Increased use of crossbows by archery deer hunters is proving to be a positive move. Not only are more hunters taking to the field during the early archery season because of liberated crossbow rules, but the more powerful and accurate weapon appears to be putting more venison in the freezer.
A case in point involves a friend of mine who traded in his compound bow for a crossbow this fall. He also opted for a ground blind this year rather than hoist an elevated stand into a tree as in past years.
His opportunity to bag a buck came last week, a day after the high winds that swept through the Upper Peninsula had subsided.
As many hunters predicted, deer were on the move after a few days of laying low. Whitetails are getting more into the mood for love, as well, so bucks were roaming around more than they had been.
In fact, it was just before dark when a nice buck came trotting straight at my buddy's blind. There wasn't much time as the deer was about to dart off to the side and into thick brush, so he took quick aim and let the crossbow bolt fly.
Although the action was quick and the buck was off through the woods in a flash, the accurate and powerful crossbow had done its work - the deer was hit.
There wasn't much blood at first, but after a brief search he found plenty of blood and began trailing the deer, but then it got dark.
The excitement of nailing a nice buck faded a little as he realized the deer was still moving good and it was getting later. But it was the coyotes that worried him most.
There is a large population of coyotes in many areas of the U.P., as well as good numbers of wolves, and he knew that a bleeding deer was like a dinner bell ringing to the large predators.
He had no choice, though, and decided to take a chance and let the deer bed down and then pick up its trail in the morning.
Well, luck was on his side as the morning dawned and he started the search with a guy from a nearby camp. There was still a good blood trail and after a fairly long hike, they walked up on the dead deer laying behind a balsam tree - fully intact and untouched by coyotes.
The reason it traveled so far was quickly evident, as the crossbow bolt hit a little lower than desired, passing through the top of the guts and through a hind quarter. An indication of the power of the crossbow was realized when he found the bolt imbedded in a tree behind where the deer was when he shot it.
And while it might seem a gut shot wasn't very good, the fact that he even got a shot off at all in the split second that he had to shoot and hit the deer solid show that a crossbow can be an effective deer hunting weapon. With a bow and arrow he won't have even had a shot.
He deserves some credit, too, for staying with the search and finding the deer before predators did.
In addition, the 3-year-old buck that weighed 177 pounds and sported a nice seven-point rack sure looked good on the buck pole at the Wilson Creek Camp.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.