The Ghost in the Darkness – Shane Kessler
While walking back from an evening bow hunt I had about a mile walk through the swamps here in Louisiana. While walking with a small flashlight, I started to hear something following in the leaves behind me. I stopped, spun around, and it stopped. I start and it started. I again looked with a small light and couldn’t see anything. I start to hear coyotes and in my mind I’m thinking I’m being stalked. I take my large flashlight out and scan the woods. The closer I get to the truck, the faster I walk, and the faster the sound gets as well. By the time I get to the edge of the wood line I’m almost in a full sprint. Alone and armed only with my bow as I clear the woods, the noise stops. I sling my stand off my shoulders and grab my 9mm out of my truck and get ready for whatever is about to clear the woods. Five minutes pass and nothing happens! As I load my stand into my truck, I noticed that the rope I use to pull my bow up had got untied and was dragging in the leaves behind me. Yeah, I ran from my pull up rope…
Trying To Help Dad – Robert Angus
When I was a freshman in college in 1991, WVU (Lets Go Mountaineers!) always had thanksgiving break during opening week of rifle season in West Virginia. I had traveled the 3 hour trip home to hunt with my Step Dad for opening morning. A few years previous to this deer season, my Step Dad had undergone bypass surgery, so the amount of physical activity he was permitted by his doctor was somewhat limited. We were hunting at the bottom of a long hill which was about 200 yds to the creek from our truck. I left my step dad at the bottom of the hill and proceeded around the ridge to my stand. It wasn’t long after daybreak that I heard the report of his rifle, so I gathered my things and headed back in his direction. When I got to his stand, I found my Step Dad in the creek with a nice 8pt. He had just finished field dressing it and was tying the drag rope around the antlers. Knowing he shouldn’t be dragging the deer, I told him to carry the guns and I would drag the buck up the long hill to the truck. This is where the story gets interesting!
The bank coming out of the creek was very steep for the first 10-15 ft or so. It had rained earlier that week and the bank was plenty muddy. As you can imagine, I took one step forward and slid three steps back. Getting frustrated, I told my Step Dad that I was going to throw the buck over my shoulder to carry it the short distance out of the creek, and then I would lay it down and drag it the rest of the way to the truck. I had my Step Dad hold the deer waist high and I bent over to sling the deer up on my shoulder. Straining, I finally stood upright with the deer…you guessed it, my head went FULLY inside the carcass. The problem now was that I was so tired that I couldn’t lift it off. I had to bend over and let it slide off of my head. Needless to say, my head and face was covered with blood and whatever else remained in the deer after field dressing. I hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, so now I am running around in circles gagging, trying to barf, but my stomach was totally empty. As you can imagine, my Step Dad was quite amused by this. “Way to go college boy!” I think was the phrase he used. Needless to say, I finally managed to get the deer to the top of the hill. By this time, I am exhausted lying beside the truck…still covered in blood from the deer. A gentleman from the power company happened to be driving by as I lay on the ground trying to catch my breath. He slammed on his brakes and ran his truck in the ditch. He jumped out and said, “Oh my God, what can I do!” He thought I had been shot. He and my Step Dad both got a good laugh at my expense once he realized the only thing hurt was my pride. I suppose on the bright side, I did get a heck of a story to tell. And believe me, the inside of a dead deer is nowhere you want to stick your head anytime soon!
An Unbelievable Story about a Buck – Bill Rowland
(Here you go; I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed remembering it and putting it to words) An unbelievable story about a buck. I’ve been told a few big buck stories in my life that may or may not have been totally true. Usually everyone has their own version of the story and it isn’t very often that two people will tell it the way it actually happened. In this case, I have a witness. My story unfolds outside the city limits of a small but populated Minnesota town at about 7:00 in the morning, and starts with a buck wounded by an arrow whose flight was not as perfect as I would have liked. As I let the arrow fly, I lost its trajectory but the sound of the hit was unmistakable. I was positive of the hit but unsure of the placement. When you hit a deer good with an arrow it makes a “wwaaack” that is undeniable but hard to describe to a person who has never heard it. To a bow hunter, you could close your eyes… imagine the hit… and hear that sound. I didn’t hear “that” sound, but a slight variation of it. I knew there was a good chance I had made a bad shot, so with my heart sunk and my teeth clinched, I backed out and left the deer to his privacy. Maybe he would find a nice little hiding spot back in the woods where no one would see him and I could sneak up on him later, hopefully stiff as a board. I started that year with a half dozen aluminum arrows that I’d cut to fit my bow, but previous encounters with different deer and the occasional nosy gray squirrel had left me with only two. The first of which was currently laying in a deer trail, half of it anyway. It laid soaked in blood, snapped in half by the buck as he passed a small oak. After a phone call to my older brother, who had “The Book” on tracking wounded deer, we quickly drew a mental image of what must have happened. I figured the deer to be shot through the liver. It’s a disgusting thing to live with as a bow hunter. Anything less than a perfect heart shot just doesn’t sit well. Practicing with your bow all winter and into the summer seems to have been for no good reason. But when it happens (and It will), all you can do is hope you find the deer and make use of it as best you can. Another phone call was to a friend of mine. Actually it wasn’t a phone call, more of a “tap tap tap” on his window as he tried to sleep one off from the night before. His eyes opened like saucers and he popped right up from a dead sleep. It reminded me of when I was a kid, Christmas morning would come and someone would slip into the bedroom and whisper “Santa was here, Wake up.” I may have said something like “Its big! Absolutely huge!” or “It looks like he has a broken rocking chair for antlers!” I was pumped up over the encounter and my excitement quickly spread to him. Plans were quickly made. Time would work against the buck if the arrow had passed through the liver. Eight to twelve hours is about it. As the time slowly came to retrieve my buck we talked about the area that he had ran into.
