If you hear a tweet in the bush, don’t be in a hurry to drill the bird in hand.
Amanda Davis was 10 years old when she and her grandmother took the Ohio hunter safety class.
“My mom and dad were not very enthusiastic hunters,” says the now 26-year-old nursing student. “I hunted with various relatives.”
For the first 10 years, Amanda hunted exclusively with a gun. She didn’t try her hand at archery until she was 20, and she fell in love with bowhunting.
“I was pretty good at it,” she said. “My first and current bow is a Mathews Passion with a 55-pound draw weight that seems to suit me well.”
Amanda and her fiancé, Shane, hunt a 300-plus-acre farm in Hocking County that has timber as well as cropland. They’ve scouted thoroughly, and she has a 20-foot-high ladder stand affixed to a shagbark hickory overlooking a hay field.
“I had no particular scientific reason to pick that tree,” she said. “When I was near it, I just felt comfortable.”
In 2015, Amanda and Shane were hoping to get a crack at a deer they’d nicknamed Noah’s Buck (for the gun hunter who proclaimed it his primary target). But they wouldn’t have held out for it.
“Most everyone who hunts in our area knew about this deer,” she said. “Most of us were getting trail camera photographs of it, since it roamed the countryside.”
Amanda and Shane hunted often when the bow season opened, but neither saw a deer they wanted to shoot. That would not be the case on Oct. 29.
“I had a very busy day at school with a demanding test that seemed to drain me,” Amanda said. “When I got home that afternoon, Shane told me I needed to go hunting, that it would revive my spirit. I quickly showered while he started gathering our gear. I intended to be gone before my son, Trason, returned from daycare.”
Shane was eager to hunt because he felt sure the rut had started. A weather front had just brought rain and falling temperatures.
“We got to the farm, dressed quickly, and then headed our separate ways to our stands,” she said. The temperature had dropped significantly since she’d last hunted, so Amanda added an extra layer of clothing.
“I arrived at my tree about 3:30 and settled in for the evening. The wind was pretty strong, sometimes violently shaking my tree,” she said. “I was cold, so I wrapped up and pulled a hood over my ball cap. It was still daylight saving time, so we had about three hours before dark.
“It was quiet except for the gusting wind that rattled the leaves in every tree around me. The only other movement was a pair of possums under my stand. I took a few pictures of them to send to Shane,” she continued.
“About 6:00, several does paraded along the edge of the tree line. They were skittish, running a bit, and then turned around and went back the way they’d come.”
Amanda wasn’t really surprised when an 8-pointer — big enough to make her reach for her bow — turned out to be the grand marshal. That certainly explained the does antsiness.
“As I was getting ready to draw my bow, I heard a grunt farther behind me, so I froze,” she said. “We had pictures of quite a few nice bucks, so I wanted to see which one it was.”
The grunting buck dwarfed the 8-pointer Amanda was going to shoot, so she switched targets.
“At first, I couldn’t pull back my bow because of the position I was in and all the clothes I was wearing,” she said. “I shifted around a bit and did the whole He-Man thing and pulled my bow back. The buck stood almost broadside at 15 yards. I have no idea why it didn’t bust me.”
Drawing turned out to be the easy part.
“Because of my ball cap and two hoodies, I couldn’t get my eye to line up with my peep sight,” she said.
“I didn’t want to let down, as I was sure that would give me away to one or the other sets of eyes below me. So using my bowstring, I tried desperately to push my hat and hoods out of the way.
“Amazingly, I managed to push the bill of my hat out of the way enough to be able to center my pin on the deer’s shoulder and trigger the release,” Amanda continued. “I saw the arrow hit its mark and knew it was a good shot.
“After the buck bounded away into the woods, I slumped into my seat, pulled my arms up over my head, closed my eyes and wondered if what just happened was real,” she said. “It seemed like forever, but was probably only a few minutes when I heard the crash. In shock, I sat there for several more minutes.”
Shane had advised her to go back to the truck and wait for him if she shot anything.
“I was like a beagle on a trail; went looking for the deer immediately after stepping foot on the ground,” she said. “I found good blood, but after several minutes of looking, I gave up and went to the truck.”
When Shane arrived, she shared her tale.
“I don’t think he believed me, at first. I was shaking pretty badly though, still pretty much in shock, both from adrenaline and the bitter cold wind. Shane had me sit and calm down, while we gave the buck more time to expire.
“We sat in the truck for a while. By the time we returned to look, it was totally dark. I had only the light on my cell phone, and Shane had the light on his cap.
“We started where I’d found the last blood. With Shane in front of me, I shined my light all around and picked out the white belly in the brush. I pretty much hurdled Shane in my rush to get to the buck first,” she laughed.
“The buck had plowed head-first into a tangle of greenbrier and was totally wedged in it. We couldn’t even lift the head enough to get a good look at the antlers.
“In a team effort, we each grabbed a hind leg and started pulling. Finally, we managed to drag it free,” she continued. “At that point, I jumped up and down squealing like a 10-year-old. It was an incredible feeling.”
The buck had run into the worst place possible before collapsing.
“I made my way to the top of the hill where I could get cell phone service and called my Uncle Shane to ask for his help in retrieving the deer. While I waited for him, I field-dressed the buck and took care of the paperwork.
“Meanwhile, Shane walked out to the road to guide my uncle back to me along with his four-wheeler. There I sat and waited for the pair of Shanes to arrive.
“The buck was so heavy, it took all three of us to load and tie it down, and then Uncle Shane informed me the ATV’s four-wheel-drive had gone out. We were at the bottom of a pretty steep hill. It was going to take some doing to get out of there,” she said.
“After three attempts, and with my uncle sitting on the front of the four-wheeler, we finally broke over the top. It took more than two and a half hours to get to the road and our truck,” Amanda said.
Editor’s Note: Ed Waite is a master scorer and regional director for Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records. A longtime contributor to Rack magazine, he has also published two volumes of big deer tales, “Wallhangers” and “Wallhangers II,” which are available at book stores, online and through WallhangersUSA.com.
Hunter: Amanda Davis
BTR Score: 205 2/8
View BTR Scoresheet
This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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