“I always wondered why my dad couldn’t get over his bad experience with hunting. He spined a deer and the noise it made after he walked up to it scared him for life”

Mid September 2007 my close red neck buddies and I were at a friends house. They began talking of the upcoming bow season (I remember thinking the only time I have ever shot a bow was in gym class in the late 90s). They have bow hunted since I can remember, I never gave it a thought.

The following weekend they were shooting a target and I decided to give it a try. Not to long after I was challenging them on nightly shoots on a target. 2 weeks from when I started shooting bow season was upon us and I had bought a license. I used my buddies backup bow an old mid ’80s Bear model that was a backup for a reason.

Let me remind you all that I’ve been a gun hunter strictly up until this point. I was 23 at the time and for the past 10 years I only gun hunted. On a whim it seemed I sprang into this over zealous know nothing bow hunter. I had never ever seen Antlers in the woods while hunting ever. The closest I ever came was with my uncle when I was 14. He hunted the other side of the field shot a 4 pt.

So I get into my stand in the morning and 4 hrs later nothing. Never seen any deer or anything. I remember it being brutally hot last year on opening day. That night I switched stands, and in came the most intense hunting 10 minutes of my life (so I thought). A spike came in but it happened so fast I had no chance to pull back on it (remember rookie mistake). It got back far enough where I felt more comfortable a to draw on it. Apparently I was to obvious, it jumped back after I pulled back. However it didn’t take off so I flung an arrow and rightfully so it hit about a foot under the deer into the dirt. A heart breaking moment for me it being my first buck encounter and all and to not have the proof I so desperately wanted. I mean who wants to be associated with Jeff Daniels ‘Reuben’ character in ‘Escanaba in Da Moon Light’ for the rest of their life?

The next evening I’m sitting in my stand wanting another chance and a nice medium sized doe comes in. It was getting late so I figured this would be my only chance that evening. I had a doe tag so I thought to myself I have to start somewhere. I drew back on her as she was walking through apparently thicker brush then I anticipated. She stopped and I let it fly, it all happened so fast that I couldn’t tell you what exactly happened when I shot.

She hit the ground like a ton of bricks. Adrenaline pumping I had no other reaction but to get on my walkie, tell my buddie I got a doe and was heading down from my tree. After I reached the ground I noticed something, the doe was looking at my from the ground with her head up. The arrow was sticking straight out from between its eyes. It was one of those moments where you scratch your head and try to relive what the shot was and you can’t grasp it. whether I shot that badly (extremely possible being that new to the game) or it hit the branches and spun up at the head I don’t know.

I was in disbelief. I only had one more arrow & being the uneducated bow hunter that I was I wracked another arrow and shot in the neck. I know, why did I do that? To this day I can’t answer why I it shot in the neck and not the vitals. The next thing I did was the only thing I could think of (since I didn’t bring a knife) I grabbed the biggest tree limb I could find. I hit it once in a the head and I went to swing a 2nd time. It stoop up and leaped into the air, I ran like a bat out of hell. 

Depending on your take of that whole scene its either hilarious or animal cruelty. Believe me I’ve never felt so bad about anything after I walked the 200 yards back to my house. My friend finished it off with his knife after we came out to track it later that night (it only went 10 yards from where it fell originally). 

I went over and over in my head after that for days pondering if I could ever hunt again. It was such a horrific moment in time that seemed to stand still having taken that shot and seeing the result that occurred. I absolutely hated the whole idea of what happened. I swore to myself that I would never take a shot @ an animal again if I was not 100% sure that I would bring it down and it stay down.

Being a gun hunter I had never shot anything and have it be alive when I walked up to it after the shot. I’d always been 1 bullet, 1 deer type of hunter. This new dynamic of archery was something I’d never experienced before. 

So a week went by and after some coaxing from my buddies I got back with the program and finished the season on a high point. Though I didn’t get another chance with the bow, I did get an 8 point in rifle season last year. Not as challenging but still a huge thrill for me.

Thus the moral of my story. “Don’t ever go into the woods as an underprepared hunter. Know your weapon, know your skill level with it.”