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Buckwheat893

2021 Texas Whitetail

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I’ll start off by saying I don’t know if this is the proper “category” for my post, but I feel that it is as good as any. This is more of my journey as an archer than anything else.

I am beyond blessed that I was born into a family that owns a large piece of land in Texas, in good deer country. I grew up hunting the place with my father, grandfather and cousins and have had many “firsts” there in the world of hunting.

I started bow hunting when I was 12, exclusively here in Arizona and exclusively for deer. It was more of a way to spend more time afield with my father, I was never a very good archer as a child/young adult and the limited opportunities I had always failed to pan out due to lack of practice and nerves. I stopped bow hunting around the age of 15 and didn’t pick a bow up again for almost 10 years. When I did, all my childhood experiences and failures quickly caught up to me and I gave up within the year. 

Fast forward to mid 2020. Amidst a major career change and the pandemic, I knew that I needed a “new” hobby to occupy my time. My parents recognized this and my father who is an accomplished bow hunter generously offered birthday money in the amount to afford a modern economy type bow to get me back into archery. I ended up with a bare PSE BowMadness unleashed. I researched endlessly, watched videos, talked to pro shop employees, and came up with a solid setup. I practiced for a couple months and shot literally thousands of arrows and began to feel confident as an archer for the first time in my life. 

In early October 2020, I made the drive down to the ranch in Texas. Their archery season opens the first Saturday in October and I thought it would be a great opportunity in a target rich environment. I figured it would be easier to kill a deer there than in the desert, and even thought I may kill multiple deer during my week long hunt. I got a reality check. I missed 2 great bucks, and 3 does. Branches, string jumps, and nerves were to blame. I made an incredibly poor shot on a feral hog that was somehow lethal, and the glory of my first archery success was shadowed by failure just like all the years before. 

This time I didn’t give up. I took what I learned and started from scratch to build a “correct” arrow, properly tune my bow, and practiced consistently. I hunted all of the OTC season without a single shot opportunity.

In March of this year, I drew an archery cow elk tag. I continued to practice and revised my setup as necessary in preparation for my upcoming elk hunt. 

In April of this year, my father and I traveled to the ranch in Texas to hunt turkeys and pigs and do some ranch work for the 2021 deer season. On that trip, I killed another feral hog with my bow - but this shot was far, difficult, and the arrow flew exactly as I had intended it to. I watched the hog expire a mere 32 yards from the point of impact. That was my first moment of pride as an archer. 

In September, I found myself in the elk woods on opening morning of my hunt. I had some good intel on the area and the elk showed up right on schedule. At 7:30 a large cow made her way in front of me at 35 yards and as I drew, she spooked. Simultaneously, I heard elk behind me. Knowing that the cow in front of me was gone, I turned 180 degrees to find 15 or so elk. I was already drawn, so I picked the biggest cow, estimated the range and let the arrow fly. I watched it sail 3” over her back. Discouraged yet again. 

I returned to the same location on day 2 of my hunt, and at 7:01am I watched as a bull pushed 2 cows directly to me. The bigger cow stopped at 22 yards and my arrow found its mark. After a 315 yard tracking job I had my first “game animal” with a bow. 

I still wanted that “first buck” with a bow. 

October 1st, I set out for the ranch in Texas. Opening morning found me in a new setup I had constructed solely for archery hunting. To say that things didn’t work out is an understatement. No shots fired, but plenty of frustration. The whole first day was spent working out the kinks. The second morning was foggy, and 30 minutes after sunrise I was looking at the largest buck I have personally seen on the ranch to date - a mere 120 yards away. He never came closer. The evening of day 2 and all of Day 3 were days of more frustration. No opportunities, poor weather etc. 

The morning of October 5th found me in the same blind where I had the encounter with the big buck on day 2. Before it was light enough to see, I could make out a deer about 70 yards in front of the blind. As the sun came up I realized that this deer was a good mature buck. I told myself if he came into range and offered me a shot I would take him. 10 minutes later he was 23 yards in front of me, oblivious to my presence.

I drew, anchored, and let the arrow fly. The buck ducked at the sound of my bow, but not before my arrow reached him. Much to my surprise, the buck immediately hit the ground. I’ve watched enough hunting shows and videos to know that when deer drop from a bow shot, they have been hit in the spine and that is almost always a non lethal hit. I quickly got out of the blind, approached the buck and put another arrow in him. He expired quickly, and I watched it all from 10 feet away. 

The moments that followed were special in a way I will never be able to accurately describe. The light fog, the cool morning air, the sun rising behind me as I laid hands on my first buck with a bow. 16 years after I first tried my hand at being a bow hunter. All the failures, ducked arrows, twigs, straight up misses, all brought me to those moments and I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything. 

The buck is a mature 10 point that scores right at 120”. By no means a giant, almost enough to get into the Pope and young book. He will soon reside on the wall next to my first ever deer, which was taken less than 1/4 mile from him on the same property nearly 20 years earlier. 

If you’ve made it this far thanks for sticking with the long read. I hope that this post inspires those struggling to be successful as a hunter, and reminds others of the struggles it took to get where they are today. Good luck out there!

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Captivating writing up and better ending. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful antler color and love how those beams curl back in. Headed to So TX mid-Dec and would be tickled pink to duplicate your success. 

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5 hours ago, high rise hunter said:

Captivating writing up and better ending. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful antler color and love how those beams curl back in. Headed to So TX mid-Dec and would be tickled pink to duplicate your success. 

Thank you and Good luck! 

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Great  lead in and story.  Glad to hear you got back into archery, it is so addictive, yet  frustrating as well.  Beautiful buck, and congrats on the elk.  Elk with a bow  has been my passion for years.....

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3 hours ago, NOTAGS said:

Great  lead in and story.  Glad to hear you got back into archery, it is so addictive, yet  frustrating as well.  Beautiful buck, and congrats on the elk.  Elk with a bow  has been my passion for years.....

It was definitely an awesome experience. Wish I could draw a bull tag! 

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Nice Buck, great job!

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