-By Rich Miller
Every time I cut on the television to watch a hunting show everyone has some kind of helpful tips or tactics. Most of them do make sense and have a lot of good information. If you listen to them they will help you out and maybe save you a little heartache in the long run.
Last week, two of my good friends called to tell me about missing two giant bucks with their bows. The first call I got was a buddy of mine from Kansas. Now, this guy has been bow hunting for a lot of years and has taken a wall full of trophy class deer with a bow and rifle. Saturday morning he was setup overlooking a cut bean field with his deer decoy about 12 yards from his stand. He said he had several different bucks come in and work the decoy, but none of them were shooters. Around nine o’clock he rattled and grunted a couple of times and got a response from a buck that looked to be in the 160-class range. The buck circled around the decoy posturing the whole time and hung up at 30 yards. He ranged the buck and calmly drew his bow and applied pressure to the release. He released his arrow on its way to what he thought was a chip shot but the arrow landed about three feet short. What he didn’t know was that his bowstring hit his sleeve when he fired his bow. He shoots three or four days a week all year long but he doesn’t wear his bulky hunting jacket when he practices. He said it was the first time that he had worn this particular jacket hunting and he has been having nightmares about it ever since.
Later that afternoon I got the second call from another buddy that lives here in South Carolina. This guy is also one heck of a hunter and takes a lot of animals with his bow every year across the country. He had been in the stand for an afternoon hunt while it was raining. He said it had been pretty uneventful except for a doe and couple of fawns that came into the feeder. Once they had left, he saw a dark looking body coming in his direction. He thought it was a big hog at first, but as it got closer he realized it was a buck. It didn’t take him long to understand there was no need to judge this deer. This buck looked to have a 10-point rack that would score somewhere in the 150’s. Here, in South Carolina, deer of that caliber are unheard of. The buck ended up broadside and gave him a perfect 20-yard shot. My buddy told me that he thought this was going to be a chip shot, but the arrow flew just inches below the buck’s heart. He didn’t know what went wrong, he had made this shot thousands of time when practicing. The only thing he could think of other than “buck fever” is that he had on a full facemask and he could not anchor properly when he came to full draw. Even thought he had shot with it on before, he didn’t practice with it all the time.
You can have all the tips and tactics in the world, but when a monster buck steps out in front of us all that goes out the window because we are in a different zone then. These big bucks have an advantage over us mentally. A thing as small as a arm strap or not practicing the way you hunt can be the difference between a deer of a lifetime on the wall or running away waving a white flag at you.