The landscape was frigid to the eye but rather balmy to the skin. My gloves never left my pockets. The wind was calm and the timber was a mysterious kind of quiet. The evening was perfect before it even started.
The wind was right to hunt a stand I've only hunted three times during early November. It's one of those sets you have tons of confidence in. It's also a very comfortable set to sit, which always helps the cause. My stand is nestled ever so strategically in a small saddle on the edge of the timber. Behind me is some of the most beautiful bedding habitat an archer could ever see. A small slough surrounded by cattails, high grasses, and willows. I'm up, settled in, and soaking it all in.
Everything held my attention. A pileated woodpecker singing his sound at ten feet will do that to a person. Squirrels of all shapes, sizes, and colors increased my heart rate a time or two also. Time was going by fast, but you wish somehow you could slow it down. Evenings like this, well, they are just special in a way that perhaps only an archer knows.
Here come the first deer of the evening and a good solid half hour before sunset. The three antlerless deer made their way to small oak flat about eighty yards in front of me. There was an oak that had produced a massive amount of acorns and of coarse the deer found them. Pawing, digging, and crunching they foraged through the snow an leaves until content. They moved off the same way they entered. I had my eye on the big old gal who led the pack. They vanished into the timber.
With the sun freshly expired behind the horizon a new family group of antlerless whitetails expose themselves from the timber. To the small oak flat they go. It just goes to show you how keying in on a single producing tree can be killer, pun definitely intended. Watching and hoping one of them finds their way down a trail that leads to me and my longbow. This is about where things got really interesting.
The deer became edgy which reveled the arrival of more deer. Next thing I know a buck is chasing does all over the small oak flat like it's still peak. I'm smiling from ear to ear just to be privileged to be an eyewitness to such behavior. One more deer approaches and is clearly a more mature buck. He explodes all the deer into a frenzy. He completely clears out the area and runs the ladies and their children out of town. A young doe who missed her first cycle will come in roughly 26 days later, which makes things like this possible. Right time, right place.
Like an alien beamed down from a UFO, he's suddenly reappears back in the oak flat. He's alone and intense and the same goes for me. I realize, this is the ideal time to call to him. Guess what? My grunt tube is in my other pack resting in the basement of my home. Awesome. Never, ever forget your calls. Ever.
Vocalizing and interacting with your prey is a remarkable sensation that nothing can reproduce. Breaking the language barrier between predator and prey is an intimate moment of illusion. It was just an opportunity I couldn't waste. I dug deep in my throat an made the most guttural sounding grunt I could muster up. He stopped in his tracks which also told me to do the same. Let him come find the intruder.
I hear another deer approach from my left. Boom, another alien beam puts another buck sixty yards directly in front of my location. I'm beginning the ever so loved shakes. I love this feeling, you are completely at your emotions mercy. They new younger buck approaches cautiously. While for a moment the larger buck heads my way only to turn back to the acorn patch. He had me going but wouldn't commit. So damn close!
This all has evolved in a relatively short amount of time, but light was fading and I knew it. I'm all in. I let out the most realistic snort wheeze I could. The larger buck, along with the light, is fading back into the timber. To my surprise, after a lengthy stare down, the other buck headed my way. Passing just out of range I had to see this through. I gave him another snort wheeze which stopped him again. As the buck turned, I knew his plan. He, like most bucks will, began circling me to get down wind. If they can't see something, person or deer, they want to smell it.
Now he is nearly directly behind me in the open grass. Before he enters my scent I give him one more grunt. Remember, I'm crapping my pants at this point and trying to make realistic deer vocalizations. The soft grunt turned him right in. On a string, here he comes. I've readied myself for the shot. Ten more feet will give me a wide open twelve yard shot. Nope. He turns and walks almost behind me, of coarse. With limbs in my way along with the trunk of the tree I was fixed to, I drew my longbow with determination.
At this point I believe I've blacked out to some degree. All the obstacles didn't bother me. I was so intensely focused on what I needed to do. My heavy two blade hit his heart like a Mike Tyson punch to the face. He ran dead on his feet for 70 yards and pilled up in the willows. The beautiful sounds of a complete chapter.
The recovery was simple and so was the way I felt. Honored. I have many trail cam pictures of this buck from summer up until this very moment. We had a relationship and now it was a permanent bond never to be broken. That deer gave more than his life. He taught me things about his life and surely about my own. My first buck harvest with traditional archery and my first ever harvest with my longbow. In my eyes, this young chunky eight point was a booner. I have never in my entire life carried as much determination to see a goal through in its final completion.
The longbow, true in all its glory is a piece of history. At times I felt as if I had bit off more than I could chew. It's not an easy task to accomplish, but sometimes I like being reminded of what I'm capable of. Things weren't always as easy as they are. I find it healthy to understand this. It builds character, respect, and honor. The harder you work, the greater the reward. The longer you strive, the bigger the moment. We shouldn't always take shelter in the easy way, create your own reward. Work and strive as if you were hunting with a longbow and your options will be endless. I am, and always will be, an archer.