Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 NY Archery Whitetail Deer Hunt: Part Two
The suspense is crazy, but when a hunt turns out like this you just have to draw it out!

One thing I forgot to mention was something you should all think about. At the end of day #3, right before our evening watch, I found something that made my heart sink. The trigger on my release was GONE! I knew what had happened and it made me feel pretty stupid. When we left the woods, I had attached my release to my bow and then attached it to the Prowler. The vibrations had somehow loosened it up and it promptly dropped off. You would think I'd be sick to my stomach (I was a little ticked at myself), but I was actually pretty proud that I had packed a spare release in my pack. Game on!

I always carry a spare release in my pack, just in case!

Day 4: My brother was back to hunt and 4:00 am came way too quickly. The coffee seemed to be the only thing keeping us motivated, but again, there was a New Moon and we wanted to hit the woods. I hadn't traveled 3,000 miles to watch TV. Our plan was discussed and we geared up. The day was going to start in the high 30's and warm up fast, so we wanted to be out there right at sun up.

We arrived at the woods at a perfect time. We finished getting our gear on and made our way to our stands. I was on watch well before daylight. There was a SSW wind which was perfect for my set up. I checked the ScoutLook Weather app on my phone to check the weather (review coming soon) and quickly put it away realizing it was illuminating my face. 

An hour goes by and I started to feel a bit bored. I contemplated flinging an arrow at a squirrel, but they were staying well out of range. That's when I heard the distinct crunching of leaves underfoot. The ground had been so wet from the rains that you couldn't hear anything walking through the woods the first three days. The winds had blown through over the course of the few days and dried them out just enough. I turned slowly back to my right and that's when I saw him. 40 yards away and closing was a nice looking, healthy button buck. He stopped to munch on some leaves and that gave me the opportunity to slowly take my bow off the holder.

Now, I have been practicing at 60 yards for weeks and know I can make a 40 yard shot, but this deer is coming in closer and closer. 30...20...10... and then finally at 5 yards I had to blat to get him to stop. THWACK! A quick double-lung shot and my deer piles up 60 yards from my stand in plain sight. I am still feeling the goosebumps! I am no trophy hunter as the current definition may describe, but this was a trophy for me.

I waited for an hour to see if anything else came into range. A few minutes go by and I hear more leaves rustling. Louder and louder. Closer and closer. A big, fat hen turkey around 70 yards and closing and she was followed by a dozen or so other turkeys. I did not have a turkey tag, so a shot attempt was not in the cards, but it was awesome to see!

My first archery kill in over 5 years. God blessed me with meat for the freezer.
You are probably wondering why I don't have my bow in the photo. Well, I had taken my gear out with me to the trail head when I met up with my dad and brother. I left it there, along with most of my warm clothing so we could go get the deer dressed out quickly and not sweat my butt off. It was 10:00 am and already 59 degrees and climbing fast. So, I have a shot without my bow. I truly don't care! I have venison in my freezer and that's what counts.

After field dressing the buck, we made our way back to the house to get him hung up and skinned. It's so much easier when the animal is warm, and it also help the meat cool quickly. Once that was done, we cleaned up and went right back to the woods. The three of us saw absolutely nothing the rest of the night.

Day 5: During hunting season I have a love/hate relationship with the alarm clock. Going to bed late (visiting with family and watching the World Series) makes for waking up early that much tougher. Getting up at 4:00 am sucked, but we rolled out. Our plan for my last day was going to be simple. We would hunt the morning, come back to the house and quarter up our two deer and then I would pack up to fly out the next day. It was now or never.

Once in our stands, the day started off like they all had. Cold, a bit breezy and beautiful. An hour into my sit I watched as a fox walked up behind my stand, spotted me, jumped and waltzed toward the spot where I gutted my deer. Sure enough, he started circling the spot and tearing into it. Everything was gone except the stomach, so it was quite amusing watching the fox go downwind and get a whiff of the contents. He still kept coming in and tearing off small pieces. The continued for over an hour and I was able to capture plenty on video.

I saw the turkeys again, but they stayed well away from me. Once they vanished, the forest quieted down for a few moments. That's when the telltale crunching was heard. I turned around in my stand and two does quietly walked a trail behind my stand. They were already out of range, but I picked up my bow and waited. The smaller of the two got a whiff of the gut pile and turned and started walking right towards me. She walked down a secondary trail and was at 20 yards when I left the arrow fly. I watched, almost in slow motion, as the arrow flew on course and then it happened. She jumped the string! I had arrowed a hefty piece of forest moss. She didn't run far as a nocked another arrow, but she was behind saplings and gave me no shot. I couldn't believe she jumped the string!

I met up with the guys and we weren't ready to call it a day. After some discussion we decided we would work fast to complete our tasks. I'd run to pick up a cooler, we'd quarter up the deer and make it out for the evening watch. I figured I could pack my bags in between and  finish later that night. So that's exactly what I did.

