Editor’s Note: Ernie Calandrelli of Youngstown, New York, has been hunting deer with a bow for almost five decades and is the Public Relations Director for Quaker Boy Calls www.quakerboy.com. He’s hunted 37 states. Today Calandrelli travels to hunt deer in Kansas, Georgia, New York, Missouri and Illinois. Most bowhunters choose one to five hunting sites, learn all they can about those areas and the deer that live there and hunt those same places for years. Calandrelli hunts many different states with his bow and thinks you should too. You’ll need to start planning now to get permits and travel reservations, identify the best regions for the opportunity to take big deer and order and study the many maps available, including Google Earth www.google.com/earth, Huntstand http://huntstand.com and OnX www.onxmaps.com maps. With your cell phone’s GPS, you can get to the sites where you want to hunt with Huntstand and OnX, even in regions with no cell service. Also MyTopo.com (www.mytopo.com) produces custom topographical maps, revealing where the high and low ground and water sources are. The aerial views can show you how much of the area’s forested, nearby water sources and any development not visible from roads.
At one time, I belonged to a 1,700-acre lease in northern Missouri. I had hunted that property for 12 years, but I had to hunt it for 7 years to really understand what the bucks were doing, and when and where was the best time to hunt it. I’d gone to my favorite spot late in the afternoon for an evening hunt. The sun was about to set. There was a CRP field behind me. I was hunting lower in the tree than I normally would hunt. There was no wind that afternoon, and you could have heard a pin drop. Generally, I like to hunt about 20 feet off the ground. Then, if the wind is whirling, my scent will be above the deer. But because there was no wind, and the woods were almost dead silent, I decided to hunt lower than I usually would.
I looked over my shoulder. As the sun was starting to set, that field turned golden. The sun made it appear to be on fire. While I was admiring the beauty of the terrain, I spotted the biggest buck I’d ever seen in my life up until that time, about 200 yards away. Immediately, I pulled out my grunt call. When I grunted, the buck stopped and looked straight at me. However, I was in my Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) camouflage, and he couldn’t see me in the tree. When he looked away, I lightly grunted again. The second time I grunted to that buck, he took off running straight to me. I started thinking to myself, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t have my bow in my hand. I’m not sure I can pick up my bow, nock an arrow and get ready to shoot before that buck runs past me.”
As the buck kept coming, he had to cross a ditch about 20 yards from me. When he got to that ditch, he stopped and went to war with every tree and bush around him. He was pawing the ground, leaves were coming up, and he was breaking branches. He was totally mad at the world. He was ripping up everything in sight. Finally, he stopped, I wasn’t sure why he stopped. He just stopped. He looked in my direction again but not right at me.
I grunted as softly as I could, and he started running toward my tree. He went to the right side of my tree and looked. When he didn’t see the deer he had heard, he went around the right side of my tree. He was only 20 steps away from the tree where I was. I had to pull my bow from the right side of the tree to the left side of the tree and try not to make any noise. When I got my bow to the left side of the tree, the buck was still moving, looking for the deer he had heard. So, I made a noise and stopped him, but I had a new problem I hadn’t anticipated. I was so shook-up and nervous that I couldn’t make my pin sight stop still on the spot I wanted to hit. I was shaking like a leaf and thinking, “Oh, my gosh, this deer is so close, and he’s so big. I’ve got to settle that pin down.” The first time I saw that pin pass by the point of his shoulder, I punched the trigger. Now, I know you’re not supposed to punch the trigger. You need a slow steady squeeze, so you don’t know when the bow is going to fire. However, if you’ve ever had a big buck standing in front of you at a very-close range, all the stuff you’re supposed to know and do are hard to remember.
Once my broadhead entered the buck’s front shoulders, I think it cut some tendons. He went down in his front end. Since he couldn’t run with his front legs, he pushed himself forward with his back legs. I had enough presence of mind to grab and nock a second arrow. When he had gone about 60 yards, he stood up, and I released the second arrow. He went down for the second time. Next I saw him lift his head, his horns came up, and then he laid his head down. I knew I had him. When I picked up my gear, I was still shaking and was so upset that I dropped two or three things out of the tree where I was. I realized I was in trouble, so I hugged the tree. I wasn’t going to turn loose of the tree, until I felt like I could come down out of my ladder stand without falling.
That buck scored 165-1/2 inches, had 14-1/2-inch G2s that had been broken off from fighting and was 23 inches inside his main beams. This hunt was when Missouri went on my list of states to bowhunt every year.
To learn more about hunting deer with John E. Phillips’ Amazon Kindle eBooks, print books and Audible books and Nook books, click here at http://johninthewild.com/books/#deer. You can type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. For a free download on how to make jerky from venison to provide a protein-rich snack, choose “How to Prepare Venison Jerky: The Ultimate Snack Food” at https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/Ece3UZVcOo52cKPJcL.