Zombie Deer – The Brow Tine Buck with Joseph Byler

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine Buck


A true story of a whitetail buck I hunted for many years with an amazing story to tell.
My name is Joseph Byler. I have been an archer since I was young, thanks to the love of hunting my dad instilled in me while growing up. We have an Amish background, and the majority of my family still remains Amish today. As you might imagine, our love of the outdoors is in our blood and traditions.
I have always enjoyed every part of being an outdoorsman. It brings a feeling of freedom and relief that many people don’t have the opportunity to experience, and it’s something I don’t take for granted. I believe that getting out in God’s awesome country, with no other purpose but to spend time in His presence in the great creation He made, is more than enough reason for me. No matter what time, rhyme, or reason I am in the woods, I can always learn something new, and I believe that none of that time is wasted! I believe every single hunt, even the unsuccessful ones, is still worth the time spent because each experience is a benefit and provides learning opportunities.
I hope you enjoy this story of a buck that I learned many new things from. I’m excited to relive the journey and share it with you!
Joseph Byler

Listen to the podcast here:

Zombie Deer – The Brow Tine Buck with Joseph Byler

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine Buck
Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck: A True Story

I’m pleased to have our featured guest, Joseph Byler, with his book, Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck. He’s an author but he’s more than that. He’s a guy that cares about his family, cares about growing people and he invested in himself. In the warm-up, we talked about a lot of different things and one thing that I shared with him and I’ll share with you right now, he’s the type of guy that gets to the heart of the matter. That can apply in any area of your life. We’re going to talk about Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck.

I’m glad to be here with you.

How did you end up writing a book?

I’m going to do the short version. I wouldn’t consider myself a writer growing up. I wrote the same thing over and over again growing up and it was about Bo Jackson. It was a book called The Amazing Bo Jackson and I wrote numerous papers about this book because I loved it. The reason I’m saying that is because you don’t have to be a polished writer to be an author. I have two eBooks I wrote. My wife and I together, we co-authored it. A couple of years ago, we pulled them offline and now we are going to put them into paperback form and they’re going to be more like a manual. I was working on that kind of thing. I had a good friend of mine who owns a company called Massive Mineral Mix out of Springport, Michigan. It’s a mineral company for deer minerals, whitetail deer. He’s had so much success with this mineral, selling it as a small company. It goes all over the country. I believe he has over a hundred retailers and it is the best mineral that I’ve ever used.

All the people I know that use it, swear by it. He was asking me about giving them a review about his product and I kept telling him, “I will write a review about it, but there’s so much more than that.” He was like, “Why is there so much more than that? Just write something down, so I can put it out there.” I kept telling him and this went on for a few years. I said, “Jack, I can’t just write a review. It’s so much more than that.” One night, my wife told me, “You need to have a brain dump and you just need to get all these things out of your mind,” because I had all these projects going on. I had all these different books I wanted to write and I started a bunch of them and then I would float to the next one. I did a brain dump and I started getting it all out in my mind of what this review was that he kept telling me to write. It was a story about a buck that I was after for many years.

I never told anybody about the backend of the story because I’m a man. We sometimes don’t want to share our heart as far as our feelings out in the woods when we’re trying to chase an animal, no matter what kind of animal or what kind of sport, archery, firearm or whatever. I started thinking back when Donnie Vincent had a movie called The River’s Divide. He was a hunter. When that movie trailer came out a long time ago, it caught my eye because I was like, “This is a little bit unique.” When I saw the trailer, I started to think of the deer I was chasing for a long time. I never told anybody about it because I didn’t want to share all that stuff with people. I watched his movie and I was totally inspired by it. I was inspired by my buddy telling me, “Write this review. I don’t care what you do, just do it.” I did a brain dump, as my wife said.

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I started writing and I wrote for I don’t know how many hours. I got half the book done and then I sectioned off the rest of it of how I wanted it to end. I knew the ending, how I was going to pattern this thing. I finished it and went through the editing process. I ended up pulling some things out because I didn’t want a long book. I wanted something that sounded like your podcast. We’re just two guys talking about hunting. I want it to be more like me and my friend are hanging out and I’m going to explain to him my heart and my feelings about these hunts I was on. I looked back at The Amazing Bo Jackson, the book that I read over and over again as a kid and even in college, which was funny because I wrote reports in different papers on the same book. It’s because I could sit at one time and read the whole thing all the way through. I started thinking, “I’m going to make this the same way because I like doing that.” I want to find other people that are like me that are going to enjoy what I like. That’s why I did it the way I did it. It’s only 60 pages, but it’s to the point. I could just explain the whole journey of harvesting this deer.

