By Austin Groff
I’ll start off the story with a prelude. Four days before on Wednesday morning I had been up in my stand and I had a chance at a six point that went awry. The small six came in on the wrong side of my tree and turning around with my harness without him catching me was quite difficult. I ended up getting a tough shot, but I was so focused on the body of the deer I missed the thumb sized pine twig three feet in front of the path of my arrow. Needless to say I hit the twig and missed the six point. Although I have taken plenty of does in my young hunting career, I had yet to take a buck with archery equipment. The same scenario played out the season before. By now, I felt a bit cursed with having another chance to finally take my first buck with a bow robbed by mother nature. Yet there was hope, my brother had told me there was a monster roaming around that he had seen a week prior. (Austin had called me after Tyler had seen the deer. We both agreed hunting the steep ridge would likely produce an encounter with the buck as he would cruise the ridge sniffing for does in the bottoms.)
I learned something about the territory and deer activity during that hunt, over the past few years of hunting this piece. I have a ground blind below the tree I was in and all of the deer that I had seen that morning had come up the hill and looked straight at the blind making sure that nothing was in it. The following day around lunch I went back and destroyed the ground blind, then climbed about 10 different trees in order to find one with sufficient shooting lanes.
Where I was hunting, it is very hard to find a tree to climb due to the density of pine trees and branches. I eventually found a tree that was suitable, although it was a little open. But I thought if I could get high enough, they wouldn’t catch me because of the dense surrounding area. I left the area sit for a few days in order to let it calm down and decided I would go out Sunday evening after visiting my fiancé, Danielle, in Rochester and dropping her off at the airport.
Sunday evening came and I was ready to get out in the woods to get another chance. I picked up my brother, Tyler, and we went to our spots anticipating deer movement and activity. I got to my tree and got all situated around 4:30pm. Tyler sent me a message saying he had deer activity already around his spot and almost had a chance but they were too far. At 5:30pm I looked behind me and saw a small doe. She milled around and then proceeded to walk underneath my stand at 20 yards. I let her walk by and made sure she did not see me. She walked out the ridge and stopped, looked out the finger, and then ran off. I was confused because she had never seen me and never caught my wind. I sat down real slow and made sure to pay attention to where she looked.
5:45pm, I heard some crunching of twigs followed by the sound that all deer hunters like to hear, a series of deep grunts. I knew it was a buck, but it was too far to see so I stood up slowly and clipped my release on my bow in case it was a shooter and it would get close enough for a shot. I saw a deer figure and antlers and could tell he was a shooter, but then he came into the clear, still too far to shoot. Then the realization hit me. That realization in which your heart skips four or five beats and your knees feel weak. He was a SHOOTER. I saw the rack and it was enormous. It was the buck Tyler had seen a week earlier. Quickly telling myself not to look at the antlers again till after I shoot, I prepared myself. He walked from right to left, the opposite direction of the doe that had walked by, but he was grunting and smelling her trail. He went behind a pine tree and I drew back my Mathews Z7. He walked into an opening that I had a good shot at 25 yards and I attempted to stop him with a grunt. He stopped, but one step too far, there was a 3 inch diameter tree right behind his shoulder where I normally would like to shoot. He was looking straight at me. If I didn’t shoot, now I was going to miss a chance of a lifetime. I have had to sneak arrows in high in the lungs and back a little far due to trees and sticks before and have been successful. Holding just behind the tree and I slowly released. The arrow went exactly where I wanted it and I saw that I had made a good shot. He jumped right into a brush pile smashing everything in his way. I heard a large crash and hoped it was him.
I called a series of people to tell them and to get help because I knew this thing was massive and I was NOT getting it out of there myself. Jason was not around, of course the time I shoot a big buck he isn’t around, but he almost yelled my ear off in the phone when I told him. (This is true.) Our good friend Mike came back to my spot first to help me find it because my brother was still having deer activity in his spot and didn’t want to leave quite yet. We found the arrow and followed the blood trail for 25 yards and looked up and he was lying there 25 yards away with his white belly showing, quick and clean. My Grim Reaper Broadhead did an excellent job. The deer was MASSIVE. I called my brother to come help and told another one of my friends, Don, to bring his cart because we were going to need it. I almost cried when I found the buck, it was such a large animal and to get a chance at one this big was a humbling experience. I thanked the Lord for the opportunity he had given me and jumped on Mikey. Tyler eventually made it back to help and Don made it back with the cart. It took four guys and a cart to get the massive animal out of the woods. We packed it up and hung it for the night.
I couldn’t sleep that night at all I was so excited and my adrenaline was still going. Replaying the shot in my head about a thousand times, I was just so happy to get another chance. Thanks to the Lord for every opportunity that has been given to me and thanks to everyone that helped.
10/26/14…5:45pm… Curse Broken: First Bowhunting Buck.