The morning of Sept 9th was like most of the summer; wet. The heavy rains over the course of the summer had provided great feed and lots of cover for mule deer in Central BC. When I first saw the rain running down my window I was less than joyful, with Sept 9th being the last day of archery season before the general rifle season. I knew that I would be foolish to not head out. With my University lectures on hold I packed my gear and headed out to my mule deer area.
After leaving my car I made my way to a ground blind I had set up in the summer. Two and a half hours later with my patience wearing thin and soaked from the rain I decided to start still hunting. I decided to combine still hunting and glassing. I would work the one ridge, and glass the far ridge watching for bedded bucks.
After moving up four hundred or so meters I spotted a shed below me. My binoculars showed it to be a small three point shed. Excited by the prospect of seeing the shed close up I headed down to it. After examining the shed I turned to head back up the ridge and continue my hunt. As I started to walk back up the ridge I spotted antler tips sticking up 80m away.
Glassing the area I spotted a nice rack below me.
Closer inspection revealed a nice 4×4 mulie buck. I quickly assessed the buck, and decided that if I could get within range, and get a shot I could take him.
My excitement of being so close quickly diminished as I looked over my routes to the bedded buck. The wind was in my face so that wasn’t a problem. But the buck was bedded in front a rise, the back of which I knew to be covered in young fir with lots of twigs and fir cones- not an option.
Circling downhill and coming from the front was impossible as the buck had a perfect vantage point, and except two fir trees there was no cover higher than my knees for 200m. Fortunately between me and the deer were several trees which I could use as cover. My only option was to head straight at the buck for 40m, and then make a half circle under him to the young trees and use them as cover.
Leaving my bag, I started across the side hill. In a hunched over walk, I slowly crept from tree to tree. At one point in an exposed area I had to use my one free hand as I slid and crawled toward him. After covering 40m I was within range, the buck was directly in front of me and slightly above, but was blocked from sight by waist high snow berry brushes. I started to crab crawl a 30m half circle under him to the point I would have a tree between me and him and hopefully a clear shot.
As I started out, I remember thinking that the rain had made this possible with the wet grass being close to silent. Doing my best impression of a crab I covered the 30 meters using knee high grass and brush as cover. Now I was 35m away. I had made it! I was within range of a great buck! But I had no shot. The tree was now providing cover for the unknowing buck. Slowly making my way up to the tree I peaked around.
The buck was still bedded down directly in front of me, facing to my left at 27 yards and totally unaware of me. Looking through a 4″ hole in the branches I watched the buck and planned that when he stood I would come to full draw, and rise up onto my knees to clear the branches. With the morning being early I figured I’d be waiting for awhile.
I’d like to say I was calm, but as I sat watching the buck my mind started to accept where I was. Slowly I started to get the dreaded feeling of buck fever with my legs started to impersonate Elvis, my hands clamped around my bow. I was starting to get really nervous with how wound up I was, if the buck had of stood I don’t know if I would have been able to draw back! Slowly I gathered my wits and calmed down, I just kept thinking, its 3-D, its 3-D (about every third time I thought it my mind would scream “NO ITS NOT, NO MULIGAN HERE!”).
I was very surprised when after only 30 minutes the buck stood to stretch. When he stood instinct and training took over it was 3-D, I drew, raised up onto my knees, set the pins on the imaginary spot I picked and I waited. The buck had turned to face directly toward me offering no shot. The buck then turned to my right and started to feed, but his leg was drawn back. Slowly the buck started to pull his leg forward. As the leg moved forward my 30 yard pin sat low, my 20 high. I started to put pressure on the release. As the pressure built on the release everything took a turn for the worst!
As the release let go I watch the buck pull his leg back and swing his head toward me. The arrow ripped forward, but instead of the perfect lung hit, my arrow hit bone with a loud crack. The buck in a single jump covering 15m and dropping right off an eight food drop. When the buck hit the ground he collapsed! He was down!
