The day was October 24th, 2018. I had left work early to be able to be in the stand for a good solid hour and a half. I knew things would be starting to heat up anytime here in Indiana. And as the sun began to set, it all was coming together!
But let me back up. The last couple of seasons for me had been rough. No dead deer. No meat in the freezer. I have been strictly bow hunting for about five years in a row and made a commitment to myself, I will not shoot a buck unless he’s over 140 pounds.
October 1st… it is finally here! Opening day of the 2018 Archery Season! I was on the same property I have been hunting for about eight years. It’s not huge, and it’s not big. But it had everything! Cover, soybeans, corn, water, and.. DEER! Leading up to this day, I put a ton of work in a new stand location. A cattle pasture. I was on a tree line in a big old oak tree overlooking a cattle pasture. The woods was about 100 yards in front of me. And to my right, was a harvested corn field. I felt so good about this location that, every time I sat in it, I knew every day was the day! Here is a view from before season:
October 4th, 2018. 4th day of Archery Season. Weather was cool this evening. It had gone from 74-degree day to a 50-degree evening. Knowing of the temp drop, I had left work early. (Perk of being a Sales Manager at a Car Dealership) I was in the stand for no more than an hour. Scanning the pasture, marking everything in sight with my range finder, and BOOM! I looked up and seen the first few deer of the season. A few does are walking towards me on one of the paths that I had mowed and sprayed before the season. They were about 60 yards in front of me. (My stand faces North) With an eight mph wind coming from the South, I was sure they would catch my wind. But, I remembered I had used my Common Hunter Ozone Unit just an hour before. It took these do, what seemed like forever to get close enough that I could roughly tell the age and size. First doe, decently sized, the second doe turned out to be a 6-7″ spike, and then I saw her. The third doe. A big, old, mature doe.
Knowing how my last few seasons have gone, I decided that, if she comes in close enough for a shot, I’m going to take her! I grabbed my Mathews Creed off the tree hook and started ranging once more to be sure of my distances. They were now at 40 yards. I looked down and put my release on my D loop. I was ready. I looked back up, and they had split off into the tree line as if they were going to jump the fence and head into the cornfield. I said to myself, “That’s a bummer,” as I took my release off my D loop. As quickly as I took it off, I had to put it back on. The old mature doe came back out, and she was coming in fast. I drew back when she got to exactly 20 yards! Quartering towards me just a little bit, nearly broadside! I let the arrow fly, and that Rage Hyperdermic cut through that shoulder like butter! Perfect shot! With the arrow sticking into the ground, fletchings up, I watched her run about 60 yards and crash. Here are a couple of pictures of the deer and me. Sorry, it was bad lighting, and I used my Polaris Rangers headlights for the picture.
At last! Meat in the freezer! Couldn’t be happier with the way it played out. She weighed in at 127 lbs. , field dressed. But now, it was time to hunt harder than ever for my trophy buck!
October 24th, 2018. I had a couple of pictures of a shooter buck that I was after. And he was in the area of my stand on each picture! I judged him to be a 3.5-year-old. Brows were a solid 10+ inches tall; one was split. He was wide! I mean for me, he had it all!
With the first major cold front of the season, I had left work early to be able to be in the stand for a good solid hour and a half. I knew things would be starting to heat up anytime here in Indiana. Ten minutes in the stand, I had a small 8 point work his way from the West side of the pasture. He came into 30 yards, and I was able to get a good look at him. He was young. Not very wide, not very tall, but this little guy had some character. He had mass and even a kicker under his left main beam that stuck out about 3-4 inches. (anxious to see what that possible third main beam looks like next year). He was out cruising and looking for a hot doe.
