It happens to even the best of us. We asked 10 prominent Canadian hunters to share the story of their most memorable missed shot—and what they learned from it
Kevin Wilson is an Edmonton-based outdoor writer, seminar speaker, hunting outfitter and wildlife conflict management consultant.
“My most memorable air ball has haunted me for 26 years. I was hunting a remote aspen bluff at the back end of a field in central Alberta, knowing that deer were bedding in the limited cover. It was a late-October afternoon, and I’d crawled into my stand to wait for the evening movement. Less than an hour into my vigil, I caught sight of some movement, and a fine buck approached my stand. Opportunities like that are rare, and he was tempting, but he wasn’t the deer I was after.
Moments later, I glanced to my right and saw my buck. He lowered his head and plodded toward me, then stopped just five yards away, too close for me to draw my bow. My heart raced as I contemplated the options. He was at least six years old, and I’d found his sheds the previous winter—they were nothing short of spectacular. He was now in his prime, and his typical rack would have measured approximately 200 inches. Having this buck within bow range was one of the most intense experiences of my hunting career.
Several minutes passed before he finally moved. As he walked away, I drew and held. At the time, laser rangefinders weren’t a thing, so judging distance was literally a guessing game. As the giant whitetail turned broadside, I locked my 30-yard pin on his massive chest and released. Words can’t explain my emotions as I watched the arrow fly true, left to right, but fail to drop in for the kill. Instead, my broadhead soared harmlessly through the top inch of hair on the deer’s back.
Misjudging the distance had cost me the buck of a lifetime, perhaps even the buck of a thousand lifetimes. There would be no do-over. All I could do was watch the magnificent animal trot off into the sunset. I never saw him again.”