Bow hunting, like baseball, is a game of failure. Major-league hitters with .300 batting averages fail 70% of their at-bats and still enjoy careers worthy of Cooperstown.
Going full draw on a late-season buck can feel a lot like guarding the plate with the bases loaded and a two-strike count in the bottom of the 9th. And whiffing that arrow can feel a lot like, yup, you guessed it, striking out. The beauty about both sports is that one play can change the outcome of the game, or season.
22-year-old Rodney Stoll was in a slump in 2020, and admittingly frustrated after missing two does with his bow and getting picked out of his tree by a mature deer at 20 yards before he could set his can call down.
Rodney, his brother and two cousins run trail cameras on public land in Orange County, Indiana throughout the summer and once the state’s deer season opens, they hop from parcel to parcel in Hoosier National Forest.
“We don’t own any private land so we set up cameras in the summer on public, and there’s plenty of state land within an hour of us to work with,” Rodney told Buckmasters. “We try to pattern these deer on public but it doesn’t always get done. It can be hard.”
Early November 2021, Rodney decided to hunt an area he’d previously seen deer but didn’t have cameras running. After consecutive sits without a single whitetail sighting, Rodney was beginning to lose focus.
Situated in his climber on a hillside one morning, Rodney happened to glance behind him and saw half of a buck’s rack sticking out about 30 yards from his tree.
“I didn’t have time to range him because he was looking at me. I looked up and knew it was a shooter so I immediately pulled back and shot, and missed. He stood there and started walking around like nothing happened. I nocked another one, took my time and sunk it in him. He ran off and I heard him crash up the hill.”
Rodney called his brother and told him he arrowed a buck but had no idea how big or small because the moment happened so fast.
“Last year I shot a deer and called to tell my brother I shot a decent one. When he got to me, he said, ‘Wow, that is not very big what is this?’ So after I shot this one called my brother and he was having flashbacks of last year’s buck. But after we recovered this deer, we were all standing around thinking he was pretty nice.”
Rodney’s 5x6 from Orange County tied the 11th spot in BTR’s perfect category for compound-felled bucks in the state.
Buckmasters scorer Steven Taylor measured this public-land 11-pointer 168 3/8 inches for Buckmasters Trophy Records.
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