It all started the week before.
The season had opened and it was another fall with my own yearling in the house (second child, 9m old). I had no time to scout, but I had a couple spots on my neighbors land picked out.
All that week as I arrived home after a long day; 4am Andrew diaper changing, 5am feeding, 6am Samantha is up, 7am off to drop off kids at Daycares (split with wife, we go in opposite directions)… I get home after a longer than usual work day and stare wistfully out the window. I know there are deer out there somewhere.
On Thursday I am supposed to put my stand up and fix my blind to place on the edge of a field. I get home to find out my wife had tweaked her shoulder working out and is out of commission. I cook supper, give the kids baths, get Andrew in bed and then retire to the living room to dream about being out in the woods.
Friday rolls around and I am going through the ‘routine’ that evening while my wife is waiting to get into the Drs office this upcoming Monday to get her shoulder checked out. By now it is hardly able to move. The phone rings, it is my brother.
“Shawn”, he says in a shaky voice while half whispering, “I just arrowed a doe!” He continues,”I finally got a shot on with the Diablo and it felt soooo smooth. She was quartering away hard but I know it was a good shot. It all felt so magical.” I ask him if he needs help tracking, though I was not looking forward to the hour drive knowing Mandy would have to deal with two kids with a hurt arm. Marc replies, “Naw. Charlie is coming to help. If we do not find it by 8:30p, I’ll give you a call back.” Around 8pm, he calls and excitedly tells me he found her. She went about 80 yards and went down. I congratulate him and ask him if Dad is going to help him skin it out tomorrow. Nope, he is busy.
So I offer to go down and help him out and I’ll find Mandy help babysitting with the kids. At that point he suggest I pack my bow up and take a turn in the stand. There were three does in the area and they all came in together. He is sure they will come back out, as he has them well timed and they are walking through like clockwork.
I ask Mandy if she would mind if I put an evening in the stand, and she agrees. She does tell me that not only do I need to do, but if I get the chance I need to take the shot. No waiting for the perfect moment. She has seen me shoot and I need to use the skills I have.
The next day I head out in the late morning down to my brothers. As I make the hour trip I am feeling a little pride in the confidence my wife has in me and her actually saying she knows I can make a humane shot even without the broadside. It fills me with confidence as I head down and makes the drive that much more enjoyable.
I arrive around 1pm and help my brother finish processing his deer. It is a nice time chatting about how exactly they came in, how he kept waiting for the broadside, but finally settled on the quartering away. I take a couple pictures for him, and while it looked like he hit it WAY back, the shockwave sliced and diced all the vitals and left the ponch in place. A textbook shot.
I head over to the landowners place at 3:30 and settle in. I sit enjoying the cool breeze (it had been 80 dgrees all week, fall in Maine – welcome global warming). I slowly turn my head this way and that, my bow across my lap holding my personally assembled arrows in the quiver. I am shooting Xweave Predators fletched myself with Blazers (2 Orange and a White cock Vane), Bohning Signature Flo Orange Nock and Slick Trick Magnums.
I pull out an arrow and place it in the Whisker Biscuit, and nock it. Staring at the broadhead, I reflect back on the decision to make the switch. Last year I took a buck with a G5 Montec, but the blood trail was less than I would have expected and I just felt my sharpening skills were not good enough to make the most of the broadhead. I bought a couple packs of ST Magnums to try out as an alternative and within my second set of 3, I was hitting 2″ squares at 20yds with no tweaking of rest or sights. I was sold.
I sit and wait. In front of me are several old and dying apple trees, still feebly bearing fruit. Several woodpeckers flitter from tree to tree while searching for bugs and soft spots in the trees to find tree worms (or whatever they really are).
Slowly the sun goes down and the sound of traffic slows in the distance. My awareness increases tenfold as the ‘right time’ approaches. I start scanning more with my eyes, working right to left and slowly turning my head to help my vision reach the tote road to my far left. Time slows down, but it is not boring. It is that time that takes out into the woods. The time where you become part of nature as a predator. Your patience becomes ten fold as you wait. Waiting like a Puma in the trees.