Wooded, privately owned, Residential seems to be a fairly good description. We knew the buck would cross about a dozen little broke up parcels so I figured I should run home and change out of my hunting clothes and into something a little more appropriate for knocking on doors. The deer was headed in a straight line, cross cutting many lotted off sections of property. As we started the blood trail we quickly found deer beds with small amounts of blood spaced close to each other. We knew for sure now, the deer had been hit bad and couldn’t get comfortable. We stayed on the blood trail; losing it and picking it back up again several times. I kept my eyes on the ground at my feet as my partner looked over my shoulder and scanned the area ahead for a dead deer. The woods came to life as the buck jumped up in front of us just like a rabbit that waits for you to darn near step on it. He was a dandy, maybe not quite the dandy that I had painted in my buddies mind but a good buck by all means. The first guy we asked permission from had said it was ok to check his property, but we couldn’t take the bow in there. He was worried we’d launch an arrow through his yard or make some other kind of unethical mistake. That was alright though, we understood. He didn’t know us from Adam, and up until this point I was looking for a dead deer and I was shocked to see this animal running out of my life. I didn’t even bring my bow, just a pocket knife for field dressing. My bow and last arrow were back at the truck now nearly a half mile away. We checked the bed that the buck had sprung from and verified that this was the wounded buck we had been searching for. Now the buck had changed his course and was heading for a 40 acre piece of county ground I knew well, so we headed back to the car for my bow. On the way back to the car my buddy told me that he saw the buck lift his antlers from the ground before he jumped out of the bed. At first, I thought he meant the deer had been laying flat with his chin on the ground, but no. After talking with him more about it he said the deer must have been laying there with one side of his head on the ground making himself as low as possible. I told him he must have been seeing things and I’d never seen a deer do that. When we came back to the spot where we had last seen the deer, my heart pounded in my throat as I watched the buck try to hide his rack by laying it down exactly like my faithful companion had told me. As I took aim with my last arrow the buck laid there with all his faith in whatever deer god he prayed to that morning and hoped for the best. Using my ten yard pin, I carefully took aim, and with my last arrow, I let all my faith fly. It was an easy shot; I could shoot center rings all day long at ten yards. The problem with my shot placement was this; Instead of the deer being ten yards from me, it was closer yet. More like six or seven yards. This made my arrow hit high, grazing the buck and burying itself into a young popple tree inches above the bedded deer. When I shot, the deer leaped from his bed and ran past my arrow snapping it like a twig at the tip of the arrow behind the tip insert. Both of our hearts sank and my ever trusty pal tried to run down the buck in a last ditch effort to regain any sense of pride we had left. I asked him later what the heck he was thinking. I told him that a full grown deer like that would absolutely kick the snot out of him, but he didn’t seem to mind the idea of hand to hand combat at the time. I could hear brush cracking and snapping as the deer bolted through the forest with my buddy hot on his heals like some kind of starved cave man. It sounded like they were trying to make as much noise as possible, smashing or knocking over anything in their way. Soon the woods went quiet and the footsteps of my empty handed co-hunter worked their way back to me where I sat next to the tree that I had killed moments before. As we talked, I went to work digging my broad head out of the tree with my pal standing over my shoulder. He made no effort to sugar coat any feelings he had about my attempts at whittling on the tree. Things like “I don’t know why you’re doing that” and” this is really stupid ” or ” what are you going to do when you get it out anyway?” How long does it take to whittle a broad head out of a tree without breaking it or getting cut? FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. I timed it. After freeing the broad head I unscrewed the insert (the insert is what holds the threads on the broad head and is glued into the end of an aluminum arrow). Then I bent down and plucked a few strands of grass and wrapped them around the threads on the tail end of the broad head. With the grass wrapped around the threads I worked the broad head into my broken arrow until it felt like it would stay there. My friend laughed at the finished product but we both agreed that it had to be better than a sharp stick or a club. After an hour of messing with the arrow and having a good laugh about it we were back on the trail. We followed the track through the woods and around a small pond and then up onto a ridge where it hit a main deer trail. As we walked through the brush I held my arrow pointed up at all times to keep the broad head from being knocked loose. After a glance at the terrain and a quick trade of opinions on where the buck may be laying, we decided that we should split up. I would stay on the track and my club wielding comrade would go around and try to turn the buck if he tried to escape our public ground. I waited for him to get around to the other side of the woods and when I felt that I had given him enough time I slowly moved in. I couldn’t have taken more than fifty steps when I spotted the buck lying behind a downed tree. As I drew my bow I quickly realized that I could no longer pull the bow all the way back because the arrow that I had repaired was now an inch shorter and would fall off of the arrow rest. I made the proper mental notes and drew my bow. I don’t know if the deer had used up all his luck for that day or if I was boiling over with it, but when I let go of the string my arrow flew perfectly. The buck jumped up after I shot him and turned to run straight toward me. As I moved to the side of the trail to let him pass I realized that he had heard my pal getting set up and he never even knew I was there. The buck only made it a few yards past me and fell over dead. I can’t believe it’s been so many years since this happened, because I can remember this like it was yesterday.