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Posted on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

The buck stops here - experiment with crossbow ends in success

By Rick Taylor

I’ve had an interest in hunting with a crossbow over the last few years but hadn’t spent the money. A part of my hesitation comes from being a traditional hunter with the longbow, although I’ve hunted primarily with the compound the last few years due to a bad shoulder.

The cost involved in buying a good crossbow is another factor in my reluctance, since I already have quite a few bows at home to choose from. I also wanted my 11-year-old son Ricky to hunt this fall with me, and a crossbow is legal during the archery season.

I had taken Ricky out the other day, and I can honestly say that the crossbow we used was awesome. I had Ricky hitting the bulls eye at 40 yards and great groups at varying distances. I do plan to take him hunting with the crossbow this week if the wind is right.

I decided to go bow hunting on Sunday afternoon in western Washtenaw County. I opened the back hatch of my Grand Cherokee and hesitated in grabbing my compound bow. Instead, I moved my hand over to the crossbow and made the decision to take it instead of the bow. I had to try it just once and see if the crossbow was as good as so many people have told me over the years.

I made it out to my tree stand and climbed up, put on my safety harness and haul up the crossbow.

To be quite honest I found the crossbow to be cumbersome in the tree. I was lucky enough to hang it above my head from a dead branch that had broken off. There wasn’t any deer to speak of and I began to worry that I might not see anything this evening.

I couldn’t help but laugh and curse at the squirrels chasing each other in the woods. It sounded like a piñata-beating contest out there, and it was virtually impossible to hear the sounds of deer walking through the woods. I had to depend on my vision this evening yet not get caught moving around too much.

The sun was about 30 minutes from going down when I saw two does walking in my direction from the down wind side. This isn’t good; it was just a matter of time before they winded me, which is exactly what they did.

Thankfully, they stomped their feet here and there and slowly went back the way they came.

The sun had just set, and I began to doubt my chances of getting a deer for myself. Suddenly, I heard the pitter patter of hooves charging in my direction. It looked like the same does coming right back the way they came. They were running pretty hard, and they came a lot closer than before.

That could only mean one thing; a buck was chasing them! Thank goodness for the rut! I quickly stood up, looked through my binoculars and watched the does come to within 25 yards of me on my left side. I looked back in the direction they came from, and there he stood; this gorgeous nine-point buck running towards the does.

Suddenly, one of the does ran back the way she came, and the buck turned around to chase it.

This was my one and only chance to change fate, so I grabbed my grunt call from my backpack. I aggressively grunted and watched in disbelief as the buck put on the brakes and snap his head in my direction.

It was straight downwind of me, and I was waiting for his nose to do its job, but it didn’t. He turned at 80 yards away and trotted in my direction without hesitation. He was looking for the other buck challenging his dominance and was not going to let that happen.

He quickly closed the distance, 60 yards, 50 yards, 40 yards, and he slowed down to a determined walk. I had this buck firmly in my crosshairs as I leaned against the tree. He began to cut across to my left a bit more offering a more broadside shot. He was now at 35 yards and closing, now 30 to 25 yards away.

It was at this moment that I knew this was going to happen. This buck had walked out of my scent trail and was in perfect position for a shot. All I had to do was stop this bruiser and hope to put a good shot on him.

His walk never slowed down, and I had to stop him from coming any closer. I whistled, he stopped at 16 yards and I put the hammer down. The shot was perfect as the bolt drove into his shoulder ,making this a mortal hit.

He ran off and I watched him fall over dead in less than 10 seconds, only 55 yards from my stand.

Wow! What a hunt and to think I did it with a borrowed crossbow. I did practice hours earlier at the range, and its designed for a woman shooter. I’d like to give a special thanks to Tina Yerkes for allowing me to use her crossbow on this hunt.

I hope you’re able to get out there and shoot the deer you’ve been after this fall. Just remember that the rut is on so best of luck!

Rick Taylor warmly welcomes your comments and story ideas. You may reach him at or 734-223-5656.


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Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

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Rork Kuick

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

"designed for a woman shooter" - marketers can say what they want, but I haven't found that sex of the shooter matters, unless you are shooting some funny way that I've never seen. I am not comfortable with them, but I do like that the cross-bow regs have gotten some people out there that otherwise wouldn't be showing up for lack of archery ability, particularly old-timers who perhaps have never gotten out in the bow season before. Offer to help track or transport when you meet. The politeness of the bow season is one of it's best features. Let's keep that.

Rork Kuick

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

I meant mostly to be funny, but I won't confuse what Excalibur pitches with truth. Bows come in different sizes and weights, which is good cause people also vary. I've noticed the advent of pink or otherwise pretty bows, and if the archer prefers that to others that have more macho-fantasy in their design than makes any rational sense, that's great, no matter what genitalia they may have. I refuse to call them girls bows. One more politeness story. My favorite argument out on the public lands is at dark AM, when you park next to another hunter and discover you are both planning to hunt a bit too close to each other (ridiculous considering that the area is vast). You then both insist it is you that should change areas, cause you know the area well and have other great spots nearby, etc. It can get pretty funny. And it's delicious.

Rick Taylor

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Good morning Rork! Thank you for your comment. I brought the crossbow to get new bolts and broad heads at a local and reputable sporting goods store. They informed me that this particular crossbow was designed for a woman, especially true when the name of the crossbow is called a "Vixon" by Excalibur. The sales person behind the counter didn't think a Rage broad head would work efficiently because the crossbow doesn't produce the power as most others. He recommended I use a smaller broad head and I was concerned about that but I also knew proper shot placement would do the job. So...this isn't about a sexist comment but rather a factual statement about the power of this crossbow. I know what I'm trying to say but don't always get that across, sorry about that.