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2020 public land buck


PMA Member
This is super long, so skip to the end if you don't care for all the details.
It started with an encounter on October 30th. I had this buck at 25 yds with no shot. I came back to that spot on November 6th and was setup in my saddle plenty early before daylight. I selected a tree in the dark just north of where I encountered this buck on the 30th. The tree wasn't ideal, but I could shoot east, west and south and generally the deer come from the south or east, so it setup perfect for my south wind.
It was instant action from the second shooting light hit. I had multiple does go through and several 3 yr old bucks I recognized were chasing them. I heard crunching of leaves and a buck grunt to my north so I grabbed my bow and setup for a shot to my east. As the crunching got closer I saw a doe and tines behind her. They were closing the gap quick and I quickly recognized the buck as the one from my previous encounter. The doe settled in to browse and the buck began meandering around rubbing trees and scraping the ground. They're both basically North of me and the buck was now inside of 35 yds and I had no shots because of the thick brush. I had a scrape 17 yds away directly to my North, so I tried to ready myself for a shot at this scrape. Problem was, I couldn't swing left or right around this tree because of branches. My only option was to loosen up my saddle and stand up on my platform facing the deer. Not an ideal shooting position, but I practice a lot of shooting positions, so I had no issue shooting like this. As the buck approached the scrape I drew back when his head went behind a tree. Now at 17 yds, the buck is scraping and licking the branches at the top of the scrape. I'm holding on his vitals and I have a small window to sneak an arrow through, I hold off because it's not a huge window and he's slightly quartering to me showing shoulder. He keeps looking right at me and licking the branch and I feel like he's gonna bust any second. With the clock ticking in my brain I decide to put an arrow through the small window as he gave me more vitals in the window as he reached higher to lick. 17 yds is a chip shot, so I place the pin on the top of his shoulder and squeeze. The lighted nock zips through the air and my point of aim is looking great, when all the sudden the arrow smacks and I see the broadhead poke out the bottom of his belly. The arrow is sticking almost straight up and I am in disbelief as he tears off and stands there at 100 yds. He disappears and I feel sick to my stomach. His doe is still at about 40 yds browsing like she doesn't have a care in the world. A younger buck comes into the picture and she bolts with him in pursuit.
What just happened? I climb down and sneak out, still in disbelief. I know he's hurt and I know it's guts.
I wait 8 hours and my wife and I take up the trail. At the public land parking lot we run into 2 out of state hunters and I tell them we're going to blood trail a deer. They say cool and let me know they'll be hunting south of there. My wife and I take up the trail and find dark spotty blood every 5-7 yds and it's slow going. About 250 yds away the buck does a j-hook and we find a bed. Dry sparse blood, ok, not good. We go another 40 yds and find another bed, dry sparse blood again. Crap. I think of backing out, but the blood looks better so we push on. 30 yds later is another bed, this time wet, bright red blood. Not good. I tell my wife we need to back out, we should have waited longer and all the sudden I hear crunching leaves heading my way. I nock an arrow and tell my wife to duck down. Instead of a deer I see a camo clad hunter. It's one of the guys from the lot. I approach him and he says, "I came down here to move a stand, but we saw your deer!" Apparently as they were walking across a huge prairie field to their spot, my buck burst out of the timber and started making his way across the field. They ducked and my buck saw them, did a u-turn and ran into the timber again. They said the arrow only had about 6" of penetration when they saw the deer.

I'm now disheartened, as I know a pushed deer like this is hard to find. On the bright side, we knew exactly where he ran into the timber because they stuck a stick in the ground.
We come back the next day and find no blood around the stick. I know this area well, so I assume he would go west, drop down into the river bottom and go across the shallow river to private. My wife and I head down there and find nothing. In disbelief, I tell my wife, "if he didn't go this way there's a good chance he headed south and if he did, he will pass a pinch about 250 yds from here." We skip ahead to that spot and within a couple minutes of looking, boom, drop of blood. My wife and I trail him another 200 yds and we lost blood and found it probably 5 different times during that stretch. It was painstakingly slow going.
Eventually the buck dropped down the bank towards the river and I drop onto the rocks along the bank to look for blood. Nothing. Shoot. I'm about to tell my wife we might have to cross the river, when I look to my south and see a beam sticking up on an island. Thank you Lord, we found him!

From the looks of it, he died the day before, shortly after getting bumped. The coyotes had a hayday, he smelled rotten and his hair was pulling out. 73 degree weather and an overnight low in the 50's isn't a good situation for meat. It was after 1pm when we found him and I shot him at 7:22am the day before. What happened was my arrow either hit a branch or deflected off of a rib. It entered about where it should, but exited middle guts. I was 20' up and 17 yds away so it's impossible for me to shoot an arrow through a deer at the angle the arrow traveled through him. Disappointed in the ending, but happy to wrap my tag around him. Taped him out at 147 1/2.


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PMA Member
Some more angles.


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PMA Member
Congrats on a dandy and way to stick with it. Curious if you would elaborate on your arrow/broadhead set up and if you think that had anything to do with the deflection


PMA Member
Congrats on a dandy and way to stick with it. Curious if you would elaborate on your arrow/broadhead set up and if you think that had anything to do with the deflection
28"- 300 spine gold tip arrow, 100 grain insert and 125 grain slick trick. Around 580 grain total arrow weight, so I find it hard to believe a rib could deflect it, but I'm no expert. If the buck didn't smell so bad I would have investigated the entrance hole more. The ruffl d up fur is where my arrow entered. Exited a little past ribs in bottom guts.


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Another public land stud for the wall and freezer meets his death by saddle ninja.......love it! Way to stay on him for the recovery and big congrats on your public land success!


Well-Known Member
Public hunting is a different animal - I did it for many years. A mature buck from public is a hell of an accomplishment - well done.
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