Few modern bowhunters still hunt whitetails with traditional archery equipment, but Adam Thiel is one of them. This year, he decided to use his Black Widow PSA II recurve to hunt a very specific buck.
Thiel began getting trail camera photos of a mature buck in June, but over the summer, the deer just disappeared. For three months, Thiel waited and hoped. But by the time deer season rolled around, the buck never showed. On November 5, though, Thiel’s father, Jim, spotted the buck after already tagging out.
On the morning of November 10, Theil headed to the area where his father saw the giant. When he arrived, he saw another good eight-pointer followed by a doe come out from nearby cover where he thought his dream buck was bedded. Thiel was disappointed but hung his stand anyway and went home.
After getting some work done around lunchtime, Theil and his friend, Shaun Thomson, decided to hunt together. Thomson had tagged out on a great buck two days prior and decided to film Theil’s hunt. Since Theil’s target buck didn’t seem to be where Adam’s father spotted it, they had a different idea for the afternoon hunt. They’d been seeing a 160-inch, 10-pointer in an area nearby, and that was where Theil decided to hunt.
After a slow walk in, and quietly hanging Thomson’s camera stand, they settled into their perches for the afternoon. It was about 50 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Adam hoped the bucks would be moving despite the warm weather.
“We made some small talk like normal and joked about killing a giant on film,” says Thiel. About 25 minutes later—well before sunset—Theil looked over his shoulder, and there he was. The monster typical he and his father had seen was walking straight toward them. The buck was still about 150 yards out, but Theil was confident it would pass within recurve range.
Theil slowly turned, tapped Thomson to get his attention, and dialed in on the big buck. The buck quickly closed the distance, from 75 yards to 40 then 30. Thomson got the camera on the deer, while Thiel slowly drew his bow. When the buck hit a shooting lane at 27 yards, Theil let it fly. The arrow hit the buck behind the shoulder, and the huge whitetail bolted.
About 30 minutes later, Theil descended the tree and walked over to inspect his arrow. He could see his arrow had penetrated about nine inches into the deer, but he couldn’t find any blood. After reviewing the footage, both hunters were confident that it was a heart shot. Thinking the buck might’ve started bleeding further down the trail, they moved ahead to where they saw the buck enter the timber by the river. Still, no blood.
Thomson stayed near the field edge while Thiel snuck about 50 yards into the cover. He glassed around and was just about ready to back out when he spotted tines sticking up. The buck’s five-point side was five inches higher than the weeds. After the initial excitement subsided, Theil called his father, who drove over and helped drag out the buck and take it home.
“I had several visitors stop in to take a gander and tell me congratulations,” says Thiel. “I have a ton of great hunting buddies, and we all share moments like this.”
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Theil is waiting on the teeth to come back from the cementum annuli tooth-aging lab, but estimates the deer to be 5½ years old. It scored 173 1/8 inches. But tagging the deer with a recurve bow meant way more than its rack. This is the second buck Theil has taken with a recurve. “To go back to my roots of traditional gear, like I started out on when I was three years old, and to harvest a tremendous whitetail, is all a blessing,” he says. “He is my fourth biggest scoring whitetail, but was No. 1 on my bucket list.”