Today’s blog post comes from Jana Waller, host of Skull Bound TV. You can tune in for hunts with Jana on Fridays at 9:30 AM ET, Saturdays at 11 AM ET and Sundays at 3:30 AM ET. Follow Jana on Twitter or Facebook.
Few would deny the ʻprimitiveʼ connection that occurs when hunting with a bow and arrow. Stick and string traditionalist even take it to the next level, opting for the longbow or recurve instead of the more popular compound bow. Twenty years ago I started hunting whitetails in Wisconsin with a compound and found myself enthralled with watching the woods ʻcome aliveʼ from my camouflaged viewpoint high in the trees. Bowhunting has not only put food in the freezer but itʼs given me a sense of connection to the past. While hunting from the treetops Iʼve often wondered if I would have been a good hunter on the plains centuries ago. Would I have had the patience and stealth to arrow a buffalo on the prairie or a deer from the ground? Although the equipment has dramatically changed, I would have the opportunity to test my skills in the hills of Alberta, Canada on my first spot-n-stalk mule deer hunt. My boyfriend Jim had arranged for us to spend a few days in some of the best mule deer country North of the border.
After a tiresome three hour delay at the crowded Canadian checkpoint, we arrived in Cowley, Alberta home of my good friend and local butcher Tim Ewing. Timʼs friend Melissa, also an avid bowhunter, would be guiding me thanks to the hunter-host program. We unpacked our gear and hopped back in the truck to spend the evening surveying the area in hopes of spotting some nice bucks we could pursue in the morning. The landscape was like a scene out of an old cowboy movie with itʼs green, rolling hills and endless sky. The farmhouses were far and few between and the lack of development was refreshing. Numerous mule deer were seen eating in the hay fields but I couldnʼt help but feel ambivalent about the weekʼs adventure. Heading back to Timʼs house we rounded the dusty country road just in time to see two beautiful bucks in velvet crossing our path. “Now THATʼS what Iʼm talking about!” Melissa exclaimed, mentally taking note of the GPS coordinates. Excitement coursed through my veins with the possibility of harvesting a buck from the ground but I was also thinking, “How am I going to get within bow range without any cover?!”
The next few days proved to be some of the most thrilling of any hunting adventure Iʼd ever been on. Days were spent glassing the hillsides and wheat fields in search of approachable bucks. Working the swirling wind, we spent an hour stalking a buck we had spotted on the very top of a rockslide, only to peer over the edge to his empty bed. Another opportunity was blown on day three after a grueling belly crawl through the muddy, tall grass. My hopes of harvesting a beautiful drop-tine buck were thrashed after the thick grass grabbed my arrow before it could hit its mark. With my heart in my throat and my faith quickly sinking, I watched the buckʼs unique rack bounce away over the hill never to be seen again.
Like so many adventures before, persistence paid off in the final few hours of the hunt. We had spotted the tips of a bedded buckʼs antlers in the very same field I had missed the drop-tine deer days before. After another hour-long belly crawl, we worked the wind and I rose from the tall grass to stand only 30 yards from the bedded muley. Letting out a slight ʻHey”, the 4×4 buck stood up and I released my arrow, this time finding itʼs mark. Looking into the sky and saying a quick prayer of gratitude, I stood in awe, trying to soak in the moment of harvesting my very first spot-n-stalk muley.