Clinehens, 29, has taken a half-dozen or so deer during the Buckeye State’s shotgun and muzzleloader seasons, but he has endured a run of bad luck that left him feeling snakebit when it comes to bowhunting. Last year he hit a tree limb while shooting at a buck. He clanged a piece of gear off his stand during another whitetail encounter and endured several close calls where bucks caught his wind or spooked for other reasons before he could draw his bow and close the deal.
After dedicating five frustrating years to bowhunting without filling his archery tag, Mark Clinehens faced a decision many hunters have to grapple with sooner or later: Take a less-than-perfect shot on the biggest buck you’ve ever seen, or watch the deer of a lifetime walk out of sight—probably forever. Clinehens took the shot on a 200-class Ohio nontypical, and what happened next offers some potential lessons for bowhunters new to the game and those who think they’ve seen it all.