The opening day of archery season in PA started on a brisk, frosty morning in Potter County. My daughter, Taylor, and I spent the morning in a blind on what we call the upper food plot. This blind usually isn’t a morning sit, however it’s always a good option. As we were patiently waiting for the woods to come alive when dawn broke there was nothing. About an hour later, with hot hands and shaking knees, we attentively watched fawns walk within arm’s reach of the blind! After the youngsters moved on, a very nervous doe knew something wasn’t quite right. She wouldn’t come close enough but it was exciting to have her nearby. We sat there until the attention of a ten year old was stretched thin. Back to the house we went.
We took a break for more coffee and snacks. Taylor and I went back out for a before noon hunt. As I suspected, we didn’t see anything. When my daughter says lets go hunting, we go!
For the evening hunt, my father in law had a plan. This involved borrowing Taylor’s crossbow while she and grandma hit the woods for the evening. I went up to a huge old oak tree on the edge of a field where several different does and bucks were frequently visiting. Taylor did a great job applying copious amounts of face paint since I’d be fairly not well hidden in sparse goldenrod. As I hunkered down and played the West wind at the base of this old oak tree, I had “my” pink camo youth crossbow on a set of shooting sticks ready for the evening. I hit the range finder to mentally mark some clumps of weeds in the field and made a shooting lane thru the goldenrod. Thirty-three yards to this and twenty yards to that. I was set, now all I needed was the deer. A few hours went by and then the wind calmed down. It was perfect; quiet… almost too quiet.
As I was thinking that this is just my luck to be on the edge of a known hot spot and I don’t see anything. I saw the white movement of antlers rise and fall just on the edge of the field. I had to wait, which seemed like eternity to see what was actually walking out. Then I saw the mass and the number of points. I had to focus and not move a muscle or my cover would be blown!
Anything that came from that corner of the field had to come out about twenty yards from the edge to utilize my shooting lane for perfect yardage. One. Step. At. A. Time. Finally, the buck cleared the last clump of weeds but his front leg was back. So, there was a bruiser of a buck feeding 30 yards away that would no doubt, be my biggest harvest and I had to hold it together for the perfect shot.
The buck’s next move was to raise his head from feeding, look back and take one last step! I squeezed the trigger, saw the bolt impact and it sounded like a good hit! After the shot, I collected my cool and listened for the crash! There it was, the crash! The epic, after shot, crash of a big buck down!
I called in the tracking crew. I was certain he was down and it would look like a massacre the entire way to the down buck. We went to the edge of the field where the buck ran into the woods and there were only a few drops of blood. My heart and excitement tanked. I was marking blood and hoping for more blood to trail but not yet. Then about 50 yards later, we hit a lot of good blood to track. I said he can’t be that far, I know I heard the crash. Before we crossed a small gully, I looked across and there was the huge body! I couldn’t cross that dry creek bed fast enough to get my hands on this buck. This was almost unreal to think that I had just harvested the largest buck of my hunting adventures with my daughter’s crossbow. It was an opening day to remember and one that will hang on the wall!