Saturday, December 31, 2011

Take Your Chances When You Get Them

This week has been pretty slow at work. We've been released early every day and Thursday was no exception. I headed home about 1:45 and given that it was 65 degrees, I knew I had to take the chance at one more deer hunt. When the temperature drops below freezing, I find it unbearable to be in a deer stand for very long. It's not that I'm a fair weather hunter, but I'm pretty lanky and find it hard to stay warm in cold temps.

I had a few things to wrap up around the house before I could go hunting, and didn't get to leave the house until about 3pm. The sun set time was 5:25, so I was in a rush. I parked the truck to realize that I left the camera tree arm mount for the camera at home. I had the camera and I had the camera tree arm, just no way to connect them. It's a mile walk to the stand, and during that time, I decide to just enjoy the sit and not worry about filming, getting there late, etc. I choose a stand that transitions between bedding and an acorn flat. I get setup in the tree and check the time, 4pm. Wow, better just enjoy being outdoors. I get a little bit of film to show the stand and settle in.

Around 4:30, I see movement 150 yards to the south. It's a doe walking a treeline. I spot movement behind her, but can't tell if it's a buck or not. I watch the doe as I know the second deer is tailing her. I spot her white tail walking into the tree line, directly away from me. Time to get creative. I grab my grunt call which was set to a fawn bleat and try to sound lost. The doe turns back toward me and starts heading my way. She gets to about 100 yards and turns toward the west. I bleat a few more times and she turns back toward me. There is a small creek 50 yards from me and the doe stops short of it to check out the area. I now notice she's probably a 1 1/2 year old. I can tell the second deer is also a doe, and most likely the mother. The younger doe crashes through the creek and starts feeding at 45 yards. The older doe is still on the other side of the creek and is nervous as heck. She keeps running to the south, then wanders to the creek, then spooks to the east, then comes back, then spooks again to the south. The doe on my side of the creek is also getting nervous. I look around to see if any other deer, namely a buck, are around. I don't see anything. The doe starts walking directly toward me. At 20 yards, she looks up. The sun is in my face and I dip my head slightly to allow my hat to shield the sun. The second doe again spooks and the first doe runs 5 yards to the west and looks to the south. I take my chance to draw as she's looking away. My elbow rubs against my safety harness and she again spooks another 5 yards to the west, but I continue my draw figuring I have nothing to lose at this point should she spot me. She is at 17 yards. I'm at full draw. There's a low hanging branch covering her vitals. A few seconds later, she takes 3 steps to the north west and is perfectly broadside. I settle my 20 yard pin on her lungs and release. Being that the second doe was spooky, I should have held a bit lower knowing she would duck on my release. Since it was only 20 yards, the arrow connects, but is a bit higher that I would like. The arrow passes completely through and I see blood start coming out of the entry wound as she takes off. She leaps away from me, then takes off in a dead run to the north west and circles to the north east in her 60 yard attempt to exit the area. I hear her pile up and thrash. As my emotions start to hit, I look back for the second doe which is staring in my direction from 70 yards. She turns and runs south. I watch her white flag disappear into the treeline. It's 4:55pm. I debate on continuing my sit, but the mile drag back to the truck and the duty of cleaning the doe cause me to go ahead and get down as I know it will be a long night.

My wife doesn't like gamey tasting meat, and that factored into my taking the shot on the young doe. The mile drag was also considered and a smaller deer would be easier to get to the truck. Being that we hunt only on public land, there is zero amount of quality deer management that can be done. Since we can't control what other hunters shoot or the hunting pressure on the area, you take the shots that present themselves.

I text my wife and Matt to let them know of my success then grab the camera to record the recovery. I walk to the spot where the doe was standing when I took my shot. I see where her hoofs dug into the ground when she took off. The arrow is about 3 yards away and covered in pink-ish blood. Even though I know where she went down, I take the chance to track her to gain the invaluable experience of tracking. With knowing where she was at, I could put all the pieces together as I track and note the blood trail, location of the blood, amount of blood, and other sign produced by the death run. The trail of blood was consistent, but not as heavy as if it had been a heart shot. I pay attention to where the blood sprayed on weeds and trees that were along her path due to it being a lung shot. The knowledge I gained while tracking a deer that I knew the final location of will assist later on in my hunting career. I find her where I expected. She was around 60 pounds.

After it was all said and done, I trekked 4 miles that night, making two trips to the truck. One to take my stand and gear, the second to get the doe. Below is a video of the recovery.

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