Check Your Hunting Gear Before Every Hunt
by Doug Maxson, Michigan BAC Local 2 Retiree
Two years ago, my deer hunting experience did not end well. Because of a misplaced shot with my crossbow, the bolt didn’t fly where I aimed. It slid off the rail wide to the left, hitting the deer toward the back. When I found the buck severely wounded, he charged me as his last defense—which thankfully didn’t end in serious injury—and then left the area. I found him the next day.
The next year was unsuccessful, but it had some bright spots. One of the largest deer I had ever seen appeared on our property several times. Though I wasn’t successful, I anticipated his return the next year.
Deer hunting in 2022 was a repeat of what happened in 2020 with another misplaced shot on a nice six-pointer. There was hardly any blood trail, and I couldn’t locate the buck. I located the bolt, and it too had hardly any signs of blood, so I hoped he survived the shot.
After my experiences in 2020 and 2022, I began to question whether I wanted to hunt anymore in 2022. I began to question my shooting ability and decided to use a shooting tripod hoping it would steady my shot when hunting from my ground blind.
One evening, I decided to hunt from my tree stand in the northwest corner of our property. While sitting there, I noticed something hanging from the right side of my crossbow cable. Upon closer inspection, I found that the outer strand of string was unraveling and exposing the cable. This threw up a red flag, and knew I needed to have it looked at more closely.
I left my stand and took my crossbow to the sporting goods store where I purchased it several years ago. It was obvious the string needed to be replaced to prevent it from breaking and injuring me or causing me to miss another shot.
In getting my bow fixed, I learned why my last two shots at a deer were wide to the left. Because the string was frayed on the right side of the cable, it caused the power of that side to be unequal with the left side. This caused a transfer of energy to the left side, pushing the bolt in that direction. I’m not an expert in physics, but it does make sense.
On November 4, I received my restrung crossbow, and November 7 was a day of retribution. That evening at about 5:40 P.M., I harvested the largest deer I’ve ever killed in over 50 years of hunting. Had I not noticed my faulty string and got it replaced, I might not be telling this story.
This time, the bolt left the rail and made a perfect heart shot. The deer still ran another 100 yards, and when I came upon it, my first reaction was, “I’ve got to get some help.” I left a flashlight in the thick wooded area to make it easier to locate.
My farmer friend came over with his four-wheeler, attached a heavy rope and dragged it to the back of my garage where I had a rope and pulley to hang it. Once we got the deer to the top, locked the brakes on the tractor and put blocks of wood behind the wheels, the heavy deer still dragged my 300-pound tractor back and the deer came to rest on the ground.
After completing the field-dressing, I contacted the processor and let him know I had a huge deer to bring in. When I got it there, his first expression was, “That is one huge deer.”
It weighed 215 pounds field-dressed on the processor’s scale, which calculates to a whopping 270 pounds before being field dressed. I had a European mount done and plan to have it scored. It might even appear on Michigan Outdoors at one of their buck nights.
I may not have had this story to share if I had not noticed the flaw in my crossbow string. My big takeaway that I want to share with other hunters …check your hunting gear before every hunt.
Read about Maxson’s scary hunting experience in 2020.