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A Family Tradition

The bowhunter that accepts the ultimate challenge and choses traditional archery equipment for their hunt has taken the experience to the highest level!

By Jeff Philips for Whitetail Times

Growing up in Prince George, Virginia, in a household with an older and younger brother, Meredith Powroznik found herself constantly trying to keep up. As a young girl she would watch her brothers and father as they would leave for hunting and recreation trips and felt a bit left out. She finally decided to approach her father and said, “Hey, I want to go too.” Her father, Joe, was a bit surprised at her request at such an early age and he replied “really?”

Before long, Joe—who was an avid outdoorsman as well as a former professional water skier for Cypress Gardens—had Meredith barefoot water skiing at the age of 6 as well as target shooting with a bow and arrow. Joe is an exclusively traditional archery hunter, having harvested moose, caribou, deer, bear, and a mountain lion, so he raised his kids on a stick and string as well.

For those of you that have attempted success with traditional archery equipment, you understand the limitations and that there are just as many faults as there are successes. It’s always a work in progress, and it truly becomes a mental game that constantly tests your willingness to stay the course.

Meredith shared with me many of her ups and downs as it relates to traditional bow hunting. “There were times I became very discouraged. I questioned my abilities and whether or not I was capable of success with traditional equipment,” she said. But the consistent support and encouragement from her father, who had been down the same road, really helped her stick with it. As her experience grew and she became increasingly successful, her brothers and family friends jokingly labeled her “the favorite son” as she was starting to gain recognition in the bowhunting world.

A photo of a woman sitting in a tree stand with traditional-type arrows.

Meredith Powroznik is a serious bow hunter. She takes the challenge to an even higher level by hunting with traditional archery equipment. Photo provided by the Powroznik family

I host a Virginia hunting social media page called Star City Whitetails and over the years Meredith has shared a few of her harvest pictures and stories. I have always been amazed at the level of her success, and her willingness to stick with primitive hunting equipment in a day of such technologically advanced weapons. I think this quote by her sums it up best: “If you can kill with traditional equipment you have allowed the animal every advantage to live, the opportunity to utilize all of its senses, and thus ensure the ultimate fair chase hunt.”

Having never used primitive archery equipment, I was unsure of the range a hunter may have and I was thinking maybe 30 yards? Meredith quickly brought me up to speed and said that 15 yards and in is where her comfort zone is. That really put things into perspective for me as to the genuine difficulty level that this type of hunting presents as well as the satisfaction that must come from having taken an animal at such close range without it detecting you.

A photo of a woman kneeling behind a white-tailed buck. She's holding up a traditional bow and kissing it, with a quiver of arrows on her back.

Meredith Powroznik limits her shots to a maximum of 15 yards. With the additional challenge of these close encounters, she considers a smaller buck that a gun hunter may pass to be worthy for a traditional bow hunter. Photo provided by Meredith Powroznik.

Let’s go back to October 2022.

I received a high-quality photo from Meredith of a tremendous buck she had just harvested. I know from past interactions that she is a humble hunter of few words, but after seeing this amazing buck and the photo of her holding her longbow alongside the animal, I really wanted to know the details of the hunt and I hoped she would grant me permission to do a write-up on it, so here we go!

A photo of a woman and man kneeling behind a large white-tailed buck lying on the ground, with traditional archery equipment leaning against the deer.

Meredith shot this trophy 10 pointer during the 2022 archery season. Meredith and her father Joe pictured here raised his family to be traditional bow hunters. Meredith won the Star City Whitetails “2022 Early Bow Season Big VA Buck Contest” with this great buck and picture. Photo provided by Meredith Powroznik

The Hunt

This buck showed up on camera in July on a property she hunts in Chesterfield County. In fact, it was the very first picture in a series of photos when she checked her card. Meredith was immediately moved and hoped to have an opportunity at him as bow season approached. This buck wasn’t seen on camera again until September, and he had really blossomed into a beautiful Virginia buck. There was also a lot of good sign on the property, and she was feeling very positive about her 2022 season.

