Bad Luck Buck

First frost bow hunting is better than Christmas. Usually. Bucks are almost rutting, does are attracting big bucks, and the deer are on their feet. Should be an eventful hunt, right? Wrong. Today I had my 14th and 15th hunts in Michigan this year. Until the last light of tonight’s hunt, I had yet to see a deer. The morning started just like the 13 hunts before it. Cold, miserable, boring, and uneventful. After sitting as long as my new Irish Setter boots would allow, I finally got out of the woods about 10 o-clock after a 3 and half hour sit. Disheartened and ready to pack and head for home, a change of heart made my father and I stick around. The day was warming up and becoming more and more beautiful by the minute. We decided to stay and hunt the evening.
The time was 5:36. With 30 minutes of light left, it seemed as though the hunt would end just the same as all the previous ones, without seeing a deer. But then it all happened. So quick it felt like seconds. A scrub buck, weird spike with misplaced third point, walked into my field of view at about 30 yards. Based on the deer’s body size, which was larger than normal for a one and a-half year old, I made up my mind to take him since the potential to develop a larger rack seemed limited.  It would make great meat to fill the freezer. He walked into my bait quickly, looking at me every 5 feet or so. He knew I was there. However, whenever he looked at me I stopped moving and he would just go back to eating. He was a perfect broadside, maybe quartering away slightly. The perfect bow shot. I am a very good shot with my crossbow. I could hit a quarter with three arrows from 30 yards all day long; of course until I tried shooting this deer.

I was now looking at the deer in my scope, anxious, considering it’s the first deer I have seen all year. I clicked the safety and he cocked his head. I was done and I knew it. I got nervous that he would spook and rushed my shot. Trigger pull lowered the front end of my bow sending the bolt short and below the target. He jumped up and ran about 5 feet. But, then … he circled!

He came right back! My arrow was sticking in the ground not but 5 feet from this deer and he just stood and ate away at my pile. So then I managed to make my second mistake of the day. Rushing to get my crossbow cocked, I got my draw-rope out and attached to my string. Since the deer is wary and only 30 yards from me, I couldn’t stand to cock it. I instead cocked it from a sitting position with my arms out in front and the butt of the crossbow in my chest. With all my might I pulled back hoping to catch it and be able to get off a second shot. I didn’t get enough length in my pull..

After failing to cock my bow, I became desperate. Not realizing what a fatal mistake it would be, I pulled back my bow the same way as I had previously tried, but this time I grabbed extra rope in my right and pulled it the rest of the way. This made the string lopsided, causing my second arrow to fly wrong as I took the shot. I missed low again! This time the buck had enough and ran off to the woods in front of me.

Stats from my hunting career this year:
Hunts: 15
Deer Seen: 1
Shots Missed: 2
Deer Killed: 0

All I can say is a deer that dumb was lucky a dumber hunter found him first or he would be supper.

(P.S. I shot my bow as soon as I exited the woods. Like usual, I hit right where I aimed. The moral of the story is practice can prepare you for a lot, but only experience can teach you the meaningful things.)

Christian Kelley

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