Thomas Naegele normally uses his old recurve bow to shoot does for the freezer. On Nov. 2, however, he arrowed much more than meat.
The 30-year-old Hillsdale, Michigan, archer was hunting that afternoon with his father, Mark. They were in separate stands on the elder Naegele’s 2,500-acre lease, which is sandwiched between an organic beef farm and CRP land.
Thomas had climbed into a ladder stand, one of eight on the property. His was in an oak at the edge of a food plot.
Less than an hour into his vigil, he spotted an 8-pointer on the move. Soon afterward, almost by accident, he saw a giant headed toward him from the CRP.
“When it was about 15 yards away, I saw that its back leg was crippled up, almost touching its belly,” Thomas told John Phillips, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine. “The deer was running on only three legs!”
When the animal stopped just 10 yards away, Thomas released his recurve bow’s string. The deer was obviously leaking as it ran into a nearby swamp.
The almost speechless hunter waited until his father joined him after dark to get down and look for the deer, which had gone to ground after covering only 50 yards.
The animal’s back leg had been broken at some point. It had healed, but the deer wasn’t putting any weight on it.
The Naegele Buck hasn’t been measured for the BTR yet, but it’s a safe bet the deer will be a state record. We have only two Michigan whitetails in the recurve category, both taken in the mid-1990s.
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