New York - This is a story of a deer we called “The Fighter.” He was a deer we will never forget. The first time he was seen, we were walking to put a tree stand up on Cornell hunt-by-permit land when he bounded out of the brush. Needless to say we stopped right there and put up our stand. We figured “why walk further when we could be right in his bedroom here.” It was the bottom of a deep bowl and left us with a great vantage point, almost like a scouting stand and we knew there were at least three other shooters in the area. The next time we saw Fighter it was on a trail camera and he was fighting another deer, hence the name. We got great footage from the sparing session. This just hyped us for the season even more.
I hunted hard all through the early season, but never saw him or any of the other shooters. It was a warm start to the season, so when the first cold morning with the right wind rolled around October 18th, I skipped work and hit the stand. I had been in the stand the night before and had seen lots of deer in the distance, even a small buck bumping a doe. On my way out that night I hit three different scrapes with “Tink’s Mock Scrape” spray, including one scrape 20 yards in front of our stand. When I got in the stand that morning I was very excited.
As the sun rose, the wind was perfect and the woods were alive. I reached for the grunt tube in the pack. I had two cameras running as I hit the grunt tube for a short 20-30 second sequence of long low grunts followed by a few tending grunts. Then I waited. It seemed like 10 minutes went by and I caught movement high up in the bowl. The deer was moving right at us from 100 yards away. It was a buck, a nice buck. I didn’t recognize him right away. Once I knew it was a shooter I stopped focusing on the antlers and started predicting the shot, taking my bow off the hook and turning my body to prepare for a shot. He was coming right at me and when he hit the bottom of the bowl, he started walking right across me towards the scrape I sprayed.
As he crossed in front of me at 20 yards, I pulled the bow back. I was ready to stop him when he stopped at the scrape and started tearing up the ground. I put the 20 yard pin on him broadside and slowly squeezed. The arrow disappeared behind his shoulder and he took off. I watched him as he went into the brush. Then all I saw were small saplings swaying as he crashed down the hill. Even though I felt confident I knew where he lay, I walked to the scrape and found half my arrow covered in blood. Then I tracked the blood to where he fell down the hill.
When I got to him and recognized the deer, it was surreal. We had put in the time and energy to hunt a specific buck for the first time in my ten year bow hunting career and now he lay in front of me. He was so wide and tall. He went 125 inches gross with a 22 inch inside spread. My best buck to date and on property any person can apply for and hunt. The icing on the cake was dragging him out every scrape I had hit was turned over with fresh dirt. We suspect he had hit each one and stayed in the area looking for the new buck to fight. It was truly a once in a lifetime deer and a hunt we’ll never forget! Thank you to Public Land Archery Allies for asking us to share our story and for celebrating the everyday bow hunter getting it done on public land!
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