My first deer ~ 2009

November 25 2009

I lost count of how many times I’ve been in those woods, but it has been almost every day this month. It was pretty much like any other day heading out to the treestand, except this time I left the house early enough that I had to use my headlamp to walk through the woods and I set up Ed’s camera by his stand.

I made it to my stand about 7am and didn’t really expect to see anything as the trail camera had shown that the deer were coming in the afternoon and late night that week. So I sat and waited and around 8:40I see the trio come in. It was a doe, a yearling and a 2 year old. that I have seen just about everyday I am out there. They are the stars of my trail camera, I have many pictures of them.

I decided that I just really want some meat and that my first deer doesn’t have to be a buck. When the doe was behind a tree I tilted my bow up and that caught the attention of the youngest doe. I went still and closed my eyes as she was trying to figure out what the heck was in the tree. She snorted and they all stomped off about 10 feet. They walked back when they didn’t see anything.

I drew my bow when the doe was behind the tree again except this time she didn’t want to step out and I knew that if I tried to relax the shot and draw again she would step out in the middle of that and see me. I waited for what seemed like forever until she stepped out. I shot but it was too low. It went through her front legs opening the front of one and the back of the other. I didn’t find this out till we found her later. She took off and then came back around and was lying in the water in to the west of the stand. The water is from the heavy rains we had a few weeks ago. I kept hearing her snort and I could see the water rippling. She went quiet and still for a while so I climbed down and walked towards her, as a neared she got up and took off, I could see she wasn’t running normally. I went back to the stand and waited for Eddie to come from work to help me track her.

After about 30 minutes I walked around, found my arrow and found a good blood trail. When he got there we followed the trail for about two and a half hours. It took a lot of teamwork and we came to a point where the blood trail just stopped. There were other deer nearby and Ed went to see if they were with her. They spooked as he walked near but when he stopped one started back. He knew that there had to be something really interesting in order for a deer to risk instantly walking back at what spooked them.  Then he saw my doe, hiding near a large puddle of water.

He called to me and told me to put an arrow in my bow and walk toward him. When I got there I couldn’t even see her she was so well hidden. She didn’t even move but was looking at us. My shot went through her lungs, I could hear the loud hollow thud as it hit. She jumped up and ran forward then u turned across the puddle. We waited then followed her. I found half my arrow lying on the ground near the puddle. We walked to where we thought she was and split up to try to find a blood trail. We didn’t find one but Ed found her not even 20 feet from where I shot her. I was ahead of him and circled around them. She got up but fell forward and laid down.

I sat where I was, about 15 feet in front of her. She had her head up and was aware of where we were but was only looking at me out of the corner of her eye. She was fighting it but fading fast. When she laid her head down we walked over. She was alive but in shock. Ed told me to bring him my knife but I knew that it was my deer and my responsibility. I took out my knife and after Ed told me how to I stabbed her through her neck hitting the jugular vein. Her eyes went wide but she didn’t move otherwise. It wasn’t long after that when she breathed her last and then the nerves started.

It was kinda hard for me because before she died she looked so scared and the animal person in me wanted to comfort her. Although, saying “it will be ok, I’m just trying to kill you” seems a little oxymoronic. At the same time I knew that she needed to be put out of her misery as soon as possible.  We dragged her out without gutting her because we were exhausted and the processor would do it for us for a fee.

image

I got her hide tanned, it hangs off the back of my reading chair and is a reminder of the adventures of my first deer.

 

Missouri Doe 2012

My first trip to Missouri began with a flight from New York, normally I like to drive to hunt so I don’t have to condense what I bring but flying was easier this time since it was an archery hunt and a very far trip.

I arrived at the Kansas City Airport and waited for fellow LIC staff Heather Lininger to pick me up along with another hunter that had arrived. We piled in the suv loaded to the brim with ladies and gear along with a trailer behind us.

We headed north to Northwest Missouri Outfitters located near Denver, MO just south of the Iowa state line. There are giant deer roaming this area. The lodge is great with everything a hunting camp needs, a bathroom in every room – you can’t get better than that with a camp full of ladies! The lodge set up on a hill with a beautiful view from the large front porch, a very large kitchen and a cozy area to sit and visit in front of a fire.

