Man, sorry to hear that. Don’t feel too bad, though, it seems like you are not alone in having a rough season. Another fellow seemed to have just as tough of a season. Maybe you two could commiserate? ;-)Had a real bummer of a season regarding big bucks. I was able to get a couple does with my bow so my freezer is full, which is great.
Had three nice encounters with a mid 150's 3.5 year old on grandpa's farm. He just needs another year. Far as I know he made it through season, going to head out this weekend and look for sheds.
Here's what stinks, bit of a story:
November 6th, consistent 5-10 mph wind out of the South. On gpa's property the Northern border is a river, so with the wind out of the South I had a perfect opportunity to hunt the river bank.
Friday the 5th I shot a big doe, while I was waiting to get down out of my stand I see a big buck cruising the river bank. He gets directly downwind of where the doe expired, stands there for a minute then just casually walks back to the West where he'd come from. Didn't seem like he was spooked at all which was good.
Saturday morning we get that S wind so I decide to head to the river bank and see if I can spot him again.
I put up my hang n hunt setup and get ready for the day. My dad was hunting a couple hundred yards away and had action all morning.
10am and I hadn't seen a deer, maybe because I'd shot the doe the day before and had processed her? Anyway about 10:20 I see a giant frame walking down the old logging road right at me that parallels the river bed.
Mega framed buck, stops in the road at 15 yard and just stares d at me. I had barely gotten my bow off the hanger (got caught up on the rubber hook from my 3rd hand holder) because of course that would happen when I need to get it off there quickly and quietly.... I should say that this is of no fault of the hanger, thing works great. I just didn't get the bow off the hanger smoothly.
Buck stops dead center of the road and stares up at me. I had my bow in hand, put it in front of my face and squinted as much as possible while staring at his feet. He stares at me for a good 45 seconds or so, all the while I'm trying to hold it together. Buck eventually decides that I was nothing and walks off the trail.
He walks right behind a big tree allowing me to get drawn back. At that point he is 8-10 yards away. I chose not to grunt at him for fear of him taking off since he had just stared a hole right through me, so I decided not to make a noise to stop him so I shot him as he was walking.
At the shot I see a good 3/4ths of my arrow sticking out of high shoulder with the lighted nock mocking me as he bounded off. He runs real hard for about 100 yards, then just stops and looks up the hill away from me.
I thought for sure he was dead, shot placement wasn't ideal but I was using a fixed blade head with a 500 grain arrow-for sure I should have gotten the penetration needed to kill him!?!?!
I get the bino's out and stare at him. So many trees I can only see a part of his body and couldn't see where i'd hit him. He starts to slowly walk off with his head down-I think PERFECT he's going to bed and will die close to there.
I shot at about 10:20, and decide not to move for two hours. That was the absolute longest two hours of my life- I'd text every person i'd ever met letting them know I just killed a huge buck!
12:30 rolls around, I get down and take down my setup as quietly as possible. At that point I took my pack off and laid everything except for my bow at the base of the tree, and walk over to inspect the shot location.....nothing.
I knew what trail he took, and saw that he'd carried my arrow for a ways so I had a good line of travel. I'm walking really slowly, just not seeing any blood which I thought was really weird. About 40-50 yards after I'd shot him he had ran close to a small tree and broke off my arrow. Looked like decent blood on the arrow, but there wasn't much and the blood didn't even go to the label on my arrow. I picked up the shaft and turned off the lighted knock, now positive that I was on his trail, and getting more concerned with the lack of blood.
At the tree where he'd kicked out the back 3/4ths of the arrow he started to bleed, just not very much. I follow a very meager blood trail up to the point where he was standing.
There were 3 decent sized spots of blood, about the size of a dinner plate. From this point I had seen him walk over the hill and out of sight- I had figured that once I crested the hill I'd be staring at a giant waiting for me to wrap my tag around.....no such luck.
It had been two hours since I shot, and I was being very quiet as I took up the trail. I didn't hear or see anything spook as I was walking the trail.
After cresting the hill, the blood trail went from sparse to damn near nothing. I was following his tracks, and there were pin drops every 20 or so yards (literally one or two is all).