It’s a zombie deer. Was there a zombie? Did you kill him and then it kept coming back?

The book starts out as I see this young deer as a year-and-a-half-year old and I’m hunting on the ground. He was a little bit out of his mind. He acted a little bit sporadic. He was very unique. He had a high brow tine on one side. It was easy to identify him. I had so many deer at the time where I was hunting at that year. There were deer everywhere. A year-and-a-half-year-old after year-and-a-half-year-old. Sometimes, I think I counted fifteen at one 24-hour hot. What that means is I hunted one afternoon all the way to the night and then all the way the next day. I just call that 24 hours. I saw fifteen different year-and-a-half-year-olds. That guy right there stood out and you could tell instantly what his rack looks like. The shape of his body was different than everybody else’s. I had so many encounters with this year and a half year old. I just kept letting them go because I’m going to try to shoot a three and a half and bigger and this deer wouldn’t leave me alone. He was so spontaneous.

He literally acted like a little kid in gym class. He was an immature little boy running around and having the world to himself. I had some encounters and I explained that in the book with him that I’ve never heard of anybody having a relationship with a deer like this. When he gets old enough for me to go out and to kill this deer, the chase was on. He definitely wasn’t the little scaredy-cat like he was when he was a young buck. That’s when it got to be the real deal because I had seen him and I had limited hunting space, which was just frustrating for anybody. I do live in Michigan, so people think automatically great public land. There is great public land here, but you got to go deep in there. There are so many guys out there. I’m not sure this is the same way in every single state there is, but Michigan gets really bad. People literally park on the side of the road and walk on private land and guys just following out and hunting. Just go on everyone’s land and start hunting. I didn’t want to go out and hunt on public land. I wanted to hunt on our property, my family property.

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine BuckI had to be smart. I watched so many videos and I met a lot of guys that knew how to hunt. I’m trying to get what their perspective was on how to hunt a smaller parcel and then having neighbors that trample on everyone’s land all the time like it’s theirs. It’s frustrating and you have to be nice with these neighbors. These are your neighbors. If you’re not nice with them, then you’re going to have the neighborhood flack. When you’re out in the country, that’s not a fun thing to have. Among all these things for me trying to harvest this animal, a lot of people know EHD. The EHD outbreak was so huge in 2012. It decimated this area of the state. I know it hit a lot of the state, but the area that I hunted on, it decimated it. It was literally a ghost town. It’s made it tough because in 2012, this deer was six and a half years old. That was the year I had that deer patterned so tightly using a different method that I’ve used before.

Instead of going out deeper in our 30 acres that we were hunting at the time where all the trespassers were and all the neighbors were trampling too. They would lie all the time. They would say, “We’re not walking through there,” but they just walked through there and leave the wrappers everywhere. It felt like your hunting world is being shrunk because it’s so irresponsible. I had to come up with something and I went to some Quality Deer Management seminars and stuff. When I switched minerals, I saw something happened. I also decided to put a mineral site right behind my parents’ property or their house. This thing was right in the backyard almost. Let’s say two different houses could see where it would be if they knew it was there. I decided to make this place right off the swamp. I try to draw some deer in. It was like a big waterhole where it’s naturally dugout and there was a small pond and there are acorns there.

I had a food plot there. I did some forage oats and that seemed to help a little bit. When I added the minerals there, I had it under a tree or the big branch where they can get their antlers up in there and stuff. Right away I was like, “This is going to be dreamland hunting right here. This little tiny three-acres is going to be the key.” I started tracking this deer on camera. Every three to four days, it was the same two deer over and over. This thing always looked the same since it was a year and a half other than a bigger rack and a giant body. It looked exactly the same. I had trail cam pictures of him all the way to that day. You could tell who he was anytime he was around because he had an attitude and he had a persona about him. Because I was obsessed with this deer, it just became easy and I wasn’t satisfied until I had him harvested. It was going to be the death of me because that year, 2012, not only did EHD hit but I lost track of him in September and October.

