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Missed by a hair......

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Missed by a hair......

Old 12-13-2007, 08:08 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Location: Heaven IA USA
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Default Missed by a hair......

There wasn’t a well worn trail, an assembly of scrapes, or a rub line that convinced me to put a stand in the location that I chose. In fact there wasn’t even a hint of the classical deer sign that we normally associate with taking down a buck. The topography, talked to me however, it just felt right. A mature buck could use the slope as cover and with the right wind could scent check an enormous amount of area without ever cresting the hill.

In order to make my chosen location ideal there was much work to be done. To be able get a shot off at reasonable yardages larger limbs growing higher than I could reach with my ‘extend-a-saw’ would have to be cut. I toted in a ladder and a chainsaw to reach those limbs and in doing so probably violated every safety law known throughout the tree service union. While carrying out my laborious task I created enough saw dust to turn a redheaded wood pecker, green with envy. I lifted and lugged so much lumber that when I went home and looked in the mirror I was disappointed when I didn’t resemble a young Arnold Schwarzenegger from the extreme exertion I put myself through. It took a portion of three back breaking days and two nights of the dreaded leg cramps to complete the project to the point where I felt it was acceptable to pull off my premeditated ambuscade.

When the wind was finally right to hunt my spot the morning was ugly. It was a cold November morning. For four hours I had endured the cold, sleet, and the lack of game. The worst however was the rain; it rained off and on for the better part of two hours. I was just thinking of packing it in when I caught movement and saw an advancing buck walking in directly behind me. Much to my chagrin wet leaves and his rearward position allowed him to arrive well within the bounds of my “magic circle” undetected. Without taking my eyes off of the buck I slowly reached for my bow. I remained seated because at this close distance I was afraid if I stood it would alert the buck to my presence and I could easily shoot to my left from my position. The buck stopped behind a tree; I couldn’t see its face or its body, but I could see a massive rack protruding around both sides of the tree trunk.

Judging from the length of time it was taking him to move my guess was he knew something was “rotten in Denmark”. Being he was upwind of me and a steady breeze blowing in my face, I knew he couldn’t smell me but I was afraid he was going to bolt for some unknown reason. His next move proved to me that he was suspicious of foul play. He made an abrupt high stepping left hand turn that when I mouth grunted him to a stop put him smack in the middle of Harms Way Avenue. I couldn’t have asked for a better shot opportunity, slightly quartering away at twenty six and a half yards; I could taste victory, I had made this shot a hundred times….

He was a real beauty; his 150 plus rack was wide and tall. His long tines possessed a handsome curve that seemed to bring out some kind of mysterious lust in the heart of this hunter. There are those that have used the term “horn porn” to describe this emotion. I know not all hunters care about the antler size of the deer they kill, I certainly don’t have a problem with that. Whatever reasons a guy hunts, we all know the excitement one experiences when a shot at an animal is eminent. That excitement is one of the things that keep all of us coming back. It is the common ground that every hunter walks on. At the moment my senses were tingling with that excitement and the expectation of what was about to go down. After all of my efforts I felt I would look like a “stinkin’ genius” when I put this big bad buck on the ground. Yes, I had planned my work and now I was working my plan; a grinch-like smile pursed across my lips as I settled my pin….

You don’t expect a veteran of any endeavor to make rookie mistakes but it happens. Bill Buckner could field another hundred ground balls and not have a single one go through his legs. Phil Mickelson could have a two shot lead on the 72nd hole of ten U.S. Opens and not make the mistake in judgment he did in 06. There are plenty more examples but I think you know what I mean.

On that cold wet November day, as I sat poised on the edge of “greatness,” (I use that term loosely of course) for whatever unknown reason, I made a conscious effort to raise my pin up from is original position on the side of the “wired” buck; and with that decision snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

I touched the release and watched in humbling horror as my arrow flew just over that ducking buck’s back. When he disappeared over the ridge, and my disappointment dissipated somewhat, I climbed down to retrieve my arrow and go home dreaming of what might have been. I was cleaning the dirt from my broadhead when I noticed a patch of hair on the ground just to the right of where my arrow had been. I picked it up, chuckled at my stupidity, and put it in my pocket as a reminder of what not to do at my next encounter. It occurred to me that while I will never forget our meeting, the buck wouldn’t forget it either.

As children we were taught in Sunday school that the definition of sin is simply “missing the mark”. I had definitely missed my mark. The offence I committed I will forever regret, the haunting of missing such a big buck with such an easy shot to execute will go on for quite some time. I wish I could have a “do over” but alas I must accept my shortcoming, forgive myself, and move on.

One of the beautiful things about bowhunting is that every morning begins a new adventure. It is a renewal of sorts, a type of redemption if you will. Each day there is a renewed sense of hope and anticipation. In the bowhunting world the sins of the past while perhaps not forgotten, are forgiven one half hour before sunrise. A guy gets to start out with a clean slate…thank goodness for that.

So it was on this blustery November morning. I saw him first from a distance. I had just enough time to size him up in the binoculars before he disappeared on a side hill in his search for does. He wasn’t a giant but this late in the game if I got an opportunity I was going to do everything I could to help him bed eternally.

He suddenly reappeared forty yards in front of me and stopped broadside. It gave me just enough time to put the range finder on him. For reasons known only to him without warning he did an about face. This was as close as he was ever going to get. I stood up, pulled back the string, and bleated to get him to stop almost all in one motion. He stopped on a dime, I found a spot on the crease and released; the arrow flew true. He ran down the hill out of view with no visual indication of the hit. Even so I knew he was in deep trouble.

When I got down and looked at my arrow it told me he wouldn’t be hard to find, he couldn’t go far spraying the pink mist that clung to the ‘Super Slim’ shaft buried in mother earth. Sure enough after I crested the hill I could see his white belly some sixty yards away.

After admiring my prize I sat down beside the fallen monarch and contemplated my season and this encounter. How different this meeting was than the one that got away. No real drama here. The buck came in, presented a shot, THWACK game over! It never ceases to amaze me that the exhausting effort put into a season can be rewarded or rebuffed with a single encounter lasting only a matter of a few fleeting seconds. If bowhunting has taught me anything it is that hard work doesn’t always spell success, but if you are going to be consistent, you won’t be successful without it.

I will always be thankful for the buck I got, but a small tuft of hair and the memory of an incredible encounter with a certain buck brought about by a single thought and an enormous amount of toil, won’t let me forget the one that got away….

Didn't get the trophy I wanted but he did leave me a small gift....A swatch of his beautful coat....

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Old 12-13-2007, 08:12 AM
Dominant Buck
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

I wait for this EVERY YEAR!

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Old 12-13-2007, 08:29 AM
Giant Nontypical
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

These are the stories that make this forum great. Congrats and thanks for sharing your experience with us.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:34 AM
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

Nice weather for december hunting.

Good job.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:36 AM
Typical Buck
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

Great story...People who do not bow hunt have no idea of the highs and lows of emotions that are involved.
Congratulations on the nice buck.
Enjoyed the story.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:37 AM
Fork Horn
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

Wow, great read!! And congrats on the buck...
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:40 AM
Giant Nontypical
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

Me to and then some!!!!!!!!!

I wait for this EVERY YEAR!

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Old 12-13-2007, 08:41 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

Thank you sir for your story. Congrats on the victory and the defeat.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:48 AM
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......

You sir, have an absolute gift for writing. I look forward to this story every year from you, and thank you once again for sharing your victory with us! I almost felt as if I were there with you.

Congrats on a great buck! That's a beauty. Nicely done sir. Nicely done.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:00 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Missed by a hair......


I wait for this EVERY YEAR!

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