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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I finished a skull mount of the 10 point buck I shot with my bow last season on private land in Washtenaw County. Ive been reliving it for the past couple weeks while i've been working on the skull and I just had to share the story. I think it will give you all a little buck fever in between all the wonderful posts about fish lately.



This is the story of how I caught the fever. Some people won't believe me and will say that I asked for it or walked in to it with my arms wide open. Others laugh it off like they think my interest in deer hunting is nothing more than the equivalent of their fantasy football league. I cant debate it because i've never done fantasy, but my dreams have been haunted by the crunch of leaves behind me lately. This is no fantasy, it is real. The shadows really move and the shifting wind keeps me up at night. I say it proudly now like I made it through it, I beat it, I am immune now. But as I flick the remote, I know i'm kidding myself. I know that he is still there in the same places i've seen him. I could be there now instead of my couch watching football. At this moment I realize I still have it, and it is not beaten, but only growing stronger. This story starts with a bike ride and a garage sale with my family in August, and ends with a burning fever. It is not all terrible, at least not yet, I mean there are some low times, but my belly is full of fresh venison and the next deer season is fast approaching.

I didn't think id find anything, but I got off my bike and took a look for the usual old tackle box that can be a goldmine if you get lucky. But fishing tackle wasn't in the cards today. I immediately saw the case laying open on the ground, and knelt down and to investigate the bow. It was a compound but it looked like a recurve, and I drew it back and then slowly let it down, hoping it wouldn't jerk my arm off, and it didn't. I took a picture of the Oneida Eagle logo and we rode on. At home I looked it up online and realized that for $150 it was a decent price and pretty good bow from the reviews. I drove back over there and picked it up for $125. Now I was an archer. I liked the sound of that.

Figuring out what arrows to buy was like taking an astrophysics class, I was overwhelmed. I scoured amazon reviews, and watched a bunch of youtube, and realized i needed 30” arrows that were made of carbon and between 350 and 400 grains. I ordered them on amazon prime happy about my 2 day shipping deal and my credit card points, then a few days later when they didn't arrive I realized that I didn't click on prime when I ordered so i had to wait 2 more weeks until they arrived. So I ordered some other ones making sure to click the prime slider when searching this time. These arrived in 2 days...but they were 32” long!!! Wtf! So more youtubing on how to cut arrows. Jeesh. I couldn't wait to shoot the darn bow and see if it even worked. Forget it, I ended up just gluing in the inserts and shooting long arrows. I figured that a spear flies straighter than a dart so how much could it hurt. I bought an expensive black hole target on the advice of a friend who insisted that I shouldn't get a cheap one. This turned out to be good advice, I think. I was hitting the target with my long arrows, and I had bruises up and down the inside of my arm. I would learn how to correct this very quickly. I was having fun and the bow was going to work. I was sure I could shoot a deer with it. If not, shooting the target was fun enough. I had a tight group before long, and made the proper adjustments to my sight. Now I was hitting the black hole! I had a fun new hobby for the backyard and vague dreams of what thrills I might get from hunting with a bow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
October 1st came fast, and I was ready. By 6am I was sitting on the ground in a new blind my son and I built a few days earlier, not far from where I shot a small buck last year. It was a nice open v shaped spot we found inside of a fallen tree near a bedding area. I could sit on the ground and lean up against a nice solid tree limb about 8 inches in diameter right in the middle of my back. It was comfortable and provided the necessary cover with good open shooting lanes forward and to my left. I was facing north looking downhill over an open hardwood forest floor that sloped down to a swamp with a narrow path of high ground that split right through the middle of it. The swamps and path that bisected them were about 100 yards downhill directly in front of me. It was a natural deer funnel, and I quickly realized I was in a great spot when I saw a group of does pass downhill towards the swamp from their bedding area on top of the hill behind me. They were too far off but I noticed my heart start beating faster. It passed. Along time passed, and I got bored and started fumbling with my phone. It was a classic case of not being ready, he walked right up behind me and before i heard the crunch of his feet on the leaves, he was 15 yards behind me, about 5 feet uphill.. I slowly turned around and got on my knees. Of course like any rookie my bow was not in my hand. As the buck approached at an angle, he passed behind two trees and I had a chance to grab my bow and then draw it. But when my eyes focused inside of my peep sight I realized he had turned straight towards me and was looking me straight in the eyes at 15 feet. I was trembling and could barely discern one pin from three as they danced around in the circle focused on his chest. I flicked the trigger on my release and my arrow was flying. Almost immediately my arrow hit a branch, deflected into the ground, and broke in two. The deer looked at me for just a second after I shot then turned and ran back up the hill, with his tail high and white. I realized it was a bad decision to shoot at that angle and I felt lucky to have hit the branch. I also just realized that I just blew a chance on the biggest buck id ever seen. I should have just sat still and let him walk by me into my shooting lane. These would be the first and second lessons of what would become an epic bowhunting season. I wanted another chance. Would mother nature give me a redo. I would be there tomorrow and I would be ready. Brutus and his 12 points were gonna be mine. I didn't know it then but this was the beginning of the fever that still burns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I would spend another 48 hours in those woods sitting in various spots on the ground between the swamp and the top of the hill before I finally broke the fever and harvested this 10 pointer. There were a few days when I gave up after seeing nothing for 4 hours, but most days I saw deer. Often they were too far off, or a couple times I had does come in close but I got busted. One day i wont ever forget was when after 3 hours of watching squirrels, an 8 point came charging out of the thick swamp and ran up the hill and stopped 20 yards in front of me behind a fallen tree trunk. A few seconds later an even larger buck came charging out of the swamp after it and ran it off then turned around staring at the swamp. Just then like the deer was expecting it, a third deer, Brutus, came out and locked all 12 points with the second buck. They grappled a minuted and when the second deer had a chance he turned tail and ran up the hill right past me. It was just me and Brutus and one big tree trunk separating us. Brutus followed the angle of the fallen tree slowly uphill. I could see his big head and full rack as he walked behind the tree that hovered a foot off the ground, but his body was concealed, and would continue to be until he would emerge at the end of the tree where it branched out into hundreds of tiny branches making any shot impossible. I had no shot and was almost too overcome with amazement and awe to even contemplate shooting as I had just witnessed an act that most will never ever see with their own eyes and even more powerful was the feeling flowing through my veins pulsing with intensity. On another outing I had the pleasure of studying a yearling doe that walked in within a foot of me and sniffed my boots then spent 30 minutes rooting through the leaves for acorns 5 to 10 feet in front of me. I never did see her parents who I hoped would emerge from behind her. I was loving my time in the woods, and felt lucky to have witnessed so much action, but I was getting to thinking I might be spending too much time in the same spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
November 12 was my lucky day. I spent the morning near the top of the hill where the woods got thick and tangled and joined a hay field. This was were the deer were bedding down. This was were they would pass when they went to feed on acorns in the open woods heading down to the swamp where they would drink. I figured out there was a line of scrapes heading straight down the hill and I was sitting just 10 yards from this line and the wind was in my favor. I saw deer at the bottom of the hill in front of the high ground trail that bisects the swamps. There were more than 10 deer that passed through the swamp trail and I was getting frustrated watching them. After a couple hours passed and the herd had moved on I decided to move and make a ground blind for tomorrow when I would be waiting for them. I stretched, put my arrow back in the quiver, ate my sandwich, and then moved downhill where I began stacking branches and brush for some cover. While making a big rukus of breaking branches and dragging logs I saw some does emerge 50 yards in front of me between the swamps and quickly knelt down to grab my bow. I had to knock an arrow because I thought I was done for the day. As I was staring at the does I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a deer running from behind me towards the herd of does. I realized it was a buck and as he passed behind two large trees 20 yards in front of me I rose to my feet and drew. The buck took 2 steps forward from behind the tree exposing his broadside and stopped. He did not see me and was staring straight forward toward the does. I found his front leg instantly in my sight and followed it directly up to where it joined the chest and flicked the trigger before I could think twice about it. As my arrow flew I could see its arc and I saw the bright green fletching disappear into the thick fur. The beast bucked up and kicked its hind legs back. It bounded into the swamp where it tore a path through the thick tangle of cattails and water. I lost sight of it but followed its crashing sound to its end. The sensation of victory flowed through my pumping veins and each breath of air felt lighter and lighter. I stood there shaking for 10 minutes before I set my bow down and began to realize I had done it finally. I was sure of my shot and knew I had a clean hit. I would wait for 90 minutes of pure glory and anticipation before moving from from my spot to find him. I called a lot of friends and family while I waited and snapped a picture of where i shot him.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I quickly found blood and a my broken arrow that had passed through the vitals of the buck.




