It was an icy cold day. My toes were numb and I could barely keep my eyes open because the 30mph wind was blasting my eyeballs with little ice pellets. I hadn’t been sitting terribly long, but I was suffering just enough. And then I spotted this buck walking directly at me, downwind of course. It seemed I was having the worst luck. At about 30 yards he stopped and looked slightly terrified, backpedaling and turning around. I was going to lose my chance. He winded me. I vocalized a grunt quick as I came to full draw. Unbelievable, he stopped and turned so he was now quartering away. Finding my open window between the trees I let an arrow fly. I connected and the hit looked right on target.
After climbing down and searching, I could not find my arrow and I could not find blood. So I began walking the line I last saw him take. After about a hundred yards I found some small blots of blood here and there. Then I spotted my arrow. This didn’t look good – hardly any blood and only blood on part of the arrow shaft. I’m not sure what happened? Looking on ahead I spotted deer bodies through the trees, several of them. One was the buck and he didn’t even look phased. Lowering his head down it looked like he was eating some vegetation and just milling around with a couple of does as if nothing happened.
Fast forward about a week later and here I am sitting in the same tree, only this time it is quite pleasant outside and I have brought a couple of friends with me. I had shown them on a map a chunk of woods I wanted them to push deer out of and try to maneuver them towards the pinch point I was sitting in. Sure enough after about an hour of sitting I could see the deer start rolling in. A doe and a fawn – followed by a buck, then a larger buck which looked remarkably like the one I had hit previously. They were sticking to heavy cover and were not going to give me any easy shots. I only had a second to make a shot and a small window to make one so I lined up and waited for him to pass through behind everyone else. I let fly my arrow. The shot was not good, hitting a deer on the move is very difficult with a bow – though they were not moving fast, but moving nonetheless and somewhat frantically and unpredictable. Always I am hesitant to stop them because sometimes they will just take off, especially if they are already spooked.
Watching the impact, I could see my arrow hit much too far back. Frustration hit me hard. Luckily I had my friends Mitch and Joe with me to help out, along with Jordan who joined up with us later. But my frustration with myself had already taken hold, and I did not think we had any chance at all in finding this deer. I was ready to be done and put the bow away for the rest of the season. But as long as I had friends there to help – I wasn’t ready to give up. Neither were Mitch or Joe. We were able to track little blots of blood down to little specks of blood until it got too dark to see. After returning the next day we could not pickup on the blood trail and spent most of the afternoon combing the woods looking for a lump of brown on the ground. We covered a lot of ground and I was becoming pretty depressed about the whole situation and wondering if I would even hunt again this year.
As I was walking back up the hill to the truck I noticed a spot of blood on the trail where we had not found any before. Joe then found another spot on the other side of the trail. We were back on it and every ten or twenty feet we found a spot of blood – sometimes the size of a pinhead on a little blade of grass. After following as far as we could, again, we could not find anymore blood. But we had made it a considerable ways and this buck had kept a very straight line the entire time so I walked on ahead scanning the ground as at this point we were losing light. After arriving at the bottom of the hill I found nothing. Turning around I started making my way back up the hill towards Mitch and Joe covering more ground I did not cover on my way down. I met up with them only to find out they had no luck either. It was getting dark and we were going to call it.
We started walking up the hill, about 50 yards apart from each other. I crossed a creek and came up over the hill, scanning down below as I traversed my way up. That’s when I spotted a big brown body lying in the brush. I couldn’t believe my eyes but it was there. Mitch had walked right past it previously. It was the best feeling I had all season finding that deer. Better yet, it was in fact the same deer I hit the previous week. Looking at the gaping hole in his side – you would have thought he would have dropped dead quick with a double lung shot. Upon further inspection the only thing I could figure out is that he was quartering away just enough that my broadhead caught the angle right on the back of the shoulder blade, and rather than penetrating into the chest cavity it slipped right up along the shoulder blade, falling out after the deer ran about a hundred yards.
Without Mitch and Joe I never would have found this deer. In fact, without Mitch and Joe, I never would have had the opportunity for a second shot at this deer. I have to thank Jordan for his help too. It ended up being about a half mile we recovered this deer from the point of impact. We all stayed persistent and it paid off. My only regret now is that I didn’t get a picture with all of us together. Thanks a lot guys.
The frustration, resignation and the hint of self loathing that creeps in around the edges after you wound an animal without being able to find it is definitely one of the worst feelings ever. I have definitely been there before, although so far persistence has paid off for me like it did for you. Congratulations on a great buck!
Thanks Austin! Well said.