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Thread: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

  1. #1
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    Sep 2014
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    First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Disclaimer: Story is a long winded stream of thought with lots of ups and downs. I don't get a monster buck, but I do fill my freezer by the end of it!


    I picked up my first compound bow just within this last year and have been putting in a few months of near daily practice with it in preparation for the hunting season. With probably around 1000 practice shots with the thing I was confident and accurate out to 60 yards, short of slipping or not having decent footing I could probably hit a grapefruit sized target and I figured I was ready for September 1st. Not only was this my first Archery season, nobody I knew really hunts with a bow so I was going solo as well. I made sure to go to a familiar area, prepped with bear spray (for whatever good it would do me), and a game plan set out in case nobody heard back from me.

    To get to the area I was hunting I needed to wake up at 4AM in order to get there by first light which was around 530AM, I made it right on time. I grabbed my backpack and my bow and set off down an overgrown foot path. I had planned to hike in for about an hour before I'd find a spot to settle and glass for a bit but not even 20 minutes into my hike I heard a crashing in the bushes and got excited. I saw the body of a deer moving towards the cut block that was just in front of me! I was still a bit shocked but tried to maintain my composure, knowing that if I got too excited I'd probably be shaky to take the shot, and too loud to creep closer.

    My backpack had been making a slight creak during my hike in, I didn't pay much attention to it at first but now that I saw a deer it felt like the world went silent - The wind died right down too. I decided that I would very carefully and slowly kneel to the ground and remove my backpack and put it on the side of the trail. After what felt like about 15 minutes I had removed my pack and had my rangefinder and bow in hand. I crept closer to the cut block and I saw the deer's backside facing me with its head down... Was it a buck? I ranged it in at about 44 yards thinking that was within distance but not quite where I wanted it to be. After a few minutes it raised its head and my excitement died down a little bit when I noticed it was a doe.

    Not wanting to spook the deer and have it alarm everything nearby I decided to sit nearby and watch it for a few more minutes before going back to get my bag. That's when I caught a glimpse from the corner of my eye at the edge of the cut block. At first I thought I was hallucinating but a very well camouflaged and almost grey Mule Deer buck raised its head out of the grass with a huge 4x4 rack on top of its head. I hunt for meat but I get buck fever just like the rest of us, this was the biggest buck I've personally ever seen!! My heart started racing and I started shaking.

    I ranged him at 88 yards, way too far for me to get him with my bow. I sat still as he made his way closer following the doe but not following the same path. He was sitting broadside at 66 yards by this point. I wont lie, a part of me was thinking "What if I just took a gap shot? This buck is massive!" but I came back to my senses knowing this was both stupid and unethical. That's not how I wanted my first archery hunt to go.

    I couldn't get any closer without making a ton of noise and without crossing a large clearing with no cover. I waited and the deer moved further along, when it was possible I crept as close as I could and waiting behind the next bit of cover - This was probably my last chance at this deer. Not even 10 seconds after I settle in with my rangefinder a Whitetail buck runs into the cut from the opposite end and started stamping its foot. All 3 deer were now on high alert with their tails up. After watching them stomp around, bark, and hiss at each other for 20 minutes they must have caught wind of something because they all took off sprinting. Spoiler: I did not get the 4x4 Mule deer.

    I figured the area was done for that morning, so I decided to make my way home with the intent of returning the next day even earlier and setting up at a more advantageous spot. That's when I saw this big greasy bear beside a pond. Of course I didn't think to bring my hunting rifle with me on this trip even though I have a bear tag and the season is open. He was completely oblivious as I watched him from my truck for about 5 minutes before I went home. (During that 5 minutes I was wondering if I could take him at the 60 yards I ranged him, with my bow at 55Lbs draw. I decided against it for many reasons.)

    The next day I returned to the same spot and didn't see anything. I hiked around and spotted a coyote at the same time he had spotted me. There is predator shit everywhere I go! You can't escape it in my region...

    After these attempts I needed some rest. I hadn't done enough pre-season training and hiking around with a loaded pack had its toll and I needed some serious sleep too. I spent the entire time resting thinking about those deer and what I could have done differently or better, where I could have been, where they were going. I was definitely overthinking it. I decided after my rest day I'd go back to the same spot yet again.

    I showed up on time, I crept down the trail and got to where I saw them last. In my head I was thinking I should setup in the tree line just above the path they were taking, from there I shouldn't need to take a shot longer than 20 to 40 yards putting them right into the open in front of me. I decided before I did that, that I would creep a little further along the trail to "peek around the corner" and quickly check another promising area.

    Yet another regretful mistake that I will probably think about from now on every single bow season. As soon as I neared back to the original cut, to follow my original plan I see a 2x2 Whitetail buck standing literally 20 yards in front of where I should have been 15 minutes earlier. If I had stuck to my plan from the beginning I am almost certain I would have got him then and there. I was now basically stuck in the same position as the opening day of my hunt, in my head I was screaming obscenities but I sat there silently with my rangefinder and watched this buck crest the hill then hop away. I hung around for another hour and saw nothing except angry squirrels.

    This time I had brought my rifle with me so I decided to go back to where I saw the bear. I figured they were a bit more habitual than deer and there was a good chance I could find him again. I waited and watched for another 2 hours, saw some ducks and a Whitetail doe and nothing else, defeated I went home.

