Failure But No Defeat

Austin,Texas- This hunt on a small parcel I typically hunt most of the archery season (October) before transitioning to my large ranch out in west Texas for rifle season. I started scouting the 25 acres mid September to see what bucks had made it through the previous season. After 5-6 days of scouting and glassing I counted over 22 different bucks, but 4 in particular stood out. One was a 150-155” eight point, another was a tall 140-145” ten point, the third was a heavy 145-150” ten point, and the fourth was a 135-140” eight point. All four were great, mature deer and I made a promise to myself that the first one of these bucks that gave me a shot with my bow I would take. The season opened at the beginning of October and for the first 11 days of the season I hunted every evening and 5 mornings for a total of 16 hunts in 11 days. I had many deer close encounters with various deer but my 4 targets were old, smart, and seemed to always skirt my sets.

Finally on the 12th day and 18th hunt, with cold and rainy weather, the bucks started chasing does and showing more signs of rut activity. At last light, I looked up and the two ten points and smaller 8 point were all chasing a single hot doe in my direction and closing the distance fast. At the last minute, the 2 ten points veered off but the 135” eight point came right in to 44 yards behind the doe and stopped to smell the air for her. At this moment, I let an arrow fly and heard the arrow hit its mark, but something didn’t feel right. I knew the buck was hit but I felt that it was back farther than what I would have liked. I watched the buck run 80 yards and stop on the edge of a field before bedding. I watched him until dark just lay there with his head up. I made the difficult decision to back out.

I returned the next morning, 10 hours later, and immediately went to where the buck had been bedded. No buck and no blood (it had rained the night before). I spent the next several hours knocking on doors of all the neighboring properties getting permission to search for my buck. All but 1 said yes. I took the day off of work and searched all day using OnX maps to grid search each property, but without luck. I then came back the next two days each afternoon and searched and researched the properties looking for some sign or buzzards or anything to tell me where the buck might be laying dead. After 3 days of looking i was forced to call it quits. I was bummed, second guessing myself and replaying the scenario over and over again in my head. I’m still not sure what happened and why he didn’t expire where he lied down. Naturally, I didn’t have the motivation to hunt for several days.

Finally, I decided to get back in the blind and at least see if i could lay eyes on any of the other shooters or maybe even him (even though I was sure he was dead). I pulled into the property and started walking the quarter mile or so to my stand when I looked across a gap in the woods and spotted one of the shooters, the heavy 10, following a hot doe. I dropped my pack, knocked an arrow, and ranged the buck at 65 yards. I then drew, but in doing so, the buck caught my movement and spooked about 15 yards. I let down and re-ranged the buck, 81 yards. I dialed my slider, drew back, and settled in. The buck was back to being distracted by the hot doe and was broadside slightly quartered away looking away from me at the doe. I buried the pin on his shoulder and touched it off. For what seemed like an eternity, I watched the arrow sail silently towards him before hearing the beautiful sound of an arrow hitting the vitals of a mature whitetail buck. He jumped and ran through a gap in the woods.

I waited 30 minutes and went towards where he had been standing. Immediately I saw my arrow covered in blood and not two steps further saw a bright red swath of blood covering the ground. Could it be? Had i really just pulled off an 81 yard perfect shot on a giant mature Whitetail? I followed the blood trail for 40 yards and there he was, expired under a cedar tree. I was in shock, it didn’t seem real. I sat down and just took it all in for a few minutes before I started calling my buddies. Many of them knew about the wounded buck several days before and knew how hard I had worked to recover that buck and how bummed I was to be unsuccessful in my efforts. One after another we celebrated via telephone in the middle of the woods. One week later, two of my friends harvested the big 8 and the other 10. What a bow season and I couldn’t ask for more!! A hunt I’ll never forget!

#Whitetail #Texas

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