Buck Fever Again

By Doris Thatcher | November 2, 2000
From Missouri Conservationist: Nov 2000

I’m 58 years old and, until about three years ago, I had never shot a bow. My son Don, however, ordered a new compound bow for me and tried to teach me the correct way to shoot.

Since 1987, Don and I have been partners in a store that sells archery equipment, but until recently, I knew nothing about archery except that it involved a bow and arrow. If customers came in when Don wasn’t in the store, they’d have to show me what they wanted.

I wasn’t an easy student. I laughed when I made mistakes, but Don didn’t think it was funny because he wanted me to shoot well.

My husband Bud saw how much fun I was having, however, so he decided to get into the sport himself. At first he had a hard time hitting the target, but eventually he got better. I think he’s one of those "natural born" archers.

Now Don, Bud and I all shoot in an archery league, and we’ve collected quite a few trophies. I’ve also discovered the fun of bowhunting.

The start of bow season in October is one of my favorite times. It’s a great season to just go into the woods and sit and listen. You see so many different types of animals you normally wouldn’t see, and you may also have hunting experiences you’ll remember all your life.

Once, when Don and I were hunting together, we both took stands on the ground. He was just over the ridge from me. A big female black bear came within 20 yards of where he was sitting and scared him half to death. The big sow’s cubs came over to where I was sitting, and I was really excited!

Later that day, I saw one of the biggest bucks I’d ever seen. I was wearing my deer scent, which I guessed he liked because he came straight toward me. When he was about 20 yards away, I must have moved or something because he stopped, snorted and ran away with three other deer that I hadn’t seen. It was a thrill just to get that close.

We hunt near Warsaw, an area well known for having lots of deer and turkey. The first year I bowhunted, I was sitting in my tree stand when a big eight-point buck came straight at me. I had set out some deer scent about 10 yards away, and he stuck his nose right in it.

He kept his eye on me, so I couldn’t move, much less shoot. Then, he turned, walked a few steps and stood broadside. I just sat there amazed until he walked away.

I sat wishing for another chance, but the moment had passed.

Leaving the woods, I saw the same buck again. This time he was about 100 yards away. I stared at him until he walked away, and then I turned and saw a big doe less than 10 yards away.

"I’ll get this one," I said to myself. I started to draw the string, but I did not seem to have the strength. I pulled for all I was worth, but I simply could not load the bow. I watched the doe slowly walk away.

Once I got back home, I began thinking about what had happened. I picked up my bow again and drew the string with no problem. There was nothing wrong with the bow; it was me! I had suffered an attack of buck fever - or, in this case, "doe fever."

On another hunt, I had sat in a stand all day without seeing a deer. More out of bordom than anything else, I decided to blow on my grunt call.

In a little while, I heard a deer grunt back at me. Then I saw him running toward me, so I grunted again and he grunted back. We traded three or four more grunts.

I lost sight of the deer in the thick cover, so I put my bow down and peeped around the tree. I saw him again, but he saw me and took off. I sat and waited, then I decided to try to rattle him in. I had never tried rattling before, but what had I to lose?

I rattled the way I thought you should, waited and rattled again. Then I blew my grunt call. Suddenly I heard deer coming from all over. There must have been 20!

I picked out one, but my arrow hit a limb, flew over the deer’s back and stuck in the ground.

I all but live in the woods during deer season. It is so peaceful and quiet and relaxing there. I try to sit near scrapes that does visit. Once I even got a chance to shoot a wild turkey, but I misjudged the yardage and shot over his back. He just turned and disappeared into the woods.

Another time I sat in my tree stand for three hours during a rain storm. Thinking I wasn’t going to see any deer that day, I rolled up my camouflage netting and dropped it to the ground. When it hit, a deer moved slightly about 10 yards away.

My bow was already down. I tried to pick it up and get into position without spooking him, but he just walked off, and I never shot.

It thrills our son to know his mother and father like to target shoot and bowhunt. We have enjoyed it so much. Once you start shooting, you are hooked on it, and you forget all your troubles when you are in the woods. Age isn’t a factor, either. I’m living proof it is never too late to take up archery.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer