John's Journal...

Texas’ Ford Ranch – A Dream Hunt for Everyone

Day 1: John E. Phillips Made His Weirdest Bow Shot Ever at a Ford Ranch Texas Buck

Click for Larger ViewIn the early-morning light some years ago, I saw an 8-point buck I’d had my eye on begin moving toward my stand site. The day before, I’d passed on this buck, not because he wasn't a shooter, but because I knew there were bigger bucks on the Ford Ranch near Melvin, Texas, where I was hunting. The Ford Ranch manager, Forest Armke, had previously told me that, “At one time, I wasn‘t that excited about bowhunters, since they lost too-many deer. But, Chris Kirby, president of Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, told me you could shoot. So, go ahead, and plan to bowhunt when you come out here. However, please make sure you have a good shot before you release the arrow."

Click for Larger ViewKnowing Armke hadn't been impressed with bowhunters in the past, I made the decision that I wouldn't take a shot unless I had a close, good shot and felt really confident of it. On this hunt, I had had a shot the day before and passed on it. With the buck once again coming in, I rededicated my resolve not to release the arrow, unless I was sure I had the shot. When the buck was at 30-yards broadside and head down beginning to feed, I slowly began to pull my PSE bow. While at first draw, I anchored the shot and made sure that I shot low, behind the front shoulder, to try and take a heart shot or a worse-case scenario, a lung shot. Just as I released the arrow, the buck looked-up as though he were going to run. A strange thing happened. I watched the arrow enter behind the deer's shoulder and then stop 3/4 of the way into the deer. Click for Larger ViewAt the same time, I saw the buck drop flat as a pancake and start trying to get up as though I had spined him. As all these thoughts are going through my mind, I quickly cocked the second arrow and aimed just in front of the first arrow to take my buck. I really couldn't understand what happened on that first shot. The arrow had gone in far enough that it should have come out the other side, although it didn't. The only thing that I could surmise was that the arrow had gotten into some really-hard bone on the off-shoulder side of the deer.

When we got back to camp, I went to my room to change out of my warm clothes as the Texas heat was becoming more intense. There was a knock on the door, and Armke informed me that, "John, come here. You've got to see this." After having gutted my buck, my guide said, "I've never seen anything like this before." Click for Larger ViewWhen I looked inside the empty carcass of the deer, the mystery of my arrow placement was unbelievably solved. The arrow had gone in at the exact point I aimed, but instead of traveling down, the arrow had gone straight up the spine of the buck and was indeed lodged in its spine. Armke just shook his head and said, "I've never seen a shot like that before." I smiled and said, "I know you guys are not going to believe this, but I've been practicing that shot for years." They all broke out in laughter as did I at the absurdity that someone could really practice shooting a shoulder shot on a buck that would cause the arrow to go up into his spine. Apparently, just as the arrow hit my whitetail, he rolled backward away from the direction the arrow had come, and due to the rotation of his body, the arrow moved-up instead of down. I'd never shot a shot like that before, nor had I heard of anyone else who did. After that crazy shot, Armke and I became great friends, and I've hunted at the Ford Ranch several times.

For more information about the Ford Ranch, call (325) 286-4572, email, or go to

Tomorrow: Texas’ Ford Ranch – a Great Place for Beginner and Expert Deer Hunters

Check back each day this week for more about "Texas’ Ford Ranch – A Dream Hunt for Everyone "

Day 1: John E. Phillips Made His Weirdest Bow Shot Ever at a Ford Ranch Texas Buck
Day 2: Texas’ Ford Ranch – a Great Place for Beginner and Expert Deer Hunters
Day 3: Quaker Boy Calls’ Chris Kirby Takes His Dream Buck at Texas’ Ford Ranch
Day 4: Texas’ Ford Ranch Offers Many Trophy Deer for the Taking with Quaker Boy Calls’ Michelle Kirby
Day 5: The State of Texas' New Hunting Targets – the Axis Deer Invasion at the Ford Ranch


Entry 591, Day 1