It was the year that I went outside of hunting. I dove in the dream I had when I was seventeen. I went and purchased a fitness center. My occupational dream is to own a fitness center. I was trying so hard to get this deer and then on the flip side, I had a new son and I had my daughter that was already two. I had two new kids and then I went in and bought a fitness center and we grew that fitness center to over 800 members, which is unbelievable in this town of 6,000 people. Having the stresses of all this new business stuff that I was honestly prepared for. I have been preparing myself for this for many years. When I could get out in the woods, and a lot of people can relate to this, there’s nothing else, unless you’re with a date with your wife. It’s a hot date with your wife, which cannot be beaten.

If you’re out in the woods and you have all the stresses of work, even though it’s your passion, there’s nothing like it because the creation is nothing like it. You feel the freedom and you feel like you’re actually out there. You try to accomplish something great no matter what kind of animal you’re trying to harvest. It’s a great feeling. That was a big help for my skills moving forward and my mindset. That was an important thing. Going out there hunting and then trying to get that deer, I call him the Brow Tine Buck, has made that year special.

You mentioned a lot of situations everybody has on public land and private land, especially in what I call competitive hunting. One thing that I picked up on, you figured out how to hit the fringe because you knew where the trespassers were going, they were blowing up the middle of your property. You’re going to hunt the fringe and then you have to build a sanctuary where only you are going to hunt. You’re the only guy that’s even going to think of hunting there. Then you throw some minerals in there. You throw some things that will attract deer and the more you attract deer, then they’ll come in because they’re not getting pressured. The second biggest buck we ever took out off the farm, he took it out in his junkyard. He is a farmer and farmers have junk. He was on his tractor and he was going out to spread some manure and he saw some tines in the junk.

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The biggest buck at that time, he saw it and went, “Oh my goodness.” It was hunting season. He kept the tractor running and then he gets down, got his rifle and he snuck around, kept the wind right and everything and just yelled, the buck stood up and he shot it from twenty yards. It was non-typical 173. He saw the tines and it was bedded right in the junk. We’re talking old bins and parts of tractors, just junk. That’s where that buck was, right by the farm road. He was twenty yards off the farm road because that’s where Eddie shot him. People don’t believe how tight those mature bucks will do, because they know where people typically go. They will know their actions and they know where people won’t look for bucks.

The crazy thing about the Brow Tine Buck was when I first saw him, that’s the exact area that he kept coming every single time. As a year-and-a-half-year-old, he never got off that, which depends on what other deer are around. I had fifteen different bucks in 2007. They were a year-and-a-half-year-olds and it was the same exact spot. Tony Hansen was a big writer and editor and I believe it might be Outdoor Life or Field & Stream now, but I’m not sure on that. He has a company called Antler Geeks. I went hunting with him one time. We were having lunch and it was a group of us and my Amish family that was there.

Tony was there and he was deep in thought as we’re eating lunch quick to go back out. My cousin said, “What’s going on? You’re pretty quiet.” He said, “I’m trying to figure this out. I’m not trying to overthink hunting right now.” He’s a great hunter. The guy has harvested so many animals and he’s been all over the place. That made me think that we can’t over complicate it. This experience and even before that, I noticed as a young kid when I was in my teens, it was in the middle of the rut. Honestly, I saw so many bucks when I was younger, especially before some of the neighborhood people start tearing down the land and building houses. It didn’t matter what I wore. It was one of the areas I could wear and I could come out of a candle store with fruit set and go up a ten-foot ladder stand and a giant 180 will walk by.

I am not even kidding you. This property was a dump. This property had an old dump on it. This is the same land that the Brow Tine Buck was up and you could go there any time of day. It doesn’t matter what time of day. You can go there and you’re going to see a giant buck. It was just one of those places that that’s what was happening. Then as soon as the houses got in and then people started trampling all over the place, everything changed. What I grew up with, I had to relearn everything because I started over complicating it. Then I went back to simplifying hunting and saying, “The resources I have right now are slim. What can I do with the resources I do have?”

