I remember this buck like it was yesterday. This was the first deer that I saw taken with a bow and dads best buck of his bowhunting career. Flashback two days prior, Methuen, Massachusetts. I had been shooting everyday all summer to prepare for my first whitetail archery hunt, 13 years old at the time I was beyond excited. Dad had me shooting very young, from toy bows as a toddler to the youth compound I was now using. It was finally time, I could finally put all my practice to use. He hung a double set in an area with heavy buck sign on a major run intersection. It was late October, we were hunting in a dense area that at one time was an apple orchard but was now over grown with thorns and tall timber, a mix of oak and bull pine. We woke early, got up to the set, settled in and started the waiting game. Now, dad had been drilling as much info into my head as possible to help me be successful. “watch your movement, watch the deer’s body language, wait for a good shot, move slow even if you don’t see anything, their eyes are 1000x better than ours in the woods” all skills he had learned the hard way. Well there we were about half hour after sunrise and dad slowly turns and says to me “joe, you hear that? There’s something coming up the run, get your bow, get ready, move slow or you’ll get caught” I clipped my release to the string, and within seconds there he was, nice tight and tall, 8 points no more than 5 yards away. At this point my heart was beating so fast you could see it pumping through my clothes, my knees were about ready to buckle, my legs were shaking unstoppably, I got so worked up when I went to draw I didn’t even have the strength to pull back the same bow I had been shooting religiously all summer long. The buck looked up at me, blew, and in a split second was gone. Dad turned, looked at me and said, “what the hell happened?” But then realized the excitement got the best of me, as he has been there before too and knew the feeling all too well.
We had a deal, that him and I would switch every morning, one morning he brings his bow the next morning I bring my bow. We went out the next morning, dad had his bow and the activity was minimal, couple of doe if I recall. We were only able to hunt for an hour or so, then I had to go to school. The third morning it was my turn to take my bow, but dad had this feeling and asked if I cared if he took his again that day, of course my answer was yes. There we were, day 3, just settled into the stand, just starting to get that first light. Dad hears a small snap of a twig, 15 minutes later another. His seasoned ears knew this was a deer, moving very slowly and cautious, most likely a mature buck, dad let out a couple faint grunts. Now, keep in mind we didn’t use trail cams, or feeds, or attractants, he judged the size of an unknown deer by the sign it was leaving. Time was ticking, I had to get to school, dad made the smart decision and said, “son you’re not going to school today”. For almost an hour the faint snapping of twigs and footsteps kept coming and going, this deer was slowly working his way around us to get down wind of the grunt he heard. Finally, after more than an hour of waiting for him to show, we saw a flash of antler in the thicket. I remember seeing this deer and being in awe, he was the biggest I had ever seen, cautiously making his way toward us, I knew I had to stay still or my dad would never get a wack at him. He slowly worked his way closer staying in the thicket, at about 15 yards he stopped, turned and took a few steps out just enough into the clearing for dad to land a double lung shot on this beauty. I turned and looked at him and he looked at me and said, “you did great son, I thought you would spook him but you didn’t, you did great” we waited a good hour, climbed down, retrieved the arrow, covered in bright red blood my dad knew the deer was down. I short track and we found him, from that day on I knew I was a bowhunter, I was hooked.
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