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Bowhunter Makes Redemption Shot on Palmated Buck After Missing in November

When Bryson Ziegler skinned the buck, he discovered he wasn't the only person who'd missed a shot on it
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A hunter sits with a nontypical buck in front of a hay bale.
Ziegler with the buck after making his second shot count. Photography courtesy of Bryson Ziegler

Bryson Ziegler was hunting just five feet off the ground as dawn broke over his family’s land in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, on Dec. 17. With only smaller saplings to use for his saddle, he couldn’t climb as high as he usually would when bowhunting. But the spot along the fence line adjacent to a grassy field was Ziegler’s only option.

“I had no choice except to stay low to the ground, but I had good cover from a thick honeysuckle background,” the 22-year-old tells Outdoor Life. “I’d seen [the] buck the previous evening and I figured he was using a swale in the grass field to move from his feeding area to his bedding spot.”

Ziegler had seen that deer on the property several times over the years, and he had some trail cam photos of it. He also had a chance to kill the deer on Nov. 5, during a spur-of-the moment afternoon hunt and missed a broadside shot at 20 yards with a recurve.

“I just missed him, shooting low,” he says. “I got a good look at him though, and I couldn’t believe he’d grown so huge from the previous year when he was only a 10-pointer.”

Bryson Ziegler with the 16-point buck he tagged on Dec. 17.

Photograph courtesy of Bryson Ziegler

So, six weeks to the day after missing the buck, Ziegler waited in the honeysuckle and hoped for another opportunity. He guessed right that morning and watched the deer jump a fence at150 yards before traveling his direction through the dip in the field.

“He followed a well-worn cow trail through the field along that gulley that he used for cover crossing the open ground,” Ziegler explains. “He was alone, walking directly to me.”

At 15 yards, where the cattle trail split into two lanes, the buck turned down one of the trails. He offered Ziegler a close but challenging quartering-to shot.

“I figured I better take the opportunity to shoot because he was so close,” he says. “At that distance [with my compound] I can hit a snuff can.”

Ziegler drew, and released.

“He jumped and took off in an odd galloping, jumping run that made me nervous about the shot. He ran across the field and I lost sight of him. I thought I heard him fall, but I couldn’t be sure.”

Just to be safe, Ziegler sat in his stand for about three hours. Then he called his dad and several buddies, who all soon showed up to help look for his deer.

ok bowhunter redemption
Ziegler back at home with the buck; the .22 bullet (circled) that was lodged just underneath one of its antlers.

Photography courtesy Bryson Ziegler

“There was no blood at all,” he explains. “The grass made it tough to see a trail, so we went to the last place I saw him, looked down into another gulley, and there he was. He traveled only about 80 yards before falling dead.”

Ziegler says his buck has 16 scoreable points with heavy palmation, and that it weighed around 230 pounds, says Ziegler. He rough scored the buck north of 170, but plans to have it measured by an official Pope and Young scorer.

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Ziegler also made an interesting discovery while caping out the buck: a .22 bullet lodged just below one of its antlers. He thinks a poacher must have shot the deer in the head, but the wound had healed so well that Ziegler says it was unnoticeable until he peeled back the hide.

“I’ve bowhunted since I was seven years old, and taken several dozen deer with my bow, including a 148-inch eight pointer last year,” he says. “But I still can’t believe I took this buck.”