A trail camera photo of a 10-point buck in a clearing in the woods with lush green vegetation.

Meredith Powroznik had trail camera pictures of the big 10 pointer she was hunting back in the summer. Photo courtesy of the Powroznik family

Meredith is a full-time physical therapist, and she received her doctorate through Radford University at Jefferson College in Roanoke, Virginia (the Star City). So, finding time to hunt during the week is rare for her, but on the Thursday afternoon of October 13, 2022, she was able to get a hunt in.

Around 4 p.m., Meredith settled into her stand, which was a wooden handmade hang-on that her father had built several decades ago and that she had hung two weeks prior. Just before last light, she heard something approaching and turned slightly to see a four-pointer making its way towards her. She contemplated letting an arrow fly, but opted to pass as the buck fed beneath her stand. As she watched the small buck, she again heard leaves shuffling, and as she turned slowly toward the noise, to her amazement, it was him!

She said, “All I could see was antlers, and he was heading my way.” This is where all the hours of practice come into play, instilling in her the confidence of knowing that she was fully capable of the shot. Now if only she could conquer the mental game, maintain her calmness, and allow her muscle memory to move into autopilot. Unlike a compound bow, when drawing a longbow, you have zero let-off. In turn, the traditional archer will typically be unable to maintain full draw for the same amount of time as the compound bow hunter.

Therefore, the timing of your movements and knowing when to draw becomes exponentially more complicated. She needed him to enter 15 yards, and within moments he was in the “kill zone.” She came to full draw, anchored, and gave a mouth bleat. He stopped, and she released. The release felt perfect, and she heard her gold-tipped classic carbon arrow equipped with a Steel Force Sabertooth broadhead hit, but she couldn’t see the exact point of impact. The hollow sound of the hit made her believe that the shot was good, and she watched the big buck run out of sight, but she never heard him crash.

Meredith sat anxiously as her heart and mind raced. She immediately sent a text to her father alerting him to what had just happened. They traded an optimistic dialogue, and she remained on stand another 30 minutes to let things calm down. As she climbed down from the tree, she was as quiet as a mouse, knowing that she was unaware of her exact shot placement. Meredith made that tough decision that many of us are faced with on an evening hunt—she fought her desire to search for blood and simply backed out of the woods as quietly as she could. She met up with her father on the way home at a local watering hole to discuss the hunt play by play. They both felt confident, but nonetheless it was a restless night.

The following morning, Meredith met her father and brother at the property and went directly to the place of impact. Within 30 yards they began picking up some faint blood and it became heavier and heavier as they progressed, but then it just stopped. The search party decided to branch out in different directions slowly in hopes of picking up the blood trail again. Not long after parting ways, her brother jumped the buck that was bedded down. They quickly decided to retreat and come back the next morning, giving the animal additional time to expire and also because Meredith needed to get to work.

The next morning, they went to the spot where the buck had been jumped, and again branched out and began a methodical search. Meredith came to a creek crossing and picked up a single drop of blood. Her spirits rose, although this would serve as the last blood to be found. Meredith, her brother, and father crossed the creek and once again spread out to continue the search. Having found no more blood but knowing that deer in danger prefer to remain near water, she decided to parallel the creek in hopes of finding her trophy. Meredith had covered about 200 yards along the creek and as she looked up ahead, she spotted her buck laying on the forest floor, finally expired. The search party gathered around the buck, and lots of hugs, high fives, and rejoicing took place!

Many families are bound by one thing or another, but the love for our great hunting tradition, and their love of using only traditional archery equipment bonds the Powroznik family tightly. Thanks Meredith, for sharing your family and experiences with us here, and I hope folks will find this story inspirational, just as it has inspired me!

Jeff Phillips lives in Roanoke, Virginia with his wife for 28 years. Phillips says, “My grandfather got me started hunting and fishing as a kid and the outdoors has been a big part of my life ever since.” Today Jeff is a land specialist agent with Whitetail Properties Real Estate and host of Star City Whitetails and Facebook.
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  • March 28, 2024