Thinking the buck was down I started to stand up. The buck wasn’t down through and got back to his feet and started his typical mule deer run. The buck covered 100m in a matter of bounds. I lost sight of him as he turned to go behind a large fir tree. As he did I could see blood running down his chest.
With the loud crack instead of a thump indicating a bone hit, I was worried about penetration. Sitting back down, I started to really shake. The adrenaline was going full tilt again. After 5 or 6 minutes I got to where I could trust my legs. Slowly making my way up to where the buck had been bedded I realized my bag was 80 meters away. After gathering my gear, I returned to where the buck had been bedded. Except the tracks there was no indication that anything had been standing there shortly before. Where the buck had hit the ground and collapsed, along with some hair was 14″ of my 30″ arrow covered in blood. Sitting down I started to replay the shot in my mind. I was getting more and more worried about the shot.
The rain hadn’t stopped, and I was no longer thankful for it, as it now threatened to erase any blood trail. I slowly made way along the buck’s escape route. With the torn up ground from his run it was like following a bulldozer trail but the trail ended where the buck went out of sight. There were dozens of deer tracks mixed in. No blood and the tracks were mixed with dozens of other tracks. With 20 minutes past I slowly made my way down the trail following the maze of tracks, 50m later I had nothing. Now I was really worried.
The buck had covered 150m, with no blood on the ground and no sign of him anywhere. Now my excitement had turned to fear. I decided to pull back, and wait. After having some water and a granola bar, I just about convinced myself to go after the buck. With common sense taking over I headed back to my house to call some friends to help with the search. At home I couldn’t get a hold of anybody. Everybody was working or at University. With no help to be found I knew it would be a mistake to go back out so early, with the weather cool the meat would keep and I wanted to give the buck another hour at least.
Knowing that if I went into my class I would have to stay for the full hour, I decided to attend the lecture I had planned on skipping. As my professor finished up I hit the door running, driving past my house I thought of my dog, maybe she would be useful. Grabbing my dog “Sasha”, I headed out to find my buck; it was now three hours after the shot.
After trying in vain to pick up the trail, my dog and my eyes turned out to be useless. So I resorted to pure drive and a touch of luck (hopefully) to find my buck. Using toilet paper as markers I started grid searching the area I expected him to run. After 2 hours I was wet and the ball in my stomach was steadily getting bigger.
My cell phone rang, it was my friend Matt, after filling him in, he and his roommate Andy immediately headed out to help me look for my buck. After 30 minutes I started to cut back to the main road to meet Matt and Andy. As I was heading out my dog started to growl and bark at a stand of Willow and birch. I made my way over expecting nothing but a black bear I knew to live in the area, as I got close my dog stopped growling and refused to go closer(apparently she is a chicken). Leaving my dog I was surprised when instead of a bear I saw a deer. My deer! And he was down!
I started jumping up and down, and screaming like an idiot. Looking at the buck my fear of wounding him disappeared, the ball in my stomach disappeared, and for the first time since he disappeared from my sight I didn’t feel sick to my stomach. After admiring him for several minutes I gathered myself and headed out to the road (I was still jumping up and down like a kid on Christmas).
Finding that shed led to a hard stalk and a hard shot which led to a long search and eventually finding my buck.
Matt and Andy and I quickly did pictures, and gutting. Me and matt quickly dragged him out on an old skid trail to the road, and loaded him up. It wasn’t until later that I realized if I hadn’t spotted that shed I wouldn’t have gotten the buck. The path I was on would have passed behind the deer; he would have been covered by the young fir. It is truly my lucky shed.
My arrow had hit his shoulder and turned, instead of penetrating into both lungs it had just taken out one lung, and his liver. When the buck landed the arrow broke in two places, leaving the broadhead inside, and 6″ blocking the exit effectively blocking all blood. The buck with a busted shoulder and one lung had managed to cover almost 300 yards before piling up. After the 60 day drying period my buck was officially scored at 183 5/8 gross P&Y and netted 178 7/8 easily making P&Y and The British Columbia record book.