This section of the page is dedicated to success stories from public land bow hunters from all over the country. One of my favorite things about bow hunting, is hearing a story from a fellow bow hunter about their most recent hunt and how they light up at the chance to share their excitement about their experience. In my opinion, the second best thing next to harvesting a mature animal with a bow, is telling someone how the hunt unfolded. This is your chance to relive the entire hunt with us and share it to others for all to enjoy. Here is my story:
Allegany County, Maryland - This story goes back to Fall of 2013, September 10th, opening day for me in back country public land Maryland woods. It was only the second time I had ever hunted out of state but excitement was at an all time high. I had just graduated from college in 2012, purchased my self a brand new bow that winter, and was still in search of my first bow buck. I spent all spring and summer dialing it in and this was the first day of many that it would accompany me into the woods and 20ft up a tree.
The day started off nothing like a typical day in archery season that you'd expect. My grandfather and I left at 3 am that morning to make the drive from Pennsylvania and as we got out of the truck at 4:15, the temperature was already reading 81 degrees. Nonetheless, we packed our gear and headed off into timber for a morning of hunting. Although warm, it was a beautiful morning and I saw my first deer at 7:15. It was a spike that was still sporting his summer velvet and that day he got a pass as he fed just 20 yards past my tree (in Maryland, any buck with 3'' spikes is legal).
About 45 minutes later, I was half dozing off from the warmth of the sun on my back when I noticed some movement straight ahead of me at about 60 yards. I grabbed my bow and stood up as the small 6 point grazed into about 30 yards. I was carefully watching him and looking for potential shooting lanes as he continued to browse to my left and closing the distance to just under 20 yards. Nerves were already kicked in at this point as I knew this could potentially be my first whitetail with a bow. Just as I was preparing to draw back my bow, some movement caught my eye. Just 30 yards behind this small yearling came a second deer, and it didn't take me long to realize that this deer had become my new target. He was as wide as the ears and I was instantly drawn to the tall tines on this chocolate horned deer that looked to be a main frame 10 point. This was the last thing I expected to see on public lands this morning and my buck fever spiked at an all time high. He proceeded to follow the path chosen by the small buck before browsing back to the right and stopping broadside at 22 yards. This was my chance. I drew back and found my anchors just as I had done all summer. There was a small tree that slightly obstructed my view, but there was a Y in it that gave me a perfect shot as long as I leaned a little to the left. I settled the pin, released the arrow, and watched as my arrow hit back farther than I wanted. I knew right away that my torqued shot had hit liver at best and my buck fever turned to nausea as I thought that I was in for an 8+ hour sit and and track job due to a gut shot.
At the hit, the deer ran about 10 yards and stopped, he knew something had happened, and knew that he felt sick, but didn't know what had just happened. So he slowly walked back towards me all hunched over into thicker brush and laid down at just 18 yards. The 6 point was startled by the whole ordeal, but decided it was safe enough to come back and continue browsing around. 20 minutes passed and there was nothing I could do but watch this buck sit in front of me behind the safety of brush. All I could see was his head and antlers looking back and forth and I knew I just needed to wait it out, thinking about how I made such a poor shot. Just then, the 6 point got startled again and ran a short 5 yards before stopping. This movement was just enough to get the big buck back on his feet and take two slow steps out of the brush. When they both looked away, I quickly drew my bow again, lowered my pin onto the shoulder, and released the cleanest shot of my life. I didn't see the impact this time, but it felt good. Both deer took off like bats out of hell towards my grandfather until out of sight. At this point I was shaking pretty good and waited a couple of minutes before calling my grandfather to tell him what just happened. He was just as excited as me and said that he thought he heard a crash but to wait before getting on the trial. So I did.
30 minutes later I was down the tree and on the trail. I was hoping it was a quick track as the temperature was already 90 degrees by 9:00. With my grandfather at my side, we followed drop by drop until after about 100 yards, I stepped over a log and behind a bush was my first archery buck, a 124'' 9 point! I gave my pap a huge hug and thanked him for being there before taking a couple of pictures and hurrying to get the deer out of the woods before heat took over. It was a day that I will never forget and am forever thankful that I was able to share it with him.