I was packing up gear to fly out to a photo and video shoot on a snowy October Tuesday when I felt an unfortunately familiar pain that dropped me straight to the ground; a kidney stone. A call with my doctor followed up by a call with the client solidified the realization that I’d be sitting this one out.
At some point the next day, I convinced myself that the stone was gone and, out of frustration, scurried up a tree and settled into my saddle, still angry that I had to miss the shoot.
Within 15 minutes, I spotted four does working cautiously my way through a small patch of timber. Heads on swivels, they fed on acorns, inching closer and closer to my tree on the edge of a cut bean field. A flash of movement, a series of grunts, and the sight of
antlers revealed why they were so cautious. A look through the binoculars confirmed that this was definitely a buck I wanted a shot at. He bumped the does, sending them scattering through the woods. Hitting the field edge 60 yards to the west of me, the buck was aimed to cut straight across the field in the wrong direction.
It was at this point that I remembered my grunt tube was sitting on the desk in my office, a perfectly convenient place to be. With no other options and the buck moving the wrong way in a hurry, it was time to channel my inner “Ace Ventura”.
Cupping my hand around my face, I let out a long, low grunt that, frankly, surprised me. “Dang, that sounded pretty good!”, I thought. The buck stopped dead in his tracks and looked my direction. He paused for a moment, did a double take, and then put his head down to continue in the westward direction he was headed. I knew it was time to play the last card up my sleeve. With no wind or any other noise, I mustered up a snort wheeze that echoed through the wood line and spun him around like a kid after an ice cream truck.
Whoa, it worked! With shaky hands I grabbed my bow and drew back as he darted from 60 yards to 25 yards in seconds. He stopped and was completely covered up by branches, no shot. For what felt like an eternity, I held back, anchored and ready, but he didn’t move. I slowly pivoted sideways in the saddle in order to use my tree to screen him from seeing me let down. He still stood there, looking for the buck that challenged him. Flexing up, ears pinned back he marched forward directly to the base of my tree. Vitals covered by one branch, all he had to do was take two more steps. He read the script. I drew back, and BOOM, “Hello, kidney stone!” The buck spooked and started marching away from me once again. Eyes watering and body shaking from pain, I let down and gave one more loud bellowing grunt with the buck at a trot.
I couldn’t believe it. Once again he stopped dead in his tracks and marched straight at me, determined. As he approached my shooting lane at 20 yards, I drew one more time. He stopped, he was right where I needed him to be. A clean break of the shot and a perfect arrow flew right where it needed to. As I watched him run on a dead sprint and pile up 80 yards later in the bean field, I was in absolute disbelief.
Shaking from both excitement and plenty of pain, my release rattled out of my hand and fell into the snow beneath my stand. I hung up my bow and sat back. “What just happened?” I said out loud.
It had been way too long since I had killed a buck with a bow, and for a moment I genuinely didn’t believe it. With most definite kidney stone pain shooting through me, I got down and walked up on a buck that will forever be etched in my memory. A buck I had dubbed “turkey foot” (from the way his G2 spared off) will forever be renamed to the “Kidney Stone buck” as I tell this story for years to come.
- Jordan Riley, Dialed’s Creative Director