By Scott Goforth
My best friend, Jeremy, and his dad, Phil, always hunted with traditional archery equipment when I was growing up. I wasn’t into hunting at the time, but their bows and that style of instinctive shooting always stuck with me.
After I got married, my father-in-law offered to take me hunting on their land in Wisconsin, and I knew that if I was going to take up archery, it would have to be with traditional equipment. I found a used wooden bow, a local archery range, and even an archery club to join. I learned a lot, had a great time out in the woods that year, but never had an opportunity to test my abilities.
After that first year, we moved consistently for employment, started a family, and the hunting equipment went into storage for the next 10 years. During that time, Phil passed away from ALS. He was my mentor and it was heartbreaking.
In the summer of 2017, we moved to Western New York and I decided to get back into bowhunting. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in all my safety courses and a lot of practice time. Just like my first year in Wisconsin, I didn’t have any good opportunities, but still enjoyed my time in the outdoors.
This year, I was able to put in a lot more time scouting and setting up my tree stand. I finally got a good opportunity on a Sunday in late October. I was watching where a small yearling had come in two days before when I heard loud rustling behind me. I slowly turned and could see some large brush shaking back and forth and a little glimmer of tines underneath. For the next 10 minutes, I watched this buck eat his way closer and closer to me. When he was around 10 yards away, I was able to get a good look and decided if I got a good opportunity, I was going to take my shot.
At 7 yards, he finally stepped out of the heavy brush and into an opening. As he came broadside, I raised my 50-year-old Shakespeare Necedah recurve, focused through the broadhead, and released the string. Thwack! Slightly high, but I still felt like it was a good shot. He went around 100 yards total, through the trees, down to a creek, and then along the water. I was lucky enough to have an experienced tracker to help recover him through the wet conditions.
A decent 7 point buck using an old wooden bow, instinctive shooting, and a little luck. It was my first deer with a bow and first buck ever. I was thinking about Phil that entire time, how I’d like to call him and share this moment. How proud he would be and how much he could’ve taught me along the way. This is an experience I’ll never forget.