Bill’s First Deer!
The young buck was perfectly positioned for the shot and my son-in-saw Bill Garcia was
starting to draw his bow for the kill. The cool, clear November morning was about to get very interesting.
As I focused on the deer I heard the unmistakable sound of the shot. But something was wrong, the shot
sounded muffled and the deer was startled but was not struck by the arrow. I glanced at Bill as he mouthed
silently “I don’t know what happened. It just came off.” Bill’s release had slipped off the string loop less
than half way to full draw. I saw that the deer had moved less than 10 yards and was still chewing on the
apple he had in his mouth. I whispered back “Nock another arrow, he may come back.” We watched quietly as
the buck moved slowly through the timber and up the hill circling around to our right. He appeared headed
toward safety where the power lines hang above the clearing. About 40 yards away from our stands he stopped
and looked back toward the food and he seemed to be weighing the options … food or safety. After all, the
noise made by the shot was not loud and the surprise of the arrow landing just inches from his nose was
apparently not alarming enough to leave a tasty meal on the ground.
I came so close to missing this hunt
with Bill altogether. On October 7 I was climbing to a hanging tree stand in North Carolina when I found a
lack of hand holds and foot pegs as I neared the stand some 15 feet above the ground. I was concerned but
figured that I could reach the bow hanger and move my left foot to the stand. Carefully I made the adjustments
and stepped to the stand. Falling in complete darkness gives you an odd feeling. You can’t see the ground
and you don’t have any idea what position your body is in as you fall. Time seemed to slow for me and many
thoughts went through my mind. What will be broken? Will it be my legs, arms, neck? How can I regain control
of this situation? I know the guide will be back around 10:30 a.m. but it is about 5:30 a.m. now. Can I survive
for up to 5 hours before he finds me? Why does my cell carrier have such poor coverage in this state? I felt
the spindly tree behind me and tried to grasp it as my left hand raked down the bending trunk. Then came the
thud of my body hitting the ground. I instantly knew I had landed on my side and I heard as much as felt
my head snap to the left and pound on the ground. I opened my eyes and saw my hat with the LED lights on
the bill lying next to me. I knew I was alive and made a quick inventory of my pain and decided that nothing
was terribly wrong. I slowly stood, and like a real man, I climbed back into the tree and finished the hunt
knowing just how stupid I was to have gotten in that stand that nearly cost me serious injury or death.
The tree stand setup did not include a safety line as well as having been poorly designed. I had earlier this
season hunted elk for twelve days from tree stands that all had safety lines. I was attached to the safety
line before leaving the ground on my way up and was never detached until returning to the ground. When I had
a moment to speak with the guide and the owner of the operation I explained what had happened and my concerns
about the safety of the stand. I was told that I was the first to complain and that no other hunter had fallen.
They further told me that safety lines were sometimes more trouble than they were worth. I won’t be hunting
with this outfitter again! Nor will I hunt with any other outfitter that does not share my commitment to
tree stand safety.
Needless to say that Bill and I had both attached our safety harness to our safety line
before climbing into our trees that morning. It was good that Bill nocked another arrow. That young spike
buck turned and walked back to the food. He was wary and looked in all directions before bending his neck
to take a bite, this time of corn. Bill was amazingly calm for a hunter who had never shot a deer and had
the earlier events take place a few minutes previously. He drew the bow when the deer’s head was behind a
small tree and he placed his arrow perfectly for a double lung shot. Twenty minutes later we climbed down
and quickly found the deer just 50 yards away. I don’t think I have ever seen such a smile on a hunter’s face.
I was so very thankful to be there, in that moment, sharing the joy of Bill’s first bow kill.
safety is important to all archery hunters who hope to ambush game from an elevated stand. No hunter should
be in a tree without taking adequate safety measures. I know how it feels to hit the ground from 15 feet up.
My pain was similar to the pain of being T-boned in an auto collision. I was stiff for weeks, my massive
bruising was evident for a month. But every day I wake up thankful that I am alive and not badly injured.
I will never hunt from a stand that does not include a safety line and I encourage you to consider thoughtfully
doing the same.
Bowtech Soldier, Gold Tip arrow, Muzzy 100 grain three blade
Shot at 18 yds., Double lung complete pass through,
traveled 50 yards
Story by Bill Garcia
After hunting twelve days of elk
season and five days in N.C. without drawing my bow it was
good to get back to my home and the familiar tree stand on
the family property. I arrowed a small antlerless deer two
hours into my LOP hunt in the Santiam Unit. But, when the
second archery season opened I was back to long sits and no
suitable deer to burn my tag on.
At mid-morning I stood to stretch and take a small drink
from my water bottle. I found a fun size candy bar and
unwrapped the bar quietly. I noticed the wrapper didn't come
completely off and as I turned to sit back in the stand I
bit off the corner with the stuck wrapper and spit in to the
ground. Satisfied with the appearance of the candy I raised
it to my mouth and looked up into the timber. Imagine my
surprise when I saw the 3x3 slowly walking toward me at less
than 30 yards.
Reaching for my bow while watching the buck getting closer
and closer, I knew I had to move quickly but not in a way
that would alert my approaching target. He stopped for about
30 seconds with a tree trunk between his eyes and my form in
the stand. I drew and waited for him to make a few final
steps. At about ten yards he presented the best shot I could
hope for, headed toward me but with a good angle for a steep
shot into his chest on his right side. The arrow struck and
the buck grunted loudly and bolted directly beneath me
heading downhill. At the property line he followed a well
worn path and continued toward an opening.
I climbed down convinced he was fatally shot, but unsure how
far he would travel and how difficult it would be to find
him. I wanted to give him plenty of time and I walked back
to my home to tell my story to my wife. After an hour we
retraced the buck's path toward the opening. Little blood
was found but his tracks were deep and easy to follow.
Reaching the opening the tracks were disappearing and we
split to cove more land in hopes of finding the buck. We had
only to travel another 20 yards to find him stiff, dead for
the entire hour and a half from the time he was shot. What a
relief to know the Muzzy Trocar had done what it was
designed to do! I have taken at least one deer in each of
the 4 years I have hunted archery, but this was by far the
biggest buck scoring 96 5/8 as a green score. He was worth
the days waiting without getting a shot!
Green score Pope and Young = 96 5/8
Bowtech Insanity, Gold Tip arrow, Muzzy 100 grain Trocar
Shot at 10 yards, traveled 150 yards, single lung complete pass through