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Three Deep Breaths

Penny Johnson

How a few quick words made the difference for this lady bowhunter.

By Penny Johnson

My husband, Harold (Bodean) Johnson, had a story in the Sept. 2006 issue of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine called, “Daniel Boone Buck.” It’s been pretty hard living with him since then.

In July 2006, we traveled 7 hours from Burnside, Ky., to Greensboro, N.C., to attend the Buckmasters Expo. I was hoping to get some tips from the pros while there, and boy, did I! You see, around home they all call me “Choke,” and I just couldn’t stand it any more. I’ve hunted for many years and seen many deer — I’ve had all kinds of chances to pull the trigger — but I’ve always choked. So, I went in search of Jackie Bushman at the Expo.

I was able to talk to Jackie while picking up my souvenir T-shirt and one of his books. He listened while I told him my problem of choking and shaking. Then he said, “This happens to everyone who has ever hunted. And if someone says it hasn’t happened to them, then they aren’t having any fun.”

Well, I must be having too much fun, because I shake so badly that I’m afraid I’m going to fall out of the tree. Thank God for safety harnesses!

While at the Expo, I bought a new Fred Bear bow. I couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. But shooting the bow turned out to be harder than it looked. However, with a lot of help from Bodean, I soon learned the basics.

Every day, Bodean would tell me I should go out and practice. I only had about a month and a half before opening day of bow season in Kentucky, and I had the fever — bad. I couldn’t wait to be in the woods, and I practiced as often as possible.

On opening morning, my nerves were on edge. I had anticipated this day since the end of last year’s hunting season. I couldn’t wait to see what 2006 would bring. It had to be better.

I climbed into my treestand before daylight, got set up and waited. About an hour after daylight, two does appeared. I waited until they were in the 20-yard range. I was ready. I just had to pull my bow back and shoot.

Yeah, right!

Once again, I choked. I couldn’t even pull my bow back. I must have looked like Elmer Fudd. I was all over that treestand. With all the movement, the does spotted me and blew. I can’t say that I blamed them.

I had to do something.

After that scene, I went home and practiced even harder. I decided to give my hunting area in Pulaski County time to settle down, and I stayed away for a few days. Just two days later, Sept. 14, I was back out there again. Sure enough, the does were coming in right on schedule. I thought, “What would Jackie Bushman do?”

Then I remembered his words: “Look away, take three deep breaths, go back to the kill zone and shoot.”

Subscribe Today!Oh my God! I got it!

I’ll never forget the sound of when the arrow came in contact with the deer. Thump! I don’t know what was louder, my heart beating or the sound of my shot when I hit the release. I did just what Jackie said, and I got it; and I knew I got it.

I sat down and tried to figure out what had just happened. I started to shake, but that’s okay. I knew my doe was on the ground. In my heart, I was hoping my husband was somewhere close so he could come help me. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do next.

After my nerves settled, I finally climbed down and went in search of the doe. I was so excited that I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t find my arrow or a blood trail, but I knew I had hit her. So I left the area in search of Bodean. He hadn’t even made it to his tree when he heard the four-wheeler start up.

He said he just turned around and headed back toward me, hoping to see me coming down the hill with a big smile on my face. My thumbs-up from 200 yards let him know I had finally done it. I had taken a deer, and I’d done it with my new bow.

We went back to my treestand and started to search for the doe there. We found the arrow, covered in blood, and from there we were able to find and follow the blood trail. The doe didn’t go far.

My special thanks to Bodean for all the time, patience and support he has given me and for turning me on to the wonderful world of hunting.

And thanks to Jackie Bushman for his advice, “three deep breaths.”

This article was published in the July 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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