As some of you like a good hunting story I thought I would share this even if it is more of a tracking story, and a bit long.
During Archery season my brother invited me out to his place to shoot a buck. After years of being his ranch hand and volunteer/guide I was finally getting a shot at a whitetail on his place. I have shot some decent bucks over the years but I had my eye on a wide-rack buck that seldom would show up at a feeder. I had scouted this deer many times and had only seen him once; he was generally seen on trail cameras at night. Here is how it went.
I climbed in the stand at 6:30 and cocked and loaded my crossbow. I was camoed-up, good wind, good equipment, I was ready to go. As I waited on the feeder I heard some creaking sounds coming from near crossbow, so I picked it up and inspected it with my flashlight, it looked ready to go. It had shot perfectly the night before, I was confident that my crossbow would make up for any error on my part; this Mission crossbow is a sweet shooting machine. And I was uncertain that the noise was the bow, could have been a mouse or something.
To my surprise at 7:20 the buck I was looking for showed up and immediately presented a broad side shot, I was shocked. He looked really nice from 25 yards and I put the cross-hairs behind the shoulder and took the shot, it was that simple and that quick. The buck jumped and headed into the woods. I heard the bolt hit, but it was still first light so I was unable to see exactly where it connected. After thirty grueling minutes of waiting I climbed down to look for blood and to get my bolt that was lying near where the deer was standing. The bolt looked like it had run through a raw steak, almost a meaty looking film on it; this is not what I wanted to see.
But in no time I located a good blood trail and commenced the tracking. I followed a pretty good trail for well over a quarter of a mile (using my GPS app for distance and trail); there was plenty of blood to keep me following. My wife joined me after her hunt and we continued the track for another quarter of a mile and we jumped my buck. We inspected the area that he had bedded down and there was no blood, but we quickly found blood leaving from the location and we decided to leave the deer alone and continue after breakfast.
After we ate I had the help of the entire camp; six eager people were in the woods in a jiff. We picked up where we left off and found the blood trail, with many eyes on the ground we went another half mile and jumped the deer again. We discovered the same situation in the place that he had laid down, no blood there. We concluded that this deer needed to be pushed to keep him bleeding; something about lying down was stopping the bleeding. We continued for about another hour or so, drop to drop, and decided that we needed a rest and to eat, so we all took a lunch break.
The entire crew got back up and went out (these guys and gals were better than calling a tracking dog), and we were back on the trail in no time, finding drops of blood continually and wondering if he was ever going to run out of juice. As my volunteers were getting weary my brother saw the buck for the third time dart ahead. This was good as the blood trail had gone cold; he had to be running on empty by now. We moved up to where he was last seen and spotted him ahead laying down taking his last breaths. After a few minutes we moved in to see a beast of a deer that has finally expired. He looked huge up close. It was 2:30 in the afternoon, 7 hours and 10 minutes and 2 1/2 miles after I shot him.
As we inspected the deer we discover that the bolt never entered his chest cavity. It entered through one leg, barely caught the brisket, and caught the other leg passing through. It sliced the legs good enough to make him bleed well, but when he would lay down his legs quit moving and would fold up, stopping the bleeding.
My brother was to use the crossbow for an evening hunt so he went to shoot it to make sure that it was on. He also noticed the creaking sound from the bow after it was cocked; he did the same as I did and inspected the bow, it looked fine with no visible signs of a problem. When he shot the bolt barely caught the target box, and one of the limbs on the bow split down the middle. Luckily no injuries occurred, but we discovered the crossbow was the cause of my wayward shot. Although the limb was failing it showed no visible signs of a problem. We are certain the sound we were hearing were the fibers in the composite limbs tearing. The bow had never been dry fired or dropped, just a fluke we believe as the bow shot perfectly the previous evening. Mission has already fixed the bow under warranty, good guys.
The picture does not do him justice as we took the photo where he was instead of a better propped up pose. He was 12 points (9 w/kickers that are difficult to see in the photo) and 21 1/2" inside.