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The Switch -Brent Mills

A few years ago, I met a buddy who strictly hunts with traditional archery equipment and I was a “seasonal” bow hunter. By seasonal I mean I would bow hunt during bow season, and bring the rifle out during gun season. To make a long story short, my buddy and I got into a hunting lease together and I converted into a full-time archery hunter. What prompted me to do this was becoming frustrated by trying to kill a specific deer with my compound only to have him not make an appearance during bow season but then show up while I had my rifle in hand at 30 yards and being unable to bring myself to pull the trigger. I felt like I was cheating myself sitting there holding my rifle since I had spent so much time trying to cross paths with this specific deer.

Since that day, I’ve become a full-time bow hunter and would hunt all season long with the compound. All this time my buddy had pushed for me to pick up a traditional bow and give it a try, and I would just laugh it off and tell him there’s no way I’d do that. This past May, I got invited to a 3-D traditional archery shoot (The TBG Dan Quillian State Shoot) and decided I would go just to hang out and see what it was about. However, I had inherited my great uncles old Bear Archery recurve several years before and it had been sitting in the closet just collecting dust. I decided I would break it out, put a new string on it, and see what happened. Little did I know, accepting this invitation and getting that old Bear recurve ready would prove to be a turning point in my hunting career. That 3-D shoot lit a fire in me like none I’d experienced before and I was suddenly hooked on traditional archery.

For the next 3 and a half months I was shooting this recurve multiple times a day trying to figure it out and just hit the target. A group of guys I met at the shoot started a group text and we challenged each other to stay with it and we all rooted for each other’s success in the upcoming deer season. Well, as deer season approached I was apprehensive about taking the recurve with me to the woods right out of the gate; after all, I had never killed a buck on my own property and it has always been a dream of mine to do so. The guys in the group all agreed that they were only hunting with traditional gear all season long, so I thought if they can do it then so can I. After countless hours spent shooting and dialing in the fine details of how to shoot something that has no sights on it and relies 100% on the person pulling the string back, I felt confident in my equipment and my ability to use it to make a clean and ethical kill on a whitetail if given the opportunity.

On Monday September 20th, I headed out to my ground blind behind the house with high hopes. A doe and fawn and a couple spikes showed up in my food plot and fed for about 20 minutes until a very unique and old deer that I had been getting trail camera pictures of arrived at the edge of the food plot. As soon as I saw him the adrenaline kicked in, and I had to keep telling myself to calm down or I wouldn’t be able to make the shot. He started toward the fawn, which was about 6 yards in front of my ground blind. After he ran her off he turned around and presented me with a 12-yard quartering away shot and as soon as I saw that arrow leave my bow and hit its mark I felt a rush that I have never felt after shooting a deer. You would have thought that I just shot the new state record as much as I was shaking. I called my buddy and told him what had happened, and I replayed the hunt to him over the phone and I believe he was just as excited about it as I was! I felt confident about the shot and gave the deer an hour before I climbed out of my blind to search for blood. I picked up the first blood about 15 yards away from where he’d been standing when the shot was made and knew it was good. I followed the blood trail and saw his white belly in the pines and ran to get my hands on him!

Needless to say, after this experience I don’t believe I will be taking anything else other than traditional archery equipment into the woods with me to chase deer with! Equipment used: Bear Archery recurve, 48# @ 28” Easton legacy 1916 aluminum arrows 200g Grizzly Bruin broadheads

-Brent Mills

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