The date was 11-20-1991. Up until this point, I had only killed one deer. It was a button buck with a shotgun when I was 11. In 1991 I was 17. Between football, basketball, and chasing girls, I had little time to hunt, but something clicked in me at this age that I wanted to get out more.
I was sitting on a field edge that had shown alot of action from scouting, but this guy had never been seen by me.
It all seemed to happen really fast. I remember sitting on a stool (yes, I was on the ground up against a tree). Not much cover and the field was slightly tapering up from my spot. My only hope of ambush was to see the a buck before it saw me as it would come over the rise.
I hit the grunt tube a couple of times and I heard a response. I'd grunt, he'd grunt. We went back and forth a few times. Not much longer, this guy popped up in the skyline. I just remember standing up, drawing, and letting loose. Somewhere in the range of 35 yards I aimed and he turned to run away. All I heard was a thud... then the shakes kicked in.
I waited on my dad to arrive (this was before cell phones) at dark to tell him the news. I had no idea if I hit the buck or not. We went up to the spot where he stood and found some blood. We then decided to head home, grab a bite to eat, phone a friend of my dad's, and head back out with the lanterns.
The blood was sparse... little pin size drops here and there, but nothing steady. We looked and looked, but in the open field the tracking was really tough. The blood finally lead us into a small patch of woods and it disappeared. My heart was breaking as I thought we'd never find it. The three of us combed the hillside, back and forth, until about midnight. Nothing...
We were on the verge of giving up, when my dad's buddy asks me, "How big you say he was?" "At least an 8", I remember saying for the millionth time, I think. He then says, "Well, I got an 8 here with his head wedged in a tree. You think it's him?"
I couldn't get there fast enough. There was my first buck, let alone bow buck, laying dead looking right at me. When he fell, his head turned perfect against a tree as if he was bedded and watching me. It ended up, that it was a high lung shot (I have no idea how since I was shooting uphill) and the cavity needed to fill. At the final resting place, blood was everywhere.
It was an unbelievable ending to a gut wrenching evening full of anticipation, desperation, and a lot of luck. In the end, until this year, this was my biggest buck. It scored 131 and earned a Pope and Young certificate. At the time I had no idea what that was. I also thought that this was going to be easy every year from then on out. Boy was I wrong.
I know one thing for sure... this buck from 1991 got this boy hooked on hunting and it's been an obsession ever since.