I should probably go to jail for how many things I’ve stolen from my mother’s house. The last time I visited, I managed to snag this odd memento off the bookshelf of my childhood bedroom. It’s a whitetail skull with a steel broadhead protruding from the area above the foramen magnum.
The deer was killed by my old man, pictured here with an archery killed black bear that he treed with dogs in Colorado. As he told the story, (he died in December, 2002) he found the deer feeding in a meadow alongside a road near his cabin in Wisconsin. The deer was unfazed by traffic passing along the road, so long as the car’s didn’t stop, so my dad climbed into the passenger side of his friend’s truck and instructed him to drive past the deer’s location while keeping the animal on the driver’s side of the vehicle. As they passed the deer, my dad opened the door and rolled out into the ditch. Once the truck pulled away, he rose to his knees, took aim with a Bear recurve, and launched a wooden arrow tipped with a three-bladed, hand-sharpened head.
My dad always said that the deer “jumped the string” — a term for when a deer reacts to the noise of a bow firing in the milliseconds before the arrow hits its mark. It jumped the string so hard, in fact, that it had time to whirl its head toward the noise and catch the broadhead squarely between its eyes. Obviously, it dropped hard and fast.
Being a long shot fired from a recurve, the arrow didn’t have the power to drive all the way through the skull. Instead, it became lodged into the heaviest part of the skull. Now sixty years later, it still lives there.