I live in Abilene, Texas, but I am from Westminster in Maryland. About 17 years ago, my family attended a church picnic for 4th of July. Someone had set up a bow range as part of the entertainment, and my good friend Rick Ellis told me to give it a shot. I borrowed pastor Ed Conrad’s compound bow, aimed for a target about 40 yards away and nailed a bullseye. After a few more bullseyes, I was hooked. From that point on, I fell in love with everything the outdoors had to offer, including hunting white-tailed deer. I hunted with a bow in Maryland for about 6 years and only took does. Then, in 2009, I moved to Texas to be near my father-in law, who was ill. Once I got settled, I started looking for a place to hunt, but I soon found there are few public hunting areas in Texas. Most deer hunters join a lease, which can be expensive. I was discouraged, but I was approached by a gentleman I had met in church who had land, and he invited me to hunt there. I was ecstatic. I gathered my hang-on stands and my climber and drove to the property only to learn there are very few trees in West Texas, and certainly no trees that would accommodate typical treestand setups. So, I went and got a pop-up blind and set it up about 40 years from my feeder. At that point, I was only bowhunting, so I needed to get the deer in close.
Over the next few years, I was able to get a few does. In 2013, I took my daughter with me. As we waited and talked, she spotted a deer. I looked up and saw a small 3-pointer. I drew my bow, shaking all the while. Even with my nerves and adrenaline pumping, I made a good shot, and he went just 20 yards. I was so excited I had killed my first buck. People kept telling me I needed to buy a rifle and hunt the fields, so I bought a .270 in 2016. That year, I got two does and another cull buck, but I was still set up close as though bowhunting. Fast forward to April of 2019, when I had a shunt placed in my head due to a mass in my brain. From that point I, had a brain surgery every month until February of 2020. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t hunt that year. Then, someone asked if he could use my blind to take his daughter hunting. I like to see kids in the woods instead of on their phones or playing video games, so I said yes. While I was in the hospital, I found out the girl shot a 10-pointer I had been watching for three years. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I was happy for the little girl. I also figured I was fortunate to have a place to hunt for free, so I should set my sights on another buck. [full article]