I have the greatest mineral that I’ve ever seen. I’m going to use that and I’m going to use this little tiny parcel that’s secluded and I’m going to make this a little haven. They got water right there. They got a food plot over there. They got the minerals here. They got cover and no one’s trampling this area. That buck stayed on that same spot for this entire six and a half years. When Tony said he’s trying to figure it out, he doesn’t want to overcomplicate it. It clicked in my mind. I remember when he said that and there’s no need to overcomplicate things. Some people get a little bit nervous. They’re in the rut. They get nervous about going in. You need to check your wind and your set and all that. I 100% believe that, but sometimes they’re too nervous to get in a place and hunt in a specific area because they think they’re going to spook off everything.

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine Buck
Brow Tine Buck: You just got to put your camouflage on and go out there because even if you don’t see a squirrel, you’re still going to learn something.

You’ve got to remember these deer are male deer. When they’re amped up and ready, are they going to do some stupid things? Yes, 100%. When you’re a teenager, boys are going to do some stupid things. They’re not going to think. The deer are like that. People need to take little more chances sometimes and getting in a place and trying to harvest a deer they want to go after. You still got to be smart about it, but don’t be scared. It’s an animal. Go in there and get it, because if you don’t try, how are you going to know? How are you going to do it? My best friend, Lisa Montana said, “You are never going to shoot that big buck sitting on your couch thinking about it.” That’s a true statement. I think more people need to do that.

To shoot any buck, you have to be in the woods. To shoot a mature buck that’s four and a half years old, you have to be where those deer are. In some areas, brown and down and people are going to eat them and they could care less. They want to get their buck and they’re going to shoot their buck. They’re going to shoot their doe and they’re going to eat their food and that’s all they care about. You mentioned QDMA and folks, if you don’t know about QDMA, you ought to get involved because they have the best research-based information that you’re going to find any place in the country. If you want to shoot a big buck, you have to go where they are. You can fish for big trout, twenty-inch trout and there are only brookies that are six inches long in this hole, you’re not going to catch that big trout. It’s not going to happen and don’t beat yourself up about it.

That’s why game cameras and trail cameras are such a boon because we can take a census of what do I have? How do you do that? You put up minerals that are legal in your state. You put out food plot. You put out whatever, not just a trail camera. You have deer coming to a specific place to get a specific protein or minerals that they need. You can get a census of what you got and then you can say, “This is what I got.” Realistically, if because of the hunting situation, a year and a half-year-old deer, a two and a half-year-old deer is the biggest it’s going to get. Then make a choice if you’re going to shoot them or figure out how you can get those deer into a sanctuary where they can grow.

In the same area too. Before, I didn’t know. I’ve heard of hinge cutting and stuff like that, but it wasn’t the first thing in my mind like, “This is actually hinged cut right now.” There are a lot of trees that are knocked down right there in that spot. The briars are thick. The only path that this deer had other than just coming out of the swamp, like literally 100 feet from the swamp just coming out was a food plot. It would even go into the food plot. It literally came in, would dink around and eat the minerals. Sometimes it was every single day. Sometimes it was every third day, but it was every three to four days. He had a big nine point with him that year too, the whole entire time. Rarely did he ever come alone. It was with a nine-point and he was a sweet buck too. After looking at it over and over in 2012, I think he was probably a five-year-old deer. He was pretty gnarly too. He was a sweet deer.

The Brow Tine Buck was a special buck. The story behind it just taught me a lot of lessons. It taught me a lot about hunting. It taught me a lot about life. I’m telling you, and you know exactly what I’m talking about, and you know people like this. There are so many people that are stressed out about their job. They hate their job or they hate this and they hate that and they’re stressed about it. Then what stresses them out even more is if they’re not hunting. That’s another ball of stress. To those people, you got to put your camouflage on and you got to go out there. Even if you don’t see a squirrel, you’re still going to learn something. You’re going to enjoy it. You’re going to have the opportunity to be alone. You’re not going to have all the distractions, especially if you’re not playing a game on your phone out there in the woods like a lot of people do. Everyone needs some quiet time every single day, reading your Bible, just having your thoughts organized. It’s good to have little scratchpad and start writing things down what’s in your mind every single day. I go in streaks where I do that and then I go in streaks where I don’t.

