Guest blog from my young friend and adventurer Austin Manelick. A “ghost of the coast” with a longbow and cedar shaft is a great accomplishment:
There’s something special about the Oregon blacktail deer, one of Fred Bear’s favorite species to hunt. Roaming the coastal forests of the Cascades with stick and string chasing the ghost of the coast is a soul-cleansing experience.
I found this buck while running through the woods back to my vehicle. I was in a hurry to get back to my car and had let my guard down completely. The chunk of national forest I was hunting paralleled a busy back road adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. Out of nowhere a buck sprung from his bed and paused at 20 yards.
Another buck stood up, looking curiously in the direction of the commotion about 15 yards away. The second buck looked odd; his antler appeared to have grown directly down the side of his face, or maybe he was about to lose his antler. Either way both of these bucks were in my shooting range and just needed to present their vitals.
They positioned themselves quartering to me and were surrounded by a maze of downed Douglas firs. After a few minutes the bucks turned and started to walk off when I grabbed my buck call and softly grunted once. The bucks paused, and another stand-off ensued, all of our eyes dead locked on each other.
The deer began to lose curiosity and started to walk off. As I leaned forward and rolled my shoulders, my rattling antlers swung from my neck and clashed into each other. The droopy antlered buck could not believe his ears and walked to 8 yards in search of this mystery buck!
I came to full draw as the animal turned broadside, and the cedar shaft did the rest of the work. Heading to the location of arrow impact, I found the buck and then his oddly drooped antler on the forest floor, and immediately started to come up with theories (3) on how this buck’s beam had become deformed:
- The buck was not shedding his antler…the antler’s pedicle had been crushed against his skull plate. I found that the pedicle and crushed skull plate had healed themselves prior to the growing of his antler.
- His deformed antler had abscessed and was connected to the pedicle by a small chunk of bone.
- As he took off from the arrow’s impact, he bumped his antler on a tree and it simply popped right off his head.
Theory Conclusion: He was hit by a car on the busy road last winter and had some time to heal his broken skull plate and pedicle. He then grew his funky drop antler during the summer.
This hunt occurred in the Suislaw National Forest.
60lb@28 take-down longbow and Port Orford cedar shafts by Rose City Archery, “Retro Bear Arrows.”