As I adjusted a cedar branch, putting the final touches on my ground blind, a flash of motion snapped my head up. A doe was racing straight towards me, like a rabbit with hounds on the scent. She blew by me at 4 yards, fear making her oblivious to my presence. Standing in the open like a fool, bow on the other side of the brush, I did some quick mental calculus and two competing answers came to mind: coyote, or buck. Both answers called for action! I wheeled around and raced to get back in the blind...
A few months back, I got off the phone with Dan Toelke, feeling sad. I’d called him to touch base about some arrow questions and about my Whip. The bow is my one and only, a gift from my father when I was 14. I’ve carried it across the mountains of Montana on many an elk hunt, but now it was dying. I’d noticed white spots forming on the limb, and Dan confirmed my worst fears, delamination from my long draw.
It started out unnamed, just a tool to be used. But when I was 20 I rolled my suburban on the highway. The bow and I survived, and a bond was struck. God is good, and my body was whole, so I decided I needed a scar or memento to remember the wreck. It seemed fitting that the Whip become that memento, and his name became Scar. When I got the news, Dan said it should have enough shots left for this season at least, so I decided to hunt hard here in Texas, and hopefully send Scar out in style.
I saw tines closing fast as I slammed my butt onto the folding stool and yanked a shaft from the quiver. I spun right as I fumbled with the nock, every millisecond wasted feeling like the end of my chances. Slobber flying, the buck came skidding to a stop in front of my blind,fresh cut branches blocking the trail he knew by heart. In a second that felt like forever, I confirmed the arrow was on the string, and that the antlers reached past his ears. He was 13”, and therefore legal. He was also only two yards away, and staring straight at me…
It would take me quite a while to recount my travails as a fledgling whitetail hunter in Texas, all the close encounters, blown stalks, badly brushed blinds, eagle eyed does, and ninja squirrels that ruin arrows. But it is enough to say that God blessed me with access to private property close to home, and with a friend in Michael Arnette. The property gave me enough time and chances to learn, and Michael kept encouraging me to get back after it.
The combination of time in the woods, and advice from Michael had me coming so close almost every time out. I feel spoiled to say it, but I haven’t had a hunt where I didn’t see at least one deer. Many large, heavy horned bucks call this property home, and if I were a seasoned veteran of the deer woods, I’d have set my sights on the roman nosed 8, or the stud 10, who came in to rattling on my blind side. But I’m just an elk hunter, with a favorite bow in need of one more kill, so I wasn’t about to be picky.
I started to slow draw. It was my only option! As the arrow reached half draw, you could see the wheels start to turn in the bucks brain. Something wasn’t right, but he was having a hard time switching his mind from chasing tail, to tucking tail. At full draw, I realized it was a frontal shot or nothing, and the end of a busted branch was covering the bottom of his brisket. Time slowed. The buck shuffled his feet.
My mind decided the branch was low/small enough to shoot over/through it. The buck’s neck was only inches from the branch. He may have blinked. My heart may have stopped. But time suddenly sped back up with a resounding Thwack! Things get a little fuzzy after that. I remember seeing half my arrow sticking out of his neck as he turned to run, and he seemed to be falling down, or staggering heavily as he ran back the way he’d come. I saw him fall and get back up about 35 yards away, then he was out of my sight, and the woods got really quiet. After an agonizing 20 minutes with texts away to friends and family, I couldn’t take it any longer. I stepped out of the blind and found the back half of my arrow.
I know it’s bloody, but that means he died quickly, and suffered very little. That’s my goal as a hunter.
And finally, all cleaned up, my first Texas 8 pt. He was a half inch over the minimum antler spread to be legal, and I began to praise the Lord!
So it was that Scar went out on top. He’ll be retired to the wall, and a new Toelke SS is in the works to take over as my new companion. As usual, it will start nameless, just a tool. But God makes sure life is crazy enough that the bow won’t stay that way for long.
-------------------- Try to be the person your dog thinks you are :0) TGMM Family of the Bow N.Y. Bowhunters member BigJim 3 pc buffalo 48@28 BigJim thunderchild 55@31 BigJim thunderchild 55@32 Jim's bow Posts: 6203 | From: Dansville N.Y. | Registered: Mar 2004
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