Most Mystical Flight of the Arrow
Skunked! And skunked again! I think this was my 15th or 16th day of nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Backstrapless. Empty handed. Like nuthin!
But alas, ol Nuge never gives up. I never say never, and I never, ever give in. Every morning, every afternoon, like predator clockwork, I am in my best strategized tree-stand, ambush perch, ready to rock. And I very carefully determine exactly which of my many stands will be the ultimate kill zone of the day.
Based on rotating pressure, animal sightings, tracks, droppings, trailcam photos, wind, sun, acorn drop, food plot growth and use, I do my very best to put it all together in my never ending addiction to outwit the beasts.
Right place, right time is what deer hunting is all about ̶ always has been, and always will be. So, my quest scrambles on unabated.
On this fine October day in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, on our own sacred SpiritWild Ranch hunt grounds, Ace VidCam Dude Kris Helms and I agreed that we would sneak into the front live oak, and see if we might just get lucky and break the skunky streak. Hate skunks, and hate getting skunked even more.
This lone, old oak tree is the only one nearby, say for a few hundred yards or so, and it was raining sweet mast like no other. A huge swath of thick, nasty, tangled cedars and junipers choked the hillside not far from the ranch gate, and earlier that day I had seen a good group of does and fawns leave the sanctuary as a large antlered stag circled back into the puckerbrush. Aha!
Our hopes were that the old boy was still somewhere in this half-mile tangle, and with a solid south wind, maybe, just maybe, the huge buck would grab a quick acorn snack before making his way into the mesquite prairies where the does went earlier.
Fingers were crossed and silent prayers were repeated.
Within the first hour, a large herd of blackbuck antelope began to wander our way, and before we knew it, we had more than 20 of these beautiful animals nearly underneath us gobbling up the Primos Swamp Donkey and shell corn we had placed as an incentive for optimal shot setup.
I so wanted to arrow one of these tasty critters, as they maneuvered perfect broadside shot after perfect broadside shot for the longest time. But I knew their feeding would provide the ultimate decoy in the event a whitetail wanted in. So I waited.
A good buck appeared a few hundred yards out, then another, and another and yet another, till there were five gorgeous shooter bucks watching the feeding antelope.
The blackbucks moved off after a while, but instead of coming our way, the five whitetails simply faded back into their coniferous hideout and disappeared from sight.
We waited some more.
With less than an hour of shooting light left, a very large buck busted out of the cedars on a trot, swinging directly behind us headed for the big field.
Kris and I both carefully maneuvered 180 degrees, squatting to find a hole in the leafy branches to get a clear view of the moving stag.
Kris whispered “I’m on him” and I came to full draw in a rather uncomfortable deep squat as I let out a loud doe bleat, stopping the buck just under 40 yards in the only small window through the vegetation I could find.
My 40-yard pin was already settled low on his chest when my muscle memory from a gazillion arrows took over, and my zebra shaft arched up and over the cactus flats, drilling the beast in the last rib.
With the Lumenok glowing at the end of the shaft, the buck scrambled wildly for the mesquite jungle to the east. We watched him lie down as Kris and I smiled broadly for a killer deer hunting ballet well done.
Good God, that was a pretty arrow, arching across the opening like that. It was a little far back, but I knew my freshly resharpened Muzzy two-blade head was deep into his liver or thereabouts, slicing and a dicing a death knell on my great buck.
We waited 40 minutes or so, then very carefully investigated the spot we saw him bed down, but only found my very bloody arrow. The dark, almost purple, blood confirmed a liver shot, so we backed out quietly and decided to pick up the trail in the morning.
Rain greeted us the next morning, but once it backed off a bit, Kris was the first one on the scene, and fortunately drove right up on the very dead beast just off the main ATV trail in the mesquite jungle.
He was a beauty! Estimated to be 6½ years old, his huge 160-plus-pound body and stunning 10-point rack was what deer hunting dreams are made of. He hadn’t been dead all that long, and was still soft and pliable for posing beautiful photos and Spirit of the Wild TV celebration.
Practicing diligently every day out to 50 and 60 yards had prepared me for just such a scenario. The shot wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done. Twisting and squatting in that tree had caused a bit of unpredictable torque on my shot, so lately I have been doing more practice from just such awkward positions.
Aim small, miss small, but celebrate as big as big can get! The beast is dead, long live the mighty whitetail beast.
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