Broken but not Defeated

Just thirteen days before the beginning of the archery season, my son wrecked on his dirt bike breaking his collar bone and fracturing his scapula in three places. Since Carson was the only Utah archery tag holder, it seemed as if the hunt was over even before it started.

 riding motorcycle before the hunt  x-ray of broken collarbone

                  Having a great time out riding                                          Riding was fun until it wasn't 

I began researching and found that Utah law did allow for the use of a crossbow if an injury was severe enough and circumstances warranted such an exemption to be granted. Long story short, he received authorization to use a crossbow for the upcoming archery deer season, game on! Let’s be honest, neither Carson nor I was sure at the time whether or not he would be up to the task. Venturing into the mountains with his right arm in a sling would pose challenges, but at least he now had options.

 bedded velvet 4 point buck 

  Late June -- not the big buck but still time to grow

Carson was anxious to get out and try for a deer even in his broken state. One of the primary motivations was that his preseason scouting had turned up a big buck, time and time again, hanging out in one particular spot. Carson had discovered a relatively small stand of quaking aspen where several bucks tended to hang out, including a huge 4 point. Of course the trick would be to find these bucks congregating in this exact spot during the hunting season: especially given the added hunting pressure. Compounding the situation was that Carson would have to remain mostly immobile. His strategy would be to sit in one spot for hours on end, waiting for the deer to come to him.

 ground blind with crossbow archery hunting  non-typical backyard buck

                  Setup in his blind with bipod mounted on crossbow                        Wishing could shoot backyard buck

In the end, Carson spent a total of eleven days mostly sitting and waiting for the bucks to arrive. For the first five days, he endured rain, marble sized hail, blazing hot sun, aching muscles/bones and only saw a few doe and fawn deer in total. It wasn’t until day six that he’d had enough and decided to get up to stretch his legs and went for a walk. If only he had been more patient and remained in place. As fate would have it, Carson was returning to his hiding spot around 2:30 in the afternoon when he spotted a deer standing a few yards from his blind, only 90 yards in the distance. The big mature buck was sporting an antler spread that was about 28 – 30 inches wide! Luckily Carson was carrying his crossbow so he proceeded to sneak ever so slowly across the rain softened ground hoping to get close enough for a shot.

 riding motorcycles while hunting  marble sized hail stones

          With grandson riding motorcycles and 4 wheelers as Carson hunted               When it wasn’t raining/hailing

Another lucky factor playing right into Carson’s hand was the terrain ahead. The contour of the ground was such that sneaking close was a real possibility. As Carson crept closer his heart pounded harder and harder in anticipation of what might happen soon. Finally close, he peered over the small rise and spotted the buck 30 yards away! Breathing erratically while trying to control his emotions he gently lowered into a sitting position. With his crossbow now raised and aimed directly at the buck’s vitals, he squeezed the trigger – click! The buck turned to look in Carson’s direction. Several anxious seconds passed until the deer finally got a whiff of him, snorted and bounded off.

Fuming yell, Carson sat perplexed – what had just happened, why the misfire? Then it dawned on him that during his jaunt the bolt (the arrow like projectile used with crossbows) had slipped slightly forward, about ¼ of an inch, thus engaging the anti-dry fire safety mechanism. Now the only way to overcome this particular state of the crossbow was to recock. And if you have ever cocked a crossbow then you are acutely aware of the physical effort required to do so. On top of that, there is always a lot of movement involved in the process, especially when having to rely on the manual crank option to perform the cocking task. So needless to say, the possibility for Carson to have gotten off a second shot was completely out of the question. Very frustrating and a very difficult lesson learned.

 velvet mule deer and doves 

  Shooting lefthanded with one hand, was able to get some doves

Carson would sit for three more days before his next encounter with a buck. This time four bucks wandered close. Carson momentarily considered taking a shot at a nice 3 point 45 yards away, but the allure of the big velvet 4x4 buck standing 50 yards away nixed that idea. A couple of anxious minutes passed as Carson waited for the giant to present a shot, but human scent had finally wafted to the deer and in a flash they were gone.

The next day Carson had another close encounter as a buck walked through the nearby trees but disappeared. After ten minutes Carson decided to standup to get a better look and moved about 10 feet to improve visibility. That was the wrong move as he bumped the 25 inch wide 3 point buck at 50 yards. Two close encounters within two days. However, as the day came to a close Carson was quite convinced he’d take the next shot opportunity at whatever sized deer since tomorrow would be his last day to hunt. It just so happened that on the next morning at first light, as he walked toward his blind, that he intercepted a 2 point buck walking across the hillside. Unfortunately he had left his crossbow at his blind overnight but told himself that he would have in fact shot at this buck. One hour later, kismet, a 2 point buck came walking in, it had to be the buck from earlier! Carson had already made up his mind to shoot so as the buck got closer he readied for a shot. At 19 yards he connected! Seconds later the buck tipped over! Now came the easy part for Carson, he stood and watched as his buck was quartered and carried back to camp. At least I can give him credit for carrying out his crossbow smile

 wearing sling with archery buck deer  arrow hole in deer's ear

                Posing -- no he didn’t pack it out                          Someone else targeted this buck too