By John E. Phillips
First bow buck teaches veteran rifleman a valuable lesson about where to aim at deer outside (or inside) the pins.
Travis Olson of Salina, Kansas, has hunted deer for 25 years, but the 2014 season was only his third to do so with a bow.
“We have a lot of crop fields and open land with small patches of woods in between," Travis says. "I define myself as a small property bowhunter."
"In 2014, I had trail camera photographs of does and a few nice bucks. A hunting buddy and I decided to park our trucks on a hill so we could watch some property we had permission to hunt. We wanted to see how many deer were coming out of a head of woods and feeding in the field.
“Since we saw two really nice bucks, I called the landowner and told him I’d like to set up a stand to hunt the following day. However, that Sunday afternoon, I saw only some does and a small buck,” he said.
On Monday, Nov. 24, Travis got into his tree about 30 minutes before daylight. Several does and a spike walked right under his stand. About 8:45, he picked up and ground his rattling antlers together.
A big buck came through the timber and stopped at the fork in a trail. When it looked away, as if considering taking the wrong turn, Travis gave a soft grunt, which got its attention.
The buck then jumped the creek and circled behind Travis’s treestand.
“I didn’t get a really good look at the rack until after the buck jumped the creek,” Travis said. “Then my heart started pumping overtime, because it was the biggest deer I had ever seen. I also realized it was one we’d nicknamed Big John.”
Travis had to turn completely around in order to shoot without getting tangled in his safety harness. After he’d spun, he noticed a nearly 4-foot-wide shooting lane ahead of the moving deer.
The buck, meanwhile, was getting closer and directly downwind of the hyperventilating hunter.
Travis believes rising thermals saved his bacon.
He didn’t have a shot until Big John was 10 feet from the base of his tree. The steep angle wasn’t exactly what he wanted.
“I had never practiced shooting straight down with my bow,” he explained. “I’d only been bowhunting for three years. I hadn’t even shot a buck.”
As soon as he dared, Travis drew his bow and aimed behind the deer’s shoulder. The four-bladed Muzzy buried into the animal’s spine, dropping it immediately. The deer rolled downhill and into the little creek.
Travis quickly launched a second arrow into the buck’s heart to end things. Afterward, he called his cousin and a couple of friends to help him get the huge animal to his truck.
“I guessed Big John’s rack might’ve scored between 175 and 180 inches, but I didn’t have a clue it might top 200,” he said.
Travis called his friend and taxidermist Wayne Johnson, who lived about 20 miles away.
“I told him, ‘I know how to field-dress a deer, but I don’t know where to start opening the cavity to not damage the hide for a shoulder mount.’
“He said, ‘If you mess up that cape, you’ll have to spend at least $75 to try and get another one that will fit the antlers. So bring the whole deer to me, and let me cape it out,’” Travis said.
Hunter: Travis Olson
BTR Score: 201
View BTR Scoresheet
This article was published in the February 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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