What a weekend. I officially made my wife a hunting widow and became very intimate with my hunting blinds.
Last Friday my son got a doe. I had been going out with him (not taking my bow) because I hoped to film his first kill (didn't happen), but more importantly I wanted to share the time with him. Once he got his deer it was time for me to get to do some hunting. This week is muzzle loader season so was a bit apprehensive about hunting, my spot is small and the trees are around the edges of the property. Any deer shot have a good chance of running onto surrounding land. I really didn't want to be walking around on other people's property looking for a deer (I have permission to do so) while the gun crowd is out in force. I made some calls and found out that their probably wouldn't be anyone out until Sunday evening so I decided to go for it.
Friday afternoon I went out to my lease at about 4:00 PM. On the way in I saw two does and thought that they were moving early and I may have missed the boat. I try to get there real early because the zippers on my blinds make so much noise you can wake the dead. Try as I might I can never do it quietly. After I got in the recent rain had collapsed the top hub so I had to put that up. Then I unzipped my back pack and got my stuff ready. After making all this noise (trying to be quiet of course) I turn around and there is a spike not 20 yards from my blind! I couldn't believe he hung around, or walked up thru all this! He had a good body on him but only had to long spikes so I didn't want to shoot him. A few minutes later a small spike, who we have affectionately named Hornito, shows up and starts sparring with the bigger spike. This was really cool to watch. Throughout the next hour I had several more does show up. The ones I would have shot were too far off and the ones within shooting range were too small. After that hour I never saw another deer all night. As I left that night I saw two more deer, making a total of 13 deer in one day.
Saturday morning I intended to hunt but I was just too tired from the previous night. In the evening I did go out to the same spot thinking it would be a gold mine and I might even wonder out of the blind and try to catch them crossing a field. My son went me with so we ended up staying in the blind. He is in hot water with me for grades so I didn't let him hunt. I wanted him to be out of the house so I told him he could help me track, drag and gut a deer if I got one. Long story short, we saw three deer at the very end of the night. Two does who moved quickly thru my shooting lane and my buddy Hornito. I told Trey to use his calls and practice on him so he grunted and got him to stop and look our way. Then he did a dominate wheeze and he high-tailed it. I guess he wasn't looking for a fight that night. On the way out we scared up three more deer, one wasn't 30 yards from my truck parked in a field. I was really surprised that they would get that close to my truck. That was the end of my Saturday hunt.
I had decided that I would hunt morning and evening on Sunday if needed to get a deer. We went out about an hour before legal shooting and got in my other blind, this is the one where Trey shot his doe. For the heck of it tried some Sugar Beet Crush from Wildgame Innovations. I put a small pile of the stuff near the feeder to see if the deer would be scared of it or eat it. After we had been settled for about 90 minutes a small doe showed up. She came in skittishly and found her way to the bait pile. She smelled it a little and then she licked some of it up for a while and then she darted off. There must have been something out there that scared her. Watching her I realized that I made a bad choice in my placement of the bait. If they come in from the direction she did they probably would never present a broadside shot. If I try it again I will put more thought into placement. After she left we could hear deer walking around but they never presented themselves. I spent plenty of time thinking thru different shooting scenarios to pass the time, it gave me something to do and took my mind off of being cold. I told Trey that we would call it quits at 10:15 so we could go home for a while and come back late afternoon. He was happy to hear that as he was bored. He asked if he could make a couple grunts since we were going to leave in the next 15 minutes. I said sure, we haven't seen anything anyway. He got to play with his call and that satisfied him for a couple minutes.
Being bored he couldn't wait and started packing stuff up at about 10:05. He was making a ton of racket with water bottles, camera, zippers on his pack, you name it. I asked him to keep it quiet until 10:15 and we leave. Of course I got that look like "what difference does it make?" Once he was done I handed him my bow and put my stuff up, quietly, and put on my orange vest and hat (muzzle loader season). As I'm getting my vest on Trey says "Buck" in an excited voice. I looked around and couldn't see anything and thought he was messing with me. Then he says it again and I say where? He says he is looking right at us. I was looking all over and I couldn't see him and asked if he was messing with me. He said no he is right there. I looked and seen nothing at first and then I saw the white in his ears he turned his head. He was behind a cedar tree with only his head sticking out at a trail head 28 yards away. They sure blend into their surroundings well!
Now it was on. I knew there was a buck out there and I grabbed my bow and nocked an arrow. He just stood there obscured by that cedar tree, they are like bushes really. He would look down the trail to us and then check the other trails and just stand there. At this point my son is getting excited, no, he has buck fever! I could see him sitting there shaking and when he would say something his voice was all shaky. It was quite funny when he asked my how come he was shaking and he didn't even have a bow? After what seem like forever the deer steps forward where we could see him. He had a small skinny rack but the body looked okay and he seemed to stand pretty tall. I whispered to Trey, is he a shooter? In his amped up state it seemed like practically yelled YES! Then he is telling me to draw my bow. I said no, not until I know I'm going to take him. Again, all amped up, he is telling me to shoot him. I waited and after about 5 minutes the buck started to come our way. As he cautiously approached I was thinking this deer isn't very wide so I asked Trey are you sure he is good to shoot? He says yes, yes, shoot him! I knew he was smaller than I wanted to shoot, we all want a trophy right?, but I decided to take him.
Now that I decided to take him he seemed like he knew it and was getting really skittish, I'm thinking I should have taken him when he was at 28 yards. He was licking his nose and his body was tense as he got within 15 yards. I couldn't do anything as he was facing us and I didn't have a shot. Again, my kid with the draw the bow movements and I slowly shake my head no. At this point I think the deer decided he wasn't comfortable with the situation and he starts to turn to his left and I have a slight quartering to shot. It wasn't a perfect broadside shot but I drew my bow and waited. As he stood there I decided that if he takes a step forward with his right front leg I would shoot right behind the extended leg and should have a perfect kill zone shot.
What happens next is a blur. I remember him turning more in my favor and taking that fatal step. I was following him with the sight on my designated spot and the next thing I know the arrow has been sent and my son is yelling good shot! I don't remember pulling the trigger. I honestly think I touched it off by accident but I don't know? I could see my Nockturnal Nock glowing in the grass beyond where the deer had been standing and it looked like my white fletchings were red. Excellent! Trey is ready to chase off after the deer and I tell him no. I look at my phone and it is 10:15 and say we need to give it 30 minutes depending on what the arrow shows. After 5 minutes I couldn't stand it and tell him I'm going to go get the arrow and look at it and turn off the light. As we approach the arrow (like he was going to stay in the blind) I see it is covered in blood and the Shwacker had opened, and I am a happy camper! There is blood on the ground and I'm thinking sweet, this should be easy to recover.
Recovery wasn't as easy as I anticipated. The blood trail was good for about 20 yards and dried up. I found some lung bits near the end of the trail, at least I think the little pink chunks were lung material? After a lot of looking for blood on our hands and knees I am getting very nervous thinking we may not recover the deer. The last thing wanted to do was start wandering around on other peoples land during gun season, orange vests or not. As I'm trying to do a methodical search my son's attention span has been exceeded and he wanders off. About 2 minutes later he yells "found him" and I am elated. He was about 40 yards from where we were looking.
My first buck isn't a trophy, he isn't even a big buck. Broken tine and small size aside I am still happy. My son was with me for my first kill and his excitement from the moment he saw the buck is something I will never forget.