Travis Leier | Mossy Oak ProStaff
In the 2006 and 2007 deer season, I was sitting in a tree late in the afternoon rattling and grunting because the rut was happening. Although I would like to say we had this buck patterned, that’s not true. I was able to take this buck that scored in the mid-160s because of sheer luck. I did have trail-camera pictures of him about a quarter of a mile from where we were hunting, and those pictures were taken two weeks before I took the buck.
I was rattling and grunting. I hadn’t seen any bucks, and dark was about to fall. I told myself I needed to go home. So, I tied my bow to my pull-up rope and let it down to the ground. I turned to take my first step out of the tree stand, and for some reason, I looked over my shoulder. I spotted this buck 60 yards away, working a scrape. I was hunting from a Big Game tree stand, and I used screw-in steps to go up and down the tree. I was in the worst position a bowhunter could be in, but the buck’s head was down. I eased myself back into my tree stand.
As I was pulling the bow up from the ground, I had my eyes frozen on the buck. I’d only been archery hunting for about two years, so I didn’t have a range finder. However, I had shot my bow so much during the summer and then in the early fall that I was pretty good at guessing distances. Finally, as he was coming to me, I got my bow drawn. When he was within my range, I bleated to stop him. I knew that the deer was further than 40 yards, so I put my 40-yard pin on him and let my arrow go. I hit him on the back side of his lungs in the liver, and the buck took off running hard. I watched him as far as I could, and he made a circle and went back in the direction from where he’d come.
Because I had hunted that property often, I knew about the trail he was using. As I sat in the stand, I told myself my shot was a little far back from where I intended to hit, so I climbed down the tree, walked out of the area and decided to leave him overnight. The air temperature was in the 30-degree range, which meant the meat wouldn’t spoil. The next morning, I asked one of my co-workers to come out with me and help me look for my buck. I stopped at the spot where I’d shot the buck to look for blood and couldn’t find any. What I learned later was the arrow had gone through his guts and plugged the exit hole, so there was no blood trail.
We walked down the trail that the buck had taken after I had arrowed him, and the trail ran down into a ravine. When we had gone about 70 yards, we found my buck. That buck scored 162 inches and was my best buck with a bow.
Travis Leier of Velva, North Dakota, has been hunting whitetails for 21 years and has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for over a year.