Discovering you’ve been shooting the wrong bow for 10 years is sort of like waking up to realize you’d rather wear pearls than a grunt call.
Brady Scheffler might be comfortable with his choice of accessories, but he realized about a month before the 2012 deer season opened that he was far less certain of his shooting orientation.
He’s a southpaw in most pursuits; writes left-handed; and he throws the stock of his shotgun up to his left shoulder. But ever since he picked up his first bow, he’s pulled it back with his right.
“Nothing particular happened to make me switch,” says the 21-year-old from Byron, Ill. “I just knew that I was never as accurate with my bow as I wanted to be.
“One day, I just got to thinking about my left-eye dominance, and I wondered what would happen if I were to shoot a left-handed bow,” he added.
When he got the new Mathews Helium, he had two weeks to practice with it. Lucky for him, the worst part of adapting to the new setup was admitting that he hadn’t thought to try it earlier.
“I’d guess that 90 percent of bowhunters are right-handed,” he said. “I never even considered getting a bow built for a lefty.”
Shooting right-handed might’ve been the cause of less-than-stellar groups on a target, but it certainly didn’t seem to affect his success. Brady has taken some great Illinois bucks with his bow.
He lives by himself in the woods near Byron, smack dab in the middle of some of the best whitetail country available. He doesn’t have to travel far to encounter bruiser bucks.
His best — and first as a southpaw shooter — came last year off ground only a couple of miles from his Ogle County bachelor’s pad.
Joel Brantner, a high school football buddy who Brady hadn’t talked to in years, called on opening day of Illinois’ 2012 bow season to ask if he’d help him track an 8-pointer he’d shot. Joel was new to bowhunting, and he knew that Brady had been slinging arrows since he was a kid.
While tracking the AWOL 4x4, Brady veered off the trail to search a creek bottom below a big ridge. The number of huge rubs and scrapes in there left him slack-jawed.
“At that point, not only was I tracking his deer, but I was also scouting for places to hang a treestand,” Brady said.
“We never found Joel’s deer, but, in exchange for my help, he said I was welcome to put up a stand,” he continued. “I hung one on the ridge where I’d seen all the buck sign. I knew it would be a good spot.”
The first couple of times Brady hunted the property, he filmed some nice deer, but none presented a shot.
On Friday, Oct. 27, the worst cold front to hit Illinois in 25 years arrived, which put a real spring in the steps of area bowhunters. Brady was gung-ho.
“The wind wasn’t right for the stand I wanted to climb, so I decided to visit the ridge stand on my buddy’s place,” he said. “I thought it might be perfect because the deer could find refuge there from the biting wind.”
Brady was aloft before dawn. Within five minutes of attaching his camera arm to the tree, he heard a limb snap and looked over his shoulder. Although it was still pretty dark, he thought he spotted a deer’s rack.
He’d almost convinced himself that he was staring at tree branches until the limbs moved in tandem.
“When I realized they WERE antlers, I might’ve had a mild heart attack,” he said.
“It was really tough keeping cool, but I knew I had to hold myself together unless I wanted to blow what very well could be my only chance — ever — at a truly world-class whitetail,” he added.
Brady had seen lots of nice deer before that morning, but nothing close to the caliber of the buck behind his tree. It was in the thickest stuff it could traverse, downwind, but moving toward the palsied hunter.
It was too close for Brady to even think about filming it. Probably too dark inside the timber as well.
“I couldn’t move a finger, let alone swing my camera around to film the deer’s approach,” he said. “I just froze and remained seated.”
When Brady took note of the path the buck was taking, he realized there would be only a small window of opportunity between two trees, if it didn’t change course. Figuring that gap was where he’d take the shot, he focused the camera on it and hit the record button.
When the deer walked into that opening at between 25 and 30 yards, Brady stopped it by mouth-bleating.
“It whipped up its head, and I’ll never forget staring into the eyes of that whitetail,” he said. “We looked at each other for at least three seconds before I released my arrow.
“After that, I immediately grabbed my camera and filmed the buck’s short 15-yard dash. It was dead in seconds!” he added.
As soon as the buck hit the ground, Brady was so overjoyed and nervous that he got sick.
“I lost it,” he said. “I was puking off the side of my stand for five minutes. It must have been nerves.”
When the butterflies were freed, the young hunter spoke into the camera. The whole time, he couldn’t help wondering if he were starring in a dream sequence.
An hour later, he got down to see his deer, which was even bigger than he’d first thought.
“I almost lost it again.” he admitted. “It all felt too good to be true. It still does.
“That I self-filmed the entire hunt makes it even more special to me,” he added.
That footage opens the 15th episode of “Bowhunt or Die’s” third season. It’s available for viewing online.
Hunter: Brady Scheffler — Photos Courtesy of Brady Scheffler
BTR Official Score: 168 5/8
BTR Composite Score: 193 5/8
This article was published in the August 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
Read Recent RACK Articles:
• Hand on Gloves: Andrew Woodward / BTR Composite Score: 210 4/8
• Two Bucks, One Tag … and Completely Legal: Billy Foster / BTR Composite Score: 198 3/8
• Her Kingdom for X-Ray Vision: Rhonda Farley / BTR Composite Score: 190 6/8