Chris Downs, AZ
It was the sixth day of my Arizona pronghorn archery hunt. I had been chasing a buck with a dozen+ does and had a few close opportunities but just not close enough. Then I found a different buck but with the same problem - too many eyes and ears. I had been getting close (110-90 yards), but I am only comfortable shooting 80 yards, and closing that 10-30 yard gap was a difficult challenge. So I let them rest a while and grabbed my best friend and hunting buddy, Jayson. I told him I had a game plan and he should come out with me and bring my doe decoy.
This buck was starting to rut, chasing his does back and forth and keeping them in line. Once in close range we crawled hands and knees using the decoy with no luck in the wide open flat. After several attempts we pushed the herd to a small hill just north of us. We noticed plenty of bushes and small trees to help us plan a stalk on the hillside. Plan B was to circle out in front of them undetected, pop up my doe decoy as close as possible making the buck think one had strayed from the herd. We knew we only had about 20 minutes before the sun went down, so we had to move fast.
Upon circling out in front of them, I heard my friend say, "Get down, there they are." I quickly drop to my knees and noticed this was a different group - two bucks with no does to be seen. We had walked right up to them not knowing they were there. Jayson was quick to set up my decoy and range the standing buck who spotted us. The other bedded buck didn't even see us. Not knowing these bucks were there, I didn't have an arrow nocked. While Jayson was telling me the range of the buck, I nocked my arrow. All I heard was Jayson saying, "80/76/71/67/60 yards, SHOOT! " As the buck stopped to check out the doe decoy, I drew back and settled into my sixty yard pin telling myself to relax and squeeze. After that all I saw and heard was my lighted Tracer nock disappearing into his lungs and the solid thwack of the arrow. I turned to Jay saying, "I got him, Man! I got him!" I jumped so high I probably looked like I was in an old Toyota commercial.
We waited awhile so I could collect myself after all the excitement and to let the buck bleed out. Finally, we started to look for my arrow to determine the shot. Finding it couldn't have been easier. The flashing Tracer nock was plain as day in the evening sunset. After picking up the bloody arrow I knew I had made a great pass-through lung shot. The buck ran less than 100 yards and died right before bulldozing through a big bush and piling up headfirst on the other side.
It happened very fast, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way - spot and stalk archery with a decoy. This is my second pronghorn in AZ shot with a Hoyt bow and the help of a great friend. Thanks, Hoyt, for making the best hunting bows in the business.
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