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If you do it every single day, there is a big relief that comes from you. I have this tiny spiral notepad that I would write different things down when I’m in the woods. When you’re in that time when you’re dumping out your brain, you start hearing nature more. That’s what I experience anyway. When you hear something then you’re like, “What was that?” Then it’s like, “That was nothing.” You’re deep in thought. You’re focusing on what you’re doing. You’re out in the woods. You’re enjoying creation. That’s the whole key. It’s just getting out there. In Michigan, we’ve had a January winter that went in November. It was ridiculously cold and snowy. It was nasty early in the year like that, but I’m telling you as much as I could go, I’m going. I’ve been seeing a whole lot of deer the last few years but it’s important for anybody. I see a lot of women hunting now, which is awesome. It gives every person peace just to go out and spend time out in the outdoors no matter what you’re doing.

Some people won’t understand a word you said. That’s sad because, folks, if you just listen to what Joseph said, that’s the essence of hunting and what keeps us coming back and going into wild places and going to places that it’s hard to get to. Once you get there, I called that place there, “You find it and then you find yourself.” You’ve got to find yourself. If you’re living in a stressful life, you’ll never find yourself. You’ll never find your place called there. That’s the way it is. You can prove me right or prove me wrong but that’s the way it is. It’s through solitude. It’s through intimacy with nature. Because of my accident and everything, I hunt from the ground now. You have deer ten feet away and they know you’re there and you know they’re there, but they just walk away. They don’t run away. They’re aware of your presence as you’re aware of theirs, but they just walk away and you just watch them and you’re going, “Did that just happen?” Then you have the memory of that. That’s the essence of hunting. Now, to see how close I can get to deer and be among the deer without them completely blowing up.

Bruce, I remember you saying about an accident. When I first started hunting the Brow Tine Buck, I was on the ground and I hunted the ground a lot. When I was ten, the very first buck I shot, I was on the ground. I walked up on it and that’s a different story. Hunting on the ground makes everything change. Deer look bigger. They’re there in your face and if people ended up buying the book and reading it, they’ll see what I’m talking about as far as deer getting in your face. I relate with that story because I got a tree stand accident in 2010. That was absolutely the worst thing I could have ever imagined about. We’re both probably pretty lucky to be alive right now.

The big guys get all the plans for me. That’s what everybody told me. I said, “Fine.” Whenever that works or however that works.

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine BuckI’m a big tree harness person. Even if I’m hunting on the ground, I wear one sometimes because it has my binocular holder on it and it makes me feel like I’m more secure with all my gear. Make sure you don’t unhook it when you’re coming down the tree. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

What happened?

I had an opportunity to hunt this other 30 acres close to the Kalamazoo River, which is a good spot. I had the property that I was going after the Brow Tine Buck on. I would joke back and forth from there to this other land. I’m on this other land and I didn’t work that morning. I go out hunting and I didn’t tell anybody where I was hunting. That was a mistake. My parents and my wife just knew I was out hunting that morning. I made a mock scrape and I sprayed Buck Bomb on it and it was right in the peak of the rut. I hear some stuff coming and this doe just comes barreling through the brush and I heard a big grunt coming after it. This doe comes right through and sprinted through. I saw the deer’s body and I knew right away this is a giant deer. This is an old deer. He was a monster. He comes through and I knew right away I’m going to shoot him. He comes running along where the doe was. He sprinted after the trail the doe was on.

He stopped and put his head up and went down to the ground and literally beelined right to my mock scrape I made fifteen yards from me and I shot him. He ran the way he came and stood there like a statue and jumped up. He hit his head on a tree and I think he broke his neck right there. He did the weirdest thing. I had never seen this before. It was only about 30 yards away. I’m so geeked. He had a nice rack on. The guy who cleaned him for me and processed him said he was probably a seven to nine-year-old. He was old and he was big too. I was coming down the tree and I was excited right after I shot him. I called my dad. I said, “I shot a big buck. You got to come to see this thing.” I didn’t tell them where I’m at. Then I called my wife, I said “I shot a big buck. I’m so excited about this thing. He’s like the oldest thing I’ve ever seen out here and I am just geeked,” and so I’m like, “Yes.” I put in my phone in my backpack.

