Yamaha Outdoors Tips - First Bow Buck
By Stephanie Mallory
I’m not a crier. In fact, I pride myself on my ability to remain stoic during highly emotional moments, but I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing after I shot my first deer with a bow. You see, I’ve wanted to take a deer with a bow for some time, but the demands of four young children and outdoor communications business have dominated my time and energy, making finding time to practice difficult.
When Yamaha’s Van Holmes called and invited me on a media hunt to chase whitetails and test out the Yamaha Viking Side-by-Sides in Texas, I jumped on the opportunity. He told me I’d be hunting with Whitetail Diaries host Wade Middleton on his lease, which had a ton of deer.
So, I practiced almost every day for a month with my Strother bow. I can only pull 38 pounds, so I concentrated on practicing shots at 20, 25 and 30 yards. When the day came to board the plane to Texas, I felt fairly confident in my abilities. But, what I wasn’t counting on was the impact nerves can have on the accuracy of one’s shot, as well as all of the other variables that come into play.
The first morning of the hunt, Wade and I jumped in the Viking and headed to a blind not too far from camp. The moment the first deer stepped out in front of our blind, I lost all composure. I tried not to let it show, but my nervous trembles gave me away.
Wade tried to calm my nerves. “Today is the scrimmage game,” he said. “We’re going to take this time to practice and learn. Mistakes are OK.”
I didn’t get off any shots that morning, but that evening was a different story.
We returned to the same location, and just like that morning, several deer showed up. When a nice doe stepped out in front of the blind at just over 20 yards from me, I drew my bow, aimed and fired, just like I had while practicing at home, at least that’s what I thought. But, instead of hitting the mark, the arrow flew right over the doe's back as she ducked at the sound of the bow being fired.
I made a couple of more shots throughout the day, but missed each time.
I screwed up the shots so badly Wade joked that I’d launched my arrows into orbit around the earth. I knew my nerves were largely to blame and wondered how in the world I was going to calm myself down enough to make a decent shot.
When we returned to camp, I was both rattled and embarrassed.
Wade requested that I shoot at the target again, so he could check out my form. With my nerves still frazzled, I drew my bow and fired. I made a fairly decent shot, but not a great one.
“I see what you’re doing wrong,” Wade said. “You’re not anchoring your string firmly to your nose, and you’re moving your head to the right to watch where the arrow goes the second you shoot.”
So, I made those adjustments and fired several good shots at the target.
The next evening, we returned to the same location we’d hunted the previous day. I watched with a pounding heart as two nice bucks walked out. I decided at that moment that I would take my time and not rush the shot if given the opportunity. After milling around in front of the blind for several minutes, the larger buck stopped broadside 21 yards from me. I drew my bow, but before I fired, I double checked that I was anchored correctly, that my nose was on the string and that my grip was loose. Then I aimed and fired.
I heard the thump! Then I heard Wade say, “You smoked him! You just made the perfect shot. You couldn’t have made a better shot!”
The buck ran off and I looked at Wade through tears in my eyes while asking him again and again, “Are you sure?”
“Yep,” he said. “I think you got him right in the heart. That deer is dead, but because you’re shooting a light-poundage bow, I wanna make sure we give him plenty of time to expire, just in case.”
So we returned to camp to wait until the other hunters and guides returned from their hunts. Just after dark, several of us jumped into the Yamaha Vikings and headed out in search of the deer.
Fortunately, after only a few minutes of following the blood trail, we located the deer approximately 100 yards from where I’d shot it. I had indeed shot it right through the heart. I still couldn’t believe it. Just when I was getting ready to give up, not only did I get a deer, but I got a nice buck with a great shot.
After my numerous fumbles, mistakes and misses, I never imagined the hunt would turn out so perfectly. To make it even better, all of my hunting campmates ended up getting deer as well.
I’ve gotta say, my first experience taking a deer with a bow not only humbled me, but it gave me a whole new appreciation for those who pursue whitetails with stick and string. There’s nothing easy about it. So many things can go wrong, and so often they do. But, as I learned, you’ve just gotta dust yourself off and keep trying because sometimes things work out better than you could have ever expected.