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A popular whitetail hunting publication asks its readers the question, “Do you have a great whitetail story – true or otherwise? If so, submit it for consideration to . . . . .”

Well, I’ve submitted most of my true whitetail stories, and they’ve all been rejected, so after the most recent rebuffing I decided to try my hand at otherwise.

Twelve years ago I decided it was time for a new bow. I’d shot the same old compound for close to twenty years, a Darton my parents got me for Christmas the year I turned thirteen. The world of compound bow engineering effectively had its ‘man on the moon’ moment somewhere in the middle of those two decades, and unfortunately, the astronomical price tags on those new bows reflected it. I couldn’t afford a new one, but I found a used Mathews LX at my local archery shop that would work just fine once the mud dauber nests were cleaned out of its every crack and crevice. Before handing over the cash, though, I asked the guy behind the counter for a guarantee that I’d kill a monster buck with the bow that fall. I never expected I’d actually have the opportunity.

My trail camera captured a bachelor group of bucks in late September. The group had three shooters, and I’d have been thrilled to wrap my tag around any one of them. The senior buck in the bunch was ancient, tight racked and tall tined. The other two weren’t wearing dentures yet, but they were definitely scheduling prostate exams. One was a clean eight point, and the other had a wide, nontypical rack. Like old men in the corner booth of the coffee shop, the bucks met in front of my camera every morning before daylight. Unfortunately, they also napped the day away, apparently, because I never saw them during daylight hours.

Early November brought a new buck by my camera. He had the shoulders of a bodybuilder and the sagging chest of a nursing home resident. Subway could’ve run a special on the length of his G-2s. He’d have been right at home sipping hot fresh at the bachelor bucks’ booth if he could’ve rolled out of bed that early. This buck much preferred late brunch to predawn coffee, and my camera didn’t need a flash to snap his picture.  

A couple of weeks later I pulled the card out of my trail camera after a morning hunt and drove home to discover that the newcomer had been eating his lunch in front of my stand every day that week. I pushed my chair back from the computer and drove right back to the deer woods I’d just left. I hadn’t been there an hour when I heard footfalls coming off the ridge behind me. Through the trees I could just make out that it was the buck. He was on a trail that would lead him right past my stand and he was ready to make good that guarantee I’d elicited from the archery shop salesman. My sights were on. My draw was smooth. My broad head was sharp.

I sailed the arrow right over his back. I didn’t realize that, though, until I’d called and celebrated with every contact in my cellphone. When realization set in that I’d missed, disappointment was hot on its heels. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the buck was, after all, every inch of thirteen yards from my tree. I don’t think I ever got my eye to the peep sight, which is ironic because that’s exactly the lens I picture him through these days, standing broadside, mature and majestic.

I think about that deer three or four times a week. That is, I would if this story was true. But it’s not. I’m trying my hand at otherwise, right?  

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