John's Journal...

Big Game Bowhunters Recall Their Toughest Shots

Day 3: Toxey Haas and the Late Dick Kirby – Their Most-Difficult Bow Shots

Editor’s Note: Making a shot on an animal at crunch time makes-up both a hunter’s dreams and nightmares. Here are some dreams that came true. Can you remember the toughest shot you’ve ever made with a bow? Did you have confidence you could make the shot? Did you get lucky? Let’s look at some of the toughest shots made by some of America’s greatest archers.

Toxey Haas – Founder and CEO of Mossy Oak Camouflage

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe best bowhunting I ever had in my life was one season in Mississippi when I’d just shot a fat doe and was waiting in my tree stand before following the blood trail. The morning was a beautiful sunny day, and I was in a hardwood area with plenty of squirrels, which I enjoy hunting. On this morning, a lot of squirrels were feeding under my treestand. Before I climbed out of my stand, I drew my bow and took a fat gray squirrel. I climbed down from my trees stand, picked-up my squirrel and spotted three or four more squirrels. I aimed and took another. Although I missed one squirrel and lost one arrow, I soon had six squirrels in my pocket. The seventh squirrel I hunted, I had to stalk for about 100 yards. Finally, I saw him out in a tree about 45-yards away. I aimed with my 30-yard pin about 4 inches over the squirrel’s head and released the arrow. The broadhead hit the squirrel just behind the shoulder and took him off the tree. That was the longest and best shot I’d ever made in my life. I definitely was in the bowhunting zone that day.

The Late Dick Kirby – Creator of Quaker Boy Calls and Nationally-Known Hunter and Caller

In 1993, I drew an Arizona elk permit to hunt with a friend of mine, Bob Wozniak, who had taken a 368-point Boone & Crockett bull the year before. We scouted the day before the season opened and saw plenty of sign around the water tanks but no elk. On the first day of our hunt, we saw only a young spike.

Click for Larger ViewThe next morning we built a blind close to the water tank, because the little pond where the bulls had been watering had no cover. When we were almost finished, we heard a bull bugle so close that Bob just pushed all our gear into the blind. I attempted to get ready to make the shot – putting on my arm guard and my headnet and trying to get two arrows out of my quiver all at the same time. Then the elk bugled again. Just as I picked-up my bow, the huge bull elk (along with some cows and calves) moved out 40-yards from my blind into the pond to drink. I wanted a closer shot but did come to full draw when the cows and calves started to leave the pond. However, my glasses under my headnet blocked my view of the peep sight. I took my finger off the trigger of the mechanical release to adjust my glasses to enable me to see through the peep sight. I knew I had to get my finger back on the trigger of my release, but I didn’t want to fire my bow prematurely.

Click for Larger ViewStopping to drink, the bull finally lifted his head to look at the cows before he went any further. I lined-up the peep sight with the pin and shot the bull about 6 inches behind his shoulder. The elk bolted. Because of the way the arrow hit the bull and how he came out of the pond, I wasn’t sure I’d had a good hit. I was really discouraged, because I knew this was the bull of a lifetime. But then, less than 100-yards from the pond, I found my 381 7/8-point B&C, non-typical bull. I had made a perfect shot and went from total depression to complete joy in about 2 seconds.

For more in-depth information about deer hunting, get the new Kindle eBooks by John E. Phillips, “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” “PhD Whitetails” and “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer.” Go to, type in the names of these books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Tomorrow: Brad Harris and Randy Ulmer’s Toughest Bow Shots

Check back each day this week for more about "Big Game Bowhunters Recall Their Toughest Shots"

Day 1: Jim Crumley and Chris Kirby’s Toughest Bow Shots
Day 2: Jerry Peterson and Ronnie Groom’s Hardest Bow Shots
Day 3: Toxey Haas and the Late Dick Kirby – Their Most-Difficult Bow Shots
Day 4: Brad Harris and Randy Ulmer’s Toughest Bow Shots
Day 5: Ronnie Strickland and Mark Drury’s Exciting Bow Shots

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Entry 679, Day 3