Just had my most frustrating missed opportunity ever. Was on my favorite stand with my crossbow. Not less then 15 minutes after getting settled, two does and a ten-point buck come out of a brushy area 50 yards to my right. One doe crosses right under my stand. The buck cautiously starts to follow her, I had all the time in the world to get set, my excitement mounts as the biggest buck I have ever taken actually crosses broadside 15 yards in front of me. I give a soft bleat to stop him, the dot is right behind his shoulder. I squeeze the trigger and nothing happens! I check the safety, it is off , squeeze again , nothing. I slide my thumb up and pull back on the bolt to be sure it is nocked, doesn't budge, again nothing. Now he is not alarmed, but is a bit suspicious so he turns and backs away 50 yards.
When his head is behind a tree, I lean forward and sure enough the bolt is 1/4" forward from the rest, enough to activate the anti-dry fire mechanism. I manage to get my hand forward and slide it snug. For the next 10 minutes the buck continues to move back and forth maddeningly out of range, and then picks up and trots down the hill out of sight. The doe, still behind me, quarters around 20 yards to my left and uphill, and when she gets downwind she goes on alert and snorts, trotting off down the hill.
I am positively angry with myself, I usually visually check that the bolt is fully seated. This time I did it carelessly by feel alone, and that overlooked detail bit me big time.
I had to go for a hike to calm myself down, was going to go to my other stands but a tractor started brush-hogging right next to them. I waited a few minutes to see if anything was pushed my way, then elected to return to the original stand.
I'm glad I did, a doe later came within range but poorly positioned, so I passed on the shot. With just a few minutes of legal light left, two more bucks with sizable beams (not as big as the first one) pass 50 yards behind the stand.
So my solace is that the stand is in a great position, activity is picking up and at least 3 good bucks are in the area. My father comes down from NY next week to hunt with me for NC's opening week of rifle season. He gets first pick on the stands!
David J. Snyder
Orange County, NC