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The Bowhunter  Featured Articles


Whose plan is it?

By Jared Hook


I had a plan, and it all came together on October 29th, or so I thought.  Like many of you, bowhunting for me is more of a lifestyle than a seasonal activity. I enjoy the year long process that includes habitat improvement, tree stand maintenance and comparing game camera pictures with friends.  It’s especially rewarding when it all falls into place and the result is an amazing hunt, like I had that day. 

It was my 12th time out and the rut seemed to be kicking into high gear.  I really took my time that afternoon to silently climb into my tree stand and it paid off.  The second I turned around I saw the top of a little tree whipping around like a flag trying to get my attention.  There was a big 8 pointer rubbing a willow about 80 yards to my north in the tall grass of a CRP field, making it hard to see the deer.  With binoculars, I was able to identify him as the buck that a neighboring friend had named Octo.   When Octo was done abusing the sapling, he headed southeast and calmly lumbered by at 30 yards, only offering one questionable shot opportunity that I decided to pass on.  That’s when the circus started. 

For the next hour I watched several bucks excitedly chasing does around, as if there was a party and nobody had notified the ladies.  Octo disappeared for a while, but came looping back from the north behind another decent 8 pointer.  He walked back into the CRP field, this time to the middle, where he stood out in the open for an abnormally long time.  It made more sense when a doe jumped up from the grass in front of him.  As if we were working together as a team, she ran right under my tree and I got ready for him to follow her to his demise, like the fate of so many males of all species.  He didn’t fall for it.  Instead, he headed the opposite direction to check out, and posture towards, two other bucks that were rubbing trees on the far side of the field.  It was as if he wanted to make sure they understood this was his territory.  Eventually he circled south of me, directly down wind, where he aggressively shredded a lone cedar tree.  I passed the sniff test and was able to draw as he approached from behind my tree.  For several minutes I remained drawn, as he masterfully moved at point blank range keeping a branch from my oak tree in between us the whole time.  It wasn’t until he was at 20 yards, sharply quartering away, that I was able to lean back and release the arrow. 

This is the point in the story where I should be talking about tracking and recovering the buck. But, not this time, because I missed!  Somehow, and luckily for me, he wasn’t spooked by my arrow hitting the dirt.  I slowly nocked another arrow as I debated if I should try a second shot, when I wasn’t sure what happened with the first.  Octo resumed his pursuit of the doe, relieving me of the decision.  I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses, but the reality was I had replaced my 12-year-old bow a few months earlier with one from Gearhead Archery and I was still adjusting to a different anchor point and the addition of a peep sight.  The miss ate away at my conscience, until I figured out the next day what I’d done wrong.  More than anything, I was very thankful it was a clean miss.  Being the optimist that I am (my friends are rolling their eyes right now), I made a mental list of all the reasons it was good that I missed; it was too early in the season to be done, there were a few bigger bucks around, shooting a deer on Sunday evening wouldn’t give me any time to butcher it, and there must be a reason this happened.  It was that last thought I had rolling around in my head on the morning of November 3rd, there must be a reason.    

After 39 years of bowhunting, and thousands of hours contemplating life from the view of a tree stand, I have come to agree with George Washington Carver, who said, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us, if we will only tune in.”  We live in a great country where every bowhunter can pursue their quarry for whatever reason serves their needs.  Maybe it’s as simple for some as getting fresh air or putting food on the table, but I know I’m not alone in finding a deeper meaning in the woods over the seasons of our life.  It took me many years to “tune in” and now that I am, I’m sometimes surprised at how strong the message can be, which also serves as a strong conviction to share the story. 

You see, I needed some hope.  I needed to know that there is a plan for my life after a very unexpected and difficult divorce a few years ago.  Most of us, like me, go about life making plans, but many times those plans don’t work out and we’re left hurt and wondering why.  Why did someone get sick?  Why did my spouse break their vows?  Why did someone lose a job?  Well, I’d like to assure you that there is a plan.  It just might not be what you had planned, but keeping that faith might help you, like it did me.    

Back to November 3rd:  The wind was calm and it was very peaceful as the darkness transitioned to gray and all the birds started singing.  I had my eyes closed for about 10 minutes listening, contemplating, and praying.   I had a strong sense pour over me that if at any point in the season I ended up harvesting a bigger buck than the one I missed, it meant I needed to have faith that there was a plan, a better plan, for my life and my hunting that I was not in control of. 

So, you can probably imagine my surprise when I opened my eyes and there was a large 10 pointer standing right there, right then.  He hadn’t made a sound and just sort of appeared there, as if placed.  It was Bone Head, a buck I hadn’t gotten any pictures of for months.  It seems like bowhunters normally only get a split second to get ready and shoot, but this time was different.  He looked around and patiently waited for me to stand up, attach my release and turn.  I put an arrow in the engine room as he walked right under my tree.  It was a straight down shot.  I was careful to anchor correctly this time and aimed right between the spine and his shoulder.  The arrow buried deep, but did not exit the bottom.  I knew it was a killing shot, but I also knew there wouldn’t be a good blood trail without an exit hole.  Fortunately, he only ran about 100 yards and expired quickly.  Unlike the Sunday evening I missed Octo, I had all weekend to butcher the deer and enjoy the harvest with family and friends.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.     

P.S. – Octo’s rack was busted up pretty bad by gun season, but as far as I know, he’s still out there and my plan is to chase him next season.  “Tune in” with me next spring to see if His plan is different.  May God give us the faith to trust in His plan, for hunting and in life.   

Wisconsin Bowhunters Association

Honors WBH member of the year:

Greg Kazmierski


Although WBH member Greg Kazmierski (Kaz) has been promoting archery and bowhunting for almost 50 years, his efforts on behalf of bowhunters over the last 13 years, as a member of the Natural Resources Board (NRB), most recently as chairman, have been consistent and unwavering.    Through this tumultuous time, when hunting has been under attack in Madison, Kaz held together a coalition of hunting advocates on the NRB that thwarted efforts to advance an anti-hunting, animal-rights agenda.

As the longtime owner of Buck Rub Archery, and as a member of the NRB, Kaz could not be overt in his support for bowhunting in particular.  However, behind the scenes, there was probably nobody working harder at more levels than Kaz was, to protect, promote and advance bowhunting opportunity in Wisconsin.   Kaz was instrumental in limiting “T Zone” and long holiday hunts that took away valuable bowhunting opportunity, but perhaps even more importantly, if it wasn’t for Kaz’s tireless efforts on several levels, Wisconsin would almost certainly have defined crossbows as archery equipment and combined them in the same season, many years ago. 

Some have questioned Kaz’s support for our current deer management structure, a system that is intended to provide more local control of deer management. These questions come without the understanding that the way it’s been implemented, with continued control by the WDNR, makes it almost impossible to function as it was intended.

While Kas has always supported much of the work of the WDNR, especially in the field, he has never been afraid to challenge their direction when it’s not in the best interest of hunters.  And while that has created angst among some bureaucrats in Madison, who resent being questioned, they are even more frustrated by the fact that Kaz almost always has the data to back up his concerns.  

Kaz has been a longtime life member of WBH.  In the past he served as one of our own directors on the WBH board. 

For all these years while Kaz was on the Natural Resources Board, it would have been politically inappropriate to honor him for his unceasing support for Wisconsin’s hunters and bowhunters.  However, now that he has “retired” from “official” public service, it’s finally time to recognize Kaz for a lifetime of that support of bowhunters. 

Thank you Kaz!

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