My dad set out a trail camera in 2010, and we got a few photographs of a young, but impressive 5x5. I wasn’t really salivating over the deer, but there was no way I was going to pass it up if I ever got the chance with my bow.
My uncle made a ground blind and concealed it next to a slough. He got a chance at the 10-pointer, but missed. That was the only time any of us saw the deer until rifle season opened.
On a brisk morning during rifle season, my dad got the opportunity and also missed. He saw the buck several times after the season, which gave us all hope that it would grow another year, if it survived the harsh winter.
When the next August rolled around, we set out the trail cameras again and hoped to capture pictures of the big one. And we did. The 5x5 was back and bigger than ever! I couldn’t even put into perspective how massive this deer looked compared to any other one in our collection of pictures.
I might not have been dead set on shooting it in 2010, but I was in 2011. If I had anything to say about it, that buck was NOT going to see another birthday.
Waiting for bow season to arrive was like waiting for rain in a severe drought; it took forever! We got some trail camera pictures of the big one the night before the season opened, and it had already lost its velvet. The first night, I wasn’t able to go out so my uncle went and sat in the ground blind. He saw a nice 6x6 still in velvet, but passed it up, waiting for the big one. On Saturday night, Mother Nature played her role and gave us the wrong wind, so we left the blind unattended.
On Sunday, it was my turn. I was extremely excited to be able to go out and sit in the blind. The only thing I never look forward to is the walk out there and the walk back. But I didn’t care if I had to walk 5 miles, I was going to shoot this deer.
I didn’t see much right away. After a while, a few does came in like they normally do. And then, right at prime time, the big one showed. It hesitated and checked out the area first.
The big buck was with his buddy, a smaller 5x5. These two were always together in the trail cam pictures.
After surveying the area, the big one came straight on, never offering a clear path to its vitals. I knew it was getting darker and darker by the minute, and I had to make a decision quickly. It wouldn’t surprise me if the animal heard my heartbeat.
I had trouble remaining composed. I most definitely had buck fever. I couldn’t keep my legs still.
I ultimately decided to pull back and send one through its chest. But as I leaned in the opening, I was startled to see the buck staring right at me! It raised its tail and trotted off, and I thought I’d blown my opportunity, probably my only chance. I wanted to give up hunting.
Okay, maybe not.
It just so happened that I didn’t have school on Monday, and the wind was perfect to give it another try. Dad told me I really should, so I decided I would not give up hunting.
It was a relatively calm, warm evening with a slight breeze. I wasn’t as ambitious that night. I decided that if the 6x6 came in, I would shoot it because I have always wanted to shoot a buck in velvet. It’s a good thing I made that decision, because, at about 7:45, here came the 6x6.
The buck chased away the does that had been there and was quartering to me. I tried extremely hard to remain calm, and I did a good job of that. I drew back, leaned in and tripped my release. I saw the arrow sail right over its back, and the deer disappeared.
At that point, I was so disappointed in myself, I almost left for home. I decided, however, to wait it out until dark. My confidence level plummeted.
Ten minutes later, I was given one last chance to redeem myself.
I thought the 6x6 was returning until the two deer got closer. But it was the big one and his buddy. I couldn’t believe it!
While they were approaching, I told myself not to screw up a third time. And, surprisingly, I stayed calm.
Just like the first time, the buck was facing me. The voice inside my head told me to wait for a better angle. It felt like I waited for an hour, but it was probably only 10 minutes.
Then I remembered two years earlier, when I’d passed up a nice buck because it came in facing me. The buck I let go was shot by someone else later that year. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away from me. I decided to go for the chest shot.
I drew back, leaned in and waited for the deer to lift its head. When it finally did, I let the arrow fly and heard a smack. The buck took off running through a slough, and its buddy disappeared back down the trail. I watched them both run over the hill.
It happened so fast, I didn’t know what to think. My confidence level was already low, so I assumed I’d missed again. It was getting dark then, so I left. I was so angry with myself, I’d forgotten the thump and that the big buck didn’t keep to the usual trail.
I thought I’d blown a second opportunity at this buck.
When I got home, I told my dad about the whole ordeal. He said he would go and look for blood the next morning.
I hardly got any sleep that night, and I didn’t pay any attention in school the next day. That afternoon, Dad called. He told me that after he’d crawled around on his hands and knees for four hours, he found the buck!
I couldn’t wait to get home.
— Photos Courtesy of Seth Bisbee
Hunter: Seth Bisbee This article was published in the August 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
BTR Official Score: 175 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 193
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