So opening day of Archery season in Virginia was this past weekend. I was lucky in that I was able to get out for the opening day. The last time I was able to get out for a season opener was probably 6 years ago, and it was for duck season in Mississippi. So to actually be able to get out on opening day was great in its own right.
My bowhunting to this point has been nothing but foam in the back yard. But let me tell you, that darn cube target from Walmart has been “killed” more times than it wants to admit, and will continue to meet my arrows until it simply can’t stop them anymore. My father-in-law, who gave me just about every piece of archery equipment that I own and doesn’t even bowhunt, decided he wanted to scout some areas that morning and we headed to the woods. Since I knew he wasn’t going up there to hunt, I decided to sacrifice getting into the stand before day light and took the chance of blowing the whole hunt by stomping my way to my tree.
I was in my stand, ready for action around 6:50 a.m. Well, as my track record goes in this stand, all I saw for the first hour and a half were a bunch of squirrels (one of which almost joined me) and the occassional bird. Around 8:15 I found myself dozing off and figured, “What the hell, I’m not missing anything anyway.” So I decided I’d take a short nap. Well, good ole Mr. Murphy decided to make an appearance. I shut my eyes for what seemed like an hour (really it was only 5 minutes) and was awakened by the sound of crunching leaves. Thanks to the squirrels, I didn’t really think too much of it until I saw something much larger than a squirrel moving out in front of my stand at around 50 yards. I knew it was a deer, but I wasn’t sure if it was a buck or a doe. Though it didn’t really matter, I was hoping that it was a buck since this would be my first bow kill and my very first deer, EVER. On top of that, there is a doe that frequents this area of woods that has two fawns with her and I wasn’t going to shoot her. So I wanted it to be a buck so that there wouldn’t be any chance for confusion and accidental shooting of the wrong deer.
To my pleasure I saw horns and started getting myself prepared to stand and draw. I’m not sure, but I doubt if the sequence of events could have gone any better. The buck took a few steps and stopped behind a small group of trees and bushes that shielded his view of my stand. That’s when I stood up. At this point he was at least 40-45 yards away. I gave a quick grunt call and he started walking towards me again. As he stepped behind another tree I drew my bow. I was at full draw when he turned and started quartering very slightly toward me (he was almost perfectly broadside) at around 30-35 yards. I settled my pins on him and as I was squeezing the trigger on my release the sun broke the clouds and brightened my pins so much that they blended with his shoulder. At this point it was too late. The hair trigger on my release had all ready let the arrow fly.
When I released the arrow, the buck flinched slightly. Immediately after getting hit, he jumped in the air, spun 180 degrees and took off back through the thickets behind him. My heart was pounding harder than it ever has. I knew I had hit him by the way he took off, but I was a little nervous about the hit due to the last second sunshine on my pins. So I waited an hour which would have felt like much longer had a group of does (including the momma and two fawns) not decided to stop by to snack on the red and white acorns that cover the ground around my stand.
After my hour wait, I got down and went to the last place I saw him. While there was blood on the ground, I couldn’t find my arrow anywhere. I was thinking the worst, muscle hit into the bone and he’s taken off with my arrow. So I start following the blood trail. I only make it about 40 yards into the thickets when it simply disappears. At this point I’m starting to get nervous. I don’t like the idea (I honestly don’t anyone that does) of shooting an animal and just letting it suffer needlessly. Also, I had read a lot of posts by people that lost deer and I didn’t want to join that group. So I walked in a zigzag pattern for about 20 yards and there on the ground was more blood. My heart literally skipped a beat. From that point on, it was like bread crumbs leading me home. I found him piled up against a tree not 30 more yards past where I found the trail again.
I won’t bore you with the details of dragging him out of the thickets and down the mountain. But I will tell you that he could have weighed 300 pounds, I was getting that deer out of the woods. This was my very first bow kill and my very first deer EVER and I couldn’t be prouder. While he’s not the biggest deer in the woods, he’ll always be a trophy to me.