My First Bow Hunting Success Story

By Abby Cribb

I’ve taken some nice bucks before. My boyfriend Wes decided that he wanted to buy me a bow this year and explained that hunting with a bow is something you can’t compare to hunting with a gun. He said, “I promise, if you kill a nice buck with your bow, you will never want to take your rifle again.” I was very skeptical but agreed to give it a try. I practiced for a few months, over and over in the back yard.

Every time I hunted, I never saw any shooters. I had some very nice bucks on my cameras, but they would never walk while I was in the stand. Going hunting over and over and not having the chance to shoot a nice buck is very discouraging, especially when you know they are there.

Photo by Michael Foster

It was my day off. I took a nap yesterday afternoon and was being lazy. Wes came home and asked if I was going hunting. I told him that I didn’t feel like it, and I was going to stay home. I think he wanted me to kill a nice buck using my bow way more than I did. He practically made me get up and go. I went outside and shot a few arrows at the target, packed my things, and off I went.

I couldn’t decide which stand I wanted to hunt. I was after a few different bucks I saw on camera at two different stands. I would have been more than happy to shoot any of them. I decided to flip a quarter and let the coin decide where I would hunt. Heads it was!

After only being in the stand for about five minutes, out comes a doe and button buck. A little while later, out comes a cowhorn grunting softly, his head was down and his neck stretched out. He chased the doe off, then came back. A few minutes later, another cowhorn comes out, and they start fighting. I pulled out my phone and recorded them. Then, here comes a four point. One of the cowhorns goes up to him, and they also starting fighting, but things calm down quickly. The doe came back.

Suddenly, all of the deer split except for the button buck. I said to myself, “A buck has to be coming.” It was only a couple of minutes and out walks this monster straight in front of me. All I saw was horns coming. My heart immediately goes crazy. I remember thinking, “This is it, this is it!” At this point I’m trembling.

Photo by Stewart Grinton

He runs towards the button buck. He didn’t go far and came right back. He put his head down and was already broadside. I hooked my release and took a deep breath. I started to draw my bow, and I paused for a second. I couldn’t do it!! Why couldn’t I draw my bow back? I’ve done this so many times. My adrenaline was pumping, I was shaking, and my heart was about to jump out my chest. I remember thinking, “It’s now or never. I can do this.”

I finally was able to draw back, and he heard it when I did. He jumped but never left. I probably only had to hold my draw a few seconds, but it felt like five minutes. He finally put his head back down, I held my breath and released. He jumped straight up and took a hard left. He ran wide open, and I followed his every move.

At this point, I took my mask off and put my head in my lap. I sat there and couldn’t believe what just happened. Did I really just kill this buck? I immediately thought to myself, I have to text Wes.

I couldn’t find my hands, they wouldn’t work. I couldn’t even get my phone out to use it. I sat there and tried to calm myself down, and after a few minutes I finally had my phone in my hand. I texted him and told him what happened. He was hunting too, but more than an hour away. I told him I was going to give it a few minutes then get down and just look for my arrow.

He was ecstatic for me and looking at his face made me realize how happy I had made him.

All I wanted to see was some blood on the ground or either my arrow with proof that I got him. I got down to look. Nothing. Not one speck of blood! I immediately got discouraged and thought I was going to be sick. It was then that I realized that not only was there no blood, there was no arrow. I knew where he was standing when I shot him, and I knew my arrow should be right there — and it wasn’t. I thought to myself, “I got him. My arrow must be stuck in him.”

I texted Wes again and demanded that he please hurry up so we could look for my buck. I met him at home, we got our Labrador retriever and put a bell on his collar. He has tracked many deer before and knows what the bell means when you put it on him. We went back to my stand and looked again. Wes said, “I don’t see any blood either, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t get him. Show me exactly where he ran off.”

I showed him where the buck went. He took the dog out, put him on the trail and told me to keep looking for my arrow. It was not even two minutes later when I heard Wes call out, “Here he is!” Our dog took him straight to the buck.

I went over and saw him and started yelling. I knew he was huge, but everything happened so fast, I had no idea he was that huge!

Photo courtesy Abby Cribb

Wes said, “Do you know what you just killed? Your name will be in the South Carolina Record book!” Right then and there, I thought I would be sick again. He was ecstatic for me and looking at his face made me realize how happy I had made him. I could not believe I killed a monster buck like that. This buck had never been on my camera, it was his first time coming to this stand. I’ve had grown men tell me that they have hunted all their life and have never had the chance to kill a buck like this. He’s a monster!

His unofficial green gross score is 142. I know how fortunate I am to be able to kill a deer like this. He is such an amazing trophy for me, especially my first bow kill. I know I’ll probably never kill another buck like this in South Carolina, but it won’t stop me from trying. I’ll never forget how it happened, it will go down in my book as the best evening of my life!