Archery hunt nets Blair man one big buck
According to Kyle Brown, the morning of Saturday, Oct. 17, dawned as a “potato chip” kind of day.
Nice fall weather, with the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, provided an optimal backdrop for an archery deer hunting excursion.
With a crossbow in tow after dawn broke, Brown, 31, of Duncansville, waited for the perfect opportunity to harvest a buck or doe while hunting in the woods of his family’s campground in southern Bedford County.
That opportunity presented itself at around 8 a.m., and Brown seized the moment. Spotting the antlers of a large buck that had been feeding behind some brush, Brown waited for a chance to get a clear shot that would prove to be successful.
“As soon as it came through an opening, it was a nice, easy shot for me,” Brown said. “I took the shot, and I did have to do some tracking in order to find it, but I was able to find it, and I had to get the whole family involved (in dragging the deer out of the woods).”
The family undertaking included Brown’s father, Alan, as well as Brown’s cousin and his wife, Brown’s girlfriend and both her parents, and even Brown’s grandfather, Harry.
“Taking it out of the woods, getting it back to our cabin, and getting it cut up … it was a family effort,” Brown said. “Grandpap (Harry) was a meat-cutter during his working life, so we put that (skill) to good use.”
The 10-point buck, which weighed approximately 180 pounds, was the largest harvested by Brown during his hunting career, which began when he killed an 8-point buck during rifle season as a young teenager. He has been involved in archery hunting for deer since the age of 16, and likes it best.
The Pennsylvania archery season for antlered and antlerless deer began this year on Saturday, Oct. 3 and will extend until Sunday, Nov. 15. There’s also an extended archery season that begins on Saturday, Dec. 26 and will run through Friday, Jan. 12, 2021.
“The thing that I like most about archery hunting is that there are not a whole lot of guys out in the woods at that time, so there’s the stillness of the woods, and everything is silent,” Brown said. “I probably enjoy the archery season more than I do the rifle season. I like the challenge of (archery). Now that I’m older, I have a greater appreciation of it.
“When you’re younger, you’re always concerned with getting something,” added Brown, who also hunts for pheasant, bear, and small game, along with being a trout fisherman. “If you see something, you just try to get it. (But) you have to be a little more strategic when it comes to archery. You have to judge from what direction the deer are coming, where your openings are, and whether you can shoot through and make a good shot so that the animal is not going to suffer.”
Aaron Cidor, 46, who lives in the Pleasant Gap section of Altoona, has been archery hunting for deer for over 30 years. Cidor has harvested a buck with a bow and arrow almost every year over each of the past 15 years, and he also enjoys being out in the woods during the fall months.
He generally sees a lot of deer roaming close to him in the woods during the fall, although he said that he hasn’t seen as many so far this fall.
“I do love to archery hunt, and I do a good bit of archery hunting,” Cidor said. “Most years, I’ve been very lucky. I use tree-stands, and on a nice day in the fall when the weather isn’t blowing too bad and the sun is on your face, sitting there in the woods is great.
“The leaves are coming down, it’s an interesting time of the year,” Cidor added. “There are many more deer around you during the fall archery season than during the rifle season (which this year begins on Saturday,
Nov. 28), and they have no idea that you’re there. It’s just fun watching them in their habitat.”
Because there are fewer hunters out in the fall, the deer aren’t nearly as wary, Cidor said.
“The deer are feeding around you in the fall – sometimes you see deer around you for hours at a time,” Cidor said. “There are not as many hunters out, so the deer are not as spooked. I kind of like it that way.”
The challenge of archery hunting is also appealing to Cidor.
“Archery hunting is definitely challenging,” said Cidor, who hunts for deer in both the archery and rifle seasons. “With archery, you should be practicing beforehand, keeping your skills up. I usually start practicing at the beginning of September, and a week before the season starts, I may practice in my backyard twice a day, in the mornings and in the evenings, so that when I pull up to a deer, (shooting) just becomes instinct and I’m ready to go.”
Brown also said that practice is very important for archery hunting. He does a lot of target practice during the summer months to prepare for the fall archery season.
“With rifle, you’re basically just heading out into the woods, but with archery, there is a lot of preparation involved,” Brown said. “As an archer, you want to practice and prepare, make sure that you have solid groupings (closeness between a group of arrows that are shot at practice targets), and that’s done through repetition throughout the summer.
“There is a little bit more finesse involved in archery, making sure that you get the preparation, building up your muscle tone and everything like that,” Brown added. “You want to create a muscle memory with every pullback on a bow so that when there is a nice big buck coming and your heart is beating, you’re able to let (the arrow) go just like you’ve done thousands of times before.”
Archery hunters use three types of bows — a crossbow, a compound bow, and a recurve bow that resembles the type of bow that Robin Hood used for hunting.
“When you use the recurve bow, you have just the body of the bow and the string, and you’re holding the entire weight of the bow,” Brown said. “With a compound bow, you’re pulling back the entire weight of the bow, but it has what they call a let-off, and basically, you’re only holding so many pounds as you pull it the whole way back.
“With the crossbow, you basically cock the bow yourself, and you pull the string back at full tilt,” Brown added. “It’s more like shooting a rifle in the sense that you actually shoot (with the bow).”
Brown generally uses a compound bow, but as fate would have it, on the day that he killed his prize buck, his compound bow was being repaired and he was using a crossbow that he had borrowed from a relative.
“The crossbow itself is a little bit bigger and bulkier, but it does have a scope on it,” Brown said. “It was a different experience.”
All of which added to the thrill of a magical fall morning for him.
“I just enjoy the October-November hunts,” Brown said. “I enjoy being out in the woods at that time of the year.”