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In Plain Sight

Steven MillerBy Steven Miller

-- Well it was Oct. 30, and it had been a very warm Michigan bow season. I hadn’t had much luck. In fact, I’d missed the only buck I’d seen all year.

It was about 1 p.m.  I was sitting at home, watching television and killing time until I had to go and milk. I was just sitting there when my cell phone rang. It was my dad, calling to say a buck was lying in the bean field he was combining.

I asked if it was dead. Why else would it be lying in the middle of a bean field that was being harvested?

Dad said it was just lying there, looking around. He figured it would head east if it decided to get up and run. Well, there’s a drainage ditch on the east side of the field and a small woodlot beyond that, so I told Dad I would come up and see if I could get a shot at the buck.

On the way to the field, I thought about what I would do, even though I had little confidence. I don’t generally have the best of luck.

When I pulled in, I got out of my truck, grabbed my bow and headed to the ditch. I got to about the distance that my dad had said the deer was lying from the road and couldn’t see anything. I looked through my binoculars, and still nothing was there.

I called my dad and asked where the deer was, and he said it would probably get up on his next pass. Sure enough, it did, and it had a doe with it.

My hopes sank. There was no way the buck would ignore the doe and come my way, and the doe probably wouldn’t lead it to me.

But the deer came toward me, stopping between 150 and 200 yards out before bedding down again. After about an hour and a half of watching them get up and then lay back down, I decided to make a move. The deer were lying on the backside of just enough of a hill that I couldn’t see them. So I got up out of the ditch and walked the 30-yard picked swath until I was in the beans.

Knowing they’d bust me if they stood again, I got down and tried to crawl – careful to keep my bow above the beans. That didn’t work so well, so I decided to walk on my knees.

After I’d covered maybe 30 yards, I looked up and saw a deer standing in front of me. My binoculars were around my neck but on my back so they wouldn’t get tangled with the bow. I didn’t want to risk the movement of retrieving them, so I slid my rangefinder out of my pocket.

Even so, I wasn’t able to see what the deer was.

After a couple of minutes, it lay back down and I resumed knee-walking. When I was within 100 yards, I decided not to venture much closer. Just as I reached the place where I was going to wait them out, the buck and doe jumped up. I sat back on my heels to get a bit lower and hide.

Just as I feared, the doe headed more toward the road than in my direction. But to my surprise, her boyfriend came directly toward me. I wasn’t sure what to do. When it approached to within 40 yards, we locked gazes (I thought). I was surely busted.

But rather than flee, the buck looked at the doe and then at my dad running the combine. And then it resumed walking toward me. When it was at 30 yards, I sat upright. It stopped and stared at me, then at the doe, and then it came even closer.

Even after I drew, it ventured closer.

I aimed, pulled the trigger on the release and watched the arrow hit its mark. At that point, I was nuts. The buck was a good one, and I’d just hit it – my first ever!

When the arrow smacked home, the buck jumped and did a big belly roll. It stumbled as it regained its footing and began barreling toward the woods – with me in its path. I had to jump up, wave my arms and yell. It passed me within 10 yards, ran to the fencerow and crashed into the ditch.

Dad helped me load it.

How’s that for a first bow deer?

--Steven Miller

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