I followed that for about 60 yards or so and lost blood and his track entirely. At this point I am at a loss for words. I mark last blood and meet Dad back up on the hill. We decide that we didn't think we'd pushed him, if he wasn't dead we needed to give him some time, so we went to town and changed into lighter clothes more suitable for tracking and got some lunch.
5pm rolls around, and i'm back on last blood. I follow the most likely path, and have Dad walk semi circles in about a 40 yard radius looking for blood or his tracks- we come up with nothing and decide since it's getting dark that we were doing more harm than good-need to let him sit overnight and we'll surely find him in the creek bed in the morning.
Long story short- never did find blood or tracks again, after searching all over the property all day Sunday. I looked up blood tracking dogs-earliest one could get to me would be Wednesday-by that time the meat would be spoiled anyways, don't bother. If he was dead, as hot as it was going to be plus with that long of time, the birds/coyotes would be on him and I'd at least have closure.
Come Tuesday evening i'm scrolling a hunting pages instagram and see a picture of a huge framed buck. I message them and get ahold of the hunter in the picture.....he had shot that buck at 6pm on Saturday (same day I shot him) less than 2 miles away.
Mega giant 8 point, "officially" B&C scored (hasn't completed the 60 day drying period) at 186 7/8ths- as a true 8 pointer.
To say I am heartbroken would be an understatement. I'm super happy for the young guy that shot that buck, it's a trophy of a lifetime, and well eclipses the current state record for an 8 pointer.
I never did end up finding another buck to chase. Long story short- there's a broken hearted bearded bowhunter in Iowa with a now worthless buck tag, who wishes like he'd made a better shot. I believe I hit that buck in the crest of the scapula, and the wide 4 blade fixed head was just too big to push through. I also have suspicions that the arrow broke on impact, as a 500 grain arrow coming out of a 67# new compound should have plenty of @ss behind it to get through the shoulder blade.
I'm going back to my old reliable arrows (Easton Axis) and outfitting them with HIT inserts and collars from Iron Will Outfitters, as well as one of their broadheads for next season-should square up the gear issue.
As far as the [email protected] issue (my shooting error) I put my index finger release into the box of old hunting stuff that probably needs donated, and am going to order a back tension style release that reinforces what I already know to do, which is shoot correctly (I had just gotten lazy with the index release).
End of the day, while I'll never forget that buck, I am trying to take solace in the fact that I did (mostly) everything right. Hang and hunt on a new spot based off of recent sign, let immature bucks walk and put myself in position for what would have been my largest buck to date.
So ends my 2021 deer season-spotted a giant across the river and haven't seen/heard of him being killed, so as long as he wasn't poached or hit by a car, I've got another target that I'm going to try my best to get in '22.
Thanks for reading!
100% agree. I'v bowhunted for more than 20 years and have experienced the dreaded high shoulder shot and lost a good buck or two. My recommendation is to keep at it, but do not blame the gear. If you had confidence with your setup going into the hunt, missing the vitals should not prompt you to re-invest in a bunch of gear. I see guys do this with broadheads all the time. This can become a bad habit, and you will spend a ton of money chasing the latest and greatest every year if you're not careful.I dont think this outcome had anything to do with gear selection. Buck caught you slipping and you Probably just rushed the shot. One thing you might do is shoot some paper and verify arrow flight.
100% agree. I'v bowhunted for more than 20 years and have experienced the dreaded high shoulder shot and lost a good buck or two. My recommendation is to keep at it, but do not blame the gear. If you had confidence with your setup going into the hunt, missing the vitals should not prompt you to re-invest in a bunch of gear. I see guys do this with broadheads all the time. This can become a bad habit, and you will spend a ton of money chasing the latest and greatest every year if you're not careful.
The shoes didn't make Jordan the best BB player of all time and the clubs didn't do it for Tiger.
Go back to the basics this spring and summer and revisit your mechanics, fundamentals, and practice, practice, practice. IMO, the best way to program yourself not to hit the shoulder is to shoot hundreds if not thousands of arrows at 3D deer at different ranges and angles from a treestand. The closer you can simulate real world shots, the more muscle/mental memory you will build. There are no guarantees and stuff happens in the heat of the moment, especially in the face of a trophy buck like this one, however the preparation you do in the offseason will help you reap the rewards in the fall. There is no need to replace your gear because of one bad shot. Get back on the horse and you will be fine.
