Four days after his best friend gave him his 1982 Eagle Bow, Blake Citrowske found himself sitting in a treestand, staring down a big buck dubbed "Swamp Donkey."
Blake Citrowske had known about the deer he and his best friend Andy Eha had dubbed "Swamp Donkey" for more than two years. The two buds had countless trail camera pictures of the buck, which had taken up residence in a swampy area behind their homes in Ramsey, Minnesota.
Andy had spent quite a bit of time hunting the buck, but the trophy, as they are known to do, stayed nocturnal during hunting season.
In October of 2011, Andy gave Blake his 1982 Eagle Bow so that Blake could get in on the fun of hunting this big deer. But Blake would have to learn how to shoot a bow first!
After a trip to Wal-Mart to purchase the rest of the gear he'd need along with an archery license, Andy spent the next three days teaching Blake how to shoot his new piece of hunting equipment.
Four days into their deer hunting crash course, Blake and Andy felt like it was time to sit in a stand.
"Andy had given me a general sense of what to expect, and how to act in front of deer with my bow. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was ready to go hunt some deer!" shared an excited Blake.
Andy, Blake and another buddy Pete ventured into the lowland swamp area around 3:40 in the afternoon. Pete was set up 500 yards straight ahead of Blake while Andy was positioned in a ground blind 250 yards to Blake's right.
"As I got myself into a comfortable position, I remembered exactly what Andy had told me; ''WHEN YOU HEAR A TWIG SNAP, GET READY,'" shared Blake.
The virgin bowhunter had been in his stand for exactly 15 minutes when he that's exactly what he heard.
Snap, crack, crash.
"I knew right away that it was a deer and two seconds later, just 50 yards ahead of me, out pops a very familiar face," shared Blake, "It was Swamp Donkey. He was right in front of me! '
The space between Blake and Swamp Donkey was wide open, save for a small tree that the new bowhunter was hopeful the buck would skirt behind, allowing him the briefest chance to draw his friend-given bow.
The buck cooperated and as he stepped past the tree, Blake held just behind the left leg and released.
His shot struck home. He heard the satisfying "THWACK" of his arrow passing throught the buck. The arrow traveled through both lungs and clipped the liver on the way out and after two big leaps, Swamp Donkey buckled to the earth in a pile.
"My jaw dropped! For about 30 seconds, I just froze up in shock over what had just happened. That's when the adrenaline rush of a lifetime set in!" shared Blake.
Blake estimates the whole encounter with the deer lasted no more than eight seconds; a buck that he'd spent the last two years following through trail cam pictures and chance encounters.
Swamp Donkey featured 14 scorable points, green grossed 183 1/2 inches, and dressed out at 242 pounds.
"I owe this amazing memory of a lifetime with the guy who taught me everything that I know about hunting. The guy I spent countless hours with in the woods tracking deer. Specifically, 'Swamp Donkey!" Without the help of my best friend Andy, this would have never happened. Just a couple of best buds; Equipped with some trail cameras, a lot of motivation, some skill, and a little common sense!