We were back in the woods by 4:00 pm and I saw nothing but squirrels and people walking their dogs. It was such a disappointment watching the neighbors come down the property line with their two dogs, talking super loud and dragging their feet. By the time they spotted me, they were 40 yards from my stand and basically jumped out of their skin. Rather loudly the husband yelled out that he was sorry and they hadn't seen me there. I just gave them a friendly wave and smiled. What was I going to do? It WAS their property. The dogs (two Cockers) saw me and didn't want to leave. It was rather amusing to watch as they walked away tugging at the leashes.

At 4:30 pm I heard crashing and thought my dad had arrowed another. When I met him at dark he said he hadn't, but he was almost certain my brother had. When we met up with my brother he proceeded to tell us the story of his first double. He had arrowed two does! Not one, but two! Sure was a good thing we decided to get back out there. What an amazing five day hunt! I have no photos of my brother and his deer because it was raining and we wanted to get things taken care of quickly. We had tenderloins to eat!

In five days, we had killed four deer. The three of us couldn't remember when we had been this successful during the first couple weeks of archery season. We were certainly blessed! We had persevered and were rewarded for it. I had a great time hunting in NY and being able to hunt with my dad and brother is something I always love to do. I owe them a big thank you for all of the hard work they put in with scouting, putting up stands, setting me up at the house and driving us all over. Also, a big thank you goes to my wife for putting up with me year round with the archery practice, hunting, constant hunt-chatter and for giving me the time to hunt for a week while she took care of our daughter. I smell a nice spa weekend and getaway for her in the near future.

Now I am looking forward to getting out and hunting here in Southern California. I hope to be able to arrow a Pacific-Hybrid now. I won't be spoiled with a 4x4, food being cooked for me and being driven around, but you can bet I will work harder than ever to get my first CA kill with a bow and arrow.

I want to be sure to thank the companies and people that have sponsored or helped me out in some way with equipment this year. A big thank you to SEEMZ Technology, Muzzy Broadheads, Mark from Sole Adventure (used a Muzzy 3-blade on my deer), Piranha Bowstrings, Easton arrows, Hawke Optics, Gamehide HushHide camo, Carbomask, Magnum Boots, North American Hunting Club, Archery Outpost,, and my hunting buddies.

This past Sunday morning I received a text message from my brother letting me know he knocked down a nice 3-point buck. That makes five archery deer taken in the first two weeks of archery season for the Quackenbush family. God gave us the ability and the means to hunt and put food on the table and we are doing just that.


  1. Congrats Al! Way to go buddy! That's awesome and for all you guys to get deer together, well that's just double the awesomeness!

    Congrats again!

  2. Way to go, Al! They are all trophies in my book. Did you fly back with the meat, or have it shipped?

  3. Thanks, Kari! Super stoked!

    Mark - Thanks, Mark! Definitely a trophy! I brought it back on the plane. Good point and I think I'll post an entry about that. Last year my bro shipped out less meat and it cost $200. Brought 1.5 times the meat back on the place in a cooler and it cost me less than half that.

  4. Al,
    I congratulate you, and your family.
    Sounds like it was a great trip from beginning till end, and am glad it went well.
    Your hard work, practice and dedication have paid off.
    Now, as you said, time to focus on a Pacific Hybrid!

  5. Great hunt and story, I really enjoyed readying about your family's successful adventures. Thanks for posting.


  6. Congrats Al!

    Do you find that the two releases shoot to the same POI? I had a Sabretooth and a Rhino XT and practiced with them side-by-side. The POI was different so I ended up getting rid of the Rhino.

    It looks like one release has the fabric strap and one has the leather strap. Which do you like better?

    Stopped by to collect a link for Monday's post.

    Happy hunting, dv

  7. John, Darren and Ian - Thank you! Feels good to have meat in the freezer once again.

    Jerry - Thanks to you, too! The POI on these two releases wasn't very noticeable at all. That being said, I had another Scott release that was a definite change and sold that to a guy this year. I like the Little Bitty Goose better because I hate the swivel on the other kicking open it the release touches something. I hope that makes sense. I thought I'd like the fabric better, but the leather one felt great. It's a toss up really. I'll keep my eyes open for your post. Are you going out again soon?

  8. By the way, I followed up with Scott Archery and they are sending me a new trigger in the mail. I emailed and they never got back to me. I had to call them to get it done. Keep that in mind. Cheers!

  9. Nicely done, Al! Congrats!

    My husband can relate to the release thing... except he totally forgot his one night of our elk hunt. He thought he could just finger shoot, and ended up snapping the string off the cam in a practice shot to see if he could do it. Therefore, he was the caller that night and Big Al was up front with me (Big Al got his bull that night!) I guess that is a testimony on how important it is to have a backup!

  10. Thanks, Emily!

    Oh man, your husband must have been kicking himself! My heart sank when I read your words.

    Scott Archery sent me a new trigger for my release and I am going to install it tonight. Can't wait to hit the forest again this weekend!

  11. Five days and four deer, great time, sounds to me. I am going hunting at and I hope to get a few deer myself. Thank you for such a wonderful story.