IT WASN’T SUCH A BAD SHOT AFTER ALL.
I was asked to join Casey Harbertson on a last minute trip to Texas for a whitetail deer hunt. We would be joining John Barklow and Chris Derrick from Sitka Gear and Sloane Brown from Backbone Media on Sloane’s family ranch. I would be photographing and filming the ensuing adventures, but I was also able to bring my bow to do some hunting. I grew up hunting in Minnesota, but was never able to take a whitetail with my bow, nor was I able to kill a whitetail buck. This may be my opportunity to achieve that goal.
Our first day started with Sloane dropping everyone off at different stand sites, after which Sloane and I drove to a section of the property to do some recon. We looked for a high point on the ranch, and there aren’t many high point in Texas. Sloane had the idea of climbing up onto the roof of a metal shack. Our off the wall tactics turned up some wild boars and a lot of rutting whitetail deer. We quickly spotted numerous deer leaving a rye field for their bedding areas. We tried to get video footage through a spotting scope, but my phone kept powering off from the cold temperature. After the deer began to bed, Sloane spotted a good buck that was cruising for does and headed straight toward us. He climbed down and grabbed his bow as I began to film. The buck came to a patch of trees less than 30 yards from Sloane. Sloane lifted his Heads Up buck decoy to settle the buck, but the buck spooked and took off. Sloane had bigger bucks that he was searching for anyway. We packed up and headed to pick up Casey, and took the opportunity to create a couple of images for whitetail content.
We packed up and headed to another glassing point. This time we climbed on top of an oil (drum) and spotted two great bucks as they moved across fields, searching for hot does. After getting some photos through the spotting scope, we packed up and headed back to camp for lunch.
During lunch, everyone told stories of encounters with deer coming within range, and deer that were out of range. Sloane told everyone about the buck that he passed on, and mentioned that someone should try a spot and stalk hunt with us while we filmed. As the afternoon progressed, we all took our bows outside to make sure we were all sighted in and ready to hunt for the evening. After a quick shooting session, we packed up and headed out for the evening hunt.
I took my bow for the evening hunt, but my main objective was to film Chris Derrick from Sitka Gear in case he had a shot opportunity. I set up in a tree stand appropriately 200 yards from Chris. We sat the entire evening with few deer moving. A spike buck walked into range and dropped to the ground, crawling under the barbwire fence. Once clearing the fence, he followed a trail and disappeared into the distance. A small group of does made their way toward Chris’ stand, but were out of archery range. At dark, we packed up, climbed down, and made our way back to camp.
Day 2 started out back on top of the metal shack with Sloane, and this time, Brian Call joined us. We decided that we’d film Brian stalking in on bucks if the opportunity arose. We almost instantly spotted a group for wild pigs in the distance, so Brian grabbed his bow and began to sneak towards them. The pigs were fast and Brian wasn’t able to get within range to take a shot, so he came back to the shack. While Brian was gone, Sloane had spotted two great bucks and they were in an area where we could try a stalk. I stayed on top of the shack while Brian and Sloane started the stalk. Day 2 continues with Brian Call’s Rally Point Story.
Day 3 began with a harvest moon creating enough light for the deer to move all night. Sloane dropped me off at a pallet stand and drove to his hunt location. I climbed up and settled in. It seemed like only minutes went by when two does came in. I could only make out there silhouettes in the moonlight. The does passed me and jumped the fence and paused to feed and pee. Moments later, a buck came running in, smelling the air. One of the does must have been in heat, because the buck paused and smelled where the doe had urinated. After seeing that the does were gone, he found their trail and followed.
The sun began to rise and illuminate everything within view. A doe came in and began feeding. I had a buck tag, but the landowners had 15 or 16 doe tags to fill, so I wanted to take this opportunity to harvest the doe. As I drew back to shoot the her, a small 4 point came running in and chased the doe off, so I let down my arrow. A few minutes later the buck came back without the doe. I figured this may be my only opportunity for a buck, so I began to draw on him. Halfway through the draw cycle, the buck spotted movement and ran off. I had been seeing deer everywhere, but was starting to think it wasn’t going to happen for me. Nearly an hour went by and a spike came running in to smell the area where the does had been. Once he had his fill, he ran off, searching for them.
At 7:15 am, a small 9 point buck came wandering in, smelling the hot does. My heart began to pound as he got closer. The buck followed the trail to where the doe peed, bent down, and began sniffing the urine spot. I began to draw back, settle my pin on the buck, and shoot. I watched the arrow sail over the buck’s back at 40 yards. The buck jumped and ran off. He stopped at 80 yards and stomped the ground, snorting in complaint. He stood there for a few moments, making sure the area was safe.
Once he was convinced of his safety, he slowly made his way back. He was in the exact same spot at 40, but feeding this time. I turned my single pin from 40 yards to 32, drew back, and settled the pin. I let the arrow fly and it hit its mark, sounding like the arrow hit a pillow, as it arrow passed right through the buck and stuck in the ground. The buck jumped and ran away. I pulled up my binoculars and watched as he began to struggle, and fell to the ground. I had just shot my first whitetail buck! I walked up to the buck and gave thanks. As I looked him over, I noticed a ten inch strip on his back where my first arrow had shaved him to the skin. It appeared that he dropped and spun as the arrow flew towards him. I wasn’t such a bad shot after all. I texted Sloane and the others about the buck. Sloane and Casey said they were on their way to help get some photos and load up the buck.