Thicker Skin & A New PR
Posted on 25 January 2016
I’ll go ahead and say this is a tough one to write about. While I feel extremely blessed to have harvested such a beautiful buck and put meat in the freezer, I had a lot of anxiety when I released my arrow.
This 11-point had been running around with some other big bucks, all of which have over 50 inches on my buck! Although it amazes me what people are capable of growing, I personally think a main frame 8 or 10 point is so much prettier. I would rather hunt a typical buck over one with drop tines, kickers, and other trash because it just looks more natural. Scores honestly don’t matter much to me, but I know how spoiled I am to have harvested all that I have so I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Some people never get the privilege to hunt a buck as big as my very first, which scored 123 in South Texas several years ago.
My husband and I were out one morning riding around when we snuck around to see if there were any bucks feeding near our blind. I was right behind him, moving quickly, when he came to a dead stop. Two other bucks walked out, and this guy walked out right behind them. That’s when I saw my buck in person for the first time and got so excited! We watched and got some video footage for a bit, then backed out. He asked me if I wanted to spot and stalk but I decided to wait it out because I had a feeling he would be back. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hunting on foot, but there’s so much open country on this land that it would’ve been tough to get close enough for a shot.
On that note, I’d like to address something. I wouldn’t feel comfortable shooting over 35-40 yards at a whitetail right now. AND THAT’S OK! People get so caught up trying to outdo themselves and others. While I can appreciate a challenge and pushing my limits, I’d be almost doubling my distance because everything I’ve harvested has been within 20-25 yards. My point is, take it slow. I’ve had a bow in my hand for years and I have several successful hunts under my belt, but I don’t feel ready to take a 50 yard shot at a deer and I don’t care what anybody thinks about it. On a larger scale I’d feel more comfortable. For example, I would shoot an elk at 50 yards. I’ve only lost one animal and it was easily one of the worst days of my life. I cried for hours and prayed and asked for forgiveness because I felt like the worst human being. I don’t want to feel that way again but I know I will in time because that’s just how bow hunting goes sometimes. However, I refuse to get cocky and take a long shot at the expense of an animal. I will always do what feels comfortable to me, and you should too!
Sure enough, we sat that evening and he walked out to feed for a bit then spooked. I was so upset because it’s not the first time I’ve waited too long and missed my opportunity. I’m such a perfectionist and I need to get past the fact that I’m not going to have the perfect shot every time I hunt. Lucky for me, I was given a second chance. About 30 minutes later he walked out from my left side. I was ready this time and drew back. He was feeding and kept moving so I held my draw for several seconds. For some reason he quartered away HARD and began walking back to the left like he was going to leave. In that same moment, my husband was in the process of moving the tripod so he could keep the camera on him. I guess I was too focused and didn’t see this happening or hear him whisper, “Hold on a minute.” We made a deal we would not shoot unless we had footage, but I thought he was set up the entire time. In an effort not to miss my opportunity, I released my arrow and hit bottom third of his body with the arrow entering behind his ribs. Normally I have a hard time seeing my arrow fly, but this shot was so clear and I knew I hit him further back.
Panic set in quickly when my husband whipped around and sternly said “Why did you shoot?! Why did you do that?!” I immediately dropped my head in my hands and felt the biggest lump in my throat with tears welling up in my eyes. I knew it wasn’t the best shot but his reaction made it seem much worse. And at his angle, I can see why. It blows my mind how different an angle looks by just moving 1-2 feet over. I rushed the shot because the first time around I waited too long and I was afraid it was about to happen all over again. I sat there for a minute replaying the whole thing and what I could’ve done differently, when I should’ve sucked it up and kept moving forward. I shut down for a minute until my husband said, “What’s done is done. Get your head right, lets go find him.” He’s not one to give up and leave an animal without giving it everything he’s got and I definitely wasn’t about to either. We had no video footage to go off of because he was moving the camera, and he barely caught the end of my shot with his own eyes. We were basically going off my own recollection.
We left the stand to check the blood trail, only to find that I hit guts because he had pieces of his intestines on the ground. I have never in my life seen a broadhead cut a hole big enough for this to happen, but with the Rage Hypodermic I witnessed it. We rounded a cedar tree as the buck did, walked a few more yards, and saw him about 40 yards out. A shot that I thought would replay one of the worst days of my life, ended up being one of the best shots I’ve ever taken. I had never shot a deer quartering away and he was turned at a more extreme angle. That arrow entered behind his ribs and went through his heart, causing him to go down quickly.
The lack of a blood trail made me sick during those first few steps of tracking but in the end all that matters is that we found him. As we were cleaning him, I could see where the blood piled up in his front shoulder because the arrow didn’t pass through that bone. I’m upset that I allowed myself to break down and be so hard on myself before getting out to look for him. It was emotionally exhausting to go to such a negative place! It’s all a learning experience and I definitely have thicker skin now. You’ve got to toughen up and roll with the punches sometimes, so I’m grateful for this hunt for teaching me that.
This article was written by Jessica Taylor - Follow Her Arrow
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