Worth The Wait
One night, as I was just about to fall asleep, my dad came into my room and told me that we were going to go hunting the next morning. Excitedly, I set my alarm for four o'clock. As soon as we woke up, my brothers and I loaded up our gear and headed out. We had a long hike to our glassing spot. While scoping things out, my dad spotted some deer a ways away. He said it looked like a nice big four point. I wanted to go get him right away but my dad kept saying that we needed to be patient. We sat there for another hour and then moved to a new spot to get a better view. We lost track of the big one, but saw a tall skinny one. I figured that was better than nothing so we created a plan to stalk him. I practiced shooting my bow until I felt confident in my shots and then we left into the dusty mountains to execute our plan.
We had been hiking for what seemed like forever when we finally reached the top of the mountain. We arrived at a good glassing spot where we could see just about everything. I asked, “Hey dad, have you seen anything?” We were whispering so quietly that I could barely hear our words. He said, “Yeah, I see the biggest one that we couldn’t see down there. How far do you think that is?” I guessed that he was about 400 yards away. I said, “How far do you think that is?” He replied, “Maybe 220 yards.” I didn’t believe him. That seemed way further than 220 yards. Dad asked me to get the rangefinder, so I grabbed it and calculated the distance. It was exactly 220 yards away from us! We got together with my brothers and made a new plan. My Dad and I were going to hike down and get under a tree while my brothers would wait at the glassing spot for further signal to join us and watch the stalk unfold.
As we got closer, we took our shoes off to quiet our feet so that the deer couldn’t hear us coming. My dad knew from past experiences that if the deer even heard a twig snap it would get up and run off. After we got to the tree and had been stationed there for about ten minutes I asked, “Do I have to stand the whole time?” Dad said, “Welcome to bow hunting!” I giggled and Dad told me to be quiet or I wouldn’t get the shot. I decided that if I wanted a big deer, I had better stand here patiently and quietly.
Suddenly, we were startled by a loud beeping sound. It was my watch alarm! We thought that we had really blown it. I told my Dad that the watch would go off again at 3:15. We tried to get the alarms to turn off, but we were unsuccessful. We eventually dug a hole and buried my Christmas watch. It is still buried out there to this day. About fifteen minutes later the buck got up and started to walk out. He stopped as I drew my bow back. My dad told me to let it down because I didn’t have a good shot, so I let out my bow but kept it up. Then the buck started to come out from behind a tree and I pulled back my bow again. I was ready! As he revealed himself once again, I drew in a breath and took my best shot! THUMP! WHACK! CRACKLE! CRACKLE! “You hit him right in the heart! Great shot,” Dad said. He was bleeding pretty bad out of his side but he still had the strength to run over the next little draw. We immediately ran over the ridge to see if we could get another shot.
We had only been running for a few steps when I stepped on a cactus with my barefeet. Ouch! We stood on the ridge for a while and kept a good eye on him and after a few minutes he laid down under a tree. We inched closer to see if we could sneak up on him and were able to get within eight yards of him. I was so mesmerized by how awesome he looked. He must have sensed that we were there because he immediately sprung out of his bed. He was so fast that I didn’t even have time to draw my bow back. I couldn’t see where he went but I knew he had snuck down into the ravine. I knocked another arrow and prepared to shoot him a second time. We found him standing at the bottom of the ravine. I drew back and waited until I thought the shot would be perfect. I knew I had hit him good the first time but he was a fighter. He was standing still, but right as I released he started to move again and I missed. He ran down a little hill and ended up laying down again. After we searched for a little while I started to get worried. Had we lost him for good? Finally we found him about seventy yards away. We waited an hour, then went and ended the war. My dad said, “You did it buddy! You're a deer slaying machine!" and I said, “Thanks to you I am!” My deer ended up scoring 172 inches, and was a good three by four.
Thanks to my dad, I learned many valuable lessons on that hunt. I was just 12 years old and had never shot a deer before but I had a great teacher by my side. I had to be patient, diligent, and work hard, but in the end I triumphed. What an awesome experience that I will remember forever.
Zeb’s father, Mike Hirschi owns a local archery shop out in Hurricane called Lightning Archery. He also has his own guiding service called Record Book Outfitters. Mike and his family are the real deal.
By: Zeb Hirschi