The River Bound Buck

Just about every deer hunter has felt it at one time or another. The slow sinking feeling that hits you right in the gut just after the blood trail goes cold. More than likely, all of you have suffered through several sleepless nights at some point during your hunting career. There is no doubt that a questionable shot can completely wreck a deer hunter's world and make it extremely difficult to climb back into a stand. What can you do to get rid of that horrible feeling? Some hunters simply try to shake it off and hit the woods with a clear mind. However, other hunters like Chris Janson refuse to throw in the towel and take their tracking efforts to a whole new level.

Last season, Janson had arrowed two really nice bucks near the Harpeth River just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. However, he was hot on the trail of a tall-tined 9-pointer that had frequently been showing up on his trail-camera. Finally, on a cool November morning, Janson was able to rattle the lovesick buck into bow range. Without hesitation, the bowhunter steadied his pin and let an arrow fly toward one of the best bucks he had ever encountered. At the time, the shot looked and felt right, but Janson soon hit a wall when the blood trail he was following dried up. For the next two days, Janson and his friends desperately combed the entire area looking for any sign of the buck. Unfortunately, their search left Janson empty handed and heartbroken.

Consequently, everyone told him that it was time to stop looking and there was really nothing more that could be done. For a little while, Janson almost bought into this theory and was about to give up. Later that night, he started thinking about the Harpeth River that ran along the outer edge of the property. There was definitely a possibility that his wounded buck could have actually made it to the river. Knowing that fatally hit deer will go toward water was about the only hope this hunter had left. The next day Janson launched a canoe and brought his search to the frigid waters of the river. He carefully scanned both sides of the steep muddy banks and along the shallow shoals. All of a sudden, Janson caught a glimpse of ivory tipped tines sticking above the surface. A storm of emotion overtook the hunter when he finally wrapped his hands around the waterlogged rack of his buck. This story shows that sometimes refusing to quit and going the extra mile can payoff big when recovering a wounded animal. - Travis Faulkner