shooting light left I was out of good camera light so I started to pack everything up and call it a night. As soon as I got the camera arm off the tree and was putting the camera away I look up to see a big buck headed my direction. I would guess him to be around 150 inches, if not a little bigger. The buck had no idea I was there as he came down the trail towards my shooting lane. I drew, aimed and shot. That’s when it felt like the world fell apart on me. I made a bad shot. The buck ran out about 40 yards and stopped next to a small bush. I watched him until it was too dark to see and he never moved from that spot.
After waiting an hour I snuck out and went to my truck to call Justin and Horseshoe Mazur to get them ready for the search and rescue mission that was going to take place in the morning. We met the next morning and found the spot where I shot him. Sure enough the arrow laid on the ground with about 7 inches broken off. We found 1 patch of blood where the buck had stood motionless for so long, and then as a lot of monster bucks seem to do – he vanished. We searched high and low through the woods, CRP fields, fencerows, and any other place we could think to look and came up with nothing. In fact, we never found a single drop of blood after our initial findings. I believe the shot was high and in the shoulder blade which prevented me from getting good penetration or having a good trail to follow.
The unfortunate reality is that this can happen to any of us. It only takes being off by and inch or two to make the difference between a quick, clean recovery and a lost animal. We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but when it does it’s a super bad feeling. I can only hope the monster lives on for me or someone else to get another shot at him. I guess only time will tell.
As far as good news – I am going to go to Wisconsin this weekend and I’m going to give it hell!
Also, after Justin showed me a few pointers on building my own arrows I got my son helping me. Its amazing how fast these little guys grow up and I make sure I spend as much time with my son as possible!
If you build your own arrows, or are interesting building your own arrows, check out our arrow building supplies here on Bowhunting.com. We carry just about everything you need for building your own arrows including several types of Bowhunting.com Arrow Wraps, Bohning Fletch-Tite glue, Bitzenburger Fletching Jigs, and much more. It's really not that hard, and can be a good way to pass some time in the evenings and customize your arrows to your specifications.
I wish all you bowhunters good luck in the coming weeks as this is what we all live for. The rut is coming up quicker than we think and I hope to bear good news on my next post!