-By Rich Miller
As the summer is coming to an end and deer season is less than a month away you can imagine where my mind has been. I have formed a daily ritual of shooting my bow at different ranges trying to make it as realistic as I possibly can, and praying for rain so my food plots are as green and lush as they can be. My conversations with friends have turned from how the fish have been biting to how many deer we have been seeing and who has got the biggest buck on their game camera.
All of this deer talk and watching the new hunting shows on TV has gotten my mind wondering back to some of my past hunts. I run these hunts through my mind over and over again whether they were successful or not.
One of these hunts that still haunts me was a bow hunt from back in 2006. I was perched in a cedar tree not 10 feet off of the ground. This cedar tree is in the middle of a pasture between crop fields and bedding. I figured by using a deer decoy at this stand location that I might be able to catch a buck cruising and get him into bow range. I tried this one afternoon when the wind was perfect and had several young bucks come in to the deer decoy and do exactly what I wanted them to do. Right before dark I happened to look behind me and saw a huge bodied buck about a hundred and fifty yards away. When I threw my binoculars up and looked at him I almost fell out of the tree. The buck was an absolute monster! I grabbed my grunt call and called to him a couple of times and he would stop and look and then start walking again. So I grunted at him again and when he stopped and looked at me I snort wheezed at him and he stuck his head up really high and turned toward me spotting the decoy. Well that really got his attention so I snort wheezed again and that is when he started my way on a steady jog.
There was a barbed wire fence in between us and when he got to it he stopped jogging and started walking up and down the fence looking for a place to cross it. I had my bow in hand and was doing nothing but watching and letting the decoy do its job. After pacing back and forth a couple of times he got below me and jumped the fence. At that point he was in range but I was waiting for him to get out in front of me to get a better shot angle. The buck was posturing and had all of his attention focused on the decoy. He couldn’t have acted any more like I wanted him too if I had written him a script.
He was walking straight at the decoy perfectly broadside at twenty yards when I drew my bow. As soon as I had my bow drawn I grunted at the buck and he stopped in his tracks and he was looking straight in my direction when I released my arrow. The exact millisecond my bowstring left the jaws of my release, that buck came completely unglued. He dropped to the ground all the while turning to leave the scene. I still to this day have nightmares of that arrow sailing right over that monster buck’s back.
After the fact and several years of kicking myself for breaking my own rules on this hunt all I can do is learn from my mistakes. The first thing I did wrong was to grunt to stop this deer. He was walking but he was moving really slowly and when I grunted to stop him it put him on alert and my shot didn’t surprise him. His nerves were already on edge because he was getting ready to whip up on my deer decoy. If I would have shot him while he was walking he would have never flinched.
What really bugs me about the whole deal is that I broke my golden rule on this hunt. While giving seminars and telling people about hunting with a decoy the thing I preach most about is “patience with the shot”. When a buck is coming in to your decoy setup just wait and let him come. When he is committed like this deer was, if I would have waited just a little longer he would have been at 15 yards and quartering away slightly and offered me that high percentage shot we as hunters dream about. Of course every deer is different but I have been using deer decoys for years and it has been my experiences that if you are patient and wait they will offer the shot you want. Don’t do like I did and let buck fever get the best of you and get impatient.
It all worked out in the end because the very next morning I was able to take a nice buck out of the same stand using my deer decoy. On that morning the deer and I both did exactly what we were suppose to and I shot the deer at 15 yards and hit him perfect. If you have never tried these decoys you are missing out on a great opportunity for an exciting hunt. I have used these from the Carolinas to the Midwest and from the early season to the post-rut and they work. That is they work when I hold up my end of the deal and do what I am supposed to do!