As a mentor of mine once told me during my quest to kill a turkey with a bow: "If you want to kill him with your bow, you have to have your bow in your hand."
As silly as that sounds, it's the bottom line as you ask yourself if you want to kill a good buck with your bow. The rut is on or near, and the big ones are up and about. Are you willing to risk watching him out of range at 60 yards with your bow in your hand? To kill him with your bow, you've got to be ready to accept that you may have to watch him walk away. How bad do you want it?
I can certainly relate to this dilemma. Many years ago I wanted to kill a turkey with a bow. I tried several times, and kept getting skunked. He'd hang up just out of range, or he'd be in a bad spot in my blind; whatever the case, I just couldn't close the deal.
Frustrated, I'd grab the gun and, like clockwork, kill the bird knowing I would have had a good chance with the bow on that one. I'd then go to visit my mentor, Tony, at the Magnolia Sportsman bow shop in the Meridian, Miss., and he'd give me the pep talk.
"If you want to kill a turkey with your bow, you've got to have your bow in your hand," he would say.
I thought I wanted to kill a turkey with my bow, but when I got frustrated and grabbed the gun, I guess I just wanted to kill a turkey any way I could.
But when I finally made my mind up and stuck it out through thick and thin with my bow, I managed to kill five with a bow during the following two years.
So, as you've decided that you'd really like to kill a good buck with your bow, are you committed?
For me, I hunt with a recurve most of the season. When the rut kicks in, guess what, the compound comes out. I'm very aware that I'm not willing to risk seeing the big one out at 25 yards, just a little too far for a confident traditional shot – for me. I'm completely O.K. with that.
There are a lot of people out there who hunt exclusively with a bow all year, and we love it. It's a passion. And as crazy as it seems, in 25 years of hunting exclusively with a bow, I've never once gone through a missed opportunity and wished I'd had a gun. I guess it's just engrained. Forty yards or so and out, he's just out of range. I don't second guess it; he's just out of range. Probably no different than a good gun hunter who sees a deer at 300 yards and knows it's out of range for his equipment.
It's just simply out of range.
So do you want to kill a buck with your bow? Do you reeeaaally want to kill a buck with your bow? It's the rut, they're moving and it's your best chance. If you do, leave the gun at the house and accept the outcome.
There's one thing I can guarantee you: If you want to kill a buck with your bow, you've got to have your bow in your hand.
God bless you and I hope you can get a big one this season! With your bow!