Last week I got an absolute rush when I pulled up Facebook and saw that long time Wired To Hunt reader Dana Dutoi had arrowed a great Indiana buck. It’s been a privilege to get to know so many of you readers, such as Dana, over the years and I truly am filled with joy every time I see one of you have success in the whitetail woods. That said, Dana was kind enough to share his story, and boy is it a good one. He arrowed a terrific buck and learned some valuable lessons along the way. Enjoy his story, and congrats again Dana! – MK
By Dana Dutoi
Five years ago I caught the archery bug. I had bow hunted a few times in high school and had taken a small doe when I was 16. But I never really latched onto it. That said, when I was 21 I had grown complacent with just gun hunting two weeks out of the year. It seemed like it was just too easy, and I craved more time in the deer woods. Deer hunting is never easy but I was just disenchanted with killing deer with a firearm. I was ready for a new challenge and bow hunting whitetails seemed like it would fill the void. So I ended up with a garage sale PSE that was probably as old as I am. I put some decent parts on it and ended up killing a fat doe at 20 yards broadside. I was hooked. I dove head first into archery. The first thing I did was update my weapon. A shiny new PSE Stinger was now mine and I spent the money to get some quality gear as well. I beat targets to death all summer and had my heart set on a rut crazed brute. Oh how much I had to learn.
The Path That Led Me Here
The next three years were full of trials, disappointment, and lots of tag sandwiches. But I learned. I sucked it all in. Every encounter. Every time I got busted. I learned. I found out that confidence in your equipment is important. But confidence in yourself is key. I also found out that the old saying “you have to put your time in” is not so much about logging a lot of hours on stand, but more so logging the right hours. Over-hunting a farm will absolutely destroy your chances at a good deer. As will checking your trail camera every three days all summer. Hunting when conditions are just right is key and it paid off me. There is more on this type of hunting in an article I read on Wired To Hunt called “Hunt Less, Kill More”
All this being said I felt more ready for the 2013 as a bow hunter than I had in past years. I had bow hunted through all the 2012 seasons without getting a shooter within 100 yards. But life had plans for me this year that pretty much forced me into a low pressure style of hunting. I got a new job working 12 hour nights. I gutted my house, along with some other life changing events. So on October second I smoked a fat nanny doe on my first sit of the year. It felt good to get a kill notched in my belt so early and to put some back straps in the freezer. Plus it seemed my chronic target panic had left to go infect someone else. I don’t why but when I came to full draw on that doe I didn’t come unglued like I usually did. That was a major confidence booster.
Unfortunately over the next few weeks I had zero time to hunt. I worked like a mad man and worked on my house. Knowing the rut was amping up I had to find some time to hit the timber. I had hung a new set on a farm we know as “the powerline farm” for obvious reasons in the last week of September. The power line cuts the timber in half making a great travel corridor. I moved more to the center of the timber after watching deer travel there for the past two years and missing some opportunities. After that I left it alone and stayed out.
On Sunday, November 10th I found some time to get in the woods. I showered and left the house at about 2 pm. I had a half mile walk due to the northwest wind and I got settled in my stand at about 2:45 pm. It was windy but it was blowing my scent across 200 acres of wide open corn stubble so I wasnt that bothered by it. Around 4:30 the wind died down and I started crashing antlers together. No response. Talk about a let down. Meanwhile my buddies were texting me about all the shooters they’re seeing while hunting that night. Great. I’ve always heard that the best time to kill a big deer is on your first sit. Well, where was he!?
I rattled again at 5:00 pm. Nothing. I told myself that it was getting to be prime time and to just sit it out. The best was yet to come. About ten minutes later I noticed a yearling doe slowly feeding through the timber at about 50 yards. I was hungry and she looked delicious. I intended to kill her given the opportunity.
I soon learned that she was slowest deer on the face of the earth and that it would be tomorrow by the time she got into bow range. About this time I looked up to west to see a rack bobbing and weaving through underbrush then disappear into the ditch. Game on.
The buck popped out of the ditch on a mission and almost immediately turned left and started to run the top of the ditch bank through the timber. I instantly classified him as a shooter. I knew he was only a 3 year old but he was a good one for the area and I would be happy to kill him on the first day or the last day of deer season. Had he continued this course he would have hit my drag line and hopefully followed it to my tree for a 12 yard chip shot. But I wasn’t taking that chance. I reached over my left shoulder and pulled my Hyper Growl from the crotch of the tree I had it wedged in. I threw two short grunts with a long drawn out growl at the end his way. He spun on a dime, pinned his ears back and started marching my way. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I figured it would be a good idea to get my bow off the hanger now.
He walked straight to me. I couldn’t really see him all that well. He walked up to the yearling doe who was still standing at 35 yards stuck his nose up her rear. She trotted off into a clearing to my right. He decided she wasn’t all that pretty anyway and moved off to my left. He was on a trail that would take him down wind if I didn’t make a move quick. I glanced to my right to make sure that doe wasn’t picking me out. She was oblivious. As the buck walked behind some brush I came to full draw. He took a few more steps and was in my shooting lane. I gave him the tried and true “beehhh” and he stopped dead in his tracks in an opening I had ranged at 22 yards earlier. He was quartering away perfectly. I buried my 20 yard pin behind the 3rd rib and unleashed a hell bent Easton.
I heard the “thwack” and watched him mule kick. As he trotted off back towards ditch it all happened in slow motion. I could see my arrow sticking out of his left side and blood running down his right side. My rage chisel tip had hit the opposite shoulder. The arrow worked its way out as the buck trotted away with his tail tucked. I knew the hit was good but was it good enough? The entry looked a little high. As he made it to the ditch he stopped as if deciding if it was worth expending the energy to cross. Then he got the wobble steps. Two backflips and some flailing later he was deader than a hammer.
I couldn’t believe it. A five year saga was over. I had killed a good buck with my bow. This is when it all kind of hit me. I had to sit down. A total loss of composure occurred for about the next 20 minutes. I called my buddy Kurt who was hunting a few miles away and I don’t even remember what I said to him. He said he was on his way. I called my dad and told him to grab his camera and meet me at my truck, along with my good friend Matt who was just up the road. At that point my phone died. I was ready to get out of the tree and get my hands on this deer anyway. So I threw all my gear in my pack and flew down my climbing sticks. I knew where he was and didn’t even bother with the blood trail.
Now I don’t care what anyone says, when you accomplish ANYTHING that you have poured your whole life and self into, it’s an emotional event. I reached down to grab those antlers with tears in my eyes and I don’t care who knows it. I sat next that deer for ten minutes and just enjoyed the moment. I took in the beautiful November sunset and thanked God for such a wonderful blessing and truly great friends to share it with.
So in closing I’ll say this. This deer is no giant by any means. I taped him at 116 inches yesterday. But he is by far the most important kill of my life. Now and for the years to come. And also, never say die. Persevere. Learn from your mistakes as a bowhunter and build on them. Mistakes are the foundation of better things. Take your knowledge from years past and adjust accordingly. Good things come to those who wait.
– Dana Dutoi