Bowhunting the wily, mystical whitetail deer of my ancestral Michigan marshlands sure keeps a guy on his predator toes. Following the greatest Detroit Muscle rock-n-roll tour of my life, I needed the soul cleansing healing powers of nature more than ever, and total escape was mine from the very first step from the stage into my sacred deer grounds.
Swapping my Gibson Byrdland guitar for my Mathews bow immediately calmed me like a swoosh of medicinal mist deep into my soul, and the joy and fiery energy of my musical dreams morphed seamlessly into the Spirit of the Wild straight from the hand of God.
Our quaint little 800 square foot swampland log cabin beats the hell out of any five start ritzy hotel anywhere on the road, and I entered my natural predator realm as if I stepped magically from hunt season 2021 into fall 2022 without skipping a beat.
I hunted hard, nonstop day in and day out from early September, and my arrows were flying true and the sacred venison flowed like manna from heaven. With 73 deer seasons under my belt, it almost seemed like I had zeroed in on the mysticism of deer life, and I was almost feeling a bit cocky.
No matter the lessons learned and the strategies honed, all hunters know all too well that right place right time is the guiding reality of backstrap dreams, and I was batting a pretty-decent percentage considering.
My daily bowhunting regimen consists of a few more gory details and preparations than that of most bowhunters, for many, many years ago I decided to dedicate my hunting life to promoting the hunting life just as much as enjoying the hunting life. Therefore, instead of just camoing up and grabbing my Mathews, I also add a vidcam bag and its accompanying supplies in order to film all my adventures for our Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV show 34 years running.
With the new shows destined for our new home on Pursuit Network in January 2023, I make it a point to start out each hunt a little earlier in order to setup the vidcam stuff and film the essence of my experience to share with the viewers in order to bring them mind, heart, body and soul into the effervescence and spirit of my hunting grounds, sights, sounds, and energy.
With my new knees and 74-year-old body, I make it a point to go a little slower and focus on my stealth and sneakiness on the way to my chosen stand these days, and quite honestly, when hunting, slower is always better.
With the vidcam bag and backpack slung over my left shoulder, a small bag of deerchow in my left hand and my Mathews in my right hand, I carefully tiptoed through the forest and the mucky marsh on my way to the big hogback ridge where my ladderstand awaited me.
With a series of jagged, heaving, glacial cut ridges to traverse, I took advantage of the breaks in the uneven terrain to peak over each elevation before proceeding in hopes of pulling off one my favorite bowhunting tricks.
You could say I was still-hunting on my way to my stand, and numerous times over the years such a strategy has rewarded me with what I consider the bowhunters ultimate coup; spot and stalking the elusive whitetail on its own terms.
Lo and behold, as I carefully eased up over the final ridge line, there he was; a fat, butterball forkhorn buck contently gobbling up some of the big, white oak acorns on the other side just about 35 yards below.
As my eyes connected with him, his head jerked up and he stared a hole clean through me. Fortunately, two heavy trunked tulip-popple trees formed a large V right at my eye level, and holding statue-still, I was able to win the staredown.
As he lowered his head to resume feeding, without discarding my camera bag or backpack, I used the cover of the tree trunks to only move my arms to retrieve a GoldTip arrow from my bowquiver, and silently nock it on the string.
Ever so carefully, I eased to the right of the tree-trunk V, came to fulldraw, and sent one of the prettiest arrows of my life straight down the slope right into the crease behind the buck’s shoulder, and it was all over but for the Barbecue!
The 400 grain GoldTip arrow zinged downrange at about 225 feet per second from my light 50-pound draw Mathews, and with the razorsharp two blade broadhead, sliced clean through the 150-pound deer like a hot knife through soft butter.
The buck leapt, tail up, raced for 50 yards, spun around once and hit the ground dead in mere seconds.
Oh, what a feeling! Surely, I get a supreme kick whenever a put a good arrow on a deer, but when still hunting on the ground right there with the animal, one’s predator senses are at an all time high, and the sense of accomplishment is accentuated like none other in the hunting world.
I for one will always hunt my way to my stand. For one never knows what lies ahead, step for step, move for move, in the always exciting, stimulating, challenging world of the mighty whitetail deer.