A Rewarding Second Chance
by Zane Graham
September 29, 2012 was opening morning of bow season in west Texas and I headed out to a blind where we had gotten trail camera pictures of a nice 8 point. I had sat in the rifle blind the evening before just to scout and see if I could get my eyes on the 8 point. Sure enough on that cloudy and misty afternoon he came walking in to the feeder. After studying him I could tell he was a mature buck and I definitely wanted to have an encounter with him on opening morning of bow season.
So there I sat on opening morning waiting for the darkness to give way to the early morning light. After it finally got good and light outside the feeder threw and like clock work the big 8 point made his way in. Buck fever quickly set in, my breaths got heavier and my body began to shake. I slowly raised my bow up and hooked my release. Once the buck got broadside I drew back my bow and sent an Easton arrow his way. The buck bolted out of the area but I was unable to tell where I had hit him. My mind started racing and I began to question the shot. After waiting for a little while I got out of the blind and went to the feeder to look for blood and my arrow. My arrow had a fair amount of blood on it but it was not completely covered. We looked for blood but only found a few drops here there. After searching most of the day with the landowner and his legendary tracking dog, we came to the conclusion that the buck was not injured bad and should be ok. I was sick and upset at myself for not making a good shot on the buck but all I could do was hope and pray by some chance he would show back up on trail camera. I had to return home for a week of school before I could head back out to the ranch the next Friday evening to try for redemption. I received an email from the landowner on Wednesday with an attached picture of the 8 point buck! To our surprise he had shown back up at the same feeder and looked healthy. After close inspection I was able to see that I had indeed hit the buck but it was really high, just below the spine and through the backstrap.
Friday evening I headed out to the blind with high hopes of redeeming myself. It was fairly early and I had not been in the blind long when I caught a glimpse of movement to my right. It was the big 8 and he was grazing and raking his antlers in the brush. Buck fever once again set in but I was focused and prepared to execute a good shot. A few moments later the feeder went off and the buck made his way in. I raised up my bow and slowly drew back without being detected. I placed the pin behind the shoulder and let it fly. This time the arrow penetrated behind the shoulder and the buck ran into the brush. I knew I had made a great double lung shot and he would not run far. The adrenaline was flowing and I was pumped knowing I had a good buck on the ground. I gave the buck some time before my dad and I got on the blood trail. About 50 yards later we found him and the quest was over. I never thought the buck would show back up at the same feeder after getting shot, especially 4 days later! It just goes to show, you never know what a western whitetail will do.
Zane Graham is a dedicated hunter who loves chasing Texas whitetails. West Texas is his home and he has a hunting lease nearby where he spends most of his free time. He took his first deer at the age of 9 and has taken multiple bucks scoring over 130, with both his rifle and bow since then. He recently started filming his own hunts and loves both the challenge and the satisfaction of reliving the hunt. Zane is working on a criminology degree at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and hopes to one day become a game warden for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.