John's Journal...


Second Chances

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: You'll immediately feel violently ill when you release an arrow and watch the broadhead cut nothing but air. Unfortunately, I've had this happen to me more than once. At times, like you, I've heard off in the distance my hunting buddies screaming and hollering when they've missed shots. I've also seen bows have rude encounters with tree trunks after they've failed to perform properly. However, I've learned often the best part of your bow hunt occurs after you've missed a shot. Many times, you'll get a second shot at the same deer or a bigger deer.

The 4 point came out of the gallberry thicket, meandered through the red oaks and then moved on to the trail that led to the big swamp chestnut tree. The deer stood right where I wanted him. The buck turned when he heard a squirrel jump from limb to limb. Only 20 yards from him, I drew my bow and let the pin settle behind his front shoulder. Then I gently touched the trigger on my mechanical release. I wish I had an excuse for why I missed. The deer might have jumped the string, my arrow might have hit a twig, or my broadhead might have been out of tune. Click to enlargeBut for whatever reason, my arrow cleared the buck's back and put the young buck's running gear into high. I watched as my opportunity for the morning fled into the brush. He waved a white flag, not as a surrender signal but rather taunting me as if to say, "You didn't get me this time."

I had three more hours left of hunting before I planned to meet my partner at noon for lunch. Although I knew the 4 point wouldn't have qualified as a trophy, he would have provided many tasty meals for my family. Discouraged, I sat still, replaying the shot, thinking about what I might have done to prevent the miss. Held securely in my tree stand by my harness, in the stillness of the woods, I began to get that warm and comfortable feeling that usually would lead to a nap in a tree stand. I had my bow with the arrow mocked hanging on a limb to my left. As my eyes started closing, I relaxed, knowing that the shooting bar surrounding my tree stand would prevent me from falling out of the stand.

Click to enlargeFifteen minutes passed before a screaming blue jay returned me to the conscious world. Reluctant to give up a sound sleep, I gradually opened my right eye. On the same trail where I'd missed the 4 point, I saw a really nice 8 point walking. Closing my eye again, I wondered whether I was really asleep or awake. "I'll chance opening both eyes at the same time," I told myself. "If that 8 point is still on the trail, I'll know he's not a mirage. I'll have to get into my hunting mode quickly." This time when both my eyes opened, the 8 point had his head down, feeding on acorns. When he moved his head behind a tree, I took my bow from the limb that held it. As a jet airplane flew low overhead, I stood to prepare for the shot. The buck walked from behind the tree and continued to come toward me. With the whitetail less than 12 yards from my tree, I put the pin sight behind his front shoulder and aimed for the lower one-third of his chest. I tried to place the pin sight on the white belly hair that started on the buck's underside and intersected with the brown hair on his side. If the buck squatted at the sound of the arrow, he'd drop into the broadhead instead of below it. If he didn't move when my bow fired, I'd either hit his heart or the bottom part of his lungs. I gently squeezed the trigger on my mechanical release. The shaft of the arrow carried the broadhead to complete its mission. Although the buck ran through open woods, I saw him fall about 70 yards from where he'd encountered the arrow. Had I left my stand after missing the 4 point, I never would have had an opportunity to take the bigger trophy buck.

Click to enlarge"I make a screw-in arrow-holder that I screw into the tree next to my tree stand to enable me to make a quick second shot," Jerry Simmons of Jasper, Alabama, the originator of Simmons' Broadheads, said. "I've found that many times if you miss a buck or get a poor hit on a buck, if you can get an arrow nocked quickly by having it close at hand, the buck may give you a second chance." Simmons believes a buck that doesn't know what really has happened when he hears the sound of a bow and arrow. The deer only may run five or 10 yards, stop and look back, offering you a second shot. "Many times young bucks will return to the spot where they've been shot at and actually sniff the arrow that's stuck in the ground," Simmons mentioned. "If you've nocked an arrow right after the shot, you'll be prepared to get off a second shot and may take the buck you've missed the first time."



Check back each day this week for more about WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MISS WITH JOHN E. PHILLIPS...

Day 1 - Second Chances
Day 2 - Use The 10-Yard Formula
Day 3 - Determine Whether Or Not You've Hit The Deer
Day 4 - Don't Leave a Good Spot And Have A Good Attitude
Day 5 - When The Bucks Come Running And When You Hit But Miss



Entry 273, Day 1