THWACK was the sound I heard and as a novice bowhunter I didn’t think thwack was the sound I wanted to here. My cheap arrows were all black with very dull colored fletching and I didn’t get a good view of where my arrow hit. I watched the doe run to about fifty yards away and she stopped to look back at me. I couldn’t tell if she was hit I really thought I missed her completely. Frustrated I started cursing myself “what the hell were you thinking? why would you take that shot?” there were a lot of other very colorful words mixed in there as well. The doe eventually took off running again and since I was convinced I missed her I got down to find my arrow (mistake#5).
Convinced that my arrow hit a tree I didn’t even look at the ground, instead I was looking at the trees in the area that she was standing when I took my shot. After looking for about 15 minutes and coming up empty handed I started looking at the tracks to see if I could find where she jumped then from there finding the arrow should be easy. After finding the spot she jumped I found first blood. I was thrilled I couldn’t believe that I hit her, I was convinced I had hit a tree! I started to follow the blood trail finding more and more blood. I was on the phone with a friend of mine who told me I need to back out so I don’t jump her. I had prior obligations anyways so I was ok with that.
I left the woods thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I am getting my doe opening day of my first archery season.” When I got inside I informed my wife of the good news (mistake#6). She was very happy to hear that because that meant I would be freed up until the rut kicked in to get some stuff done around the house. We went to pick up our son from his grandmas and I got on the phone to my brother Justin and told him what happened and asked him if he wanted to come and help me track it. He was thrilled to here the news and wanted to help me track the doe.
I got back home about an hour after I had left the woods. I couldn’t wait for my brother so I headed back out and started tracking. I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was blood a lot of blood! I just knew I had a doe on the ground! Finally my brother showed up and I re told the story to him. Once he saw the blood he said “holy crap this doe has to be right around the corner.” We started getting really excited I swear every patch of tan looked like a downed deer to me that morning. The blood began to get more and more scarce and I was staring to lose hope. Justin was still very confident that we were going to come up on her but I was having a very hard time believing we would.
She started winding through some very very thick brush which gave me a glimmer of hope once again that we may find her! We started to see some areas where she was bedding and finding more blood again. Then she went into the swamp just to cut around some brush and that’s when the blood started to thin again. In the next hour we tracked about 10 yards by finding the tiniest little drops we could. We searched all around the last blood going as far as 20 yards away on game trails and still found nothing. In our years we have tracked a lot of blood trails but I have never seen one vanish like this. We spent another half hour trying to find more and came up short. Unfortunately we both had a wedding we had to get to that evening so we had to throw in the towel for the day. All in all I had a total of 4 hours searching for this doe already.
The whole time at the wedding all I could think about was that deer. I was sick to my stomach all day knowing I took a risk I shouldn’t have taken. Trying to stay positive I kept telling myself I would find her tomorrow. The thought of going out hunting again didn’t even sound appealing at this point I never wanted to touch my bow again. I wasn’t able to sleep that night…
The next morning I got up with my son at his normal rise and shine time 5:30 AM and made some very very strong coffee to keep the my body racing the way that my mind already was.Once my wife was up and had her fix of coffee I was out the door to try and find my deer again.
I started from the beginning to see if there was anything I missed or if I could try and find a pattern that would give me a clue as to where she could have went. Following her trail for the second time did not teach me anything new, so when I arrived at last blood I started a grid search. I searched about 4 acres on my own and came up with nothing not even a spec of blood. Heartbroken and tired I headed back to my pack that I left at the last blood. I don’t consider myself christian nor am I affiliated with any kind of organized religion but I do believe that there is something out there some kind of higher power. I have seen to much beauty out there for there not to be. When I got back I took a drink of my water and knelt down with tears in my eyes and prayed that the deer was OK. I have never lost a deer before and knew that was something I never wanted to do again. Deer are not known as majestic animals and to most people they could care less if they saw them or not. But to deer hunters they are majestic they are something we watch for every time we drive by a field edge and when we see them we stop and grab our binoculars to watch them feed and mill about. To know that I may have taken this deers life and it went to waste made me sick. Feeling like a failure I sat in the woods for a little while before going inside to see my family.
After this I decided to take a little time off from hunting and just concentrate on shooting and working on my form. i ordered new arrows with bright wraps and luminocks! That night I shut my phones off and laid on the couch in pure misery. When I did turn my phone on before bed I had a picture sent to me from Justin it was a buck he had gotten that night!!
My new arrows came in a couple days later so I got them cut and started shooting with them. These were so much better and the technology behind the luminocks was amazing! Within a few days I was starting to feel confident again. So I made a plan to go out that Sunday night at another property that I had access to.
To be continued…