Updated: Mar 17
November 7, 2020 was one of the most exciting days of my life to date.
I initially decided that I would not be hunting that day. The temperature was going to be in the seventies, and I am not someone who is willing to shoot a deer midday and race the heat to get the meat icing down in a cooler. I personally just don’t think that it is worth the risk of losing meat which is the most important part to me. So, naturally I paced around the house most of the day to try and waste time. Did I work on anything productive around the house? Nope. Read a book and further my knowledge? Nope. All I could do was pace around and occasionally annoy my fiancé. I had plans to get to the stand around 2:30 that day but the excitement was too much to handle. I changed plans and decided to leave my house around 12:30, which would put my butt in the stand around 1.
The walk in was loud and sweaty. I am pretty sure I was able to mulch up every leaf on the trail that day. I didn’t love my chances after that, but I was just happy to be sitting in that stand and alone with nature where I could lose myself in my own thoughts. A half hour after I get to the stand a really good 8-point walks in behind me without making a noise. I just happened to be doing my every couple minute check. He had nothing on his mind other than cruising for does. I watched for 15 minutes as he stood around and tempted me at 30 yards. I was extremely frustrated with myself because of the lack of preparedness on my part. All I could do was watch him move away from me. That lack of preparedness was not having a grunt call. You are just stuck at the mercy of what that deer wants to do at that moment, and he decided he wasn't gonna come and hang out with me that day. That interaction ends around 2:15 and I was feeling pretty discouraged between a deer coming through where I didn't expect and me smelling like sweat, I wasn't real sure what the rest of the afternoon held. The next few hours were slow. I had a feeling this hunt may end like most others with no success. I was sorely mistaken.
4:20 two does walk out to the field left of me. I watch them intently and with a certain amount of joy just to see these animals doing their own thing in a natural habitat that they have pretty much mastered. 5 minute later a very nice 3 ½ year old steps out in the field to see what the does are about. 15 seconds later another good deer steps out behind him. He is the smaller of the two deer but in my eyes he is a great deer and a shooter for me. I decide to stand up at this point just in case they decide to come and cross the creek and give me a shot. At 4:35 the exact thing that I needed to happen, does happen. The older of the two bucks pushes the first buck to me. The tricky thing is that he pushes the young deer my way but not across the creek into the wide opening that I had planned on. Instead the deer decides to stay on the opposite side of the creek from me and move along to my left. He slowly makes his way to me and finally gets within 20 yards. He is eating leaves and playing around. Here is where it felt like hours but only actually ended up being 60 seconds. I spent those 60 seconds deciding if I was taking a responsible shot and thinking about what was best to avoid causing this deer to duck. After some review I decided that I could take the shot, there was some brush, but I was lucky enough that the vitals had nothing in the way. I pulled the bow back and anchored, took one last breather and pulled through the shot the best I could. The deer ran 10 yards and stopped. I hurried to nock another arrow thinking that I had somehow missed this deer. As soon as I nocked the arrow he ran another 20 yards and I heard a big crash. I was able to assume at this point that I had made a good shot, but I am so early on my hunting career that I still wasn’t sure if I put a good shot on this buck. I sent a shaky text to friends to let them know what happened and invite them to join with the recovery if they had any interest. I sat in the tree for another twenty minutes going over the shot and stressing about whether I made a humane shot or not.
Finally, I climbed out of the stand and met with my fiancé, cousin, brother, best friend and brother’s friend to retrieve this deer. Having a group of people show up to help with such a small task meant the world to me. I love any opportunity to include others and get a good visit. We made the walk to where I believed he had fallen and sure enough he was right where I thought he was. After inspection we discovered it was a double lung shot which gave me a lot of relief and made me very proud that all my hard work had paid off in the off season and I made my shot count. From there we took the deer to my parents’ house where another best friend of mine, my dad, was able to help with the skinning and quartering. There a group shared jokes and laughs and it completed an amazing day.
The best part of this hunting story is I don't see these emotions changing any time soon. I think anyone who loves and respects nature will always feel this way when they go through something like this. I would suggest to anyone to get a bow, spend a ton of time working on mechanics and don't hunt until you feel that you are completely comfortable with it. Then, go out and try to experience something like this on your own.