Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Opportunity lost, lesson learned!

I decided to get ahold of my uncle "SR" on a Friday night to set up an early morning drive to our hunting land up north for early the next morning.  He is Dennis's dad, and has been a hunting mentor of mine as far back as I can remember.  Sr has some history on the land as my father and him hunted this land as kids, and Sr had partaken the art of bow hunting with a newly purchased crossbow.  Old men and their injuries!  Either way, any time I can spend with Sr in the woods is a good time no matter the outcome.

We got to the property about 30 minutes before sunrise, and took our time getting out to the stands.  This property and the stands we were hunting are notorius for deer sitting right in the entrance and exit routes to all of the stands. For this reason we decided to wait until there was just enough sunlight for us to see, and stalk our way out, hoping not to jump anything that we couldnt see.

As Dennis has referenced in prior posts, I had decided to put a portable hanging stand on the edge of a field that my father hunted quite often during his life.  It was a shot in the dark, as we had not seen anything prior to placing the stand, but the trails leading in and out, and the position of the stand in between a small valley and some large pine trees make it a solid highway that the deer like to travel.

Once I got into the stand and got situated, I decided to sit down and relax and try and calm the nerves for a couple of minutes.  After about 20 minutes of some breathing exercises, checking my fantasy football news on my cell phone, and making sure that my harness was connected and ready for nap time, I decided it was time to eat a small snack.  Upon leaning over to get the granola bar out of my backpack I realized something....THERE WAS A DEER UNDERNEATH MY STAND!!!! This is where those lessons come into play. 

Lesson #1 - where ever you think the deer will not come from, THEY WILL. We had figured the deer were crossing the field directly behind the stand or coming straight across from the pines.  the doe standing underneath me had come from behind me over my right shoulder, which is an area that we had never even taken into consideration. For at least 10 minutes the doe stood underneath my stand chewing on some of the greens and looking around.

Lesson #2 came very quickly after lesson #1.  The doe decided to walk off to the left of the stand.  This is an area of some extremely thick, head high brush.  Exactly where we thought the deer would NOT walk through.  The beaten down path, and the area that we had decided was my shooting lane was about 20 feet to her right.  after she ducked into the brush I was able to get my bow in my hand and ready to shoot.

Lesson #3 - clear every shooting lane!  She was standing 30 yards out when she finally turned in a way that gave me a perfect shot.  I pulled back and let out a small grunt with my mouth in order to get her to lift her head, and WHAM!  Ok, not so wham, but the arrow took off.  I watched my arrow fly the first 20 yards right at the target.  Then it happened.  The arrow brushed a branch with about 4 small leaves on it.  The branch shook and the leaves rattled, and I knew I was in trouble.  The minute the arrow hit the tree my attention was drawn to the branch, and I didnt get a clear view of the location of the hit.  She took off running and darted right to the tall pine trees that we have found the deer use as safe zone.

After a couple of hours SR and I walked back to the truck and let her sit.  After what we believed was enough time, we went to check where she was standing, and see if we could trail her.  We found some blood about 10 yards from where I hit her, heading in the direction she ran.  About 30 yards from where the shot took place we found the broken off arrow.  Much to my dismay there was a very small portion of the arrow that had broken off, meaning minimal penetration.  Sr put in his best tracking effort, and we trailed the little bit of blood for hours until it finally ran dry.  It was a heartbreaking feeling having to call off the search, but sometimes you just cant do any more.

3 lessons in one day.  Excitement and disappointment.  An empty truck on the way home.  All things that some would use as excuses to never go back again.  The crazy thing is, it made my drive to hunt smarter and harder even more than it was prior.  I could not wait to get back out again. 

This trip turned out to be the most excitement I would see for the year.  Through the rest of bow season and through the rifle season, I never again got an opportunity to put my sights on another deer. 

Congrats to Dennis (drop tine unicorn) and Matt (x2...well kinda) for their harvests this year.  I always say it and I truely mean it when I say that if someone in my party gets a deer, I am almost as excited as if I got the deer myself.  Success as an individual is as rewarding as success as a team.

I plan on writing some upcoming reviews on some of the equipment that I got the chance to use this season, as well as some previews for some of the new stuff i have purchased since the season has ended.


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