On a cool, quiet morning in the middle of October, we made our way into the woods. After three days of hunting the area with some promising sign, today was the day. We had the feeling that on this morning, my buck tag would be filled. I was up at my cousin Davids house in northern Michigan on the first bow hunt of my life. I had been hunting for 8 years before then but rifle only. David was hard pressed to get me my first ever deer with my bow. A bow which his friend had given me only a few months prior.
As we arrived at that morning’s spot, we took the wrong access trail in. Stumbling through the woods and looking at OnX maps, we finally made it to the tree stand with only the loudest entrance we had made all weekend. As we climb up into the stand, myself in a tree stand, and David in a tree saddle behind me to film, the action picked up quick. As Dave got the camera gear ready, I heard a loud snap to my left. I knew something was coming in but I wasn’t sure what had made the sound. As we finally got settled in, I see movement 60 yards to my left. In a thick brush pile, I could see the body of a deer but wasn’t sure what it was. As the deer milled around eating and smelling, I then saw the rack. A very nice Michigan eight point. I took my bow off the hanger I had and got my release hooked. The deer was slowly working its way into bow range, which for me was 30-35 yards. As this buck got closer to the old logging road, where I had a good shooting lane, I saw another deer come in behind him. This buck made my eight-point look small. A big eight or ten point with a beautiful basket curve rack. Though today was not my day to be greedy. The eight-point I had my eye on stepped onto the logging road. I drew back and David let out a “Brap”. The buck froze. I put my pin on the top of his shoulder and let it fly. The silence of the arrow flying through the air seemed to take minutes. The deer jumped a touch but I knew I connected. We watched as the two deer ran back into the thick. I was filled with emotions of excitement and anxiety as I knew I had not put the best shot on this deer.
Shortly after, David was reviewing the film, I spotted a coyote coming from the opposite direction. I notified David. The coyote was headed right towards us, David grabbed his bow, stopped the coyote and smoked the coyote! The coyote spun around squealing and trotted off. We knew the coyote would die, it was just a matter of time. We tracked the blood trail right to private property. It was a great experience!
As we came up to the arrow after the shot we saw immediately that it was a gut shot. I felt sick yet strangely hopeful that we could find this deer. We pulled out of the woods and spent the day without power back at the house. The house is more of a glorified pole barn, just our style. Eight hours later we headed out to the woods with a dog tracker we had called right after the shot. With nervousness and anxiety, we followed the dogs, nose to the ground, following the invisible trail left by the deer. After about a half hour I hear the gentleman say “Victory!” As I walk up on the buck I can see that my shot wasn’t perfect, but realize that this is part of hunting. Nothing is always perfect, but I could have not been more happy with the outcome. A beautiful Michigan, Public Land, buck. I will never forget that day, and if there were a way I could express to David how thankful I am, I would find it, but words are not enough. The first buck with a stick and string, on public land, with a great man, in a great state. To me, this day was perfect.
Hunter: Mark Bazen
Location: Northern Michigan