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Bowhunting Nirvana

Brad MillerBy Brad Miller

-- This hunting story takes place in the northern tier of Upstate New York on the opening day of bow season 10 years ago. This was not just any opening day of bow season - it was my first bowhunt ever! The area of woods I was going to hunt is where I rifle hunted.

I was set up in an opening about 75 yards long and 30 yards wide. The only tree I could use was located at the north of end of this area which worked well with a southwest wind. I had cut a wedge into some of the brush 10 yards in front of my stand so I could hopefully get a broadside shot. Also, I placed marking tape at predetermined distances to take the guess work out of how far my shots would be. Everything was organized and in place. All I had to do was get up in the morning.

I woke early that next morning and arrived on stand about an hour before daylight so the woods had some time to settle from my entry. While waiting for daylight to break I had many visions of seeing deer as I imagine most hunters do. Daylight broke and against my hopes all those noises in the dark revealed no deer. Taking in how quiet the woods are during bow season as compared to gun season is a treat in itself. 

An hour passed with no deer sightings. I kept a positive outlook and imagined that any moment would be Go Time. As the hours passed with no sightings I began to wonder if my scent or movement drove the deer away.

Figuring four hours in a treestand was long enough, I decided to head to the truck and recalculate my options. As my bow safely settled to the ground I looked to the south end of my opening and a buck was headed right at my tree. Its nose was to the ground and it was coming at a steady pace. This was not just any deer. It was a shooter buck.

I started to raise my bow as fast as I could under the circumstances. When the bow finally reached my hands the buck was about 45 yards out and closing. There was not a lot of time for a bowhunting rookie to make a mistake.  

By the time my arrow was knocked and release strapped on the shooter was about 25 yards out. Taking advantage of a thicket patch, I drew back, the buck followed the wedge I cut and walked in front of my 10-yard pin. My heart pounded so hard I was sure the deer could here it.

As I squeezed my release and the arrow connected with the buck, it jumped and bolted away. Amazed that I was able to stay in the stand without falling out, I climbed down to find my arrow with good sign on it. I came back about an hour later and found my first bow buck.

Bowhunting is now my most passionate form of hunting and wish I had picked up a bow 10 years before this hunt took place. Hit or miss, I think any hunting story is bigger and better when done with a bow!

Brad Miller
Alexandria Bay, NY

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