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Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Shot


Deer Trout,

I only hit the snooze button once this morning.  A little over an hour before first light, I was in my tree and good to go.  The forest was pitch black.  I'd never been up this tree before.  For all I knew, I wasn't going to have any shooting lanes if any deer came through.  The half light came around 7:30am, and I realized I had some small lanes to work with.

The wind was coming from a different direction than what the weatherman forecast.  Which I was okay with, but at the same time unsure what the deer would think about it.  The wind was supposed to be from the southeast.  The deer were supposed to come into the wind towards their bedding area from the northwest.

But instead of coming from the southeast, the wind came from the east.  And instead of coming from the northwest, the deer came from the southeast.  The first doe came through along the base of ridge I was using to funnel them into bow range.  Right away I decided she was a shooter, but she was quartering towards me, with her nose straight up in the air at about 20-yards.  She knew something wasn't right and I was certain I was about to get winded.  Despite her being directly downwind of me, the morning thermals caused her to let down her guard and actually move closer to me. She stopped in one of the best lanes I had in that direction.

I drew.
She turned broadside.
I picked a spot.
I made sure I was using the right pin.
She looked backward over her opposite shoulder, basically giving me a quartering away angle.
I let the arrow go.

She ran 10 yards, stopped, kind of circled behind the other deer who came up behind, and then they all continued northwest along the ridge.  Judging by her body, language, I missed.

Maybe my arrow deflected off an unseen twig?  Maybe I peaked as I took the shot?  Maybe I didn't bend at the waist?

I waited about 30 minutes before getting down from my tree.   My arrow was sticking out of the ground right where it was supposed to be.  There was light colored hair, light blood on the cock vane, and talowy fat greasing the shaft.  Nervous, I called my friend Steve to come give me a hand.

Three hours after I squeezed the trigger, we began tracking her.  The first 50 yards was easy.  There was really good blood.  Then it got tough.  We crawled on our hands and knees spotting a drop here, few drops there.  The rain started and a few minutes later, we found our last drop about 100 yards from where I shot her.

We circled out in front.  We broke the area up into grids.  Nothing.

Steve, who has a lot more experience than I do, thinks I made a non-lethal, low shot.  I hope he's right.  The thought of her being dead out there tears me up.  But I don't know what more we could have done to find her.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Different Tree to Climb

10-3-15

I hunted the corner again last night.  This time, from a tree closer to where I'd seen the three does come out of the swamp on Saturday evening.  There was another truck at the trailhead when I got there, a blue Ford I've never seen before.  As I walked across the field to the corner, I hoped he followed the main trail like everyone else who explores this chunk of timber seems to do.

I got to the tree I planned to climb and realized it was a dying ash.  I stood there looking at the other trees nearby and movement caught my eye from just inside the swamp.  Then orange.

"Shit, this guy is bird hunting where the deer I'm hunting are bedded."

He worked his way away from me to the south before popping out into the field with a telescoping pruning saw and and an empty 5-gallon bucket.

I stood there with my stand on my back, my bow in my left hand, and waved hello with my right.  He waved back as he walked back towards his truck.  I turned away and walked farther north than I've ever been on this property, hoping to find fresh sign.  I found some great looking spots that I would likely have to myself, but not the sign I was looking for so I turned back around towards the corner.  It was a good thing I got there early.

There really wasn't a good tree to climb, they were either full of limbs, dead, or too big around.  I picked the smallest and barely got my climber on at the right angle.  If it was another inch bigger in diameter, I would have been hunting from the ground.

The three does came out, one by one, at 6:43.  Except they weren't three does.  It was a doe with two yearlings.  I could have shot any of them, but for some reason, I didn't.  Maybe cause my freezer already has fresh venison in it, or maybe cause I'm just looking for something to regret in January.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

An East Wind

10-2-15


"Wind from the west, fish bite the best.  Wind from the east, fish bite the least."

As primarily an angler over the last 10 years, I've grown to hate an east wind.  My friend who makes maple syrup hates it, too, as even sap screeches to a stop when the wind comes from the wrong direction.  But its archery deer season, and even though the season is longer than most, its not long enough.  If you get a funky wind direction, you've gotta have a stand for an east wind or you just lost a day in the woods.

I took my climbing stand up about 20-feet last night.  Before pulling my bow up, I hugged the maple tree I was in and looked up at the swaying top.  It bowed back and forth like a rubber band.  At one point, I felt like it was going to fall on top of me.  "Don't look up."  I told myself.  

A pack of coyotes yipped and howled at 6:57p.m.  Three minutes later, a solitary doe grazed into the field 150yds south of me.  Another came 10 minutes later, and a third 10 minutes after that.  I watched them for as long as I could from 60yds inside the field edge before losing sight of them.  

They weren't supposed to come out to the field where they did.  They were supposed to come out on the runway I was sitting above.  But the error on my part was that they came out with the wind at their back.  They always come out with the wind at their back.  I should have picked a different tree to climb.  

I picked up my son's deer from the processor this afternoon.  50lbs of venison in the freezer, with three more tags to fill between the two of us.  If our arrows fly true, I'm gonna need to buy a chest freezer.  I'll wait till I need to, though.  Buying one now would be bad luck.  Like bringing a filet knife on a fishing trip.  If you have that knife in your pack, you just made it really hard to catch fish that day.  The hunting and fishing gods don't like it when you count your chickens before they hatch.  


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