First Week of Bow Season, Oct 1-8, 2005


Well, to say this has been and interesting bow season is definitely an understatement.  I guess it all started at the end of last year.  I had vowed to practice more regularly over the year, instead of the sporadic method typically used in the past.  Well, I did practice more, and it sure helped.  I missed a couple of months in the cold weather, but once it warmed up I tried to shoot as often as I could.  It was a chore, because I had to go somewhere other than here at my home to be able to shoot.  But shoot I did.


I bought a new bow this summer, and sold my old one.  I got the new Mathews Switchback, and although it is a very nice bow, I don’t see where it is much better than my Outback.  Both are excellent bows.  I have learned an absolute ton this year about tuning.  In the past, I have had others get my bow into tune for me, but this year I wanted to do it myself.  I bought a bowmaster portable bow press, which is the slickest little thing I have ever seen and a must if you own a bow, and then set to work.  I logged onto the Mathews web-site, and got some excellent advice about how to tune your own bow.  Best thing I have ever done.  I got the bow back in spec after 400+ shots through it.  Now it shoots like a dream!!  I am quite pleased with myself that I got off my duff and did it myself, but I am that sort of fellow.


Next I decided to change a few things.  One was not my arrows.  I am staying with the Cabelas SST’s, pultruded small diameter shafts.  They might be small and have outserts, but they are much tougher than regular carbons, and hit extremely hard.  But I have been a die-hard Flex-fletch fan, but decided after reading a lot about Blazer vanes to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, needless to say, my arrows are sporting the Blazers and most likely will for a long time.  And on a side note, so are my best friend Scott’s arrows.  He was a died-in-the-wool feather shooter till this year.  So far he hasn’t looked back. 


Other thing I changed was my rest.  I had been using a BoDoodle Pro-Lite, but decided to try this new rest called a Rip-Cord.  It is a drop away, and I have tried numerous ones and had had very little success.  I always went back to the Pro-Lite because it helped me shoot very tight groups.  It had its shortcomings, but I really liked the rest.  Once I shot this Rip-Cord, I was plum amazed.  I was getting every bit as good of arrow flight as I had before, and no fletching contact or anything.  Very quiet and features I loved.  I put one on Scott’s bow too. 


Another change I made was broadheads.  I had been using Rocket Aeroheads Ultimate Steelheads and really liked them, but once I saw these Sonic Heads I had to try them.  I called the company and got the president to send me a sample head.  I shot it and it flew absolutely wonderful and looked like it was going to work out great.  So this year I ordered a bunch, 4 packs to be exact. 


Another really cool thing I learned to do this year is to spray-paint crest my arrows.  It is so easy and makes for the coolest looking shafts.  I’ll be doing this from now on.  Sure makes tracking your arrow in flight a lot better.


I also had tried several new sights this year, but went back to using my Spott-Hogg Hunter Hogg-it with the seven deadly pins set-up.  Man, those sights are tough and nice.  Not cheap, but well worth the money.  Buy ‘em once and your done.


Well, let’s get into the story……..



This year was supposed to be the year we went to Co. for another Elk hunt.  It was not to be. I had bought and older RV and fixed it up to go on the hunt, made a custom tow bar to pull my Chevy truck behind it, bought a chest freezer to haul the meat back in, and was loaded to the gills ready for the trip.  But the guys had to cancel due to a medical emergency of their father, and they think he had a stroke, but no one really knows for sure.  Another side note is that the other guy that was going to go on the trip dropped dead with a massive heart attack just week from the time we would have been back.  But there’s always next year if I’m still alive and kicking….


Now on to this year.  Scott and I had practiced a good bit together, and both felt ready to hit the woods on Oct. 1st.  I had told my dad I would go on this trip with him last year, and had planned to but he got a Staph infection in his skin and was not able to travel, so I hit the woods. 


