Opening Weekend

6 Oct

The moment all of us have been waiting has finally arrived. It’s bow season! Like most of you, this week my life productivity was very low. Checking my phone, what felt like every 10 minutes, for up-to-date weather forecasts in order to know the right wind direction. I wonder how much time I spend on Bing Maps searching for pinch points and terrain features? Hours and hours!

October 1st landed on a Thursday this week and I wasn’t able to get out to hunt until my wide got home at 5:30pm. Because it was too late to set up a stand, I positioned myself in the 3rd row of a corn field that bordered a hay field that several deer were visiting the two previous nights with the same exact wind. The deer never showed up.

 

IMG_0027 2

 

Friday afternoon after work I headed home to take a scent-free shower, grab my gear and head out to a property I had just accessed the week before. This property was about 15 minutes from my front door, so it allows me to hunt during the week and not have to travel so far every weekend. This makes my wife happy.

Because I hadn’t done an scouting before the season started, I was going to have to run-n-gun every set up and observe until I found any sign or some popular travel patterns. I decided to play it safe and set up my stand along a two track that crested a ridge and connected two corn fields with a big section of timber on each side. I placed my stand on the south side of the crest so the northeast wind would blow my scent in to a larger valley to the west. It had been almost 10 months since I set up a tree stand, so it took me longer than normal to complete my set up. I must say, once I finished setting up and took some time to just relax, it felt really good to be back in the stand. Not much happened Friday night. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was, but a deer made it’s way downwind of me on a trail that led to the north corn field. The plan was to head back to the same stand the morning to see what the morning movement was like.

I was so excited to get back to the stand that morning that was completely strapped in a hour before shooting light. As it got lighter and lighter I could’t help but feel optimistic about the what event’s might take place. That was until I heard a gunshot that sounded pretty close, then another, and another. “What the hell” I thought to myself, you can’t hunt deer with a gun this time of year. Come to find out, it was also the opening of the duck season. The next hour and a half was non-stop shooting. It sounded like WWIII.

Sometime around 8am I noticed a little movement to the east. Sure enough it was two does and there were making their way to my location. As I was standing up one of the does must have noticed my movement. But, after a moment she went back to being comfortable and continued munching on acorns while they both worked their way to my location. Once they reached the two-track it took them a while to step out, but they finally did. I decided I want to take a shot at the bigger doe. When she stepped in to the shooting lane at 7 yards I was already at full draw. I can’t explain what happened next.

The moment I decided to squeeze my release I felt something graze the cheek that I rest my bowstring on. This caused me to close my eye and flinch, thus pulling the trigger. I could her my arrow hit something, but when I open my eyes the doe was already at a dead sprint. She stopped out of sight and snorted a couple times and then all went quiet. I’m not sure if it was a leaf, piece of a sick, or a bug, but it defiantly f’ed up my shot. When I looked down at my arrow it didn’t look like there had been any contact. So I decided to get down, get my arrow, and head home.

It wasn’t until I had the arrow in my hand that I could feel that I had actually hit the deer. It was covered in fat and a little meat, but no blood. DAMN IT! This made my heart sink into my gut. I had no idea where I hit the deer, so I didn’t know if the deer had been gut shot, hit it through the back-strap, or maybe the brisket. It took me about 30 minutes to find the first drop of blood, but at least I had something to go on. After another hour of following small drops of blood I could tell that the deer wan’t hit in any kind of vitals, but because I was still able to follow blood it was my responsibility to follow it as long as I could. Over the next two hours I continued to follow the blood although it was getting sparse. In that time I also bumped the doe two times but never able to lay eyes on her. Then the blood stopped. The second time I heard her I felt she was going to make it.┬áIf you have never wounded a deer, it’s one of the shittiest feeling in the world. I was feeling pretty down about the whole thing, but when things like this happen, you have to know when to move on.

 

IMG_0099 2

 

After watching the Hawkeyes squeak by the Badgers, I headed to yet another new property where I had seen two shooter bucks and several does this summer. I set up a stand in middle of two sections of timber that looked like an hourglass (my stand was in the skinny portion). All of the trail on the farm funneled down to this portion of the property. To the north was a hay field and a corn field and to the south was a CRP field. I was hoping to catch something coming or going from these destinations during the evening hunt or the next morning. I had a northeast wind the entire weekend, not a wind I would prefer, but I made it work. Long story short, one spike came through in those two hunts.

Overall I would say the weekend was a bit of a disappointment, but that’s how it goes when you hunt the early season. I was happy to get back in to the stand and knock the rust off. I’m already looking forward to the upcoming weekend and already checking the wind, moon, and temperatures. My goal is to still slap a couple of does before it starts getting good.

As always, thanks for reading.
Dan (DFW)

3 Responses to “Opening Weekend”

  1. Matt Fralen October 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    Everyone has those days. I haven’t wounded a deer yet but i have missed, been busted and generally been teased by deer just out of range. Being this is my 3rd year bow hunting I know someday it will happen to me but that is the game. A friend of mine always says one thing when i tell him something crappy happened on a hunt, “Bowhunting is heartbreaking.” Seems true but that heartbreak is worth it when you connect. Still waiting on arrowing my first buck but any deer I get each year is a trophy. Keep at it, best to get the bad days out of the way early so you can have a great day tomorrow (or your next hunt).

    • Dan Johnson October 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      Matt, thanks for reading! Good luck this season!

      • Matt Fralen October 6, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

        Goodluck on your season! And remember, “do the creep!” on the deer!

Leave a Reply