The Butler Buck
Archery Swamp Buck

By James Butler

It was the morning of 12/3/2013 and I was already off to a bad start.  I woke up much later then I wanted and almost just stayed in bed. Usually during gun season a little late I dont mind, but the property I hunt I can only use a bow so being in early and set up is key. Well so I thought.

So after getting up and ready I made it to the property around 6:45 and could see fairly well already.  There was snow on and I was in a hurry to get back to my stand, which was all the way to the back of the property in a pine woods that borders a large swamp. It also is where the deer tend to bed so getting there before them I wasn't sure about but that's where I wanted to hunt.

That morning was cold and the snow was very crunchy which slowed my approach so it took me close to thirty minutes to get there and was, like I said, late. I was almost to my stand and getting there was much louder than I would have preferred. Unfortunately it probably wouldn't have mattered this day because there was at least fifteen deer already by my stand and were now running back into the swamp.

I was, to say the least, amazed and yet upset because maybe if I wasn't late I would have been all set up for them. Not being able to do much about it I waited til I couldn't see them and finished walking the twenty more yards to my stand. I quietly as possible climbed up and set up. It was a beautiful morning to hunt and that's what I was there for. Now that I was setup I let the woods quiet down, texted my friend to tell him about my experience and cursed myself for being late.

It is now almost 7:30 and I figured I'd try some grunting because those deer I sent into the swamp were up wind of me the whole time and I could still hear some ice breaking here and there out where they headed. In a matter of minutes I had a bunch of does and fawns working back into the woods, but well out of archery range.

Probably a minute later I noticed a large buck in the midst of all the other deer through the branches. He was actually herding them up and had gotten all of them heading down the edge of the swamp right towards me. I quickly grabbed my bow, got my feet set and was ready for my oppotunity.

They all got on the deer trail which lead them by me at 30 yards. The buck was last, but I was in a pine tree and none of the deer noticed me draw. I anchored my bow in my shooting lane just waiting for him to walk into it. When he did, I didn't try to stop him for fear of sending him running, I just put it on him and shot.

It was a big buck. I wasn't sure what he was, but I knew he was my biggest. He ran off, stopped within a hundred yards and stood there. I then looked at my phone. It was 7:45 and I knew I had hit him but thought maybe it was a little far back. So, I just sat and watched him for almost a half hour just stand and walk a bit. He finally made it out of sight and I made the decision to get down to go look at my arrow.

I got to the arrow which was covered in bright red blood, but not much on the snow from what I could see so I just took the long way out leaving everything in the tree not wanting to spook the deer because of how crunchy the snow was. I made it to my truck and spent the next three hours forcing myself not to just go right after my deer.

I waited until a good friend of mine got there and we went in together to look for it at 11:30.  We got back to where I shot the buck, walked up the small hill from where my arrow was and that's were the blood trail started. There was blood everywhere on the snow and it lead us right to my deer which was no more than 40 yards from where I last saw him. I had actually put a great shot on him, but one that wasn't lethal right away. It was a dead center liver shot and am so glad that in the end patience and persistence paid off.


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