I am not an experienced outdoorsman.
I did not grow up in a hunting family. I don’t think my father has ever been deer or turkey hunting in his life. Having no interaction with hunting in my youth, I didn’t miss it at the time.
Now I am an adult, living in a rural area with 40 acres of woods and they call to me.
If you are an animal rights type, I will take a moment to remind you that the coyote kill more deer per year than I do.
Okay, back to my story.
I don’t have a wall full of deer heads and antlers in my living room, but my success rate is pretty good. I first tried hunting five years ago. My very first shot dropped a young buck dead in his tracks. Two years later, I took another button buck and a 7 pointer. Three shots, three kills; not bad for a rookie.
Last year, I decided to try my hand with a bow. Much more complicated hunt and much more manly satisfying. Ugh, ugh.
On my very first shot with the bow, I hit a doe with a kill shot. Unfortunately, she ran out of our woods and into the neighbors pasture. I never found her.
I hate the idea of losing a deer. I’m hunting for meat. I go out, kill something, drag it home and eat it. Additionally, I’ve got guys coming out for deer camp in a couple weeks. Anything I lose now is one less chance to tag one during deer camp.
So, this last Sunday I am sitting in my stand at 5:00 in the evening. Down the trail comes a nice buck; full bodied, lots of meat. He stops 20 yards away and starts nosing around. He never sees me. I draw, I release. His front legs buckle then he takes off.
I wait about 15 minutes before climbing down to look for my arrow. I should have waited longer, but it gets dark quick in the woods, so I felt a bit rushed. I find the arrow, blood on the hilt. So a pass through shot.
I head back to the house to put my things away and go find the blood trail. My awesome 9 year old daughter wants to come help me. She helps me follow the blood trail until dark where it leads once again…..to the neighbors freaking field. 300 acres of 4′ high scrub brush and thistles.
Dark comes, we go inside. We feed the kids and then my wonderful wife says, “lets take the jeep out to the field, we’ll drive around and see if we can find it.” God, I love this woman.
We look until 11:00. No sign.
It’s not cool enough for the meat to last. Even if I find it the next day, I can’t salvage it. I went in dejected and almost guilty.
I shot a beautiful animal. It was a quality shot. And then I lost him. He’ll feed the coyotes and the buzzards, but I’ve taken him out of the breeding pool and I can’t take that back.
I’m done with the bow. I enjoyed it, but with an 0 for 2 success rate in retrieving the deer, it would be irresponsible for me to continue. Tracking a deer by myself is not realistic, so I guess I’ll wait until deer camp where I have three other guys to assist me.
Perhaps the day will come when I feel comfortable trying again. But sometimes, you just got to know your limits.