Hunting stories are best told over the dim light and quiet roar of a burning campfire. My good friend and fellow Wild Adrenaline staff member Andy Hancharik has just such a story to be told after his 2017 Pennsylvania archery season came to a close on one of the unluckiest days of the year. It’s a story of patience, anticipation, and playing to the subtle hunting advantages mother nature provides. It’s a day Andy will never forget.
It was Saturday October 7th, 2017 and Andy decided to roll the dice on a hot 74° Pennsylvania Saturday evening hunt. His preseason scouting had taught him that a lot of his deer activity was occurring in the creek bottom which was generally speaking “cooler in temperature” due to the over hanging hemlock branches. As predicted the deer were on their feet late that evening and as feared the camera light was looking scarce due to the quickly darkening hemlock bottom. The time was 6:45 pm. Off the hill he could spot a wide 8 point buck working it’s way down to the creek where in after a quick drink he got up close and personal to Andy’s tree stand.
This was a good buck and one that would not easily be passed up by most hunters unless they saw what was coming next. A snap of a twig behind the 8 point gave way to the buck of a lifetime mirroring his exact route. But like all great bucks nightfall was in his favor. The buck stood 5 yards from tree stand in the cover of darkness. Andy could just make out the framework of his rack and knew this was a monster. He sat tight as the buck worked past the stand. The sounds of cautious hooves fading their way into the distance let Andy know he was safe to work his way out of the wilderness with a new goal and a mixed sense of anticipation and awe for this amazing creature. The hunt was on.
Work and rising temperatures kept Andy out of the wild for an entire week. A week of thinking and hoping he would get another opportunity on this great buck. So many things in a hunter’s mind after an experience like that. “Was that the only time I would see that buck?” “If only I had a few more minutes of light that evening.” “Should I move the stand to catch him in route during daylight hours?” Ultimately, Andy decided to not disturb the area. He planned to take his time and not pressure the buck. If it was meant to be then he would get another opportunity.
The day was October 13th, Friday the 13th to be exact. Too most, the unluckiest day of the year. But to Andy, it was the day he planned to get primal and hunt the beast that had clustered his mind and thoughts for a week. A day of anticipation, a day of opportunity. Southeast wind gave Andy confidence. If the buck was still in pattern the wind was greatly in the hunter’s favor. Overcast conditions made way for cooler temperatures which Andy hoped would get the buck on his feet within shooting hours. He made it to the stand at 5:00 pm. His mind raced fighting off doubt and hopefully playing out what “might” happen. An hour and half passed by with no wildlife. Just a hunter and his thoughts, alone in the wild. The sounds of empty silence only a hunter can describe. But then something caught his eye. A slight movement on the hillside gave way to the legs of a deer cautiously making its way to the creek. Replaying his previous hunt Andy anticipated the wide 8 point but as it came into an opening he could see the magnificent framework of the mature buck’s rack. Into the creek the buck walked where he stood in all his glory. His heavy rack leveraged onto his thick neck and mature body. Time froze as the buck gorged itself with the cool creek water. Andy watched as the buck drank and cautiously raised his head over and over again to check for potential threats. Andy described his body as trembling in anticipation. “Was this going to happen?” The buck worked his way out of the creek and right past Andy’s Moultrie trail camera.
It was indeed heading his way. Andy was shaking as the buck quietly worked his way through the silent support of the hemlock bottom. Solo filming the entire time, Andy worked back and forth from his loop to the camera arm trying not to give the buck any sign of danger, sound, or movement.
Into the kill zone the buck walked. 40 yards, no wait 30, 20! With one last reset of the camera position and a quick draw of his bow Andy put himself in the moment of truth. The bow sang out as the shaded hemlock bottom gave way to the gleaming light of Andy’s blue lighted nock. The sound of the arrow cracking the kill zone broke the silence of the wild and the buck tore off. Andy watched him fall to the forest floor.
Andy had just accomplished something we all strive for as hunters. He found his moment of truth with the buck of a lifetime and he capitalized on the opportunity. Furthermore, he was fortunate enough to capture the entire hunt on camera. Be sure to subscribe to the Wild Adrenaline YouTube channel so you don’t miss the exciting release of this amazing hunt. The wild is an unpredictable and magnificent place that we all should dwell within. It’s a place where adventure awaits for those that seek it out. Like always, it is our hope that all of you will one day find yourself in that same moment of truth with your buck of a lifetime as well.
Written by: Bob Paronish
~We’d love to hear about your own personal epic adventures in the great outdoors. So feel free to share your moment of truth story with us in the comments section below.~