Folks, this a tale of the steep learning curve of bow hunting whitetail deer from a tree stand. A story that highlights the high and lows of a rookie hunter trying to outsmart a witty opponent. And let me add, the community of bow hunters that gives you support and friendship has taken a huge place I my life. Why am I hunting? Really, it is in fact a rhetorical question.
Saturday 4:30am, I finish loading my Rav4 and head toward my hunting grounds. It will be a brutally long drive and I took the opportunity to listen to a podcast called “Bucking the System” by James Glave. I feel this is a parallel story to mine.
After setting up in my cabin, I met my neighbours, John and Duncan. By the end of this trip, we will be very good friends. Although I did setup my tree stand that night, there was nothing to report and I decided to find a much better place the next day.
Sunday morning, I went to look for a place to put up my stand. I don’t know yet if I have the abilities to figure out a good spot. So, ya think I’ve got that one figured by now? Hell yeah! The place I found is between an FSR and a trail below. Both are so beat up by tracks that I call the road the Coquihalla, and the trail the Hwy1. My tree stand is smack down the middle of these 2.
Well, time to head back to camp for lunch and maybe a quick nap, since I’m still reeling from the long drive. As I wake up, I hear John’s truck so I get out to meet them. Duncan can’t wipe the huge grin of his face. I know something is up. Well, the picture bellow should tell you the story.
Duncan's nice 5X5
Tump-twack! Duncan said, explaining what he heard when pressed the trigger. I will hear the same story numerous time and never got tired of it.Duncan and John will be celebrating tonight. Me, I have some huntin’ to do.
I got back to my stand at around 3pm. And I like my spot. Hwy one would be better as it is 20 ft bellow me and 20 yards away with a nice shooting lane. The road is wider and is only 10 yards away and at eye level.
The sun comes down and the cool air forces me to keep my hands in my pockets. Now from the road, I am completely invisible. And then it happened . . . and very fast too. 3 does are trotting down the FSR. No time to get nervous here as I have to draw my bow before they enter the danger zone. As I pull the string, my arrow drags on my lizard tongue at the same time the first doe appears in the opening. Busted! Tail up and up the steep mountain they all go, blowing like crazy.
This will be a memorable day. . . for all the wrong reasons. Monday morning was extended because it seemed the deer were coming out later. Right decision.
The wind is blowing the right way, but at times, it it pushes my sent down Hwy1. At around 10:30am, on the trail below, a group of 4 comes fast. Not a chance to do anything. But wait, right at the shooting lane, they stopped and flag goes up and move back. Now I wonder what I did there to make them turn away. So, they bushwhack their way back to the FSR. I see them through the branches and my heart starts pounding a bit harder. I am waiting patiently to see them appear on the road. My bow is in my hand, I’m turned the right way, and all I need is for them to turn left and towards the opening. I wait and observe. They move towards the banking across the road. C’mon girls, make another 30 yards into the clearing. But they will never make it towards my shooting lane. 1 minute later, 2 more does and like the previous 4, they head up the mountain instead of crossing my line of fire. I don’t understand. The wind is blowing from them to me, but they seem wary of something. 11:30 I’m down and driving to camp. A doe and 2 fawns are running in front me for a while then they take the high road and very quickly disappear.
As I’m driving back, I enjoy the sun beaming on me. I am thinking about where I can raise my tree stand to avoid the same scenario. Then on my left a doe jumps onto the road coming right at me. I hit the brakes hard and my four studded tires are desperately biting the icy road trying to slow down the vehicle. The doe makes a quick turn as if trying to face the same direction as me. BANG! Her head hits my door just below the window while the rest of her body slams against the back of truck. As I finally come to a stop, I see in my mirror another deer crossing beside the spinning doe. She then stands up, staggers and jumps into the woods. S***! Now I have to find her and put her out of her misery. I back up to the point of impact and look for her tracks. I then see her dead by the bush. I’m quite shaken but unhurt. My truck on the other isn’t so lucky, but it is only aesthetic so I’m good. The rest of the day will not yield any more excitement. By the end of the day, I would have seen over 14 deer. More than anyone else at the cabins. So, I find some comfort into that.
My Rav4 after impact
The next day, the doe was already being eaten by coyotes and ravens
Holding to the last minute.
I move my tree stand further down in order to be away from where the deer seem to avoid like the pest. At 2:30pm, I’m in the tree until the end of the season. I’m about 7yd up the tree in a superb funnel. Well hidden into the woods with only one shooting lane to worry about. The wind will sometimes blow my scent onto my lane, and I’m not too thrilled about that. But most of the time, it is none existent, or coming from the target area. 4pm, a truck with 2 snowmobiles goes by. I’m not worried, since I saw the most deer the day 3 trucks went by. 4:30, I hear a deer blowing. WTF!!!! On top of that, the deer is blowing, but coming my way from the other side of what I was expecting. It comes closer and closer, but then I hear it way at the top of the knoll ahead of me. Then, from the expecting side, I hear very loud cracking noises. I am standing and ready with a much higher than normal pulse. Deep breathe! Now it is snowing and snowing heavily. My shooting lane is disappearing in the little light that is left.
Suddenly, the wind picks up my hunting trip comes to an abrupt end. It is now a survival story as I need to come down a moving tree in a middle of a snow squall. I made it safely to the ground and onto the road. I can barely see anything. I look behind me and my tracks are being covered rapidly. I might lose where my tree stand is by the time I come back with my truck. I plant an arrow with a lighted nock in the snow and go get my Rav4.
Well, I did kill my first deer (just not the way I wanted), I made friends and I have some of the best memories. Of the dozen or so hunters that were there, only 2 deer would make it to a freezer. I probably saw more deer than any of the other guys, so I can only be happy with my experience. I know my time will come. . . I just feel it.
Look at the smile on this guy!