Well, the season started out pretty slow, and what I mean by slow is that I had gotten all my gear loaded and ready the Friday night before opening day, and told Scott to meet me at 4:30am at my house, no later than 5:00am.  4:40am rolled around and no Scott.  I called his cell and he was groggy, just waking up of course.  Somehow he had overslept.  He grabbed a shower and came on up, but was better than an hour late.  I could have been upset, but I know these things happen, and although Scott was once characterized by being habitually late, he had given that way of life up once he realized I was no longer going to hunt with him if he was late.  So the past 10 years have been great due to him being on time or early.  So I cruised the web for a while, and then waited in the truck.  He arrived, threw his gear in my truck and off we headed.  As soon as he got in the truck, he commented “what is that SMELL in this truck?!?!?!?”  I told him it was pretty much scent free till his stinky butt arrived in the passenger seat.  And boy did he smell!  He told me that he had washed this jacket he had on and had stored it in a scent free bag, but unknown to him, his brother had gotten it out and used it several times and smoked in it and sweated all over it, so it had soured terribly.  Once we arrived at the farm, we tried to spray it down with several scent destroyers, and killed a good bit of the smell but I was sure it was not enough.  But it was way too cold for him not to wear it, so he put it on and hoped for the best.


We unloaded the 4-wheeler and Scott got the Hunting Golf Cart, as my 6 year old son likes to say, and we headed for the woods.  We only had to walk a short distance, and I showed Scott which tree to get into, and I got into one about 25 yards away.  Quick note here.  We decided to try hunting really close together this year to see how it would be.  I have a small video camera and was going to try to get him on video shooting a deer.  So far hunting close has been a blast.


Once in our trees, we settled into the Tree Lounges and waited to see what would happen.  I was scanning the woods with my new Lieca Geovid laser binos, which are great by the way, and hadn’t seen a thing.  I had dozed off and on, but kept hearing a noise that would keep me jumping awake.  Finally I hear a deer blowing like crazy downwind of us.  Sure enough, these 6-7 deer had come in on the downwind side of us, and scented Scott.  The young buck blew and blew and blew till I thought he was going to pass out from all the blowing!!  They ran up the hill and presented Scott with a 40-yard shot.  He took the shot, but caught a small branch on the way deflecting his arrow.  It was a total miss, which was a big relief.  The hunt was over, so we pack it up and head back up to the 4-wheeler and cart.  Once we loaded up and headed down the road, I told him if we were to hunt together this evening we would have to go back by my house and wash his clothes again.  So that is what we did.  After we washed his clothes, we headed out to a small spot in Salem at his brother-in-laws place, and set up once again 25 yards from each other.  As Scott went to pull his bow up in the tree, the rope came untied and he had to make a lasso and hook it on the bow but he got it up in the stand.  He hadn’t got the bow pulled up hardly and here came a small deer.  The deer got 12 yards from the base of his tree, and I was watching through my binos as he shot the deer.  I never saw the arrow, but I did see a hole open magically in the side of the deer, and it ran off a short ways and piled up.  Too cool!!   Ten minutes later, here came a nice doe and a yearling.  They got close to Scott’s tree, and once she was broadside, she turned and started walking straight toward the base of his tree!!  She stopped at his rope hanging down, and looked straight up at him as I released my arrow.  WHAM!!!  The broadhead hit her high, and completely knocked her off her feet.  She was laying on her back with her feet up in the air, and Scott got to watch it all from directly above her!  That had to be cool.   But here comes the bad news.  She jumps up, and runs about 10 yards and stops.  Scott draws to anchor her, but his release fails and halfway through the draw cycle his release turns loose.  The arrow hits a tree nearby sending the doe on a run.  She runs a long ways.  We tracked her for hours and across several fields until way after dark.  We scoured the place but never found her.  First time I have ever lost a deer with my bow.  I never found her.  It made me pretty sick to tell you the truth.  But I guess it happens to everyone if you hunt long enough.  I can only guess the angle I took the shot was greater than I thought.  I had lasered where she was standing, and the arrow hit exactly where my 20-yard pin was, which was much higher than I would have liked on the deer. 


