Opening Weekend Bomb

9 Oct

This is my opening weekend selfie.

This is my opening weekend selfie.

 

I’ll start this blog entry off as I was pulling in to the farm drive this past Friday. To say I was excited for my first hunt of the year would be an understatement. I came right from work so I quickly changed in to my scent-free hunting clothes, through on my pack and tree stand, and headed into the timber for my first set of the year. As I was walking to the location I was going to set up in, I couldn’t help but think about how my season ended last year. I was going to set up in the same tree I ended my 2013 season in. The same tree I let an arrow fly on a stud of a buck that I hit but never found. I was hoping to bring some new mojo to this location and start my 2014 season off by filling the freezer with some doe meat. According to my trail cameras I should have no problems having an encounter with one of the several does in the area.

Walking in I noticed some smaller rubs and a heavily used trail heading to the corn field to the east of me. This reassured my suspicion that I would have a shot either tonight or the next morning as I planned on hunting the same stand location in the morning. When I got to the tree, I took a quick look around and started setting up my sticks and stands. Over the years I have become pretty fast setting up and tearing down my Lone Wolf hang on and sticks. I was up in the tree and strapped in in less than 15 min. This first thing I do, after I hook up my harness of course, is to get my Ozonics up and running. Then, I set up my camera arm, connected my camera to the arm, threw on my hooded sweatshirt and jacket, and then pulled up my bow. I took a deep breath and it became very clear to me that the bow season was in fact here and just like the seasons past, it will fly by faster than one would like.

Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

Historically the deer movement would come from the west and head east to the ag field. I only hunt this stand on a north or northwest wind with my scent blowing down into a gully and out to the road. This is also my access route getting to the stand. Although the wind was blowing pretty hard, for some reason the lay of the land kept my location fairly calm occasionally shifting the wind straight west, but, because the deer were coming from the west it wasn’t going to be a problem.

After about 45 minutes in to the sit three does came jogging by exactly where I expected them to come just a little too fast to get my bow, turn on the camera and get a shot. You could tell the wind had them spooked and on edge. Before I knew it they disappeared in to some thickness and never offered a shot. Maybe if I wasn’t trying to get them on film I would have had an opportunity.

 

Fresh sign is always a good thing. I'll be hunting this area this coming weekend.

Fresh sign is always a good thing. I’ll be hunting this area this coming weekend.

 

Within a matter of minutes they were back, coming down the same trail they left on. All three of them hanging on the edge of where the thickness meet the open timber. One of the does was still on full alert checking out every sound that the wind was causing while the other two were stuffing their face with acorns and green leaves. By this point all three does were within shooting range but would never stand still long enough for me to get the camera on them and get a shot on film. Before I knew it all three deer were directly below my stand with one even licking my lowest climbing stick. But as we all know, sometimes deer can be a little too close making shooting straight down difficult.

DOE FIGHT! All of a sudden one of the does just started biting and beating the crap out of smallest doe of the three. Chasing it around the timber, this might be one of the most unsettling things I have ever seen. Nature can be very cruel. At one point the smaller doe was on the ground in a whitetail version of the fetal position while the other doe was getting in several shots to the top of her head. They were so hard I could hear the smack of the skull over the wind at 30 yards away. I wonder if the smaller doe hooked up with the others boyfriend, or maybe spreading rumors. Either way, she got her ass kicked. At the end of the Royal Rumble they were all out of shooting range and they worked their way back down the trail they originally came from.

As the shadows became longer and the woods settled down again I was optimistic about the rest of the hunt as the last time I checked the trail camera by the along the field edge I captured pictures of Ryan Eyberg (the deer not the human) and another buck I have on my hit-list named Dork. This along with the huge cold front that was working its way through the area meant anything could happen.

After a hour and a half passed I could see a doe working her way down the same trail only hours before. This time I was already standing and had my camera in position. Right behind the first doe was a second bigger doe that I decided, if presented an opportunity, I was going to take a shot. As the first doe worked her way through two different shooting lanes I positioned my camera where I thought the second one was going to follow. The plan was to stop her on camera, then take the shot. When she made her way in to the first shooting lane I whistled but she kept walking. Five seconds later she walked through the second shooting lane and I whistled even louder, but still unable to stop her. I whistled a third time and when she did finely stop it was too late, she stopped right behind a tree. 20 feet further down the trail she presented another shot but by this time she was straight away and I wasn’t going to take that shot. Moments later a trio of Larry’s came through the center of the ridge walking through my shooting lanes at 20 yards. That was the last of the deer that came through before it sun went down.

The next morning I was back in the same tree stand with plenty of time to get settled in before the sun came up. I knew it was cold out side but I was a little under prepared for this trip as far as clothing was concerned. All I had was my Predator hoodie and a light jacket and within 30 minutes I was freezing my butt off.

Still pretty windy out, I had just finished sending my wife a “good morning” text when I noticed some movement coming down a trail leading away from a cornfield. Without even standing up I watched a Larry walk 5 feet from the bottom of my stand towards a bedding area on the next ridge. As quick as I watched the small buck disappear I noticed another deer heading my way down the same trail. When I confirmed it was a doe I stood up, grabbed my bow and pointed my camera in the direction she was coming from. I told myself that I didn’t care about necessarily getting excellent footage but rather the best possible shot. The doe was working her way down the trail every couple steps putting her head down to much on something or get a quick sniff of the buck that came before her. When she stepped in to the first shooting lane she was head on at about 20 yards. Then for some reason she made a hard right and started following a different trail leading down the center of the ridge. The next time she stopped she was in dead center in one of my shooting lanes quartering away at about 15 yards. Without even thinking about it I drew back and settled my 20 yard pin tight behind the shoulder. She caught me drawing back, but it was too late for her, the arrow was off. When the arrow hit her it sounded like a watermelon getting slapped. The force actually knocking her to the ground. In the blink of an eye she was over the hill, and I was happy.

