It all started last year, in 2011, when I was sitting in a tree stand on November 13th and after seeing a lot of good deer in the morning I decided to sit all day. I had a small sandwich packed, a couple bottles of water, and an undeniable eagerness to harvest a mature Iowa giant with my bow.
Around 1:30 P.M. I decided to rattle. In the middle of my rattling sequence I saw a doe up the hill, 100 yards away and running away. So, I stopped rattling and not a second later I see a monster rack just appear from behind a tree only 80 yards away. This was the kind of deer that I knew right away that he was a shooter! He was running directly at me so I looked down to set my rattle bag down and grabbed my bow. When I looked back up, there he was on a trot, only 40 yards away now. I simultaneously drew back my bow and grunted him to a stop at 30 yards.
This is the moment that I had been waiting all year for. All the hard work of stands, cameras, and countless hours in the tree stand were about to pay off in these 5 seconds of an adrenaline rush. Bull riders have 8 seconds that can define their career. Well, bow hunters have about 5 seconds to hold on tight and make it count. Any bow hunter knows these 5 seconds. The moment when you finally know you are about to get a shot at a monster buck. The moment that feels like 5 minutes but is only 5 seconds. The moment where your heart is beating so hard you swear it is going to scare the deer away! So, I steadied myself and calmed my nerves. With absolute confidence, I let the arrow fly…and smacked him directly in the middle of his body (which is a little farther back then I would have liked). He spun and ran up the hill 100 yards to the top of hill where he paused for a second and walked over the hill.
I thought this was it! I thought I had finally tagged out for the year. I got down and my arrow passed clean through and was covered in bright red blood but not lung blood. So, I waited a couple hours and came back. I followed the drip by drip of a blood trail for 300 yards before finally losing blood. Absolutely devastated, I went back home and returned the next day with a good friend of mine, Justin Perry. Justin and I went back and looked all day but with no success of finding more blood or my buck. I went the next day and still couldn’t find anything. Justin and Myles tried to keep my spirits high but I knew it was not looking good. Finally, I threw in the towel and called it quits. Not only did I call it quits on finding this buck but I did not go hunting with my bow for the rest of the season. I felt that I had my chance of capitalizing on a big buck and I had failed to find the deer, which I knew had to be dead somewhere, but I did not get the job finished.
So, one year and three weeks later on December 4, 2012, I received a call from my buddy that I hunt with on that ground with and he said, “Tyler, you are not going to believe this but we found your buck from last year.” Immediately he sent me a picture and I knew it was him! “Where was he?” I asked Myles, my buddy who found him. He replied, “Only 75 yards from where you lost blood but in the opposite direction of the direction he was going. He burrowed in a thicket and was completely hidden. Ten yards off our truck trail and close to the creek.”
I didn’t know what to say. I was absolutely speechless because I was so close. This was the definition of a bittersweet feeling from finding him. I was so close! It is also possible that he lived for a few days and then burrowed up in that thicket to die. I will never know. All that I know for fact now is that he is a main frame 8 point with a split brow tine making him a 9 point and scored 152 1/8 inch.
The crazy part is that his rack was in perfect shape somehow. It is not bleached from the sun because of the thick cover he was in and some miraculous way his rack was untouched and in perfect shape. The skull is cleaned to perfection. I couldn’t have sent it to a taxidermist to do a better job.
He will happily hang on my SkullHooker at home and I will forever be able to look at him and think of this story. Bow hunting will always have its up and downs and I will forever live for those 5 seconds because these 5 seconds can and will humble any hunter in the woods. I can’t wait to hit the woods again soon with my Elite bow in hand, camera rolling, and making memories that will last forever.