An early season bowhunting success story, velvet antlers included
Said chick is my favorite chick of all, Michelle Brantley. Kentucky’s bow season opened Saturday morning, and Michelle and I had a good weekend in the woods that culminated with her shooting this buck late Monday (Labor Day) afternoon.
We were set up on a huge beanfield, one we’ve hunted for years thanks to a knock on a door, a handshake, and a farmer’s good graces. I’d been glassing the field for two weeks prior to this hunt, and was seeing two different bachelor groups of bucks. This buck in particular seemed be one of the regulars.
Trouble was, with such a big field, the deer kept me guessing, accessing the field via half a dozen different trails in the evenings, and then feeding toward a particular knoll in the middle of the field, well out of bow range of any cover suitable enough for hiding. Our best bet was to just watch the wind, pick a tree and hope for the best.
It worked quite well the first afternoon. Michelle climbed a tree just downwind of one of the more active trails, and like clockwork, this buck and two other small basket-racks walked right past her stand at a quarter till seven. She passed them up.
“It was so early in the season, I just wasn’t sure,” she said. Last year, she killed a buck the second week of September, and though she was ecstatic about that, Kentucky has a one-buck limit. She missed out on hunting the rut.
But by the second afternoon, thoughts of this buck were sticking with her. I asked her if she regretted not shooting, and of course she denied it. I knew better. As it turned out, she’d get another chance soon enough.
With a north wind blowing down the field the third day of season, we had to set up on different trails. Michelle and I were both on the end of the field, but on opposite sides, some 250 yards apart. The bucks’ favored knoll was between us.
Michelle was in her climbing stand on the edge of the field. I was tucked back in a fencerow, hunting from the ground. Does and a couple small bucks began easing into the field an hour before dark, and then I saw this buck pop out 150 yards away. As if on a mission, it quickly picked its way across the field straight to Michelle’s stand. I heard the arrow hit. A dozen deer were feeding under her tree at the time, and they scattered at the shot, rounding a point of trees and out of her sight.
But they weren’t out of mine. While the rest of the deer white-flagged it across the field, I saw her buck stop, stagger and fall. Michelle immediately texted me and said she’d hit the deer too high. I texted back and told her I didn’t think so. We found the buck shortly after dark, and there were hugs and sweaty face-paint kisses all around.
I’ve heard some guys say they don’t want to introduce their wives or girlfriends to bowhunting because they cherish that time to themselves. Me? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Congrats on a fine buck, Michelle.