“We Couldn’t Believe the Buck Survived the Shot” - By NBBC Member Jeff Orason
This hunt really begins during bow season of 2010 in Massachusetts. I was at home having dinner on a week night when my buddy, Jeff Damico, called to say that he had arrowed a really nice buck and needed some help finding it. It was dark by the time I arrived. Jeff showed me the blood trail and where the deer had stopped or bedded down. There was heavy pink blood everywhere. I didn't think that the buck could possibly go very far. Jeff was confident about his hit on the buck.
I had arrived around 7 p.m. At 10 p.m. we gave up the search. I could not believe that, with the amount of blood we had followed, the deer could still be alive.
Jeff took the next morning off to look for the buck, but no luck. He went back that afternoon and again, no luck. I had to work Saturday, but Jeff went back yet again. He hunted in the morning and then looked for the buck again, no luck. We could not believe it, but the buck must have survived.
This area holds some really good deer and, on the last day of the 2010 muzzleloader hunt, Jeff shot a great buck.
Fast-forward to a cold frosty Thanksgiving morning in 2011. I had been having a pretty bad season. So, even though this area is not all that big, Jeff told me to come with him and hunt the area that he had taken the muzzleloader buck from.
We arrived well before daylight. Jeff pointed in the direction he thought I should go and he was going about another 300-400 yards away. I was familiar with the area because we had hunted it a few times before. Jeff and I primarily hunt with our climbers. So I found a good tree by the swamp and up I went.
The wind was out of the North at 3-5 mph. Jeff and I are always vigilant about scent control. We spray down when we get out of truck, including our bows and stands. At about 7 a.m., I heard a deer walking toward me directly down wind. I didn't know what it was as it ws coming from behind some trees. So I grabbed my bow and waited.
When I first saw the deer at about 100 yards, I knew it was a mature buck by his body size. While his antler tines seemed short, the mainbeams had some good mass. The buck walked about another ten yards and, despite our scent control, winded me. He stopped threw his nose in the air and started stomping his foot. After about 30 seconds, he turned to leave. I grabbed my grunt tube and gave him a single grunt that stopped him. He did not look back and, after a second or two, kept walking. I angled my grunt tube a little to my right and hit it again with a deeper grunt. The buck stopped, turned around, and started heading towards me.
He was still about 80 yards away and I knew the shot would be to my right, which meant I had to stand up and turn to my right. I waited until I thought he was looking in the best direction and I started to stand up. The buck busted me. I was halfway up when his head raised up and he was looking right at me. I couldn't believe it; I’m 80 yards away and I 20 feet up a tree! I froze at halfway standing up with my bow in one hand and my grunt tube in the other.
We always say it seems like an eternity when something happens with a deer, but we literally had a stand off for about four minutes. He didn't move and neither did I, although towards the end my legs were shaking. Finally, he twitched his tail and started angling to my right. I stood straight up, turned and put my release on my Drenlin bow.
With the angle he was taking, the only shot opportunity I thought I would have would be between two big pines I had ranged at 40 yards, but my sight was set at 25 yards. I needed to turn even more for the shot. I do not wear a glove on my right hand and, when I moved my hand to adjust my sight, the sharp eyed buck busted me again. For about 30 seconds he stared right at me and then continued walking.
He was going to walk behind the pines and, as soon as his eyes were behind the first tree, I adjusted my sight, turned, drew my bow and waited for him to clear the other tree. I timed my shot on him as I didn't dare try to stop him with the grunt call again.
When my arrow hit, the buck kicked and ran about 60 yards and stopped. I couldn't see him until he fell, then I couldn't see him at all. Suddenly, he rolled down the hill, got up and ran a short way and then went down for good.
I sent my buddy Jeff a text message that I had shot a buck. Jeff was probably 300-400 yards away and gave up the rest of his morning hunt to come and help me clean and drag my deer out. I was very lucky to have cleanly harvested this buck because my shot had been back, but hit the carotid artery in his hind quarter. Jeff and I have been lucky enough to drag a few deer together and I wouldn't trade those times for anything.
I am very proud of this buck. With a stand off like that and being able to come out on top with a mature buck is very cool. I hope that everyone reading this story has experienced, or will experience, that feeling.
The story doesn't stop there. The next day I brought the deer to some friends of ours (Brian Knoll and Jarrod Ebert) that do a great job butchering deer. Brian and Jarrod were making quick work of the deer and Brian was cutting out thebackstrap when he said, "Check this out. There is an arrow in the deer just below the spine.” As I looked at the arrow, I realized it was a green Full Metal Jacket. As I was telling the guys that is what Jeff shoots, Brian asked if he also shot black and white Blazers because there was another piece of an arrow with those vanes on it. There were two pieces of an arrow, which together were about seven inches total, and they were side by side. It was then that I realized that this was the same buck that Jeff had shot last year. That was very cool!
After telling Jeff what we had figured out, the first thing he thought of was that the buck had lost so much antler growth. Jeff remembered the buck’s rack was much wider and had longer tines the year before. I guess what the experts say about a bucks rack being affected by a wound is true.
What amazing animals deer are, and what great memories they give us. I always tell people that do not know anything about our great sport that it is not about "killing an animal," as many non hunters think. Rather, it is about the good times with friends and family and the great memories that we get out of almost each and every hunt, scouting trip, shed hunting trip or even tracking trips.