A $65 pawnshop bow, a determined nephew and a missed shot at an 8-pointer combine for a life-changing buck.
It’s said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and this old adage was never truer than it’s been for Jim Hohensee of Abilene, Kansas.
One man’s trash was an old compound bow.
“I work for a big farmer and am always very busy during harvest time,” Jim said. “But most of my friends are bowhunters, and they were always after me to try it. I’d tell them, ‘I’ll just stick to the rifle.’
“So we’d be at a cookout or something in the summer, and they’d want me to try shooting a bow. I might have had a bow in my hands a half-dozen times,” he continued. “But none of them convinced me to try hunting with it until my nephew, Josh, made it his mission.
“He was one of the worst ones. Just kept telling me I needed to hunt during the rut and experience deer up close,” he added.
Jim finally gave in to his nephew in 2012.
“I told him I’d try hunting with a bow, if he’d find me a bow,” Jim said. “And I told him I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.”
That same day, he got a call from his nephew, who had purchased a compound bow at a pawnshop for $65.
“I did buy six arrows,” Jim said, “and a release, and an archery target.”
He and Josh did some fishing that summer, and Josh also coached him in shooting the bow. He was soon comfortable shooting at 20 yards, and as he practiced, found himself wanting to shoot the bow more and more.
That fall, due to weather conditions, farmers were late with the annual harvest of soybeans and corn. Jim worked when weather conditions allowed. Meanwhile, he listened to his friends, who were encouraging him to get in a stand because the rut was in full swing.
On Nov. 4 that year, Jim climbed into a treestand with a bow for the first time in his hunting career. He chose a favorite bottleneck beside a river.
“About a half-hour after daylight, I saw deer and grunted, and an 8-pointer came right to me,” Jim said. “I got drawn and stopped the deer with a grunt, but I missed. Shot right under him.”
He didn’t have a rangefinder, but he realized the deer must have been farther than he thought.
“I was all disgusted with myself that I missed,” Jim said. “But it was a beautiful morning, all frosty and quiet, and after a while I got over it and thought I’d try some calling.”
Jim used a doe call, a rattle bag and a grunt call.
“I had just barely sat back down when I saw antlers coming through the brush,” he said. “I remembered from shows on TV … They always say not to look at the antlers, so I made myself not look, and that wasn’t easy.
“I had one window, and I waited for the buck to walk to it. It was on a mission, but I was already drawn and made a grunt, which stopped the deer.
“I knew I made a good shot,” Jim continued. “It just made a little circle, and then it crashed within sight.
“Oh, my nerves. I sat down. I really thought I was going to pass out,” he added. “I sat there for a long time.”
He eventually thought to send Josh a text: I just shot the biggest deer of my life.
“I knew to wait, and I just kept looking at the buck, and I thought it was going to get up,” Jim said. “Finally, I got my nerves back and thought to lower my bow and pack down to the ground.
“I could see the deer lying there, and I was talking to myself, trying not to get too excited,” he added. “I’ve been disappointed in the past, after walking up to deer. But that didn’t happen with this one. There were points everywhere, palmated, and the thing’s body was huge!”
Jim called his wife, Sherri, and told her he’d gotten his first deer with the bow. But he didn’t tell her how big it was. He walked back to the stand and waited for her to arrive, and then they walked out to the animal together.
The couple had married in 2008, and Jim had sparked her interest in rifle hunting.
“She knows about deer,” Jim said. “I didn’t have to tell her how big the buck was.”
After loading the buck, his next call was to his taxidermist, who expressed surprise that Jim had been hunting with a bow.
“When he saw the buck, he couldn’t believe it. And when he saw the bow, he couldn’t’ believe that either,” Jim said. “He was telling me that he had more than $1,200 in his bow.
‘“I never claimed to be a good shot,’ I told him. I said that it never hurts to have the good Lord looking after you and getting lucky,” he added.
One of the luckiest things that happened to him that morning was missing the 8-pointer. Another lucky thing happened a few weeks later while Jim was having coffee with friends, catching up after harvest and hunting seasons.
When he told the group about his 17-pointer — his first deer with a bow — he learned one of his friend’s sons had acquired a trail camera photograph of the buck about 4 miles from where Jim shot it.
Jim and Sherri have since made a little trip to their closest Bass Pro Shops and bought crossbows. Sherri has taken a 10-pointer with hers, and Jim scored with a 12-pointer.
“It’s hard for me to get excited about rifle hunting any more,” Jim said. “I love the intensity of bowhunting, and I now understand what my buddies were trying to tell me.”
Was it time to take the old compound back to the pawnshop?
“I passed the pawnshop bow down to my son,” Jim said. “But he had to promise that when he was through with it, it would come back to me.”
Hunter: Jim Hohensee
BTR Score: 198 7/8
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This article was published in the June 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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