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Adventure Exceeded!

Troy Vaughn

Indiana bowhunter makes good on unexpected opportunity

By Troy Vaughn

It started to sprinkle rain as I attached my bow to my pull-up cord. I hadn't packed raingear since it was still warm, and I hadn't checked the forecast since I'd been in a hurry to get into my stand before daybreak. 

I continued to climb, hoping it would just drizzle or soon quit. No such luck. 

I settled into my stand, nocked an arrow and got as comfortable as I could. Even in the rain, I was excited and enjoying my day in the woods. Free time is precious, and I like to squeeze in any opportunity I can get to go hunting.

After four hours of continuous rain, I was soaked to the bone and getting a bit chilly, but I continued to hang in there. 

I was doing my usual slow-motion, steady scan of the woods when I spotted a brownish-gray area off to my far right, approximately 100 yards away. 

The leaves were just now turning their usual fall colors, so I thought the brownish-gray place seemed unusual, so I focused on it. I didn't remember seeing a stump or tree in that particular spot before.

There was absolutely no movement for at least 10 minutes, so I figured it must be a stump.

After about 30 more minutes of being miserable, I decided to quit for the day, as I hadn't seen any deer and the rain was unlikely to let up anytime soon.

As I made one last scan and my gaze returned to the stump, a slight movement startled me. Suddenly, the "stump" shook!

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The stump was actually a large buck and its rack twisted back and forth as it shook. I was dumbfounded!

Next, it started moving toward my stand in a very slow and cautious manner.

I took my time turning my bow and body in the direction of the oncoming deer, and as it got closer, I continued very slow and slight movements, scanning the area in my periphery in case other deer were nearby. I didn't want to spook them.

Sure enough, the large buck had five does with him, all spread out around my position. I was terrified to move at all with so many eyes nearby. A couple of does were only seven or eight yards from my stand!

My knees started shaking uncontrollably, and I worried I'd spook the animals. But I locked my eyes on the buck as he and his harem got closer and closer.

I stood one inch at a time and observed the large 10-pointer moving further away from my position. 

Hunting Stories Wanted!The buck was approximately 45 to 50 yards from me at this point. I was so amped that I did an extreme no-no, breaking a rule in my own humble book of hunting; I decided to take a long shot. 

I've been an avid hunter for years and an advocate of humane shots, so I regret I broke one of my own cardinal rules of hunting.

I was using a pendulum sight, which is only good out to 30 yards. I aimed high to compensate for the extra distance and let the arrow loose. I totally missed, and I watched my arrow fall harmlessly beneath the buck.

It startled, then ran another 20 yards and stopped. I was never so happy to miss a shot in my life! 

The buck looked my direction, and I was scared to do so much as breath.

I stood stock still, holding the bow over my face and in a staredown with the buck.

I thanked God I didn't wound it, hoped it didn't see me and wished it would come back into range again.

Then, I observed one of the most peculiar things I've never seen. The buck put its nose to the ground and ran zigzagging straight to the base of my treestand!

The buck was going after the does and had forgotten  or didn't care  about the missed shot! I was amazed, because I'd always heard about bucks going crazy during the rut, but had never actually seen it.

My amazement turned to dismay when I realized the rest of my arrows were underneath my seat!

I slowly but surely bent down to reach for another arrow, all the while watching the does and buck. 

As soon as I took my eyes off the deer to get an arrow, they busted me!

I heard two snorts and they were gone.

A mixture of emotions ran through me; part disgust, part excitement and part humility.  

Now that the adrenaline was coursing through me, and after what I'd just seen, I felt a smile appear on my face. 

I took a moment to collect my composure, making mental notes to avoid repeating those mistakes. Then, I got out my can bleat and grunt calls. 

About 30 minutes later, I used them  properly, I hoped. Nothing happened, so I waited another 45 minutes and hit them again.

As I was scanning, I couldn't believe my eyes. Walking straight toward me was a different 10-point buck!

It approached to about 35 yards, angling toward me. I waited for its eyes to disappear behind a tree, then I made my slow, deliberate movements to stand up for a shot.

I stood, drew my bow and readied for the shot, each of my movements made whenever the buck's eyes disappeared.  

I found an opening four feet in front of the buck and waited for it to enter the lane. When it appeared in the zone, I took careful aim at the sweet spot, then loosed my arrow - a perfect pass-through!

The buck jumped up, turned around and took off. I watched as it ran for about 25 yards, slowed to a walk, then dropped to the ground.

I controlled my excitement as best I could while waiting to make sure it was down. Then I got out of the stand to retrieve my arrow and slowly approached my downed trophy to inspect it.

This was truly an awesome day of lessons learned and adventure exceeded!

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