I Shoot Mathews

Don't give up! Image
Location: United StatesAlbum: Whitetail & Mule DeerAnimal Harvested or Shoot Type: Whitetail

Don’t give up!

December 27, 2011 by Matt Johnston

It was a glumly November afternoon in Iowa when I climbed into a latter tree-stand, a perfect day to catch a buck on the move. The rut was in full swing and I had been seeing little bucks running doe’s all week. My stand was in perfect location on the edge of a water way in the timber that lead out into a cut cornfield. Armed with my Mathews Switchback, I was ready. Being a bigger guy, at 250lbs, I entered the stand with the grace of a bull in a china shop. I knew I had to do something to cover up the noise. This is only my third year bow hunting but I learned over the last two seasons if you make a lot of noise getting in the stand, you’d better do something fast to cover your tracks. So, after I made it to my seat in the stand, I reached into my bag and pulled out my grunt tube along with a doe bleat. I pressed the grunt tube to my lips and made a few calls. After a few minutes I used the doe bleat. As I set the bleat back into the depths of my pack I heard the noise of fallen leafs being crunched against the forest floor that lay behind me. As I looked over my left shoulder There he was, a nice ten point buck and the biggest deer I had seen all year! I could see him making his way towards my stand. 60 yards, 55 yards, 40 yards… He stops at 40 yards and starts to circle out around my stand behind me. I can see what I believe to be a clear shot at 35 yards and if he walks in the gap I am going to try the shot. Here he comes right into the gap, I draw my bow, take a deep breath, focus my sight and let the arrow fly. Smack! I see my arrow hit the ground at the beast feet. I clipped a limb of a sapling that I didn’t see in my line of sight. My hart stops as the buck casually walks away, unaffected by the shot, back into the darkness of the timber. After the buck leaves I decide to climb down and get my berried arrow out of the ground. I call my hunting buddy and tell him my tragic story as I make my way to pick my arrow out of the dirt. At this time it’s only 2:30, the whole event only took 10 minutes and there is plenty of day light left. So, with some hazing and encouraging words from my buddy I make my way back into the stand. I sat for what seemed like a life time but was only an hour or so, making grunt calls a doe bleats every so often, the sun started to make its way down over the cornfield in front of me. The magical hour of hunting had arrived, but with the prior events and all the movement and noise I had made, I thought there was no way I would see or get a chance at another deer. Sitting in the stand I have learned to stretch every so often to keep for stiffing up in the cold Iowa air. As I stood up from seat I raised my arms up over my head to loosen up my stiffed back and slowly brought them down, as I was bringing my arms down I saw him! The ten point from earlier had made his way back into my stand with no noise and was now standing right on top of me at 15 yards! My hart began to race, he was standing right there! Did he see me stand up and stretch!? The buck lowered his head and sniffed the ground, maybe there was a hot doe I hadn’t seen either, whatever it was he didn’t notice the big guy above him in the tree! I slowly reached for my bow. I grabbed my bow, the buck is content on sniffing the spot on the ground. I draw back place my pin on his shoulder one more time and let the arrow fly! Smack! The arrow has hit its mark! The buck takes off like a bolt of lightning into the timber. I can see him as he makes his way up and over a ridge. I got him, I think to myself as I fumble in my pocket trying to find my phone to let my hunting buddy know what just happened! He tells me to calm down and he will be come out to my stand once the sun goes down and help me track him. 5:30pm, I can see headlights enter the field, I make my way down the stand to the ground. My friend ask where was he standing when you shot? We walk over to the spot and there it was, my arrow coated in red, laying in the brush at the start of a red path. we start to follow the blood in the dark. As we go the blood is starting to thin out… We are only getting pin drops as we reach the top of the hill and then nothing!? I almost started to cry, how could the blood just stop!? We spent the next 5 hours looking for him or more blood, with no sign, we opt to back out till morning. In the morning I got a mob of guys from school to come help me look. I am a conservation student at Upper Iowa University and the guys in this field jump at the chance to cut class and get in the woods. We go to the spot of last blood, nothing. We were on our hands and knees for half the day trying to find one drop, just One pin drop. “What should we do?” One of the guys ask as he gets to his feet. “We start looking for the animal.”, my hunting buddy answers. We all fan out and begin to push the timber like a deer drive during shotgun hunting. We look from first light till dark, nothing. Feeling confident in my shot at first I begin to doubt myself. For some reason I just couldn’t give up.Every chance I got I made my way to the spot of last blood for about 3 days. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that a wounded buck of that caliber could be running around. Finally I give in, I must have just skimmed the top of his back. There was a lot of season left so I suck up my pride and get back into the stand. I sit for one morning following the the days I spent looking for my deer and I just cant get over it, the event plays over and over in my mind. As I climbed down out of the stand and make my way to my car I decide to go look by myself one last time. I returned to the area of last blood. Start walking around prying to god to help me find, even if he’s alive and unharmed just a glimpse. After a few hour of walking around I decide that’s it and begin to make my way back to my car. As I slowly made my way back to the car I decided to walk a creek that followed the length of the timber. Oh my god! There he was! I couldn’t believe it! Laying 50 yards from last blood! We must have walked right by him a million times! Half eaten by yotes by this time, I was upset but thankful. I thanked god, tagged my buck and made a few phone calls (everyone in my phone!) I finally had Iowa buck! He gross scored 156. And made a very beautiful Euro mount.

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