May 03, 2023
An unexpected encounter with a collared Pennsylvania buck on state forest land led Jared Smeltzer into a great hunt with his longbow.
Jared was scouting with a friend during the summer of 2022, when he spotted the big buck on a fire lane. “I knew he still had a lot of time to get bigger,” Jared says. “And he was already far above average!”
Cell cameras revealed the big buck stayed in one small area, but there were other hunters who were after the same deer. So, Jared had to come up with a plan to get him first. “He was using those lanes, so I did too,” Jared says. “And he hit my mock scrapes, right after I put them in.”
On an October hunt, Jared got in a little too close, jumping the buck from the top of a downed tree. He got off a quick shot and saw his arrow shave hair off the buck’s brisket. But as the buck ran off, Jared realized the deer was making a sound like he was wheezing. “The tracking collar was choking him,” Jared recalls. “It was way too tight!”
After a call to Penn State, biologists were able to get in close enough to break the collar loose electronically. But the buck left the area for a while after being disturbed.
On Nov. 3 Jared got new pictures of the deer on a cell camera, and Jared decided it was time to go after him again. He set up about a half-mile from the last place he had seen the deer. Then, another hunter walked in.
“I knew I better get in tighter if I was going to get this done before someone else killed the deer,” Jared says. “And I was getting more pictures of him back where I had taken that shot.”
Jared set up where he could watch a bigger area, and the big deer walked in and bedded down in the middle of the day, about 150 yards away. “He was facing me, and the sun had me lit up,” Jared says. “I was pinned down. All I could do was sit there and watch for hours.”
Late in the afternoon the buck stood up, and Jared decided to call to him. He grunted and snort-wheezed, and the buck committed. The buck came in to 13 yards, and Jared missed him again! Luckily, the buck was so fired up he didn’t react to the shot, and Jared made the follow-up shot count.
“There are not many like that up there, and I was blessed to get him with my longbow,” says Jared.
Information from the biologists showed the deer was at least 5 1/2 years old, and he had lived in the same area for most of his life.