Swing and a miss, strike one.
Swing and a miss, strike two.
It is moments like this I wish I had an excuse like giving up tobacco during the season and replacing it with caffeine. I don’t.
The return trip to Stonewall at the end of the October archery season was round 2 of my baptism into bowhunting. Excuse me, crossbow hunting. The first trip was little more than a look-see. I wasn’t ready for the big leagues and I knew.
The second trip I came more prepared. With some additional tuning and practice I felt like Hamilton in that home run derby at Yankee Stadium. I was ready to swing for the fences.
Mike Leggett and I showed up at the Pitts Ranch just in time to climb in a stand for an afternoon hunt. With bucks chasing does throughout the Hill Country, Leggett opted for a tripod stand in an oak motte where he could rattle. I headed for a ladder stand sitting 30 yards from a feeder.
With a southwest wind blowing in advance of an oncoming front, the ladder was positioned with the wind blowing in my face. I got settled in the seat and patiently waited for the feeder to go off. Sitting there I remember the last time I hunted the stand I set it off early, then let it go off again on the timer about 5:30. It was a rookie mistake, but not the end of the world.
Immediately after it went off, tossing corn in all directions, a spotted fawn and doe walked in to feed. It was as if they had been lying in the high grass next to the feeder the whole time because I never saw them wander up.
Close on their tail was a buck. He was young and didn’t show the darkened hocks of a deer that had been chasing doe, but he was a nice deer. I waited my time by watching the buck walk around the feeder. He was a constant motion machine.
Then finally. There he was at 30 yards. He didn’t offer a good shot, but at least he was in the ballpark. I started to get ready, and then he turned broadside with his head down in the corn.
I heard the arrow tinkling off the rocks behind the feeder and watched the deer disappear.
I took note of the crime scene. I didn’t find any blood (from where I might have shot myself) and there wasn’t a hole in the feeder. All in all, I considered it a good afternoon, but with the loss of a broadhead and bolt, an expensive afternoon.
The next morning I was back in the same stand, determined not to swing so wildly.
I was resolute and it was a good thing. As soon as the feeder went off deer, fawn, does and young bucks, came in. So did a herd of blackbuck antelope, including one monster dark-black buck that would be a trophy to anyone.
I was calm and ready.
I really wanted a shot at the blackbuck, but after watching him and his entourage for 10 minutes there was nothing I could do but dream as they wandered off.
The first round of deer also left, all in directions I didn’t have a shot, but were soon replaced by a trio of young bucks, two dinks and a decent youngster. I had almost convinced myself to let them go when an old 8-pointer limped in. Compared to the younger buck, he was a scrub, but his maturity changed the dynamics around the feeder. He forced the younger buck to my side, and within range at 30 yards.
I again picked up my bow. I slowly took aim. I looked up once to see what was what. The deer were calm. More importantly, so was I.
I squeezed the trigger. Watching through the scope everything seemed to happen in slow motion. That includes seeing the arrow sail over the deer’s back.
Another swing. Another big Josh Hamilton miss.
Leggett suggested, and possibly correct, that I wasn’t as calm as I thought and I used the 40-yard pin instead of the 30. It is also possible the buck jumped the string and ducked as I shot.
He referred to my technique as air archery. It wasn’t a proud moment.
But another lesson learned. Aim low.
The problem is at $18 a lesson I don’t know how much more education I can afford.
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