The best day of the season
Even though the buck in the picture was shot on November 17th, 2011, this story really starts at the end of the 2009 hunting season. I had my trail cameras set up on food sources after the 2009 deer season, hoping to get pictures of the bucks that were left before they shed their antlers. I started getting regular pictures of a 2 1/2 year old 8 pointer that I had never seen during the 2009 season. His antlers were average for a deer his age but his body seemed larger than normal. I later found one of his sheds and anxiously awaited the 2010 scouting season where I hoped to get more pictures of this buck.
In early 2010, I purchased my first Mathews bow having become disgusted with my previous bow constantly going out of tune. As soon as I shot the new Z7, I knew it was for me. It had a silky smooth draw, even at 70 lbs and I was shooting tight groups right out of the box. It was quiet, fast and just felt awesome in my hand.
As I started getting pictures in the summer of 2010, it was clear that this deer’s headgear had grown significantly from 2009. The only downside was that his brow tines were very small. I was getting a ton of pictures of this deer and couldn’t wait to hunt him. Unfortunately for me, once this deer shed his velvet, he became completely nocturnal as every picture I got of him during hunting season was at night. I went the whole 2010 season without having an encounter with this deer and was beginning to think he was unkillable. At the end of the 2010 season, I was elated to see him still alive on the trail cameras knowing he would now be 4 1/2 years old and his antlers would almost certainly get bigger for 2011.
2011 came and just as before, I was getting tons of pictures of this buck. Not only had he gotten wider, taller, and more massive, but he finally had some respectable brow tines. Also, just like the past, once he shed his velvet, he disappeared into the night. The date was November 17th, 2011, the second to last day of the New York State bow season. The season to this point had been fairly slow and quiet. Warm temperatures and shifty winds had kept me out of some of my favorite stands but today was different. A cold front had passed through the night before and the temperature had dropped some 20 degrees and we had a steady northwest wind. Friends and neighbors were all reporting seeing bucks on their feet this day and I felt like this was my best chance at getting a shot at this reclusive buck.
I chose a stand I had only hunted once the entire season. I set up a doe decoy about 10 yards in front of my stand and made a series of soft grunts. Within a few minutes, the buck that I had never seen live and in person was staring down my decoy at 12 yards. He was giving me a perfect broadside shot and I brought my beloved Z7 to full draw and let it fly. The arrow hit home, passing through both lungs. I watched him run off into a thicket and was sure I had heard him go down. I climbed down and backed out of my spot to give him time and for me to try to regain my composure. This deer had me pretty shook up! When we went out to recover the deer, we lost the blood trail at a stream and I decided to back out and regroup. I decided to try a tracking dog and made the necessary phone calls and had a handler and dog there within 2 hours. We brought the dog to last blood and he found my buck in less than a minute. To say I was excited would be the understatement of the year! After 3 seasons, I was finally able to put my hands on this beautiful animal. I said a short prayer, thanking God for all my blessings and was surprised to realize that along with the feelings of pride and happiness, there was a certain amount of sadness that this epic chase was over.