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And There I Was

-- Without a Scuba Tank

By José Miller

Jose MillerI woke up early to drive to a 60-acre property about an hour from my home. It was December 16, 2007. I’d not had much luck hunting the abandoned farm, but decided to try again. I climbed the ladder stand about an hour and a half before daylight and settled in. Something just felt right.

It was archery season and the rut was in full swing. The stand was on a two track lane with 20-acre grass fields on both sides. Crunchy snow was on the ground.

Darkness was beginning to break when I heard something moving in the thicket ahead of me. Soon, I spotted a lone deer. It was big, but it was still too dark to shoot.

Looking through my binoculars, I began to see details. The deer was a big 10 point with wide beams. When the bruiser walked by my stand and kept going, my heart sank.

About 20 minutes later I heard another noise and slowly turned to see the same buck in the opposite field. He was 80 yards out. I tried to call him closer, but to no avail. I watched him make a scrape. My heart sank again.

I heard snow crunching, turned and saw a big 9 point approaching from downwind. As soon as he was broadside, I released my arrow.

I don’t remember aiming or even drawing the bow. I heard the arrow hit and watched the buck run across the field.

The shot was a little far back, so I knew I’d have to wait several hours before tracking.

I left the property and returned several hours later. Sign led to another grass field at the edge of a duck pond. The blood stopped at the water’s edge. Fresh prints in mud showed the buck had gone into the pond.

I was sick. I did not see the buck floating and thought for sure he was 20 feet deep.

I called a cousin, who advised to walk around the pond. As I was doing so, I spotted the buck at a different spot on shore. He was wet and nearly deceased.

I ran 400 yards to get my bow and returned to deliver the coup de grâce. It was a hunt I will never forget.

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