Wild NJ On the Hunt: Mother and son team up for first Bow Buck
All photos courtesy of Robin Egbert
By Robin Egbert
“Mommy, there’s a big buck behind us....”
Last season started off with me having a whole new attitude. I was determined that I was only going to take a specific caliber buck as my first bow buck. Many times, my dad would tell me that I wasn't experienced enough with the bow to allow any buck to walk - but I would reply that I WAS experienced enough to decide for myself which buck I would or wouldn't shoot.
Fall Bow came and went, and although I had opportunities at bucks that I would have gladly taken last year, I let them walk, keeping true to my goals. On the second day of Fall Bow, my target buck stepped out directly underneath my tree, only to give me no bow shot and no video shot. He stood there for about 10 seconds before looking directly up at me and retreating back into the cover from where he came. He never showed up again. There were FIVE different shooter bucks that I continually got pictures of, but none during shooting hours.
On the last day of Fall Bow, I had a small 6-point in front me and I struggled with myself . . . I want him . . . No, I don't . . . Yes, I do . . . No, he's not old enough or big enough . . . But, he'd be your first Bow Buck, so take him . . . But he isn't what I really want to shoot . . ..
Well, I didn't shoot him - and I am glad I held to the standard I had set for myself.
With Permit Bow starting up, I hunted multiple zones, but primarily focused my time and effort between Management Property in Mendham Boro and Private Property in Sparta. I hunted with bait, without bait and with a decoy on occasion. I hunted from lock ons, my climber and from a blind. Greg Hopf, Mike Kitchen, and several others all dedicated numerous hours of their time and effort trying to capture my first Bow Buck on film. I self filmed and I taught my 13 year old son Matthew how to operate the video camera, but nothing panned out, that is, until one special morning . . .
That morning started off as any other hunting morning has, only it was a special day, as Matt was going to be able to go with me, one of the few times this season. It was a Sunday and due to recent legislation, this was the first season Sunday Bow Hunting was legal in New Jersey. It was my 63rd hunt of the 2009 season, if you count a morning sit and an afternoon sit as two hunts. I was fighting being sick the previous 10 days, but still made it to the blind by 5:30 a.m. Sure enough, our regulars showed up.
At about 8:30, I got word via a text message that the property owner had seen one of the bigger bucks in the area. Matt and I looked and looked, but saw nothing. I told him that we needed to sit as long as possible, but by 9:30, Matt was getting antsy. When he asked me what time it was, I fibbed and told him it was only around 9 - he still wanted to leave. I told him we should stay at least another half an hour, but just 10 minutes later, we could hear dogs barking behind us.
Then Matt peeked out the back of the blind - the expression on his face priceless. “Mommy, there’s a big buck behind us,” he whispered. I peeked out the back window myself and immediately replied, “Get the camera on.”
The buck came around from the left of the blind, which was behind me as I was sitting. I thought that I better shoot him before he gets to the corn (yes, I baited this spot as it is a legal and ethical means to hunt deer in New Jersey). I have only ever seen the bucks in the pictures on my corn for one or two minutes, while I see the does there for up to 20 minutes sometimes. He gave me no shot I was comfortable with as he was coming in, getting to the corn 13 yards away and then standing there broadside as his front right leg was in no position for a clean shot. I was also sitting down, having only once before shot through the screen of a blind while sitting.
I kept thinking to myself, “Please, please move that leg forward, just one step.” Several very long minutes later a bird distracted him, and as he looked to his left, he also moved that foot forward. I drew on him, got him in sight, and...as soon as he put his head down again, I let my arrow fly.
My arrow hit about 2 inches farther back than where I aimed - but it was still a deadly hit. He ran uphill about 60 yards and crashed.
That’s when I lost it. I got the shakes, and turned into a bowl of jello. After he crashed, he actually got back up, took three more steps and then went down for the final count. All of my patience, persistence and determination finally paid off.
It was an 8-point, 140 pounds dressed, 105" green score, at 9:45 AM. But the fact that my son actually filmed it for me, made it all that more special of a trophy and a reward. I know that Matt was just as excited as I was, and that’s what it’s really all about.
Robin Egbert runs the hunting and fishing website MsGrit.com.