Most bowhunters are all smile after retrieving arrows they’ve launched at deer. In 2016, Erik Heller’s reaction was a furrowed brow.
Short of being shot at a steel plate or concrete wall, how can a broadhead be pushed back into the shaft?
“I had never seen anything like that. I don’t know if it hit a rib or what happened,” he told Dale Weddle, who’s writing his story for Rack magazine.
Because there were a few drops of blood, Erik devoted almost four hours to searching for the buck he’d shot, but he found nothing to indicate his arrow penetrated far enough to turn out the buck’s lights.
The day before Kentucky’s rifle season opened, Erik’s friend, Keith Miller, shared a photograph of a giant buck either residing in or passing through his 200-acre farm.
“Keith gave me a choice of two or three stands to hunt,” Erik said. “We decided to wait until that afternoon for our first hunt in order to move in without spooking deer, since most of the area is open.”
About 2 p.m., Keith dropped Erik at a two-track leading to a ridgetop hayfield. The hike to his destination was another quarter- to half-mile.
Ten minutes after Erik settled into the stand 12 feet up a cedar, he gladly burned his antlerless tag on a button buck. After field-dressing it, he crossed the field to finish the day in a different stand.
The bull of the woods appeared just after sunset.
Erik was so thoroughly rattled that he couldn’t stop his crosshairs from dancing. The miss was almost expected.
“While I was cussing, racking another cartridge into the chamber, the deer ran directly at me and stopped 10 yards away,” he said.
That time, he didn’t miss.
The 16-pointer was the largest whitetail recorded from Kentucky that year. Four uprights exceeding 11 inches help it to a BTR composite score of 219 5/8 inches.
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