He fell 40 yards from where I shot him, 30 yards into the swamp. There was a clear trail he blazed through the tall grass smeared with blotches of bright red every few feet which made finding him pretty easy.






After a few moments of reverence and thankfulness I got to work kneeling in six inches of water.




Dragging him out of the swamp and up the hill was one of the most grueling acts I have ever undertaken but one that I wanted to do by myself. After a 1/4 mile and over an hour later I had the deer in the truck and was heading home to hang it.




After hanging for a night I began the processing. I really enjoy this part and take pride in using everything I can. Each deer I have harvested I learn to use more and do a better job at it.




This is my first archery deer and biggest buck ever so I wanted to make trophy for my wall. I tanned the hide using an alum powder and water soak for 3 weeks. I strung the hide to a frame to dry it. Now im using last years fur for tying flies and keeping this one for memories.




I removed the skin from the deer head and then buried it in my garden for 8 months.




I dug it up 2 weeks ago and could not believe how clean it was. The worms and bugs did a great job. I sprayed it off with the hose and it here it is.




After 2 coats of 40% hydrogen peroxide cream mixture ($15 on amazon) and a piece of wood I got at hobby lobby ($7) I have a trophy on my wall that im proud of.




The pursuit, processing, eating, and displaying of this animal has been one of the best experiences of my life. Every time I look at it I get to relive those intense moments of the hunt, and relish the meals ive shared with my family and friends, and think about the next time ill get to tell this story to another hunter.


 

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After hanging for a night I began the processing. I really enjoy this part and take pride in using everything I can. Each deer I have harvested I learn to use more and do a better job at it...Now im using last years fur for tying flies and keeping this one for memories.
That was a lot to read but thoroughly enjoyable. I've quoted my favorite part above. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
 

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Most excellent! Well told.
Congrats on your prize.
A tale of caution to anyone who would touch /pick up a bow...l.o.l..

Split hide on legs along/between consistent color lines for more uniform shape. Ya, I had some interesting shapes figuring it out ,eventually, sort of.
 
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I really enjoyed reading that! With August coming and a hint of cooler weather on the horizon Ive been thinking deer lately myself. Your story took me there and has got me excited for the new season!! Great read and great pictures!! Congrats! Thanks for sharing!!:)
 

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Congrats on a fine buck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Cover
How did you keep the mice and squirrels off the rack when buried in the ground?
Or the sun from really bleaching it badly....
Ps.. magazine worthy!
I covered it with plastic bin and put a cinder block on top. Thanks for all the great comments, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
 
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