Monday, October 29, 2007

This Buck Was A Shooter

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He wasn’t huge but had good mass wrapped up into a basic 8-point frame with long tines and an overall gross score of perhaps 130 to 135 points.

There are times when I decide ahead of time to shoot a buck. There also are days when my mind is made up to just study the deer, see how they travel and enjoy sitting in a ground blind or tree stand. On the occasional day, if the right deer shows up, I make an instantaneous decision to shoot or not shoot.

I was sitting out in a tall pine and was ambivalent about whether to shoot or not, and it all depended on whether a good buck put in an appearance. Sometimes I will go days on end without seeing a good buck, and other times, the woods seem to be crawling with them but such times occur very seldom.

A buck came across a small field, heading in my direction, and I knew from past experiences that if he stayed on course, he would pass under my stand and offer a quartering-away shot at close range.

Some Irish guy—by the name of Doyle, Murphy or something similar to that—has developed a bad reputation for messing things up. Little did I know he would be riding my tree stand tonight with me.

Two does and a trio of fawns came out of nearby heavy cover, and headed my way. They appeared to be on a collision course with the 9-pointer. Sure enough, there was a gathering of the deer clan behind my tree as the five does and fawns and the single buck moved out in front of my tree to mill around.

I tried to pay the most attention to the buck and what he was doing, but it became necessary to watch the does as well. Many of us have become so intent on shooting a buck that we forget the antlerless deer standing nearby, and a doe or fawn steps in front of the arrow intended for a buck.

The buck stood, upright and motionless, and quartering toward me from a 10 o’clock position. The wind was blowing from the buck past me, and the does and fawns seemed willing to mill around before moving on.

I shoot bucks that are broadside or quartering away, and have learned over many years to wait for one of these shots. If it doesn’t present itself, you wait. More deer are lost because of sloppy shooting and shots taken at a low-percentage angle, and the result is a wounded deer. It’s far better to wait for the shot you want.

The buck turned as it saw a small buck in the distance, and opened up the angle I wanted, but just as I began my draw, the buck turned back and presented a straight going-away shot. It’s another shot I won’t take.

One of the does walked past the buck, and he hooked at her, and she shied away. A doe fawn came up on the other side of the buck, and one hard look sent her scampering away.

The buck turned again, and quartered toward me from a different angle. He offered every possible low-percentage shot there was, but wouldn’t turn and open up his chest cavity.

Bow hunters with very little experience should consider the wisdom of the following statement: Never take a shot the buck (or doe) offers; wait for the shot you want or don’t shoot. It’s simple advice but many people count on luck rather than skill to put the arrow in the right spot.

Patience is a virtue, and none are more noble than waiting for a killing shot to offer itself, and then being capable of putting the arrow where it must go. The patience required to sit like a bird-dog on point, and wait and wait for a deer to turn must be experienced.

Hunters need self control to wait out a buck. These deer stuck around within easy bow range for nearly an hour. Twice the buck offered a good shot but he held that position for only a second or two, and it’s impossible for anyone to stay at full draw for 60 minutes.

Each time he got to that magic spot, he would spin and swipe at a doe or fawn that had come too close. Finally he turned, and as I came to full draw, a doe walked up and whispered in his ear.

He stood, as still as a mannequin, and she stood next to him. I slowly eased the bow back down and watched. Soon, the buck and doe turned 90 degrees as if they were dance partners, and walked off side-by-side and directly away from me.

There would be no shot taken this night. The deer had again won the eternal struggle between hunter and hunted, and on this night, they didn’t know anyone was around.

There will be another night, and we’ll see how that it plays out. Any hunt with a buck in front of a bow hunter is a night to cherish ... even if we never get the shot we want.

Posted by Dave Richey on 10/29 at 08:01 PM
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