Published by djohns13 on 07 Apr 2008 at 03:32 pm
A perfect fall 2006 morning saw me out with my nephew for a whitetail hunt. My nephew, Jake, is an accomplished bowhunter who has harvested several deer and whom I feel safe and confident being in the woods with. It appeared to be a great morning to be out and I was nervous with anticipation. As the morning wore on, however, my anticipation turned to frustration as the woods seemed completely dead. Not even the pesky squirrels were out and about. Late in the morning, I decided to give Jake a call to set up a deer drive on the other end of the property. Just as I was ready to dial his number, I saw two deer moving toward Jake’s stand. Within seconds I heard the release of a bowstring and the sounds of chaos as the two deer bolted. One headed directly toward me and got within about forty yards before slowing down. Its beautiful head started to droop before it collapsed on the forest floor. In a matter of seconds, a frustrating hunt had turned fruitful as my nephew had collected the first doe of the season. To make things even better, Jake’s wife Janna was within days of delivering their firstborn, a beautiful baby girl who would be named Annie. A freezer stocked with deer meat would do their young family a world of good.
The second doe had headed off a different direction but was circling back toward Jake’s doe. Slowly it edged up to the doe and sniffed the arrow entry wound. Then she raised her leg and kicked the dead doe three times as if trying to wake her up. Seeing that the doe wasn’t going to move, the second doe began wandering away but closer to my location. Within moments she was standing quartering away in an open shooting lane thirty two yards away. My aim and release felt perfect but I heard a loud thud as the arrow sped toward the target. My heart sunk as I thought I must have hit a previously undetected tree limb in mid-flight. At the sound, the doe bolted away from me eliminating any ability to get a second shot. As I watched her I noticed that her tail was held straight down rather than flagging alarm and I began to wonder if I had hit her after all. In a few seconds I was astonished to see her go down, only about twenty five yards from the point of impact. My legs got weak as I began to realize that my apparent miss was indeed dead on the mark and two freezers were going to be stocked with tender nutritious doe meat.
Fast forward to pre-rut 2007, and the deer hunting had been hard and frustrating. The weather had been very uncooperative and EHD had thinned the herd earlier in the fall. I had done my tree time and had enjoyed it for the most part but had yet to take a shot. In fact, I had yet to see a buck of any time when I had a bow in my hand.
It was well before dawn when Jake and I slipped into our stands. Jake was in a permanent stand that had been a proven performer over the past several years. I had recently changed my stand location as the old location had seen next to no activity due to the drought. I had little idea how the new location would pan out, but I knew the change was overdue and the activity raised my hopes.
As dawn arrrived, the chill of the morning was attacking me with full force. Toes, ears and fingers were beginning to protest their suffering when I heard movement behind me. Turning slowly I saw a yearling doe making her way within 5 yards of my tree. Given the lack of results my season had seen so far, I was thinking about harvesting her when I noticed that she kept looking back over her shoulder. Hoping she was looking for a trailing buck I let her go and she slowly moved on toward Jake’s stand. Within seconds, more noise caught my attention and I turned to see a respectable eight pointer headed my way fast along the doe’s trail. Knowing he was on a mission and wouldn’t slow down on his own, I doe called him but he didn’t notice. As he ran practically right under my stand, I called again, this time much louder. Again, he made no notice of me. Knowing he would be out of range in mere seconds, I stood up and yelled “Stop”! He slammed on the brakes and looked around trying to identify the sound. As I swung the bow around to take aim, he headed off again in the direction of his potential mate. I watched him disappear into the brush as I kicked myself for not doing more to stop him sooner. A few minutes later the cell phone rang and Jake excitedly told me that he had just taken the eight pointer, his biggest to date. He told me that we was actually ready to take the shot on the yearling doe when the buck caught up to her and he was able to swing around and take a good shot on the buck. Less than fifty yards later the buck piled up and Jake’s season had taken a dramatic upward turn.
I was very excited for Jake and was happy that he had connected with the biggest so far, but was also letting myself get downhearted about my season. I love being in the woods for any reason but not seeing many deer in my honey hole was taking its toll. I continued survey the woods around when I noticed movement behind some trees to my right. Slowly I figured out that is was an ear flipping and out walked one of the biggest does I have ever seen. Her body looked every bit as big as the eight pointer and her long nose and sagging belly gave her away as one of the matriarchs of the woods. She was slowly moving along the same path as the earlier deer had and would surely pass within feet of my tree. My plan was to wait until she passed me and then stand to try to take a quartering away shot. It seemed perfect until she saw my breath 18 feet up in the air! I was shocked as she started stomping and blowing, alerting the entire woods to the trespasser in the tree. Helplessly I sat as she passed the alert on throughout the woods. If only I could have held my breath! Finally she had seen enough and turned to trot away. As she did, I stood and raised my bow in hopes of getting the shot. About thirty yards away, she slowed down and turned to look back at me. Luckily I was ready and the shot was true, She bolted through the brush and ran approximately one hundreds yards, dead away from where my vehicle was parked, before going down. As I sat back down, the reality of both of us scoring on the same day in the same woods two years in a row begin to sink in.
As it turned out, Jake’s buck ran away from the vehicle as well but after a long, hard drag back to the truck we were both still giddy. It turns out that my doe was at least five and a half years old and field dressed at 170 pounds. A perfect deer to take from the herd.
The rest of the season turned out to be as frustrating as the first part except for me seeing the deer of my dreams in the final week of the season. He was big bodied with a rack that was wide, massive and had too many points to count in our short meeting. I will spend all of the off-season trying to get to know him better and on opening day I will be in a tree along one of his travel routes with my nephew Jake in another tree close by. You can bet the farm on it.
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