 

Here is a tast of what the blood trail looked like... for 150 yards. Still pissed!

Here is a taste of what the blood trail looked like… for 150 yards. Still pissed!

 

In the seconds from the time the arrow hit her until she was gone from my sight, I noticed arrow was hanging out of her… it was not a pass through. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I hit her a little forward going through the shoulder blade and hitting some bone on the other side. The only thing left to do now was go and find her.

I waited close to 30 minutes before I got out of the stand and headed over to the impact location and instantly noticed blood, lots and lots of blood. Honestly, the most blood I have ever followed when tracking a deer. In the first 20 yards of the blood trail I was confident that the doe was just over the hill. 40 yards turned in to 80 yards, 80 yards turned in to 100 yards, the entire time leaking a large amount of blood. I was in complete shock that the deer even had that much blood in her body. Some of the pools of blood even had chunks of lung in it. How this deer was not dead within 50 yards still blows my mind.

 

Here is a map showing a layout of the blood trail and property.

Here is a map showing a layout of the blood trail and property.

 

Somewhere around 150 yards into the track job the blood just shut off. The next 2 hours were spent literally taking one or two steps then going back to last blood and starting all over again. Another 150 yards later I found what would be my last drop of blood. I gave it another hour before I decided to head back to the truck to evaluate my options. I was sick to my stomach. I don’t know about you, but taking the life of an animal is a big deal for me. And when something like this happens, it tears me up inside.

Before I headed home I switched out a couple trail camera cards that were in the area. The entire 15 minute drive back to my parents house I replayed the shot in my head about 100 times, wondering what went wrong. My gut feeling was the deer was dead. So, I called a couple friends asking for their advice and had a conversation with my step-dad on whether to hunt that night or go back out look for her. After hearing my story and informing them about the amount of time I had already spent looking for this deer, it was unanimous, I was going brush it off and head back to the timber for an evening hunt.

 

Here is one of my trail camera setups overlooking a drive between a corn and bean field.

Here is one of my trail camera setups overlooking a farm drive between a corn and bean field. Check out  Stic-n-Pic

 

After a couple bowls of chili I decided to I grabbed my bow and take a couple practice shots at the target that was in the yard before I headed back to the woods. F***ING S**T! I missed the target by a foot and a half. So I knocked another arrow thinking it was a fluke and let it fly. AIRBALL! By this time I was so pissed I was kicking the ground like a major league baseball manager. At the time I thought that was the best thing to do. Then I noticed that my peep site was loose in my string and my serving string had become loose allowing it to move. I quickly came to the realization that I was not going to be hunting that night. I hopped in my truck a decided that the best thing to do would be to continue looking for my doe.

When I returned to the timber I made my way back to last blood and started looking. I did this for about 30 minutes before I gave up and decided to start gridding the area I thought she might be laying. Two hours later, it was over. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Although I was upset my focused turned to my family… so I decided to head home.

If you have never missed or wounded a deer, consider yourself lucky. It’s a gut-wrenching experienced that will stay with you for a long time, even longer if it’s a 210” monster. In less than 48 hours I will be back in the stand looking for redemption. In this sport you can never give up.

Thanks for reading,

Dan (DFW)

13 Responses to “Opening Weekend Bomb”

  1. Tom October 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I shot a doe last Saturday night. There was a small amount of hair on the broad head but no blood. Looked for blood and couldn’t find any. We’ve all been here it sucks! Good luck the rest of the season. Shot one of those giants.

    • Dan Johnson October 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Yes it does suck! When you do get one let me know and I’ll post it on Facebook!

  2. LS October 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Seems each season is its own unique roller coaster of highs and lows. We learn to ride it out and never give up…for sure you’ll get redemption this weekend…does better bring their A game.

  3. Tyler October 10, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Same thing happened to me last night. Shot a doe and tracked a small amount of blood for a 100 yards or so then it went dry. Im guessing I hit her in the shoulder. Went back out this morning but never found her. It is a tough feeling.

    • Dan Johnson October 10, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Yeah, sounds like you were in the same boat. Let’s both start fresh this weekend!Good luck!

  4. Diaz October 11, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    “I wonder if the smaller doe hooked up with the others boyfriend, or maybe spreading rumors. Either way, she got her ass kicked.”

    I laughed my ass off at that line! You should’ve shot that bitch doe.

    Keep it coming, Dan. I like how you keep it real.
    I’m really enjoying the podcast, too.

    • Dan Johnson October 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      I’m glad i can bring a smile and laugh to your day.Thanks for reading!

  5. Dan Johnson October 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Mark!

  6. Brian October 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Same thing happened to me opening weekend. Shot a nice doe had good blood for 50 yards then nothing. Came back in the morning to do a grid search and still nothing. I think as bowhunters, if you hunt long enough this is bound to happen. The real challenge is after you shoot the deer in bowhunting, unless you see them drop. Not the first time this has happened to me and I’m sure not the first for you!
    Happy Hunting!

  7. Dan Johnson October 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    It happens to us all! Wasn’t the first, won’t be the last.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. The Wired To Hunt Podcast – Episode #26: Weather and Whitetails ‹ Wired To Hunt - October 9, 2014

    […] – If you’d like to hear more about Dan’s opening weekend hunts check out his blog post on The Nine Finger Chronicles […]

  2. Friday Morning Mashup 10/10/14 ‹ Wired To Hunt - October 10, 2014

    […] Opening Weekend Bomb – The Nine Finger Chronicles: My co-host on The Wired To Hunt Podcast shares the ups and downs of his opening weekend hunts. […]

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