John's Journal...

Big Game Bowhunters Recall Their Toughest Shots

Day 1: Jim Crumley and Chris Kirby’s Toughest Bow Shots

Editor’s Note: Making a shot on a big-game animal at crunch time makes-up both a hunter’s dreams and nightmares. Here are some dreams that came true. Can you remember the toughest shot you’ve ever made with a bow? Did you have confidence you could make the shot? Did you get lucky? Let’s look at some of the toughest shots made by some of America’s greatest archers.

Jim Crumley of Buchanan, Virginia – Creator of Trebark Camouflage and C.A.M.O. Enterprises

Click for Larger ViewI was in a tree stand when I spotted a nice 5-point buck walking straight at me. About 15-yards from me, the buck stopped abruptly with its ears cranked to attention. At first I thought the wind must have changed, and the buck had smelled me. But for whatever reason, the buck spooked, turned and began walking directly away from me. I went to full draw. Just as I saw my sight pin behind the deer’s front shoulder, the buck bolted to run. I knew that to make an accurate shot I would have to shoot a bit high. Then hopefully the deer would jump into the flight pattern of my arrow. I could tell by the flight of the arrow that I shot over the buck. In the split second that the arrow was going to miss its mark clean, the buck raised its head. My broadhead struck the deer in its left ear, dropping the buck instantly.

Click for Larger ViewThat evening, Nicky Rowe, my hunting partner, and I were dragging my 5-point back to the truck. Strangely, Nicky never asked me about my shot. Before I’d left my deer earlier, I had unscrewed the arrow shaft from the broadhead. No one could see where the broadhead had entered the deer’s ear because the arrow had centered the ear channel. As we loaded the buck on the truck, Nicky asked me where I’d shot my deer after he examined the buck but never found the entry point. Finally, he told me, “Jim, you must have scared this deer to death.” When I showed him where the broadhead had landed, he couldn’t believe the shot I’d made. But neither could I; it was pure and simple luck.

Chris Kirby of Orchard Park, New York – President, Quaker Boy Calls

Click for Larger ViewI was hunting in my home state of New York, about 20-minutes from home, in a thick-cover area between a cornfield and a mixed-hardwood/abandoned-apple orchard. A short time into my hunt, I spotted a relatively small 8-point buck feeding on apples. I only had seconds to get my bow in my hand, and my mechanical release clicked on my bowstring. As I did this, a bigger buck appeared just behind the 8 point. Before I could draw my bow, the bigger buck poked his nose from the thicket and started coming into the clearing. The big boy was eyeing a scrape that I had been watching for a couple of days.

Click for Larger ViewAfter one step into the clearing, the buck bolted back into the thicket as I drew my bow. I only had about a 2-second window of time to get the shot off, before the deer returned to the thicket. Just as I got to full draw, my pin settled behind the deer’s shoulder, and I released the arrow. This shot was my greatest shot ever, because the shot happened so quickly, and I was able to draw and shoot almost instinctively and accurately in a short time. The 3-1/2-year-old buck scored 118 on Boone & Crockett and only traveled about 50-yards before he went down.

For more in-depth information about deer hunting, get the new Kindle eBooks by John E. Phillips, “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” “PhD Whitetails” and “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer.” Go to, type in the names of these books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Tomorrow: Jerry Peterson and Ronnie Groom’s Hardest Bow Shots

Check back each day this week for more about "Big Game Bowhunters Recall Their Toughest Shots"

Day 1: Jim Crumley and Chris Kirby’s Toughest Bow Shots
Day 2: Jerry Peterson and Ronnie Groom’s Hardest Bow Shots
Day 3: Toxey Haas and the Late Dick Kirby – Their Most-Difficult Bow Shots
Day 4: Brad Harris and Randy Ulmer’s Toughest Bow Shots
Day 5: Ronnie Strickland and Mark Drury’s Exciting Bow Shots

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Entry 679, Day 1