The morning of the first hunt we all geared up and headed out with our guides. I was dropped off first in the pitch black. When we drove by my stand it looked like I was going to be sitting in the Eiffel Tower, I had never sat in a 20+ foot stand before. I was thankful it was dark and I couldn’t see the ground as I climbed up and got settled in. The stand was located in a corn field that had been harvested with a road that ran close to my stand so a truck was nothing new to the deer.

I sat in the dark waiting for the sun to come up. As it grew lighter I was amazed by how much I could see from my stand. Just as the sun rose 3 bucks came into the field from the woods to my left about 150 yards from my stand. Perfect for a gun hunter but I had to sit and watch as they walked away. It was too difficult to tell the size but they were younger bucks and not shooters. I sat in that stand morning and after lunch till dark. I counted 17 deer, more than I have ever seen in one trip much less one day.

Amazing view

Amazing view

The following morning I saw many doe but no bucks. October is still the early season for Missouri so they were not in Rut or even pre rut.

That afternoon I was dropped off at another stand, it was a in a great place with giant trees and a pond about 40 yards up a small hill. It was a great location. There was just one problem, ok there was two. The tree was too big for me to swing my safety tether around and the ladder had no arm rests. I had to climb up and down the stand 3 times to try to get mentally focused to get settled in even though when I first climbed up everything in my screamed “Get down, get down NOW!”

I could not shake the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be up there. I text Dave, who is the owner of NWMO and guide that dropped me off to ask for permission to hunt from the ground.

I need to add here that you NEVER get down from your stand and walk around without permission, EVER. You are on someone else’s land and you don’t know the boundaries or the patterns of the deer. Always, always ask permission even if you want to walk to the road. You don’t know where other hunters are and you don’t want to disturb their hunts.

I was given permission and I stalked up to the pond and dropped a knee by a small group of trees to assess the situation. To my left at the opposite bank of the pond there was a large pine tree and I could see deer legs under the branches. The deer were up the slope feeding. I settled in to wait and ranged everything in sight. One spot in particular stuck out to me. It was a foot and a half wide clearing behind me between many small trees and lead down a sharp incline to a wide path. The path was exactly 20 yards away. I know this because I ranged it three times, something in my brain told me there was a good reason to do so. About 20 minutes later more deer came to feed. I saw many legs. One doe came around the pine tree and didn’t like the bump on the tree that wasn’t there before. I was that bump. I was leaned up against two trees, perfectly camouflaged but she sensed something was up. After much head bobbing (she looked like she was trying to spell words with her head) she decided she had enough.

She jogged down the slope past the pond and turned down the wide path. I drew when she was behind a tree and put my site at 20, right where I had ranged between the trees and waited. She entered the clearing and I let it fly. In my excitement I forgot to make a noise to have her stop but at this point everything was just flowing together like it was written in a story I was living out.

The arrow passed through her kidneys and she continued to jog. The blood was gushing out like a 2 liter bottle on its side. She didn’t go 20 yards and crashed. It was an amazing feeling. Everything came into place like it was always supposed to happen that way.

I moved my position a little so I could watch her and make sure that no predators came in, it was still early in the evening and there were a couple hours left till pick up time. It’s a strange feeling to guard your kill from afar and wait for a buck at the same time. There were other hunters around so I didn’t ask to be picked up but checked in that I had one down.

Close to last shooting light it started to pour huge rain drops. I packed up my gear and went and sat by my deer. She had landed not 10 yards from my original stand.

I will also add this here, DO NOT attempt to recover your own animal when you are on a guided hunt! Wait for your guides!

Since she was at my pick up location I went and sat by the largest doe I’ve ever shot. This was my first Midwest hunt and compared to Alabama/Georgia deer she was huge!

I was picked up and we loaded her in the side by side. We got back to the lodge and they estimated her at 150 pounds. We gutted her right away but waited to process so I could get pictures in the light, luckily the nights were cold and allowed for that opportunity.

I was thrilled that I had taken a mature doe, they are very smart creatures.

Huge doe!

Huge doe!

Kodi Dog

Kodi Dog

The other big thing that happened that day is that my dog Kodi was born, I got her from one of the guides at NWMO. Pretty amazing day in my book! I will never forget that day.

The rest of the hunt was great, I didn’t get a shot opportunity for a buck but I will return to NWMO and get one of those monsters that they have! I met many ladies with a passion for archery that weekend and it is so great to have friends that share my passions. The guides went above and beyond for the ladies. I can’t wait to share camp with all of them again.