Yes it is. Iowa Deer Classic is in a couple weeks, I have to assume the young man will bring his buck. I’ll be glad to be able to look at it once a year.Heart breaking!
Yeah I won't be making that mistake again. Went to a true cut on contact top quality head, and am going to work on putting every shot into the golden triangleI did the same thing this year. MUCH MUCH MUCH SMALLER Buck though. That high shoulder shot is a real heartbreaker.
Bummer that you lost the buck. I know hind sight is 20/20 but here is my armchair quarterbacking...take the advice as you want but just wanted to put it out there and maybe it will help in the future...or help others.Had a real bummer of a season regarding big bucks. I was able to get a couple does with my bow so my freezer is full, which is great.
Thanks for reading!
I appreciate the insight, I can say I learned a lot from that encounter-and continue to question myself-specifically if I should have grunted or made a noise to stop him.Bummer that you lost the buck. I know hind sight is 20/20 but here is my armchair quarterbacking...take the advice as you want but just wanted to put it out there and maybe it will help in the future...or help others.
The one thing i might suggest is waiting a little longer on a deer that you didnt see go down. When you jumped on his trail after only two hours you most likely bumped him. That is why he was killed 2 miles away...
Nov 6th in the middle of Iowa is not peak breeding so they wouldnt normally travel 2 miles in a day that time of the year. It depends on the deer but most of the time a mature buck like that would still be in his core area...and he was the day before...which is pretty normal. And he wasnt with a doe...and the probability that he hooked up with a hot 1.5yr old doe that took off is pretty low. So my thought is you bumped him and high tailed it out of there. He was on edge looking at you in the tree...after he got hit i can guarantee that he was watching/listening to his back trail. Doesnt matter how quiet you are...that is a mature buck and you are in his living room. He pegged you. And i know you didnt hear anything spook...but he doesnt have to run if he hears or sees you a couple hundred yards away.
Any sort of high hit will have just a few specks of blood for a bit and then after the arrow breaks decent blood for a little bit because the pressure opens up the wound. But you can expect to have poor blood after a hundred yards or so. So you are best off looking at brush and browse trees a few feet off the ground if he went through anything thick. Because his hair will soak up a bunch and wound will close up a bit.
Also a note with high shoulder hit deer...I have found that mature bucks will go back to their core bedding area about half the time. So if you know his daytime bed for that time of the year...it might be worth sneaking in downwind of it and glassing his bedding knob/point. You might find him there...you might then come up with a plan to bump him out his escape route with you sitting there ready to put a better arrow in him! But if its not a good chance to bump him to the shooter (like in a funnel)...leave him alone and stay out for a bit and hunt edges. He will go about his business as usual...most likely the next day. Kill him a couple days later...and retrieve your broadhead! haha
I know you saw that it was a high shoulder with low penetration. But most likely he will bed down 200-400yds from impact and chill out a bit...if he is within a few hundred yards of his core...he will be in his bed. Never know you might have penetrated to lung...and fixed blade shreds a bit when through scapula as they run...small chance...but worth letting him sit for a while. He could end up with pretty good internal bleeding and end up with fluid in chest cavity and slow his oxygen rate and succumb to the injury. But on a mature buck like that it will take a ton of time. I have had one lunged deer live 12-24 hours...a couple we have got an arrow in because they were in pretty bad shape. But also had a few get up and move. It gets western quick in those situations!
Next time you have a poor hit on a buck i would suggest waiting in your tree for a few hours then backing out without even looking at impact point. Make sure to take notes by videotaping yourself after the shot...where you think you hit him...how he reacted...what noises you heard...his body language...last tree you saw him at...tons of details. I have found that people tend to forget exactly what happened and when you go in to help them those details matter a TON!
By waiting a while longer the buck might end up going about his business and brush off the injury and if you bump him then he wont make the association and there is a possibility that he stays in the area. Getting on them too soon even if its not a lethal hit...they can move to a new area code...as you found out.
Once again sorry for your loss that is heartbreaking...but good on you getting an opportunity at a giant mature buck...less than 1% can say they were that close to a buck of that caliber and got a shot.