Thursday, September 29, 2011
I know some folks are waiting for me to write this, sadly as a hunter it is one of the worst stories you can tell. Truth be told I had to make myself write this one. When I started writing I tried to keep things pretty light for the most part, I also told myself I should be honest and tell both sides when something goes tits up. Well last weekend, our archery opener, it happened.
I have a spot I love to hunt, full of deer to the point the landowners just want some gone. I had my stand in place, conditions were perfect and I was ready for my season to get going. Saturday I sat and watched more does in that spot than I have ever seen but something had them spooked. No matter what direction they came they blew, ran, stomped or froze then backed out the way they came before they were anywhere near me. I had several within shooting range, only one of those busted me when I moved, the rest fed by without looking. I ended Saturday feeling good since I had seen so many while wondering what had them spooked. I packed up, walked to the house to spend the evening talking with friends over a good meal. I finally got to sleep ready to give it a go Sunday morning,
Back in the stand just before shooting time I sat waiting for the sun. About 7:15 I saw a deer tail twitching about 120 yards away in a newly cleared area on a hillside. As I looked another deer stepped out while the first one started to make a rub. Buck! About then #2 lifted his head to show a nice rack as he headed downhill toward me. Bucky #1 followed along as they headed for the tiny creek I needed for them to cross. I heard the first one jump the creek into some laurels then watched them shake as he made a rub. The second buck jumped behind him and then one, not sure which, came out headed my way.
I knew the spots they would come out and was already talking myself through the shot, this spot is 24 yards, this one 28, this one 31, breathe, pick your spot, wait for him to get broadside. He stepped out then turned into my 28 yard lane, perfectly broadside, head down, stopped to feed. I had drawn when his head went down, set my pin and shot. I was using a lighted nock and saw the arrow hit a little back but still a decent shot. Nick a limb, my fault, I will never know. I watched as he ran about 40 yards then bedded down. I sat down to wait keeping an eye on him then after 30 minutes he gets up and starts walking off. I couldn’t believe it even a liver/partial lung hit with the broadhead I was using should have done it. I waited a little longer then went to find my arrow. The first thing I found was half of my nock. The hit was so hard it broke it in half on impact.
I went about 20 yards then found a good blood trail, actually better than good along with half my arrow. As I went to where he laid down I heard a deer blow but I was thinking it had to be the other buck since he had been hanging around, I was wrong it was mine. He ran just out of sight and I heard him fall. Game over. I waited a few more minutes then slowly went to check and bumped him. He could only go about 60 yards or so then would slow down and later I found would lay down. So I waited again only to bump him as soon as I did I sat down to wait. Whenever he was walking he bled but when he laid down he stopped. I have had a couple of others do this and found them. They would lay down, stop bleeding then get up and it would pour. Same with this one.
I picked up his trail again only to notice which way he was headed. There is a bedding area on the property next to where I hunt that you absolutely cannot cross onto. In Tennessee you have to have written permission to even trail an animal onto someone’s land. These people are worse, you don’t dare go up their driveway. In total the deer had 3 hours to lay up but he was determined to get to that thicket and I guess he did.
While I hate losing one I know it happens which makes it not one bit better. For those of you that might think I don’t know tracking, you would be mistaken. I’m one of the guys people call when they can’t find a deer. I have driven for hours to get to a location to find one no one else could, so when it happens to me it is sickening.
I have no idea how this deer kept going but he did. While I didn’t get to bring him home I also know by the next morning he was gone. The coyotes in that area would see to that. I think for me not knowing what went wrong makes it even worse. Playing it over and over in my head and not being able to correct it is tougher yet. I know I’m not alone in this story, even this year or this week for that matter I have talked to several people that are good hunters that lost deer. We try to do our best when it comes time to shoot, sometimes it goes wrong despite our best efforts. This was one of those times.
Well there it is the story you never want to tell but I don’t want to try to act as if it didn’t happen. Hopefully you never have to go through the same thing. Be safe everyone and good luck, I know other states are about to open. Thump a good one for me.
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