I put my backpack on and I’m coming right down because he’s laying right there dead. I’m coming down with my tree climber and I was up about twenty to 21 feet. There was like a crotch in the tree right there. The string that holds my bow was twenty feet. Now my bow was off the ground. I’m coming down. I hate saying this because it’s so dumb and I know people do it. This tree was one of those trees that you can’t let go. It’s a perfect tree in a perfect spot and there is no other tree around and it’s a tree that you shouldn’t climb with a climber. I’m a man and I’m going to do dumb things like this. I’m going to adjust my tree stand four different times to the top. Going up and down, it’s four times I’ve climbed this tree. Four times on the way up, four times of the way down. On my way down, I got about seven feet off the ground and I unhooked my tree harness because I’m sliding it down with me.

I unhooked the top where the seed is and move it down. I accidentally put pressure on the back part of the seed where I’m facing the tree, but the bar is around my back end. I fell backwards and my feet were in the stirrups. This thing has an angle on it that you cannot get out of this thing. I fall and my head hits the tree at the bottom. It swings underneath it and my feet are in the stirrups. It knocks me out. I’m seeing stars. My feet are stuck. I’m dangling for I don’t know how many minutes and I’m trying to pull up and I’m too heavy. I undo my backpack and that thing falls and hits the ground, and so I’m a little lighter. I’m a builder and I know angles. I’m not going to get out of this angle. This angle is impossible to do an ab crunch over. It’s not going to happen. I lose all feeling in my legs. I’m losing feeling in my left arm as I’m struggling because I had an arm-guard on. That’s tangled and it’s cut the circulation off on my hand and now I’m starting to see stars and it’s black.

I’m about to black out completely. I’m struggling and I’m like, “I’m not going to get out of this. I’m going to die right here.” The thing is my hand, the tip of my finger could touch the ground, the leaves. That’s how close I was to the ground. Literally, I’m upside down, feet in the stirrups. The bottom of the platform is pulling my knees apart. I can’t feel my body. I can’t see and I began to pray out loud. I’m screaming to God. I say, “God, I don’t want to die this way and I believe that you’re not going to let this happen or let me die this way.” I had no energy left. I had one arm that was free. I kept praying for a trespasser to come through and see a struggling man and help him. No one knows where I’m at. I said, “You’ve got to start thinking about something here.” I’m praying and my fingers are touching the leaves and I feel the string of my bow that it’s hooked on to pull it up. With my hand, I’m pulling the string with my fingers and now I can’t see anything.

I’m on the brink of going out. Then all of a sudden, I feel the fletch in my arrow. I’m like, “There’s my arrow. I’m just going to start cutting up my foot.” Whether it’s my foot. Whether it’s my shoelace or boot lace, I don’t care what it is. I’m going to start cutting it. I go up there and I start hitting and pushing like a javelin, like a spear at my foot and my ankle. All of a sudden, my right leg come flying out over. Then the whole thing crashed and flipped over. I landed on a broadhead in my shoulder. It was a total miracle that the thing didn’t go through me. I don’t know how it didn’t. I’m lying on the ground moaning. I can’t see anything. I can’t feel my body. I honestly feel like I’m having out of body experience because I was so out of it. I nearly died and my head was hurting because I hit the tree. I hit the ground. One of the tree-stands smoked me in the head somehow. I still don’t know how that happened. My bow is all mangled up and I start to hear a voice and I’m thinking seriously, “God, is that you?”

Maybe I am dead because it was that bad. I’m crawling and this was right close to a swamp too. I got mud in my face. I got mud everywhere. I’m crawling toward the sound and I’m like, “What in the world is that sound?” There’s a voice and I’m crawling and my hands are going to where the sound is. All of a sudden, it’s my wife. I can hear her speaking to me, crying, bawling her eyes out. I’m like, “What in the world?” I thought it was God and it was my wife and she’s screaming, “Honey, are you okay?” I said, “I don’t know where I’m at.” After minutes, finally I came to where I could talk to her and she said, “I heard the entire thing. I thought you’re dead.” When I dropped my bag, it called her. She was the last phone call. It had called her. She heard the struggle the entire time and she thought, “I am witnessing and I’m listening to my husband die.” The crazy thing about it was she’s at work and she’s screaming in her office, calling for help, “Someone help, my husband’s dying.”

