November 21, 2014
It was an overcast morning. Kind of blah. Dad and I got a late start, due to this being day seven of the November firearms season. After a week of 3:30 AM wake-up calls, followed by the same monotonous trek to our deer stands, it is becoming easier to hit the snooze button a few times.
Six days earlier, I shot at and did not get two different bucks (see A Most Dreadful Day for reference). The depression I felt because of this opening day fiasco had slowly faded, and I had spent the week hunting with my usual razor-sharp focus. The sole barrier to my week was simply that the deer had seemed to dissipate, as other than a couple of does on the second morning, I had not seen one single deer. My patience was wearing thin, and I brooded on the fact that I had missed my opportunity.
I trudged up to my stand, each step up the seemingly steeper by the day hill a serious challenge. A thought crossed my mind as daybreak made its arrival. I would give this spot one more day and then I was going elsewhere.
By 10 AM, I had seen a few squirrels, a smattering of sparrows, and one lone hen turkey. In my mind, I was already plotting where I would be heading to in the morning. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement. The patch of brown, combined with the unmistakable donkey walk told me it was a deer. Two of them. They were coming up the same trail that the first deer I shot at on opening day used. Ugh, they are both does.
The two deer stumbled to within 50 yards straight out in front of me before slightly turning and coming up the hill to my right. When I could tell they were oblivious to my presence, I carefully pulled out my cell phone and began to film them. I know it’s a rookie mistake, but I had to prove to someone that I actually saw a friggin’ deer.
The deer closed to within 30 yards or so and the second one kept looking back in the direction they had come from. This caused me to take alert and put my phone away quickly. I looked down and saw another flash of brown approximately 150 yards away. In what seemed to take an excruciatingly long time, the shape of a third deer came into view, along the same trail, nose to the ground. I saw horns, legal points on at least one side. He was grunting!
The buck made his way directly in front of me at the same 50 yards and then seemed to panic as he lost the trail of his two lady friends. After a few seconds of desperation, he found what he was looking for and hooked to the right, just like the does had done. He made his way through the hardwoods until he got to within 30 yards on my right. I put the crosshairs on him. Boom!
The deer kicked up his hind legs and bolted down over the bank to my right. Remembering the two misses from opening day, a cold, sick feeling came to my stomach. I wasn’t sure I could take another disappointment.
I climbed out of my stand and headed to where the buck was when I shot. There was a smattering of blood, but not as much as I had hoped. I called Dad on the radio and asked him to come down and assist. He met me within ten minutes.
Not wanting to push off a wounded deer, I had waited for Dad to get to me before going any further. However, if I had gone 15 yards or so, I would have seen a significant amount of blood, the bright red countering the orange and yellow of the fallen leaves. Dad and I both looked at each other and understood that this deer was not going far.
We crept up to a stone wall within 35 yards of the point of impact and saw a rock soaked with blood. I scanned down over the bank in the direction the deer ran and saw him laying there. He was a nice four-pointer and ended up weighing 155 pounds dressed. He had gone no more than 50 yards. A huge weight of relief lifted off me as I recalled the mishaps from opening day.
Dad and I dragged the buck back to the truck. It took a few hours, and my back and legs were toast by the end of the drag, but it is the best hard work I can think of. After reporting the deer and getting him home, we began processing him. It was there that I noticed a slight bullet wound on its front left leg. I am certain this is the first deer I nicked on opening day. I call him, Redemption.