Bow Season: First Shot

This is the second part of a 12 part series covering my time spent with a Kansas Whitetail outfitter during his entire bow season.

As the first day of hunting begins in the comfortable, but unwelcome, heat of southeastern Kansas, one of the New York boys drew first blood after only 20 minutes of morning light. 

The shot was at 14 yards on a white-antlered buck scoring in the low 150’s. A dandy start to a warm first week of November, but bad news would soon follow after hours of trailing and tracking. The shot was most likely not lethal as the blood evidence appeared as spotty droplets spread out over a hundred yards. The hunter was a humble man and spent the rest of the day in a cloud of self-doubt and disappointment.

The heat wave was not kind to the other hunters at all. In fact, despite the first morning’s shot opportunity, the rest of the hunters would only see does and young bucks. A few two year old bucks would show themselves and offer slight temptation, but none of the guys would take the bait and end their hunts by killing immature deer.

The hunter who experienced disappointment on the first day is now traveling to a public hunting area to continue hunting. Although his hunt is over with this outfitter, the outfitter has provided a map and some general directions. At least the disappointed hunter will be hunting again and will have an opportunity to forget about his failed shot on a nice buck, which is an experience that most bow hunters have felt and dealt with themselves.

I had a chance to speak with that deflated hunter and I asked him how he was feeling. I really meant it in a rhetorical manner, but he was afflicted enough to share with me his personal let-down. “I have made that shot plenty of times. I just got excited and lost my focus and I think I just let myself become a spectator during my own hunt. I choked,” said the straight faced hunter.

Everyone chokes in life, but when a bowhunter chokes it is during a time of heart-pumping intensity and the oncoming adrenaline makes the situation even more significant. Therefore, the let-down is extremely more impactful than it would be if a person committed the same mistake while performing a mundane or everyday activity. 

The bottom line, I feel sorry for the guy and the temporary blow to his psyche is felt by the entire crew and other hunters.