I was going to put that in my book, but I didn’t want it to make it about that. I wanted to make it about the buck I was after. To make a long story short, I get to the hospital. My left ankle was so bad. I had my boot tightened up even tighter because there was a humongous bulge coming through my ankle. I thought my foot was broke for sure. I was still talking weird gibberish stuff for about a week after that. When I went to the doctor an hour or two later, he said he could see by the blood vessels that are busted in my eyes that I shouldn’t be here. I should be dead. There’s no way that I should be alive. I was upside down for so long. They put me on the X-ray table and I was in a wheelchair too. They wheeled me in. I couldn’t do anything. They said, “Joseph, what foot are we looking at?” I looked up and they took my boot off and my foot was perfectly fine.

The nurse was out there with me and they’re like, “We got to do something about this right now,” because it was literally busting through my boot. It’s the weirdest thing my ankle ended up being fine. I was fine other than a severe concussion. I went on a rampage trying to buy a bunch of stuff when I was supposed to stay home. I didn’t even remember doing that. I’m driving around town trying to buy a four-wheeler, trying to buy fitness equipment. Those companies are calling me the next day saying, “Mr. Byler, did you plan on buying this stuff?” I said, “I didn’t even know I was there. I was supposed to be home because I had a concussion.” I was out driving around the next day and I was not supposed to be, trying to buy stuff that I didn’t even know I was doing. I was literally a hazard out there. A crazy guy like me. I can relate to tree stand accidents. I use ladder stands now but even then, it seems dumb. I feel so much more comfortable in the ground because of that accident. Until you get in that kind of situation, I don’t think anyone understands that.

Folks, the first thing is you should never have to adjust your climber four times to get to the tree. That doesn’t work. Safety ropes are there for the person and you can hook in at the bottom and you stay hooked in all the time until you get up. Then you hook in to get down in ladder stands and such things as that. We’ve got to be careful. The thing that Joseph touched on is that he cried out. He said, “This is not going well and if you don’t show up, whatever I know here is going to end.” It should have because of the blood flow to his brain, the blood vessels in his eyes. I’m not a doctor but physiologically, there’s no reason for him to be here or that he did not have some serious injuries other than his concussion.

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine BuckThat’s something that each and every one of you got to decide. When it finally comes up to that, who are you going to call on? Are you going to rely on yourself and work it through? Are you going to just call out to God and say, “If you don’t show up, I’m not going to make it out of here?” It’s as simple as that but it’s as hard as that. This is for a different time, but hunting brings you to those intimate places where you come and find out who you are and what you’re made of and what you believe in. That’s a personal decision all of us have to have to face. Joseph, thank you for sharing that. You put me right there and it’s a scary thing when the world goes dark.

It’s terrible. It’s the absolute worst. That’s why after that incident and I know a lot of people that this kind of thing is not quite like that, but they’ve fallen out of the tree stand. It makes you rethink everything and you become a better hunter and a smarter hunter because your other abilities have to come and play now. Sometimes you don’t want to go up in a tree with a climber where you can’t hang a stand. Hunting in the ground is like first nature regardless of who we think we are. We’re all ground hunters. There are a lot of guys popularizing it now more than it used to be the trend as far as people are likely to do that now.

I believe it’s because of these instances that happened to you and I. It’s just another lesson. If you’re going to hunt the ground, don’t be scared to do it. If you want to go after that buck that you see in that one spot where you don’t want to go into, you’re not going to get him unless you try it. It’s only a deer. After that incident, I still have my sights on this Brow Tine Buck. It just made that so much sweeter because it was almost like this entire journey from the start of hunting. Seeing that deer from 2007 to 2012, it was almost like the entire thing in between and behind the scenes made that much more special. That’s why I had to write about it.

How can people buy the book?

It sells on Amazon as Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck. That explained a lot more about the Zombie Deer and some different things in there. I’m getting it now in bookstores and right now some local bookstores. I talked with a big retailer, one of the biggest in the country and I just need to fill out some stuff. They were going to promote it. They have been trying to get me to get things in there. They’d been selling fast. A lot of people love them from ages, literally eight years old to 88. I’ve had people in their 80s message me and tell me that they absolutely loved it.