Monday I determined to hit the woods with a vengeance.  I got into my stand, and shortly thereafter some fella toting a shotgun comes wandering under my stand.  I whistle and he looks up.  Then he scurries off quickly like a kid who got his hand caught in the cookie jar.  After about an hour, and young doe came wandering in, and offers a 28 yard shot, but is always behind some brush.  Determined to not make two bad shots, I wait and she walks back off.  I am a little perturbed, but I know if I wait that she will come back.  Eventually she does, and as I raise my bow to shoot, I realize my pins are barely visible.  Enough to see them, but I am having a hard time seeing if I am centered in the pin guard.  I use my customary anchor, settle in and whack!!! I end up shooting the log under her.  She never hears the bow go off, and only steps forward a few feet.  I knock another, and same thing again.  Although she offers another shot, I decline since I know I am not going to make an ethical shot on this animal.  She goes on, and I get down.  Side note here as well.  When I shot at that deer opening day below Scott’s stand, he said he never heard my bow going off.  All he heard was the arrow striking the deer.   Seems I have a pretty quiet setup as not one deer has heard me shoot at them this year.


Tuesday and I’m back in the woods with Scott.  I set up in the same place and don’t see a thing.  Scott sees two and lets them both go as he is waiting for something a little bigger. 


Wednesday I go to my folk’s place where I keep seeing three does come out to eat persimmons in the field.  I set up my ground blind under a cedar tree.  I am settled in and about ½ hour before dark they come out.  The largest doe runs across the field and get 40 yards from the blind and realizes that this is something new and stops.  She blows once and then runs back to the woods.  Another hunt blown.  It was fun though.


Thursday I go back to Scott’s.  It’s raining cats and dogs, but we are trying some new waterproof clothes out.  We get set up, and once in our trees we wonder why we decided to hunt this evening as it is raining cats and dogs.  Oops, said that already didn’t I….  We got drenched, but I saw about 7 turkeys and took a shot at one, but with the water in my eyes and the birds moving the way they were, I shot just under the thing.  They never spooked at the shot, just jumped up a bit and went right back to feeding.  Later, just at the edge of shooting light in these dark woods, I see a nice doe moving in to range.  30 yards.  She steps out to where I can make the shot.  I line her up and release.  Clack!  Clack!!  I see sparks fly where the broadhead hits some rocks.  The first clack it where I hit some unseen small branch.  It looked wide open down to her, but I hit a small something that turned my arrow.  I’m very disgusted right now, as I should have had at least one deer on the ground by now.  I’m seeing plenty, but I’m having a heck of year connecting.  The deer runs straight to Scott, and he tries to shoot but again has release malfunctions and two arrows are prematurely released into the soft ground before he can reach full draw.  He is mad.  Deer runs back behind me, knowing something isn’t right but can’t figure it out.  Stops again at 30 and offers a tiny but shootable window between two trees.  I take aim, and as my pins are floating by the small tree, I tell myself don’t shoot, not yet, not yet, whack!!  Yep, you guessed it, I hit the small tree just perfectly!!!  She bolts and that is the end of that deer.  A small coon comes wandering out in the meantime and I take a pot shot at it, but hit low and the thing just stands back and sniffs this crazy thing that just appeared under it.  Never heard the bow go off either.  I watch it roll of into the woods, scurrying about.  We get down and head for the truck once again.  Turns out my waterproof hat is more like a water funnel.  My head is soaking wet and so is my crack where I was bent over climbing and the jacket didn’t go far enough down to cover that area.  I need to get some belt loops sewn onto these pants, other than that they worked great for Wal-mart specials.  They are warm though. I think they are going to be great cold weather gear. 


