Halloween hurricane can't keep PA bowhunter from deer stand
By Chad Saxfield
It was an extremely wet and cold Halloween day in Dayton, Penn., when I hunted on my family farm located about an hour northeast of Pittsburg.
Snow and heavy rains were arriving from a hurricane tearing through the East Coast, and I was soaked to the bone before I even got to my treestand.
I thought I must be crazy to hike to that ridgeline 30 minutes before daylight in that kind of weather. Although it was cold and windy as heck, strangely, at first light I wasn't cold anymore.
Unbelievably, the bucks began to chase does, and within an hour I saw four bucks pushing does all around me. Two were nice bucks I'd have proudly taken had they come into bow range.
About 9 a.m., the action slowed to a dead stop, so I headed for the truck to dry off and try to warm up.
I called my better half to say I was heading home, but as we were talking, a really nice 10-pointer chased a doe ten feet in front of my truck!
My wife told me I'd better stick it out to see what happens.
While sitting in my truck, I looked into the hay field and noticed a ground blind I'd set up for my 9-year-old son to hunt from. The blind sat between round hay bales smack in the middle of the field.
I thought, what the hell? At least I'd stay dry in the blind, and maybe the deer would filter in the field later on.
Just before noon, I'd dried off enough to set up in the blind. I'd only been sitting about 10 minutes when four does busted into the field about 60 yards away.
Two bucks walked out behind them, a nice 8-pointer and yearling 4-pointer. They chased a doe back and forth in front of my blind, but never stopped long enough for a reasonable shot.
Now, at least a dozen deer were in the field. They had me surrounded.
Suddenly, my friend Nate's truck appeared at the edge of the field. As I turned to look, I was surprised to spot a big buck feeding directly toward me about 50 yards away.
As the truck came, I thought my hunt was over. Luckily, Nate saw the giant buck and me, too. He never slowed the truck, and the deer just watched him pass on by!
I breathed a sigh of relief and turned my attention to the buck, which was now 40 yards away and broadside.
I'd never bowhunted from a ground blind before, and I accidentally hit the bow's cam on the roof when I drew.
Since there were deer all around me, some only a few feet away, I knew they might spook. Sure enough, a doe bolted right past the big buck, and I thought it would bust me for sure.
The buck was on full alert now, so I did the only thing I could. I centered my 40-yard pin on its vitals and let 'er fly.
The arrow found the deer, but the buck jumped at the shot, and the hit looked really low. I got that sickening, not-so-great feeling, and then got really mad at myself.
I replayed the shot in my head several times, remembering the low shot and how the buck ran into a fence, flipped over it and was gone. It was an encouraging sign that it didn't leap the fence as deer normally would, indicating it was hard-hit.
Twenty minutes passed, so I walked into the field to look for blood. I found none, so I walked to the fence and found my arrow had snapped off about four inches above the broadhead. Still, I found no blood or hair.
When I reached the other side of the fence, I noticed blood everywhere.
Just then, Nate's truck came easing back down the road and he stopped to ask if I'd just shot the big buck.
I told him I had, but I wasn't sure how good the hit was.
We talked it over, waited 30 more minutes, then looked for a blood trail beginning at the fence.
I walked past the bloody spot, thinking I was about to lose the blood trail, but I glanced to my left, and there was my dream buck, lying dead in a small stream only 15 yards from the fence!
When I got my hands on it, I couldn't believe how big it was! It had several forked tines, with seven points on one side and six on the other. The heavy rack was also wide and tall.
I figure it will score close to 160-inches, and it is by far the finest buck I've ever taken.