John's Journal...

Cliff Hanger Bucks

The Underwater Buck

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Some of America’s best deer hunters have lost bucks when they’ve thought they’ve taken thClick to enlargeem. Sometimes hunters recover their lost bucks, but at other times they don’t. The moments between arrowing a deer and recovering a buck are some of life’s cliff-hanging experiences when you either arrive at the summit, or your emotions and your spirit are dashed on the rocks of defeat. Most deer hunters encounter cliff-hanger bucks that become memories of a lifetime.

Harold Knight, co-founder of Knight & Hale Game Calls in Fort Smith, Arizona, likes to bowhunt near his home at Cadiz, Kentucky. “I’d experimented with a grunt call all season when an 8 point walked within 16 yards of me and turned broadside,” Knight says. “Ten yards from my stand, I spotted a vine about as big around as my thumb and worried I’d hit it. But I felt I surely could shoot around the vine.” However, Knight’s arrow did hit the vine and spooked the deer. As the deer wheeled, the arrow entered him from the rear. “I knew I’d made a bad hit, but I felt confident in my ability to track and find a deer,” Knight mentions. “I waited about 30 to 45 minutes and got down from my tree. The blood trail led through some high weeds across the pasture and down a steep bluff where a creek lay at its base. I waded the creek and scouted thoroughly. I went back across the creek to look at where the buck had entered the water.”

Knight searched up and down the creek and finally spotted a rack up under a bank. “Only the deer’s neck and antlers Click to enlargeremained above the deep water,” Knight reports. Knowing he couldn’t make a shot that far with a bow and believing the deer woulClick to enlarged see him if he tried to sneak down the creek bank, Knight walked away from the creek the same way he’d come. He circled down the creek to put himself almost in the spot where he’d seen the buck in the water. “I drew the bow, released the arrow and hit the buck square in the middle of his neck,” Knight recalls. “The buck jumped out of the deep water and fell in about 2 feet of water. The buck really helped me by reaching the side of the creek before he went down. Without question, that buck in the water was one of my most-memorable deer hunts.” 

Check back each day this week for more about "Cliff Hanger Bucks"

Day 1: The Two-Year Recovery and the Statue Buck
Day 2: The Ice-Water Buck and the Vanishing Buck
Day 3: The Underwear Buck
Day 4: Buck Missing
Day 5: The Underwater Buck


Entry 476, Day 5