When the phone rang and my father in-law asked if I could be at his house around 6:30am the following morning I said yes figuring he may need help with a project of some sort. I was surprised to hear him explain that he had gotten access hunt a spot near home and was wondering if I wanted to go out and harvest a doe with him. After hearing that I told him I was definitely able to be there and we made our plan for the morning.
My father in-law probably spent more time hunting this season than any other year since he started hunting but still has yet to tag a deer. He passed up a few shots early in the year just waiting on something better and one morning he had not one, but two pretty good bucks come in tending does and both of them bedded down with their does slightly out of range of his crossbow. During gun season he sat in an open ground blind while 30mph winds blew snow down the back of his neck only to get skunked and not see a single deer for that entire weekend. He has definitely put in his time this year and deserved to have had a much better season than he did.
As we got into December his freezer was still empty and it wasn’t looking like he was going to get many more chances to hunt. With my freezer being pretty much full I decided that if I was able to take a doe during late bow he would be getting the venison.
Back on December 14th I was up at our property and one of our neighbors invited me over to his place for the afternoon hunt. I like to call his place “the zoo” based on the number of deer he tends to see and getting an invite to spend an evening there was pretty exciting. I knew we were not only going to have a fun hunt but we were also going to see some deer and before the night was over I would likely be flinging an arrow at a doe.
As that evening progressed we saw plenty of deer and eventually a group of three came in and offered me what could only be described as a “chip shot”. She was 16yds out, broadside and I was shooting while standing at ground level. It was a shot that I have made thousands of times while practicing and a shot that I would probably put in the money 9 times out of 10 but when I let the arrow go I couldn’t believe my eyes as it appeared to be way high. The shot ended up shaving a stripe across the top of the deer’s back and not even drawing blood. I’m still not sure what happened but in the end the deer escaped unharmed and my father in-laws freezer remained empty.
Two weeks later, with that miss still pretty fresh in my mind we climbed out of my father in-laws truck in the pre-dawn darkness to head to the spot he had gotten permission to hunt. He had left his crossbow up at the cabin so I would be doing the shooting and he was going to be a spectator. We climbed up into the tree, a massive old oak, and got settled in for the morning. A few guys that he works with had hunted here during the year and had seen several deer. They had explained to him how the deer tend to work through the area and we had high hopes for what the morning may hold.
He had been told to be ready for deer to come from the right (east) shortly after first light so as we neared legal shooting light we anxiously kept an eye that way. As the first half hour of the hunt came and went a few squirrels and rabbit’s were all we had seen. I had begun to wonder if this hunt was going to end as so many others had for my father in-law this year, but I kept reminding myself that it only takes a second to change everything.
Around 8:15am my father in-law decided to run to his work, just a little ways down the road, to use the restroom. As I heard the truck pull away something happened that just goes to show you that sometimes it’s your year and sometimes it’s not. The woods came to life literally within minutes of his departure. I don’t know what jinx the hunting god’s threw over him this year but they certainly have a sick sense of humor.
It was probably only 5 or 10 minutes after he left when the turkeys that we had heard earlier popped out of the woods and entered the field that we were facing. Four good sized birds kept working in and out of the field and entertained me for 10 or 15 minutes as I waited for my father in-law to return.
When he returned he decided to stay in the truck to not risk bumping anything while trying to get back to the tree. At 8:42am I texted him that I would stay in the stand until 9 o’clock and then get down and head out. As the last few minutes of my hunt ticked away I assumed that this hunt was all but over and we were going to go home empty handed this morning.
At 8:57am I heard commotion to my left and saw 6 deer come trotting out of some thick cover and start heading towards me. I quickly stood up and assessed the group. It looked to be two adult does each of which appeared to have two fawns with them. There were two trails in that area and it appeared that they were going to take the one that angled to the north which would keep them out of range. For whatever reason just as they started to veer north they stopped and began milling around the area.
At this point I realized that this may just end up working out and got myself ready to take a shot. A few of the fawns began filing through a shooting lane that I had previously ranged at 30yds and I told myself that if one of the adult does got to that spot I would take the shot.
When one of the bigger does began following the fawns I drew my bow and got set for the shot. She hit the lane and I stopped her with a mouth bleat, settled the pin and let it fly. As the arrow buried in behind her shoulder I heard myself whisper “she’s done!” and when she spun and ran off I could see that the exit wound was also right in the money and I knew I had accomplished my mission. A few seconds later I thought I heard her crash and I texted my father inlaw to come in and help me recover her.
We got to the shot site and the blood trail was instant and, with the snow cover, very obvious. We quickly and easily followed it about 70 or 80yds and there she lay, right where I thought I had heard her go down.
My father in-law thanked me for the venison just as I thanked him for the invite and opportunity to get out and hunt. I could tell that he was very happy to get the meat for the freezer and hopefully he could tell that I was thankful to be able to help. This doe was a bit of redemption for both of us. Hopefully for him it offered up some redemption for the long hard season he’s had. Personally it was great to redeem myself for my miss a few weeks ago and it felt awesome to watch that arrow hit right where I wanted it.
Another great hunt stored in our memory and some great meat in the freezer, what more can you ask for?
Take care, and thanks for reading!