It was Saturday, November 3rd and I had one thing on my mind. Getting after one of the two bucks I had seen from my last sit in the tree saddle (that’s right, I said tree saddle, if you’re unfamiliar with them go check one out!) Earlier that week I was sitting the south end of a clear cut in Northwest Michigan on some public land that I had come familiar with, after some post season scouting last year. During that sit earlier in the week I had watched two 8 points chase does on the north edge of the cut, about 200 yards from where I was sitting on the south side. Needless to say, I know where I needed to move the next time I was back in this spot.
The time had come to get back to the woods and put the new plan into place. It was about 2:00 pm when I got to the clear cut and made my way to the north edge of the cut and found a tree that would give me the ability to play the wind in my favor. I was only in the tree for about a half hour before a doe came across browsing on some tops. After watching her for about 20 minutes she decided to venture along and out of sight. That was all just the beginning though. Shortly after that doe moved out two more does came out from the edge of the wood line moving west to east across the cut in my direction. It was not long after those two does had come out to feed that I saw movement just beyond them back in where the cut ran down into a swamp. I pulled up my binos and saw that it was one of the 8 points I had seen from my previous sit! He got downwind of those two does and came out trotting after them with one thing on his mind. The does showed no interest in the buck and he was beginning to become annoyed. He would creep up behind the does trying to stick his snout up their rear end and then they would dart off. The buck finally decided that his efforts were for none, and decided to head back the swamp. This is when I quickly pulled out my bleat call and bleated at him once getting his attention immediately, stopping him cold in his tracks. He looked in my direction, unclear of what and exactly where the bleat came from. He flickered his tail and continued on towards the swamp. One more time I bleated at him and his whole demeanor changed. He stopped, looked in my direction, and committed. From about 120 yards out he changed direction and with his nose to the ground was on track to my shooting lane. When he got to about what I figured was 30-35 yards (I didn’t have a range finder) I was full draw and just like I was hoping he stopped for a moment, and with him slightly quartering away I let my arrow fly. Whack! My heart sunk to my gut as I realized I had hit him really far back towards his hind quarter. He made his way back towards the swamp where he came from, clearly in rough shape by the way he was trying to run and snorting loudly. I watched him lay down which was promising in my mind but I was questioning whether or not the shot was fatal. As I sat there hanging in the tree I needed a second opinion and called David (Co-Owner of Common Hunter) who I knew would be of some help or at least guidance. I gave him all of the details of what happened and we agreed to look for blood and if I were to bump the buck that the best idea would be to back out and wait till morning to continue the search.
Well, a half hour had passed since the shot and I decided to get down from the tree and at least look for blood. I made my way towards where I had seen the buck bed down after the shot and as I came upon that spot I saw him a few yards away, get up and slowly walk back further into the swamp. At this point, I knew he was hurt and that he wanted to bed down so I figured the best decision was going to be to wait and hope to find him in the morning.
It was a very long ride home that night as I got back and spent all night looking up advice on hind quarter shot deer. Most of what I read made me feel better about my decision to back out and give him time to bed down and expire. It seemed this was the tactic used in most successful recoveries.
Well, morning had come and it was time to get back to the woods in search for my buck. Temperatures dropped into the teens that night which I believe was a huge factor in the recovery. To sum it up quickly I found a promising blood trail starting at where I had bumped him the day before. Only about 70 yards from that spot I found my buck piled up in a pool of blood in a group of cattails in the middle of the swamp. I was overcome with relief! Everything up to that point had been such a roller coaster of emotions. I was fortunate enough for my first buck with a bow to have a happy ending!
Hope you guys enjoyed my story and I look forward to the opportunity of making more down the road. I wish everyone the best of luck this season and in seasons to come. Stay safe, shoot straight, and Stay In The Hunt!
Hunter: Austin St. Louis
Location: Northern Michigan (Lower Peninsula)
Weapon: Bowtech Reign 6