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An Afternoon Bowhunt With Clay Moden [VIDEO]

Small buck
Small buck

I’m sure you’ve heard me mention hunting a few times on the air before that one of my favorite things about the fall is the fact that deer hunting season comes around and gives us archery fans a chance to head to the woods and put our hard work to use.

From practicing at the archery range to scouting the right spot to hang a tree stand, archery hunting is more than just going out to kill a deer. As a matter of fact, my hunt on Tuesday afternoon was one of the best I have ever had, and I never even drew my bow back.

High above a little deer directly below Clay's stand
High above a little deer directly below Clay’s stand

After running late because of other appointments and things that got in the way, I only had the last couple of hours of daylight to hunt. I sat in the stand around 4:30 p.m., and by 4:45, I had deer moving through a field near my stand. Any deer hunter will tell you that it is nice to just see deer and feel like you are “in the game”, and watching this small herd just grazing along was enough to make the time pass by.

I pulled out my grunt call and made a few light calls, and within a few minutes, I had this little spike buck headed my way. He came right to the call, and watching him through my binoculars, I was able to tell that this was not a deer I was going to want to take. The theory that we responsible hunters are butchers or deer slayers or blood thirsty can be dismissed by the events of the next half hour.

It is my choice to pass up small bucks but it's fun to see them!
It is my choice to pass up small bucks but it’s fun to see them!

That little buck (turned out to be a little spike horn buck) came under my stand and stayed there just feeding on apples for nearly and hour. I had every opportunity to pull back my arrow and shoot at him. However, I have decided that this year, I want to take a buck that is at least three and a half years old. I may take a doe at some point if I want to add to the freezer.

I like eating venison throughout the year. I love beef, and I try to buy from our local beef producers as well. However, experts and dietitians will tell you that venison is one of the healthiest meats you can eat. Besides that, I like the taste of it.

Many years I go without even getting a chance to shoot at a deer. Then there are days like Tuesday that make hunting so special. It was a clear afternoon. Watching the sunset on a cool and crisp fall afternoon in the quiet serenity of the woods is exactly why I spend over a $100 a year on a license – money that I am told that is used to fund conservation efforts and projects here in New York.

I tend to agree with the QDM (Quality Deer Management) crowd. If more people would pass up smaller bucks and take a doe over a buck if the chance is there, the deer population would be better balanced (buck-to-doe-ratio-wise), and we would see more mature bucks in the woods. HOWEVER, deer hunting and the decision to shoot what you choose should be your choice. I have no problem with a first-year hunter taking a small deer, or even a veteran hunter that elects to shoot a small buck. If that is the deer you want, you paid for the tag…you put in the hard work scouting, practicing and planning, then that’s your call. If a land owner/lease holder has specific QDM rules/policy, then that is also their decision and should be followed accordingly.

Deer hunting, for me, has never been about how many I can kill. It has never been if I can win a contest with the biggest rack. It is all about days like Tuesday — the ability to enjoy the pure essence of being in the outdoors at sunset in the fall and have a deer come so close that it has no clue you are directly above it is exactly why I look forward to October through December.

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