The Excitement Got the Better of Me
by Don Christensen
First day of the 2008 archery season ended up raining all day so I was stuck in the house. Day 2 was just scattered showers so I was out there in the afternoon but absolutely nothing moved by me. The high point of my third sit was watching a couple blue jays. By this time I was starting to wonder what was up with this fall.
When day 4 arrived, it was dry as a bone and a hot 70 degrees. I went out to the stand without too much excitement. I figured the deer would keep in the nocturnal patterns they'd been in as that moon is pretty bright at night. Between that and the heat, I was just planning on some relaxing time in the stand. Who knows, maybe my blue jays would come back. About 6:30 I heard something approaching from off to my right. It sounded big but it didn't really move like a deer. All of a sudden a big sow bear showed up with a cub tagging along close behind. She was pretty nervous and while the cub stayed close to her, it was fairly obvious he wanted to play more than anything.
Once they moved on, all was quiet again. Absolutely nothing moved for about a half hour until I heard a branch snap off to my left. I wondered if the bears were coming back and was really surprised to catch a glimpse of antlers through the trees. Big antlers! As he worked closer, I got a good look at a heavy rack with incredible mass all the way up. I thought it could be the drop tine we've been seeing on the trail cams, but when I looked closely, he only had 8 points. I argued with myself for quite a while, finally winning and letting him walk. Beautiful deer, but it was so early in a 4 month season that I just didn't want to end it so soon.
By this time I was pretty keyed up. The bear got my blood going and that buck slipping through the trees didn't do anything to slow my heart down. Imagine my excitement when I once again caught a glimpse of antlers coming through the trees. This one ended up having less mass but 9 points. Very similar to the last one, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I decided he was the one for me and put my arrow where it counted.
He ended up going almost 250 yards, but the track was relatively easy. Toughest part was that he decided to plow through just about every thorny blackberry bush he could find. The tracking job took about an hour and a half. The dragging job took longer.
He dressed out at 163.5 pounds and the processor estimated live weight at almost 200.
By the way, this was my first set of antlers since learning to use my crossbow with only my teeth to aim and a sip-and-puff trigger activator. My hands never left my lap. I harvested one doe that way last year, but I didn't see any good bucks.