Sunday, October 29, 2006

Buck backstrap heaven

I knew sooner or later I would stick a buck with an arrow this year.

Just had a feeling.

My new Sanilac County spot was just too hot. I was seeing bucks -- yes, that's bucks as in the plural form -- every time out. And that's just what this bow slinger needs.

Opportunities. Heck, that's what every bowhunter needs, I suppose.

Around my house in St. Clair County, I just wasn't getting enough looks at deer during the last few seasons. And for some reason I was relunctant to shoot when I did see them.

But now I've worked through that phase ... I think. At least the getting off shots part.

Despite writing about making adjustments in my last article so I wouldn't make a bad shot and have to track a deer through fields and creeks, I hit this guy back again. Way back.

My thinking is is that I didn't allow for him walking and lead him enough.

This is where I'm giving myself a low mark.

However, the good marks outweigh the bad in this kill.

The patience I displayed was excellent. Not usually one of my strong parts. Especially after muffing the first shot I took at the best buck of the two that came in.

Just as can happen during the early rut, the morning of Oct. 25, this guy came cruisin' in. But he stayed outside my shooting lanes. I kept hitting my grunt call to lure him around and it was working. Finally he came to right side -- along the open field where my stand was situated on woodline. But he never cleared the branches of the tree in front of me that I used to keep my stand hidden.

I had one shot and it was single opening within these branches. He walked into it and crack! twang! Away he bounced.

I didn't allow for enough clearance. There was no confusion for me. I saw where the branch was sheared in half. The "twang" sound was the arrow then deflecting off of his antlers. He was a decent 8-pointer. The one I've seen a couple of times before and the one I wanted.

No matter how I tried, I couldn't grunt him back in. He didn't want any part of me.

He then walked into the woods north of me and waltzed right into the carrots someone so kindly dumped 25 yards from my stand. (Funny, all this time I thought I had picked a perfect funnel site. ... I guess I did in the end!)

I've read where the big boys won't walk into bait piles but that's not what I witnessed here.

Anyway, while Mr. 8 munched away, in came another decently racked deer. After a couple of minutes, Mr. 8 and his competition, an OK 6-point, stared at each other and then clashed antlers. Very cool. I'd never seen that before live in the woods. And the new guy, was the winner. Mr. 8 then sauntered off.

At this point, it was 9-ish and I was wanting to get home and get some rest before I had to go to work later in the day. So buck watching was out. I either wanted a shot or him to walk off so I could get down.

I hit the Primos bleat can. Meaaaaahhhhhhh!!!! Meaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

And just like that, he picked up his head and moved out in front of me where I could get a shot.

I knew I connected but something wasn't quite right. The arrow popped right back out.

After a short run, he walked slowly into the field to my east about 75 yards away and stopped. I could tell he was hurting. I kept waiting on him to fall. Instead he walked to the other side and then laid down in the tall grass. I was thinking, This is good.

But no, he gets up again and then slips into the cover along the outside of the field.

I didn't trust what I saw. And from my 13 years of deer hunting, I knew this was one of those cases where I just had to walk away and give him time to expire.

It was either a liver shot or a paunch shot. After looking at the arrow, I remained suspicious. So I low-crawled into the field, grabbed my other arrow from the missed shot, gathered my gear and walked along the other side of the fence row where he wouldn't see my departure.

After a long night of work and restless sleep, I returned shortly after sunrise with recurve in hand and my quad loaded in back of the truck. The night was a cool one with frost. I knew that would get him for sure.

It was all good. He was right where I last saw him. Which meant I did the right thing by waiting, another "atta boy." But the best part was yet to come.

My doe drag through the farmer's soybeans 10 days ago nearly killed me. It took me four days for my joints to recover.

Now the beans were gone. The chilly wind even felt good in my face while racing across the semi frozen field on the four-wheeler.

I slipped the straps around him and had him back behind the truck in probably five minutes. Before I could even get worried about how I was going to get him loaded into the truck bed, the fertilyzer guys came pulling into the field.

"Need a hand?" the round truck driver asked while lighting and re-lighting a cigar of some sort.

"You know it," I replied.

And away I went, tallying my 11th multiple deer kill year out of 13 seasons.

I still want something bigger. Like I said he's an OK 6-point. What's somewhat humbling is he is my second-biggest buck ever antler-wise.

Plenty of season left this year for me to accomplish the goal. Maybe it won't happen this year. Regardless, I'm grateful for what God provided and I'm confident in time I'll get the trophy buck.

Meanwhile, it's back to reading my old Whitetail Strategies mag -- the one with the article that details how to read wounded deer -- and eating more backstrap and eggs.

(For pictures of my buck, see


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