By Anthony Tefft
November 7th 8:15 am I’m sitting in my bottom swamp stand just enjoying the beautiful fall day we were having. Not much action and I had limited time in the stand that morning. The plan was to hunt until 10 am and go home to sleep as I had worked all night before heading to the stand.
I look up the edge of the swamp and there he was already 30 yards and closing in. His rack was out past his ears and I knew he was going to be a shooter. In my mind I was thinking “There is no way I’m going to be able to sneak my bow from the hanger, stand up, and draw on him while he is looking straight in my direction.” It was worth a shot.
I reached for my Elite, stood, and just as I saw him start to cross the swamp, just 15 yards in front of me, I knew this was what I had worked so hard for. I set my pin right behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. With the sound of the "thwack" I knew it was a solid hit. I could see him kick and take off. He walked a mere 40 yards before he got that wobble, then walked away ever so slowly just out of sight.
I look down and there is my blood soaked arrow after a full pass through. I hang the bow up and just stare into the sky running everything that had just happened through my mind. A phone call to my wife and son absolutely ecstatic telling them I had just shot a buck. Jenny calmed me down to be sure I didn't jump out of the stand and chase him down, but rather to wait and do the right thing. I spoke to Jenny and Ollie for a bit before hanging up the phone.
After about 20 minutes I decide to get down to check the arrow. Bright red bubbly blood can only mean one thing, lung shot and I knew he couldn’t be far. I collected myself and walked across the swamp where I saw him last. The leaves were painted red with blood. The trail was so incredible Stevie Wonder could have found this deer. I walked maybe another 40 yards when my eyes saw the unmistakable white belly. He was expired in under 30 minutes right there on the hill side.
Reaching my hands to his antlers for the first time was an amazing experience of joy and overwhelming emotions. Something only us hunters can truly appreciate. I sat there for a moment in disbelief that it all worked out just like it was supposed to. I got up and walked to get Jenny and Ollie to have them walk down to help retrieve the deer. As I saw Ollie’s eyes light up when seeing me, my heart flooded with emotions only a father can feel. I thought, “I’m taking my son to go get his very first deer.”
We walked along the ATV trail and down over the bank hand in hand talking about the hunt. As we descended down the hillside I could feel the energy through his little gripping hands. We got down to where the blood trail was and instantly he was just as excited as I was. We followed the trail straight to where the buck had taken his final steps. Ollie, with pure excitement says, "There’s the buck!!" Jenny had asked what he thought and, with eyes wide, he responds “Good”. We hugged in that moment and there was no need for any more words as he and I both knew what this moment truly meant for the both of us.
It was my first successful deer hunt that I was able to share with him and to him it was a memory that will always be one of the fondest. It was knowing that the traditions I was raised with had now been passed onto another generation of hunters. A lifetime of shared stories and memories and possibly even some heart breaks, but in the end it’s all memories that we will always hold deep in our hearts. It’s moments like this that can never be recreated or forgotten.
I’ve raised my sons to respect the land and all animals. To be hunters and conservationists and most importantly respectful. We’ve spent countless hours preparing for moments like this with the scouting, setting up cameras, making mock scrapes, and time in the blind and treestand. When it comes down to it the most important part was spending time together as a family in the outdoors. The emotions and feelings I got from shooting this buck were great, but we’re no match to what I felt as a dad with his son.
Anthony arrowed his Oneida County buck on November 7, 2018
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