Perhaps 5 evenings running I had entered into a standoff with the little buck. The sesssions lasted anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. Each previous time though, the buck would lose his nerve and apply his better judgement and give the blob in the tree a wide, out of trad bow range, birth. Each encounter was heart pounding. Each encounter ended in the bucks win column. Each encounter only made my desire to take him stronger.
What he lacked in size and age was offset by my choice to hunt him with a bare bones primitive yew bow. While I had taken many animals with modern recurves...the selfbow remained un-notched. It was dearly something I wanted to change.
Each day I would dutifully paddle the canoe into my stand. Each day I would bring the yew bow. Each day my expectation and excitement was running high. The commute in never disappointed. The evenings and predawn's were peaceful and a large attraction to hunting via my canoe. Often times I would slip past watering deer on the shoreline just yards away. On a few trips in or out I had beaver swim along with me for 20 yards or so in the darkness. The full moon added a silvery light. There was nowhere else I wanted to be.
Slipping the canoe into shore I silently drug it up the bank and tucked it into some alder bushes. I shouldered my pack and strung the bow. I started towards my lakeside treestand with sharp fall breeze in my face.
Before long the buck was picking his way my way.......
I didn't know what was burning more, my back, my bow arm, or my legs! I had been in a face to face standoff for over an hour. I dared not move a muscle. There was a point I figured I might just have to move even if it scared the buck. But somehow I manged to stay the course.
Eventually, he offered the shot and I prepared to take it. My left hand closed around the spruce root handle. The arrow rested like a coiled snake on my knuckle. My 3 fingers under grip found their way back to the corner of my mouth. The bow felt light...too light as a matter of fact...but the distance was 10 yards and my eyes were boring a hole right where I need my arrow to strike.
The arrow was gone almost as a reflex when all felt right...just like when you blink instinctively when a foreign object is coming towards your eye. There's no decision process....its just happens.
The arrow didn't hit with the authoritative "thwack" I'm accustomed to hearing. It seemed slow and lumbering in its flight.
My eyes however told me the arrow hit the spot and penetration was good . I waited an hour and climbed down. I found decent blood. I easily followed it for 100 yards. At about that point the trail hit a big stand of mature open trees with plenty of moss covering the ground. I lost the trail. Rather than blindly stumbling around and risk bumping the buck I knelt down and weighed my options. I asked myself, what would my Dad do?
It was the coolest night of the fall so I opted to back out and come back at light. I went back at daylight and found him in minutes.
It was a sweet paddle home....I was thrilled to have finally taken something with the self bow....Backwaters, bows, and bucks.....its a winning combination.