Bowhunting is one of those things that I can say I’m not very experienced at. I had a crazy successful first season, which helped me get my Grand Slam in 2018. I even bought a new bow, but since then, I haven’t shot a deer with my bow. In fact, I haven’t shot anything with my new bow.
I like to bowhunt because there’s less pressure on the deer, and I feel like I have a better chance at least seeing a deer before everyone else heads into the woods. Once firearms season begins, there’s way more people in the woods and it’s that much harder hunting without human interference.
Last year, I had several unexpected encounters making for some exciting hunting, but most of them were when legal shooting hours were coming to a close and light was well past the ability to see pins through my sight even if I illuminated them. It doesn’t help that I’m basically blind as can be and even with contacts, I don’t see like I’d like. My eyes have been known to play tricks on me either seeing things that aren’t what I think, or missing them all together.
On one occasion, I got to hear a buck grunt so close to me that you’d think I could have reached out and touched him, but it was so dark, I couldn’t see anything. It seemed like every time I went out, I had a close encounter but couldn’t close the deal.
So this year, I’m once again bowhunting and trying to harvest something, but ultimately, I’d like to shoot a buck. A decent buck. Not a doe, not a spike, but a decent buck. I’ve never shot a big buck. My biggest buck was an eight pointer not worthy of being mounted…so yeah, I want a buck. A big one. Just once, I’d like a big buck.
Which leads me to my latest encounter. I sat in my tree stand and listened to a deer sniff so hard to see if it could figure me out. I sat there thinking that this deer has me busted. He knows I’m here. The same thing happened the year before. Busted. He’ll never come out of that treeline.
John suggested I sit in the “old stand” that’s off to the left of my stand in hopes of outsmarting the deer. The wooden stand ended up being too narrow and too deep so I couldn’t sit properly. If you can’t sit still, you don’t see deer.
So down I went to sit on the ground and hunt with the wind. Not too hard since the wind was blowing directly in my face. I made a big circle behind the stand checking out deer trails and sign. Not a lot of sign. As I made my way almost back to the stand, I spotted movement in the treeline. Two doe were eating and making their way down the same path I had just taken. I watched the deer until they disappeared into the dark woods.
Then out of nowhere, a big deer on my left made its way up to the opening. My mind was a buzz trying to process everything. A big doe. I could shoot it, but I’m not going to. I’m going to just watch it and see how close it will get before I’m busted. Maybe I won’t be busted. Maybe just maybe a buck will be following that big doe.
I stood still, watching the deer rub its orbital glands on the branch above a buck paw. I’m thinking, I didn’t know does do that. As I watched it make its way toward me, it had its head down smelling and looking for acorns. It looked much smaller as it approached. Its back wasn’t much taller than my chest. Ground shrinkage at work. As it got directly across from me, I notice how small it seemed. Just a yearling. Then, it picked its head up from the behind the boulder that had been blocking him. I was shocked.
That doe was a spike horn buck! Damn eyes couldn’t see those antlers. Standing there at less than 10 yards…maybe more like 5 yards, it stopped and froze. Then doing the “what to heck is that” look at me, it tried to make out what I was. I didn’t move a muscle. It tried hard moving left and right and in turn, I moved slightly to keep the couple of hanging leaves between us. It looked away, took two more steps and again tried to figure me out. The wind was blowing directly parallel to the deer and me, so it couldn’t smell me.
It finally stomped its hoof. I gently picked my foot up and did a quick stomp. That freaked him out. He made a large leap back from where he came and stood there, then began running back and forth frustrated that it couldn’t smell me.
As dark approached, I put my arrow in my quiver and made my way out quietly, with hopes that I’ll again get to see a deer, maybe a buck, Maybe a decent buck before firearms season opens. Or maybe I’ll just cash in my doe tag. I’ve got time.
My Spike returned later for a quick snapshot on my camera.