Rack Magazine

Spitting Distance

Spitting Distance

By Ed Waite

Sometimes nothing-to-lose antics work like a charm.

Michael Miller knew rain was on the way, but he was eager to visit the unpicked cornfield — providing his brother, the foreman for McGill Landscaping in Omaha, called an early enough end to the work day. It was Oct. 21, and the 19-year-old was keenly aware that his favorite bowhunting spot would vanish with the impending corn harvest.

Getting wet was a small price to pay for another chance to catch a hungry whitetail en route to the free buffet.

As soon as quitting time was announced, Michael rushed home to change before high-tailing it to the farm he hunts in Washington County, Neb.

When he arrived, he struck out for the far end of the cornfield, even as the wind picked up and the rainclouds crept in from the southwest.

“I was a little later than I wanted to be and I was afraid I’d end up pushing the deer away from where I wanted to hunt,” Michael said. “I like to take my time getting to my spot so I don’t spook the deer, but I didn’t have that luxury.”

A fencerow flanked the cornfield all the way to a slight hill and a wooded terrace. Michael followed the first row of corn.

“I’m always cautious because I know there are deer in the corn. When I got up to the corner of the field, I was moving very slowly, walking westward down the fence line. The rows of corn were to my right; the woods were at the far end. There was a northwest wind blowing, and the leaves on the corn were rattling, which helped cover my noise.

“Soon into my walk, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of white antler tips about 75 yards away. I’ve never seen a lot of really big deer, but I thought I might be looking at one that was maybe a 150-class buck. It was bedded down right at the edge of the corn.

“It wasn’t looking my way, but I immediately dropped to the ground ... Well, maybe not right away. Actually, I don’t know what I did, but I was down and I watched the buck for a few seconds to see if it had busted me.

“Then I watched it through my binoculars at probably 70 yards. It looked huge. So I am at the corner of the cornfield, watching the deer, and it doesn’t seem to know I am there,” Michael continued. “I couldn’t just try to walk up on it bedded there because it would see me for sure and be gone.

“I’m pretty new at this,” he added. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The sky was growing darker, perhaps earlier than usual because of the clouds. Michael had to do something; the buck wasn’t going to stand up, walk to him and say, “Shoot me, please.”

Or would it?

“I unloaded all my gear — fanny pack, binoculars, everything but my bow and arrows — and crawled into the corn. Hey, I’m only 19. I don’t know everything about this, but I knew I had to do something. I had to get in range before I could even think about shooting the buck,” he said. “I was too far away from it.

“So I made my way two rows into the corn, thinking I would have enough cover to move closer. I started to belly crawl down the row toward the bedded buck. After about 40 yards, I started poking my head out the side to see if I could spot where it was. I looked out several times as I crawled, but I couldn’t see the deer. As far as I could tell, it was gone,” he added.

Spitting Distance“I waited maybe five to 10 minutes in the corn rows and saw nothing. I felt it must have either gone into the corn or up onto the terrace.

“I couldn’t decide what to do. But I had a Primos Buck Roar in my pocket, and I decided to give it a try. I blew it about two or three times.

“Suddenly, the buck just appeared in the corn stalks about 25 yards in front of me and was coming my way really fast.

“I was still on my belly when I saw it. I rose to my knees. When I drew, the buck was probably still 10 yards down the corn. Its antlers were brushing the stalks, pushing them out of the way.

“By the time I was at full draw, it was right in my face. I was on it … I mean ON IT. My arrow was pointed right where it needed to be. But I thought the buck was going to gore me, and I couldn’t get out of the way. And I’m looking at those huge antlers …

“I remember I had to move my bow back to where it needed to be, and I released and stuck the deer in the left shoulder. To tell the truth, I don’t even know if the arrow cleared my bow before it penetrated. I thought the deer was going to plow into me, so I ducked down to the side,” Michael said.

“I swear I felt the ground shake when the arrow struck. Then the buck took off, and I didn’t see it go because I was trying to get up from lying on the ground. Afterward, I sat there … stunned from all that had happened.

“I was thinking about the shot placement and how much damage I could have done,” he said. “I was shooting a three-bladed broadhead. It was as close as I am to you (meaning this writer, at three feet). How bad a shot could you put on a deer that close?”

It started to rain after that. Michael knew he had to act quickly because the rain would wash away any blood in the buck’s wake.

“I grabbed my cell phone and called my friend, Josh Gillett, and told him I had just arrowed a really big deer and needed help,” Michael said. “I drive a Dodge Neon (Hey, it’s what I can afford), and you can’t get a deer in that thing. Josh was always glad to come and help me drag a deer out of the woods. I told him to hurry as the rain was getting worse. I could see from the slight blood trail that the buck had gone pretty much back the way it had come to me, just in a different row.

“When Josh showed up about 15 minutes later, we started following in the direction I thought the buck went, and we found it pretty quickly. It didn’t go very far. It didn’t take much time to get the buck out of the field. By then, it was pouring down rain. When we got it home, we took pictures and started sending them to everyone we knew. It was pretty cool,” Michael said.

They took the buck to the check station, and then the excitement really peaked as people saw the rack and started taking and sending more pictures. It wasn’t long before the young hunter was overwhelmed with well wishers, spectators and even naysayers.

The next day, game wardens came to his house twice to look at the deer.

“They finally ended up cutting open the shoulder,” Michael said. “I guess they could tell it was an arrow wound. When they were done, they shook my hand and congratulated me. Apparently I hurt somebody’s feelings, and they called in the law!”

Hunter: Michael Miller
BTR Official Score: 174 2/8
BTR Composite Score: 193 7/8
Compound Bow

— Photos Courtesy of Michael Miller

This article was published in the Winter 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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