I told myself even before entering my stand this past Wednesday that this would be my final bow hunt of the season.
On top of my numerous screw ups at the start of the year, Mother Nature had proven to be quite the fickle woman so far in 2010.
Early in the season high temps and mosquitoes threatened to chase me right out of my tree stand. After spending nearly a month and a half in the stand, I was forced to deal with mornings of bitter cold, freezing rain and blowing snow.
Even experienced hunters make mistakes. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
EDN photo by Matt Heinrichs
I had had enough of this nonsense.
I had been hunting the edge of a large alfalfa and had seen numerous does and smaller bucks, but had not even caught a glimpse of one of the few really good bucks that I?knew inhabited the area.
Unfortunately I stubbornly passed on all of the "unworthy" deer in hopes of getting a trophy to hang on my wall, but Mr. Big wasn't in the cards for me.
Not that I didn't have my chances.
He showed up halfway through the month of October and thanks to my lack of preparation?(stupidly left my clothes piled on the basement floor and forgot to bring cover spray), he winded me and turned on a dime never to be seen again.
And as most of you know, I?had a really good opportunity at perhaps a distant cousin of Mr. Big earlier this month, only to choke at the moment of truth, missing cleanly at just 15 yards.
A miss like that can really get to your head, as I?found out this week.
Back to my original story.
I?headed out at about 6 a.m. and got situated for what I?thought was going to be a long sit.
It was now or never and I was going to park my fat behind in this tree until I filled my tag.
With snow still covering the ground from the winter storm earlier in the week, it was obvious that the deer had been traveling past my stand on a pretty regular basis.
There were two well-worn trails to either side of my stand with a slough to my left and an open alfalfa field to my right. If they came through here it was going to be all over.
At about 7:30 I?heard a deer coming from my rear and fast!
I?barely had enough time to grab my bow and get positioned before a nice mature doe popped out not five yards to my left, but she was moving quickly.
She passed behind a tree as I stood and drew back my bow.
She cleared the tree and I?grunted with my mouth to get her to stop, and she did - for a second.
I?centered my 20-yard pin on the boiler room and hit the release. Unfortunately, right at that split second she lunged forward to take off again and my arrow connected way too far back.
Immediately my heart sank into the pit of my stomach as she trotted off into the distance.
As she cleared the next ridge, I made my way out of my stand and was pleased to find a very good blood trail. However, not wanting to push her any farther, I backed out of the area and let nature take it's course.
I?decided to give her that entire night before coming back to track her the following morning.
The next 24 hours were hell.
As is the case with any archery hunter that fails to hit their mark, I constantly questioned myself.
What went wrong?
Was it my shooting mechanics?
Should I?have passed on the shot?
Despite words of encouragement from my family and other hunting buddies, I just couldn't get past it.
After a restless night's sleep, I headed out Thursday morning, bound and determined to find my deer.
I?hit the trail as soon as it was bright enough to see.
I followed the surprisingly good trail for about 150 yards until ending up in a dense thicket. Not being able to find an easy access, I circled the thicket checking for any sign of escape. As I approached the opposite side of the brush my fears were realized, as I noticed small droplets of blood next to tracks that showed a deer on the run.
Something had chased her out of there in the night.
I followed the dwindling trail until it finally petered out to almost nothing, when all of a sudden two dogs crested the hill to my right, barking and growling to beat the band.
I noticed collars on both and started talking to them in a reassuring voice and instantly they began wagging their tails and started licking my hands.
After saying good bye to my new-found friends, I headed back in search of my deer when it occurred to me that they must have been what spooked the doe from her bed.
I continued to follow the trail which was nothing more than a speck of blood here and there until I?got to another thicket when I?heard some rustling in the brush.
I?looked over and sure enough, there was one of my four-legged friends munching on my doe!
I shooed the little bugger away and was pleased to find that they must not have found her much sooner than I did, as they had not done much damage at all and my arrow placement - while not ideal - had proven to be fatal after all.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.