    One more rest day, and my time off from work coming to an end I planned my final attempt at bow season. This time I was going to my original spot, well before first light and sitting my arse down for at least 4 hours and that's exactly what I did. It was dark, overcast, windy as all hell (and in the wrong direction too) and even though I knew the weather had ruined it for me I persisted with my original plan. I sat for 4 hours making minimal movement and feeding many mosquitoes and saw nothing.

    Oh well, I thought to myself. It was ambitious to think I would get anything on my first bow hunt but it was a good feeling to go solo and be able to find deer consistently and get that close to them. I figured when rifle season opens up those deer will be out of luck anyways. I started making my way home. It was close to noon at this point, the sun was high and it was abnormally hot for me as I'm not used to early season hunts. To my surprise I noticed some movement on a ridge to my left, a Mule deer spiker was making his way down the hill towards me!

    As I mentioned previously I hunt for meat. I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity on my first archery buck just for pride or ego! He was about 40 yards uphill from me when he bedded down behind a rock. I could still see his velvety little spikes sticking out over top. I crashed up the hill toward him and surprisingly he didn't spook, he didn't even move. I got to 30 yards and we were staring at each other. He didn't want to stand up - And being new to archery I didn't want to shoot him as he's laying down and risk hitting a bone or having a bad shot. I kick a bush that's beside me to shake it around and make some noise.

    This gets his attention as well as a doe and two other small bucks behind him, they get up and start to trot up the hill. The buck I was going for starts to turn away and I try to let out a little bleat of my own, he stops in his tracks and goes perfectly broadside. In one fluid motion I draw my bow, put the 30 yard pin on his heart, and the arrow flies. He doesn't react, he's still looking at me. In disbelief I start to nock another arrow and he walks up to the next ridge line, I move forward a little bit and follow him. I figured I must have hit him? But he just walked a way like nothing happened!

    As I'm pondering my next steps he comes back to the ridge line he was standing on and begins to move down it all while perfectly broadside to me. I already had my rangefinder out in anticipation of moving up the hill, he was exactly 20 yards away! It's at this point I noticed that unfortunately my first arrow was not as accurate as I'd have liked it to be. Instead of a heart/lung shot, I noticed a little hole basically in front of his shoulder at the base of his neck. He was leaking quite a bit of blood and I was sure that the shot was lethal if I had left him for a few minutes but since the opportunity had presented itself and I didn't like watching him suffer I managed to let another arrow fly.

    At 20 yards with a G5 Montec it was a perfect hit, I saw him do the classic hop into the air and knew he was done for. He didn't make it 40 yards from where he was standing.


    Sorry for the long winded story, I think this is my first time attempting to write one. I'll try and post some pics later tonight or tomorrow.
    ...

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Congrats
    ..
    "It's not the kill, but the thrill of the chase" - Deep Purple

    "Lord knows I'm a Voodoo chile" - SRV (RIP 8-27-90)

    "Know your Land, Know your Prey" - Mantracker

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Wow that's awesome! Seems like the G5's are really taking it to the deer this bow season!!

    Great story!

    Regarding the first shot, do you figure you were off or the deer moved?

    The reason I ask, is that the 3x3 we took was standing perfectly broadside when I let the arrow rip. I thought it went in just behind his shoulder, but upon finding the deer, the arrow actually when in from the outside of the shoulder... almost like a frontal shot! The exit hole was pretty far back... so far back much further it might have made a mess. There is only one way that could happen. The deer moved in reaction to the "thwap". There is no other way for a broad side shot to end up going through the deer diagonally.

    I spent a lot of time watching slow motion videos of deer reacting to arrows being fired. Many drop down in preparation to jump/run, so I was prepared for that and aimed a little lower than I would have under the conditions otherwise... but I never did anticipate what would happen if the deer reacting by doing anything other than "the drop" (ie: quarter towards us) In our case, all I can think of is thank goodness it didn't hit the shoulder blade, or penetrate right through to the stomach.

    Congratulations on a successful first archery hunt. Exciting isn't it?!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Great story. Congrats on your first archery deer. Well earned.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Congrats on your first bow kill.

    Did you shoot your bow with broad heads before hunting? Broad heads don’t always fly the same as field points.

  7. #6
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    Jun 2010
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Congratulations on a successful hunt.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    3,115

    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Well written story,felt like i was there,congratulations.Getting an animal with the bow is special.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    region 9
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Congrats on your first bow kill! Any pics??

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Congrats DG

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Re: First Archery Hunt, Solo Hunt, Success!

    Quote Originally Posted by caddisguy View Post
    Regarding the first shot, do you figure you were off or the deer moved?
    That's a great question, and you probably answered it too. I've been thinking about that shot over and over, I made sure I had good footing, I was at the correct angle, I had a proper "grip" on the bow, and I made sure I had a level shot. As quick as it seemed I followed my checklist for a good shot but now that you mention it, the deer dropping down with the front of his body in reaction to the bow is probably exactly what happened!

    Quote Originally Posted by j270wsm View Post
    Did you shoot your bow with broad heads before hunting? Broad heads don’t always fly the same as field points.
    I definitely did, though not as much as I'd have liked. The target that I picked up was not really suited for broadheads, but I did have a chance to use a friends target for a session getting adjusted to them. They were not very far off from the field points I was using so I think the deer might have dropped as Caddisguy suggested.
    ...

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