The book is short and sweet to the point. It’s a great book for all ages. I had a family and two girls, the mother was reading aloud to the two girls. One girl was rooting for me and the other girl was rooting for the Brow Tine Buck throughout the whole thing. It makes it pretty fun for people to read it. That’s why I made it around 10,000 words. I’m thinking of the Amazing Bo Jackson book from a long time ago because this is a different kind of book. It’s not a long book. It’s a fun, nice story about hunting because I believe every single deer has a story and the hunter has the story to tell. People need to tell that story because someone’s listening and they will gain some knowledge from it.

This is good stuff folks. We all have a story in us. At ATA, somebody looked at me and said, “Bruce, how’s your life going, your journey? You’ve got to write a book.” I go, “I’ve got to write a book.” My priority is to get Whitetail Rendezvous to a million downloads. I’m more than a quarter way there. I’m almost getting close to halfway. Having said that, we all have a book. Everybody has a story and I love hunting stories. If you listened to any of my podcasts, it’s about hunting, but it’s more than that. It’s about who we are as people. Who Joseph Byler is and how he came to this conclusion because he’s going to wake up a year from now, eighteen months from now and his book is going to blow up. It’s pretty much that simple. I’ll say something foolish like my wife says I always do, but if you don’t like his book, write me at WhitetailRendezvous@Gmail.com and tell me why and then I’ll consider buying the book from you. I don’t know how much the book is. How much is the book?

It’s $9.95 on Amazon in paperback. It’s strange because my sister is a big and well-known writer. She has six books. She’s all over the place. She tells me some different things here and there. I get it in a conversation about how her book sells and stuff. I don’t know how many books sales, it’s been a ton of them, but they’ve been all but three have been paperback. Only three eBooks, which is so surprising to me. I have no idea why. I was at Field & Stream, that’s a big company up here and they might be carrying it soon. The person said the cover of the book is worth the buy. I liked hearing that from him and maybe that’s why because some people I know saw the cover and they wanted that book in their hand because of the cover.

Do you have the cover there?

Yeah, it might be hard to see on there. I’ve got my H&R 12 gauge. All the pictures in the book, there’s only a few in the end. The cover and the back of the book, I did all from my iPhone 6S. My wife and my daughter took pictures of it and then I sent all those to my editor. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a phone. It is a cover of a book now in bookstores. Look at us, we’re talking to each other. It’s pretty easy. It’s just crazy how things are going.

I did the whole ATA with my 6S. I did 40 interviews with sound, HD quality of the film and the podcast, and it will turn into a blog, just for the phone. Folks, go by the book.

The name of the book is Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck Joseph Daniel Byler. Check it out on Amazon and probably everywhere books are sold.

Folks, it’s one of those things that once it gets the momentum of what’s in the pages, then it’s going to go viral. It’s going to be fun for Joseph and his family. I can’t wish anything better for Joseph than to get the success that he deserves.

I appreciate that, Bruce. You’re a great guy. You’re a great host and you’ve been talking about the ATA a lot. I’m sure all those people got a lot of Bruce Hutcheon at the ATA, which is they’re pretty fortunate and pretty lucky people.

It’s a big business, but it’s a small family. With that, I’m going to say thank you. Thank you, Joseph Byler. Don’t forget, Zombie Deer and the Brow Tine Buck on sale at Amazon.

Thanks, Bruce.

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About Joseph Byler

WTR Zombie | Brow Tine Buck

Hello, my name is Joseph Byler. I have an Amish background and an avid bow hunter. I am 37 years old and own my own training, coaching and consulting business online (www.crosscutyourlife.com) and also run a family construction business. I am very happily married to my beautiful wife Brandalyn of almost 15 years and we have 3 kids 8 and under. Phoebe 8, Joseph 6, and Zoe 3.

I am a Fitness Professional, Personal Trainer, Financial Coach, life coach and master carpenter. All those aside, my love of the outdoors flows through my veins.

I wrote a book about a Whitetail Buck I hunted for many years and the lessons I learned along the way. To me, the book is more than hunting but a story of Hope and perseverance in things that cannot be seen. When it seems like things are impossible, with Faith in Christ, anything is possible.