By Logan James
It was a chilly Friday morning on November 9th, during the rut in southern Indiana, and I was skipping class to try and get my first buck with my bow. This date, the 9th, was stuck in my head from the previous year because I had sat up in my stand all morning into the early afternoon and had not seen anything. I sat half-asleep until a big 10-pointer came running over the crest of the field and caught me off guard as I watched him run past me at 25 yards without blinking an eye. It all happened so fast, and I was in awe of this trophy animal. I did not think about getting my bow ready for a shot. I walked out of the field that day extremely disappointed in myself for not being ready; I vowed to never be complacent while hunting rutting whitetails again.
So here I was, a year later in the same stand, on the same exact date. The morning started out eventful as I heard some movement behind me at daybreak and later a doe walked out about 100 yards away heading down the side of the harvested bean field. About an hour later, a smaller buck walked her same trail where I had previously scouted about three scrapes along the woods line. While all this is going on, I am consciously thinking about what happened the year before. It gets to be about 9:30 A.M. after I get my morning snack in when I start to see something coming out of the woods to my left where the other deer came from. I could see antlers, but I could not tell which buck it was from trail camera pictures. I decided to wait and see what he was going to do before I tried to make a move and get him to come to me. He stopped at every scrape heading down the field line away from me to urinate and kick the dirt around. He was making his territory known. It was something I have never seen hunting, and I will never forget that encounter of the hunt.
He marched further and further away almost into the woods away from me, where the big 10-pointer from the year before came sprinting out. I conveniently left my binoculars in the truck that morning so I still had yet to get a good look at the rack, but I knew he was going to be a shooter. I slowly stood up and got in to position because I was not going to let this year be a repeat of the last. I gripped my bow in my left hand, grabbed my rattle bag from my pack, and beat it as hard as I could against my leg. The wind was blowing, making it hard to hear at the distance he was at, which was about 130 yards. Finally, after about five seconds of crushing the rattle bag, he heard it. He stepped out of the woods looking as if he was ticked that he was not invited to the fight in his woods. Just to reassure him that he heard a fight, I rattled it one more time. This buck put his head half way down to the ground and took off on a trot right towards me; it was on. I was having déjà vu of the year before.
I set my rattle bag down and clipped my release on my bowstring and waited about five seconds before he was standing 25 yards from me. He stopped just behind a branch with sleeves to the side of my shooting lane. He started walking to my left in to the woods, so I drew back my bow. I noticed his left side G2 and G3 was broken down to the main beam. He was indeed a fighter and was not about to let someone else fight in his territory without joining them. He also happened to be the 10-pointer on camera all summer and early fall that I was eager to get my hands on that I called "Tines". He stopped perfectly in a narrow opening about 20 yards directly to my left. I took a deep breath and on the exhale, I released the arrow. I watched as it felt like the arrow was going in slow motion sink into his body right behind the shoulder blade. I was sure that I made a great shot, but you never really know until you see him dead on the ground.
I tried to wait and give him time to die like an experienced hunter would, but I thought I heard him crash after nearly ten seconds of tearing through the woods. I immediately called my dad who always said to keep in touch and let him know what was going on. My voice started to shake as I shared with him that I was sure that I had "Tines" on the ground. After I hung up, I nearly slid down the ladder as if a firefighter just called out for a fire. I went straight to the spot where he was standing, I saw blood on a log from the exit hole. I followed the blood trail for 45 yards and there piled up was my first buck taken with a compound bow after hunting with it for eight years. I sat over my buck admiring his rack and appreciating the animal that I just took down and thanked God for the experience He gave me that morning in the woods. I was supposed to be an hour and a half away from that spot listening to a professor talk about math problems, so I sent pictures to my buddies who were stuck in that class to give them a little taste of what I was doing while they were miserably sitting in their seats. Needless to say, it was a great day to skip class.