By: Ted Nugent
It was early October, 1970, and young Ted was once again up a tree, hope throttling eternal. I had already been bowhunting like a madman for nearly 20 years, following my dear old bowhunting dad, yew longbow and cedar arrows in hand, through the state and national forests of Northern Michigan each fall since I could walk.
But alas, not only backstrapless, but not a single bowshot to be had at a whitetail deer in all those years.
Yet here I was, back at it, gungho, bright eyed and bushytailed as eager as ever to figure out how to ambush and waylay one of these mythical beasts with a sharp stick.
And finally, on this stunning fall afternoon, like an apparition from the dark forest, she came. I remember holding my breath so forcefully that I actually got a little dizzy and felt like I was about to fall off the oak limb to which I clung.
Taunting me maliciously as they always do, this old she-deer paused and scanned intently every few steps, on the highest of high alerts as only old matriarch whitetails are wont to do.
As I was just short of hyperventilating and passing out, she made one last step and one last mistake as she crossed under my perch, and at 15 yards, my old, beautiful Bear recurve came back gracefully to anchor with a will of its own as I drilled my very being into the crease behind her shoulder, sending my mystical shaft of life on its mission of mercy.
KERTHUNK came the impact of the 145 grain Bear Razorhead broadhead slamming through her spine, and she hit the ground instantly. My second arrow was a little more on the mark killing the beautiful doe.
If ever there were an out of body moment in my life, it was right then and there as I literally trembled with emotion and excitement at my first bow and arrow deerkill.
I cannot imagine a more thrilling hunting experience than the chills and quivering I experienced at that moment when I sat down beside that deer at the edge of those woods.
A lot of backstraps and emotion have flowed beneath that river of sighs since that day, and I have lucked into some pretty impressive antlered beasts over the years. But if anything in my life defines my ultimate good fortune, it is the fact that to this very day, a good arrow and clean kill on a doe is not just as exciting as that first one, but quite honestly, even moreso!
I know it is just the beginning of the heat of summertime 2020, but to my way of thinking, now is the perfect time to reminisce hunts of old, to not only soothe the mind numbing chaos and ugliness of current events, but to celebrate and prepare for the new hunting season that really isn’t that far off.
All my bowhunting buddies do as I do and keep the old archery eye keen and sharp with diligent year- round practice sessions. It’s not only fun for the moment, but a key lesson learned after all these years is the importance of maintaining the archery touch in order to minimize the haunting mistakes and failures due to rusty muscle memory lag once the season arrives.
When I shoot my daily practice arrows, I intentionally envision past deer encounters and psyche my bowhunting spirit to the max in order to re-live those moments in time. And like that magical October day in 1970, and so many others, it is more often than not the ambush encounter with a big old she-deer slick-head that gets my heart a pumping best.
Dedicated deerhunters who have an intimate relationship and knowledge of our deergrounds always know what is best for the land and the herds. By scouting our grounds year-round and as often as we can, it is easy to ascertain the herd and habitat conditions for proper harvest rates.
Thank God in Texas landowners have the Managed Land Deer Permit program available to us so that we can choose our own bag limits and harvest rates based on actual boots on the ground observation and monitoring. This real-world management system is one of the main reasons Texas has some of the healthiest herds and best deerhunting on planet earth.
We the people always know better than bureaucrats. Believe me.
With such accurate knowledge of our deergrounds, it is simple science based arithmetic that guides us to determine doe harvest rates, and I am here to tell you that for this old bowhunting fool, a killer arrow on a big old doe is as exciting as bowhunting can be for me.
I thrill at the encounter with a big, mature, bone-headed stag, but it is the antlerless deer harvest that best defines my celebration of September, October, November, December, January and February each and every deerseason.
Get those antlerless tags in your deerhunting neck of the woods. Kill those does, share that sacred venison, thrill at the phenomenal challenge of getting to fulldraw on these wariest of big game animals. I’ve said it before and I will say it again; every clean kill is a well-earned trophy, and slick-heads fill the bill as good as any.
Doe, a deer, a female deer! Kill em and grill em like you mean it. Make this year the year of ultimate backstrap celebration. Balance the herd, save the wild, pump the spirit!