Didn’t hunt Friday but called Scott to make plans for Sat.  We decided to hunt an area we hadn’t hunted since last year, and we rarely bow hunt there but it is a great morning spot.  Well, it MY turn to over sleep.  Scott calls me and I am just rolling out of bed when I should have been at his place.  Somehow I had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and turned my alarm off.  I even had it sitting upside down so I would have to wake up enough to turn it off!!!  Oh well, I guess we are even now since he over slept last Sat.  I get to his place; we load up and head to Wal-mart so he can get some suspenders for those waterproof pants I was talking about.  I pick up a sight light, and we head down to Sheetz to get a snack for the hunt.  After leaving there, we drive to the place we are going to hunt.  It is an absolute muddy mess.  As I pull the truck in off the gravel road, it slides all over the place in the new mud.  I put it in park, not knowing if I am going to make it out later.  We load up our stands and grab out bows and head into the woods.  It’s light out now, so we don’t need lights to get to where our trees are. 


Once we get into the woods, we take the trail we normally use to get to a couple of nice poplar trees we normally climb.  But to our surprise, they have been cut down!  They have select cut over the summer, and we never got word on it.  So now we are standing in a set of woods that doesn’t look like anything we remember.  Now normally we get pretty upset at the other being late, but today we were in no rush and the rain sort of helped as we didn’t want to climb a tree and get too soaked.  But we walked along, looking over the damage.  Right as we were coming down to where our trees used to be, I stopped and looked down to see an old penny, black from tarnish laying in the mud, heads up.  I picked this up and stuck it in my pocket, as the maintenance supervisor who works for me it’s good luck to pick up a penny with the head up, gives you luck all day or something like that.  So I did.  I picked it up, plopped it in my pocket and walked about another 50 yards and stopped behind Scott. 