And as the sun started to set, it all was coming together! I happened to look over my left shoulder to the south and saw what I thought was a rack just on the inside of the standing corn field. “Nope, no way,” I said to myself. After staring at it for a good minute and it not moving, I looked away. But the thought of it was still in my head. So, I looked back again… And it moved! It was him! 40 yards behind me! *** I am getting chills as we speak writing this***
It was so quiet. Not even the slightest of breeze. I reached up and turned on my video camera. With him being so close and me not wanting to get busted, I just pointed the camera on the “Kill Spot” where I knew he would walk to. This was the slowest moving deer I had ever seen. He slowly made his way towards me. Every couple steps he would stop and look around. Never once did this buck put his head down. As he got closer, I knew when I had to draw back. This big Oak Tree I was in, was still green with leaves. So as he got covered up by a big branch, I was out of his sight, and he was out of mine. I drew back! He stopped. Still no shot. I held and held, for what was about 2 minutes, steady as can be. I only needed a few more steps!!!
He took those steps… and stopped. This was it! My confidence level was through the rough! I let that arrow fly! I heard the smack…. and it didn’t sound good. Now, I can’t repeat my next words, but just imagine watching your biggest buck to date running and grunting with no more than 2″ of arrow penetration. I hit him way high. But what happened?! I had the pin right behind his shoulder! I was steady! I felt 100% about the shot I took! Did I jerk?! No. Did I possibly hit a twig?! No way. WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!?!?!
Sick to my stomach, I went back home to review the footage. I watched it over and over in slow motion for 2 hours… This buck ducked my arrow at 20 yards!!!!!!! 20!!!!!! I have had deer duck my arrow before, but not at 20 yards! In slow motion, you can see him duck, belly to the ground, well before my Mathews Creed could get the arrow theirs! But maybe just maybe I hit that main artery. (Fingers Crossed)
Eagerness took over. I went out to look after a couple of hours. Blood. Blood everywhere! Not just little drops, but I mean spraying! I tracked and tracked, until midnight. I couldn’t eat nor sleep. I contacted my boss and asked to come into work late the next morning so that I could go back out with sunlight. So I did. More blood! I went to work and left early again. And wouldn’t you know, I was out till midnight once again. Still, no dinner for me, and absolutely no sleep.
Day 3 of the search. I had a buddy come with me. He brought his newly trained dog who was 1/1 on finding deer. We tracked over 2 miles total. And wouldn’t you know… out till midnight once more! Now, I am married to nearly a 4-year-old son. And my wife supports me when it comes to my hunting seasons. BUT, by this time she is a tad upset with me, for not being home in 3 days. I gave up. I was over it. I tried my hardest. And when everyone asks me about it, I would respond with “No doubt in my mind he died. He lost way too much blood” Which made me want to puke every time I responded. Below is just a picture of some blood. And these don’t do it any justice:
Like I said before, I was done. After that, I had no motivation to go back out. I was tired, worn out, and just couldn’t see holding my bow another time during this deer season. I had thought of even selling it and giving it all up for good. But who am I kidding? I love this sport! I love this hobby!
But, I didn’t go back out the remainder of the season. I just told myself “Next season is a fresh start. I have meat in the freezer. Be happy.”
So I did just that. As it still burns and stings, I can realize that I didn’t do anything wrong. The shot. The tracking. Nothing. This buck was just very smart. Now I did still go out to the woods of course. Squirrel hunting, thinking of the upcoming turkey season and just walking around. And one day I decided to pack up my trail cams. But who isn’t going to look once more at it? I pulled out my Common Hunter Trail Cam Viewer. And within a few seconds, my mouth dropped. I got chills. I looked forward. Looked back at my phone. And with the biggest smile on my face, I said, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.”
YEP, it was him! He is alive! He looks good! He didn’t lose much weight if any! Still out running this area like a boss! Has a wound from where I hit him, but the fact that he didn’t lose weight, tells me he’s healthy! Here is the picture:
So, why do I call this a success story? Mainly because I learned a lot this season. “Albert Brownstein” lived. And if I hadn’t given up and got so down on myself, I may have had another crack at him. I got a big mature doe in the freezer. And when I put everything together, the early season stand location, the food plot, making my thick trails in the pasture, Would I have even seen him this year? I am so happy he lived and is healthy. I am grateful for the meat I have in the freezer.
That is why I call this a success story. Until next year Albert Brownstein, until next year.
Hunter: Steven Miller
Location: North Central Indiana