As evening fell upon another day in October, I found myself sitting once again in a treestand. Whether it was the optimism of my hunting partner or the fact there was a storm rolling in, something about this evening felt different.
With the last rays of light shimmering through the trees, I heard the familiar sound of a deer walking through the fallen leaves. Looking through my binoculars I could see a deer approaching our treestand. With the deer approaching, my hunting partner quietly informed me this doe was not the only deer and that there were more deer in tow.
As the doe slowly approached to within twenty yards, we made a sound to stop her so she would offer a shot. Unfortunately, instead of stopping, the deer spooked and ran out to forty yards. She was still in my comfortable shooting range but this time on high alert.
Instinct took over and I raised my forty-yard pin onto the deer’s vitals and released the arrow. The arrow hit with a resounding smack and the deer bolted and ran into the woods. High fives and phone calls ensued and the thrill of harvesting a deer was definitely felt, until we found my arrow. It was half covered in blood and half covered in fat. The excitement of a harvest was quickly drained from our minds and what was an awesome afternoon quickly turning into a nightmare. As we followed the thin blood trail for over a mile it got more and more scarce and diminished down to pea size specks.
After following the deer across the road and into another woods, we spooked the deer out of her bed and sent her running into another county. With nothing else to do but go home we packed up our gear and headed back with nothing but a bloody arrow and a sick stomach.
Looking back on the hunt there are several lessons I’ve learned:
1. Never shoot a deer over thirty yards that is spooked and looking at you.
2. Never aim too low anticipating the deer to duck your arrow.
3. Always give the deer time to expire and never pressure them.
As the saying goes, “To over analyze is to paralyze,” so this is just one of those things that you have to suck up and go on down the road. As for the deer, the score still remains — deer one, Austin zero.
A note from dad: Having successfully harvested seven deer without a single loss, this was a hard pill for my son to swallow. As a father, I am very proud that he took it as a man and has done his best to be a better bowhunter from the experience. Stay tuned as our 2013 bowhunting saga continues.