Now you have to remember we are carrying 30+ pound tree stands since we have them loaded with gear and tree umbrellas and such.  I’m just about ready to put mine down; it’s killing me.  We both have heavy rain gear on, too hot for the weather so we are both sweating more than we would like.  We do both have on this now X-Scents silver fiber clothing which is supposed to stop the growth of bacteria next to your skin so you don’t smell, but I’m not too sure if it is doing much today.  I don’t even have my release on yet.  So we stop, and I am 5 feet behind Scott and we scan the opening in front of us.  I don’t see anything, so I turn to look at a clear spot more behind us and up the hill.  As I turn back to tell Scott lets go to these trees, I see he is frantically knocking an arrow.  So I pull out my release and slip it on, and knock and arrow myself.  While I am doing this, I ask him “What is it?”  He say “Shhhhh!!!  I see a deer!”  I can’t see the deer because of him and his tree stand on his back.  I raise the binos for a look and just peek around his shoulder.  I see a nice doe and laser the closest tree behind her- 50 yards.  She is right about 40, perfectly broadside.  He raises his bow, and takes the shot.  He looks back with his fist in the air with a yes!!!  Looks like a good hit.   The deer dart to our right, and go through the thicket and emerge out the far side and crest the hill.  Two of the three have flag up, one doesn’t but all move at a pretty good pace.  Scott motions to run along to where they came out to make sure no more were coming, and that I might get a shot.  I hold him back as I see movement where the does came out.  Another deer!!!  I know this deer is at 40 yards as well, and although I had practiced out to 70 yards this year, I would have liked to gotten a closer shot.  But if he stopped in the lane, I would have an awesome broadside shot.  No such luck, as he gets to the lane, we both start bleating but he steps right on through.  Scott is making some god-awful bleat-groan-wail, and I let my bow down just to look at him.  I take the release off the string to scratch my nose, and low and behold, he turns and comes straight out of the brush, right toward us!!!  Now Scott doesn’t know I have let down, or don’t have my release on the D-loop.  He says, “Here he comes, shoot!! Shoot!!”  I can’t get the release back on the loop, and I can’t seem to get everything together to make this shot, but all of a sudden my release slips on the loop, and I at full draw before even I know it.  The deer is coming directly toward us, and Scott is just to my left.  If the deer goes too far left Scott will be in the way.  The deer starts left, but quickly corrects to switch skidder tracks and leaves me with a quarter-to-me 35-yard shot.  I don’t like this kind of shot normally, unless it’s with my White muzzleloader where I know I can plow right on through, but it is the only shot I am going to have.  Scott is saying “Shoot! Shoot!” not realizing I just got to full draw.  He feels like it has been an eternity.  I release and the arrow tracks true, but stops before the fletchings reach the hide, as a matter of fact, the arrow looks like it only made it in the deer about 1/3 of the way!!  But what happens next I have never seen in all my years of bowhunting.  The buck rears up on its hind legs, and takes about three steps straight back in a walking fashion.  Then he rolls onto his back, and breaks the arrow off and gets up and busts through the thick brush.  I hear a crash, and that’s it.  I’m worried though, as it is very wet today and he could have R-U-N-D-O-F-T without us hearing him and a blood trail on a rainy day is tough.  So we decide to leave him be for a while, and go look to see what we can find as far as tracks with the doe.  We go to where we saw them last, and find the tracks but no blood.  We backtrack to where the deer were standing and find Scott’s arrow.  Clean miss.  I don’t know what he hit, but he missed altogether.  He was glad it was a clean miss, cause tracking in these soaked conditions on a marginal hit would be tough.  Now I know I have plugged my deer, but I am worried I didn’t get deep enough penetration.  The shot was absolutely where I wanted it, and was headed directly for the heart.  I find where he was standing, and a little pile of hair.  I laser Scott as he is where I was standing, and come up with exactly 35 yards, right on the money.  As I look around, I see the shaft broken in the heavy brush and pick it up.  Sure enough, it is only about 2/3 of the shaft in my hand.  I am hoping it made it in far enough.  We start to track, and see several sets of tracks but no blood.  Not good but we set out on separate tracks anyway.  I go left and Scott heads right.  I hadn’t gone 20 yards and I hear Scott yell, “I’ve got him!”  I jump through the brush like a jackrabbit, and run over to my waiting trophy.  I take several pics and give Scott a big handshake and then tell him “what’s with the handshake, give me a hug!”  Well, maybe that was more information than you needed to know, but I was excited, and Scott is my very best friend, so there.  Well Scott takes a few pics for me, and I start to gutting the deer.  I am careful, as I don’t know where the broadhead might be, and I don’t want to cut anything the broadhead didn’t.  As I roll the guts out, all I see is blood in the chest cavity, but there is a nice “X” through a rib.  I look through the lungs, and although they have some blood in and around them, I don’t see a mark on them.  Now this deer ran only 20 yards max, what killed it?  A further inspection of the heart revealed a tiny three-blade hole tucked right in the very top of it.  It had gone into the heart maybe an inch.  Once I got to the butchering part, I cut the shoulder out and discarded it since it likely had carbon splinters in it, but I did do a further investigation of the bone.  I had hit the front ball joint absolutely dead center, dividing it in thrice.  It also had to go through a rib and then into the heart.  Very impressive to say the least.  The broadhead ended up just under the shoulder between the hide and the inside of the shoulder near the rib cage.  So we turn the deer up so it would be draining well, and pack out stands and bows back to the truck.  I ask Scott “Why did you say I wouldn’t need the four wheeler today?  Isn’t this WHY I bought it?”  He just laughed.  At least till we started dragging the monster out.  We went back in and hooked the drag, and made our way out.  I called the game call in number and checked him in.  We loaded him in the truck, and we both felt the day could not have turned out any better.  Now getting out was a little more of a challenge than we thought it might be.  It was the slickest mud I have been in for a while.  As we started out, we had to go between several old vehicles and started to slide into one.  I had to back up and try to sneak along side it and just did make it out, slinging mud the whole way!!!  But we made it out.


Now I will conclude this forever-long story with this.  We hunted the evening as well, and although I didn’t see anything, Scott was able to see a few and we had a relaxing evening to a wonderful day.  As a matter of fact, Scott and I both said we have not had as wonderful a day in the woods as that day.  I was on edge because I knew I was having surgery on the following Wednesday, and wanted to get one “under my belt” before then, as I knew it was not likely for me to get to hunt much after surgery before early muzzleloading season.  So I was elated to say the least, and taking one on the ground with a tree stand strapped to my back and just the way it all worked out was great.  It’s day I won’t soon forget.