My most momentous hunt, hands down, happened last year, while I was hunting whitetail during the first week of archery season. It was a high-temperature day; higher than normal, approximately 62 degrees. I got hooked into my stand around 03:30 PM and waited for the sun to fall beneath the horizon. I thought, because of the warm weather, there would not be much movement, but I was so very wrong.
To Wait or Not to Wait
I am sure everyone has encountered that moment when you must choose to shoot the first deer that comes out. Or do you wait to see who follows behind and take the chance of not getting a shot or having an even younger buck come after?
The first buck to come out was a small six-point, I knew I saw movement from behind him and took that chance to wait. I instantly drew back my bow, worried that I may not have another opportunity without being busted. The second buck following him was an eight-point. I waited. A third buck was tagging right behind him but was smaller than the first. Finally, the last buck made his entry through my lane, and boy was I glad I waited.
By this time, I had been holding my bow back for a solid 3 minutes, and believe me, it felt like FOREVER. I knew immediately after I let go of my release and let my bow down, something was off about my shot. My first thought was fatigue from my arm, and I may have lowered my bow too soon, or my yardage was off. However, I knew I made contact and saw my arrow in him as he jumped and ran off. I immediately found blood and a trail leading through our property, and a good amount of it. As I followed the trail it became thinner and more spaced out, and I began to worry.
We must have tracked as a crow flies about 100 yards. That's when we backed out and let him set for the night. We all know I did not get much rest. I was very nervous that I could not find that whitetail deer. The next day we picked back up from where we left off. The trail led to the thickest part of the property, known as “the cattails” to us. Due to the thickness and wetland, it became very hard to see the blood trail.
That's when I called in a favor and used a tracker and dog to recover for the very first time. The tracker “Tila” and her owner followed the same blood trail as we had the night before and headed right into the cattails. She went about 20 yards and found a spot that looked like a bed where the deer should have stayed for the night but was pressed out by something (we thought coyotes). We continued tracking “as a crow flies” another 100 yards. The owner of the tracking dog called to me and said, “You are one lucky girl!”
When he came upon the whitetail, there was a coyote on him. Turned out we were right about them chasing the deer. I immediately saw he was a ten; before, I thought he was only an eight. I was ecstatic we found him, and we were still able to salvage most of his meat. I did lose some meat from the neck area due to the coyote.
This was a very memorable hunt for me because not only did we find the whitetail I thought was long gone, but he was recovered in a way I had never experienced before, and for that, I was very grateful.