Off to my far right I hear the tell tale sound of a deer. Not surprisingly the small doe has decided to break all the normal rules of access and is coming through the thickest part of the woods instead of the easy tote roads or the two deer trails running parallel to them. I turn my eyes and head slowly, and she is walking straight in. I see that she is small. But, I promised the wife that it was meat I was after and not a trophy. If a deer came out, and did not sport spots, then I would take it.
Slowly she comes in, but relaxed. She walks straight in and under my stand. Stopping for a moment she sniffs the rungs of the ladder stand and sort of glances around. I guess the soles of my 15 year old leather slipper boots (it was so warm I could not wear my ‘hunting’ boots) did not leave much scent. She then walks out from under the stand and slowly starts walking straight away.
As she comes out from under the stand I wait for her to get out a little and then I stand and turn ever so slowly. Forest Ninja’s could not have moved so silently or smoothly. Knowing she could not see at that angle behind her I get myself into position.
She browses a little but slowly continues walking straight out. It is time for a decision! So I wait for her turn? Do I risk her walking straight ahead and under the canopy 30 yards out? I look to my right again (straight ahead of my body now) and check for following does or bucks and see nothing. This is my chance for the evening and I think of my wife back at home, hurt and watching our two kids to give me this chance. I draw.
One of the important pieces of a successful shot is to not change your style. To let your instincts do what you have done dozens, hundreds, thousands of times at home and on the range and in the 3D course (if you are lucky enough to live close). To draw the same, anchor the same, hold the same, and to take the shot when it looks and feels right. Overthink it and you take too long. Get over excited and you shoot too soon. I bring my bow up into the draw (I happen to draw upwards, always have) and line everything up, just like every other time. I envision in my mind where the arrow will go, and aim for the far lung. I ‘see’ the arrow going through to the far leg, down and through.
Without even realizing it my finger smoothly pulls and my Scott Wildcat go off. I see the arrow in flight through my VBG Triangle sight and watch as the arrow strikes HARD. The doe drops instantly and without so much as a kick breathes in and out 4, then 5 times. In the time it take for me to see her drop with the arrow still within her, I have a second arrow out of its quiver and nocked in the rest. Later I would remark to my Dad and brother than my hands just automatically did it, that the next thing I knew I had the bow in the ready position and tension on the dloop. I watch as she takes her last breathe and passes, less than 30 seconds after the shot. I can not express my concern, and then relief that no second arrow would be needed.
As I let my bow down and call my Brother and Dad, I reflect on the shot and wonder if I ‘missed’. I had certainly not intended to spine her. And the arrow not getting pass through had me concerned that I had somehow missed the vitals and hit something harder like the upper scapula. I take great care to respect the doe as I have my Dad take some pictures of where she lay. I give thanks for the bounty and we move the deer off to take care of her in preparation of getting her to the tagging station.
Later, and mostly due to the interest and thoughtful atmosphere of sharing here to help educate ourselves and others, I take special interest in capturing on my camera the entrance, exit, and damage pictures. Upon skinning out the doe I find that my shot was not bad at all. In fact, the arrow passed one blade through the spine, nicked one lung (it did not look like a pull out wound) and punctured the far lung cleanly. There was complete pass through the lower ribs on the far side and the broadhead had actually lodged in the far leg in the lower potion of the shoulder. It was that penetration that required two hands to start the broadhead back out through the body. Interestingly, and maybe it was because it was dark, we had not figured it as a pass through or I would have captured a picture of the broadhead external to the shot.
Attached below are the photo’s that relate to this story.
There are more if people are interested, but these are those that tell the story without being repetitive.
Thank you for the opportunity to share.
2006 Diablo NH 65# 26″ DL
VBG Triangle w/G5 Peep
WB DX QS
Doinker Multi-Rod 7″ D2 Hunter
SIMS Modules as Riser Vibration Dampeners
Scott Wildcat Buckle
Radial XWeave Predator 200s @ 26.75″
Bohning Signature Flo Orange Nocks
Blazer Vanes (2 Flo Orange/1 White)
Slick Trick Magnum 100s
Benchmade Snoddy 210
Buck Woodsman 105
Doe @ 75#s
0 Foot Tracking
My second group with Slick Trick Magnum 100s.
I did not shoot a third.:
My Doe Represented: