The Roundup -

It's All About The Hunt!


James Decker with the buck he shot during the 2007 bow hunting season.

It was the fall of 2007, four to five weeks into the bow hunting season, and James Decker had been bow hunting at every opportunity. It was still dark as he put his boat into the river, sharing the water with chunks of ice as a promise that winter was coming. He boated five miles to his tree stand, having chosen the location after carefully observing deer trails; rutting deer, bucks fighting each other and looking for does, mark their territory by rubbing their antlers on trees. This act wears the velvet off the animals' new antlers and gives them their coloring; it is a clear sign of a high-traffic trail.

This particular day Decker had spent several hours in his suspended tree stand thirty feet off the ground, listening, watching and waiting; he had one buck tag and he was waiting for the right one to come along. Through the thick Russian Olives below him he had a patchy view of the deer trail and he decided to grab his shed antlers, rattle them together, and use his grunt call. This tricks rutting deer, simulating the sound of bucks locking antlers and draws in others that are looking for a fight.

Suddenly, through his binoculars, he saw a large rack of antlers moving through the thick brush and adrenaline began to pump through Decker preparing him for the shot at hand.

"I had an opportunity to shoot. There was a small space about five feet wide at forty yards distance. So I'm waiting there and the deer is walking real slow; I drew back and waited, but when the buck reached the small opening he hustled through and I didn't get a shot. I remember my heart sank... that was the one I'd been waiting for," Decker recounts.

The animal walked into the distance and between seventy and ninety yards it disappeared completely.

"I decided to give it one last try," Decker said. "I rattled the antlers together and grunted two or three times hoping he would turn around and charge back. I looked to my left and there was a small two point buck standing there; I turned and hung the shed antler up and looked right and there was this buck coming in on a string. He'd come back! I'd called him in and it had worked so I grabbed my bow and grunted once. He was less than ten feet from the tree when I released the arrow. I didn't have a lot of time and my heart was pounding in my ears. It was a clean shot, the arrow had gone through him, puncturing his lungs and diaphragm and he took off and ran about thirty yards. Suddenly he stops and I can see him standing there just looking around and then he took off; I could hear him crashing through the trees and then it just stopped. I knew he'd gone down. I found the arrow and saw it was covered in 'good blood' indicating a vital shot and found him lying in the brush. I remember being shaken."

To date it is the largest buck Decker has ever brought down, but he assures that it isn't the size of the deer, but the hunt that leads up to it. The investment of many hours in freezing temperatures had paid off; his patience had not been in vain. He adds that bow hunting is his preference.

"You have to pay more attention to the deer and their habits because I have, at most, a fifty yard range with a bow rather than a 500 yard range with a rifle. Because rifle season is so long and it's during a time when whitetail and mule deer are going through intense rutting, the animals aren't being cautious and a lot of them get shot at long distances. I think bow hunting is more of a challenge. The time and patience I put into the hunt, looking for the right buck and the right shot.... It's very satisfying in the end."


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