Finally On the Scoreboard

This weekend is usually reserved for taking my oldest daughter hunting. However, she decided to go to a birthday party for a friend instead. I wasn’t sure if I should be happy for another solo hunt with my bow, or if I should be sad that I wouldn’t get the pleasure of watching her hunt. Turns out that I experienced both feelings. The ability to go to any location on the property without having to account for another individual is freeing and easy. The time alone to meditate and take in God’s creation is hard to beat. On the other hand, I sure did miss the bonding time I usually have with my eldest. We don’t get to do many things with just the two of us, and this is our thing together. With almost every deer I saw, I caught myself thinking, “Mackenzie could shoot this deer if she were here.”

The other thing about being alone that is tough are the nights. When the wind isn’t blowing, the stillness of the night can be deafening. The silence was so loud that I had a hard time going to sleep. Thankfully around 9:30 the wind picked, or I might still be awake. Those were the times that I think I missed her the most. I believe it’s a good thing to have alone time and quiet time, but human beings were made to be social creatures for a reason. Companionship while hunting is just as important as alone time in the woods. Either way, thanks to a birthday party, this trip was going to be another solo one.

Last weekend, if you read, I had a tree get the best of me. I didn’t appreciate being stuck in that tree and I was determined to conquer it this time. So for my first hunt of the trip I returned to the tree that whipped me last weekend. I strapped my stand to it and began my climb to a suitable position to hunt from. A little more than half way up the tree, my stand got snagged. I couldn’t believe it. No way was I going to let this happen to me again. Instead of trying to bump my bottom piece off of the snag, like last time, I worked my way around to the back of the tree. I was able to get around the snag and continue my climb without any issue. Lesson learned.

With the first objective of the trip seemingly out of the way, it was time to tackle another issue from the week before. I needed to successfully harvest some meat. Last weekend I wounded one deer and completely whiffed on another. I returned home feeling pretty defeated and thinking that maybe I’ve lost my touch with shooting a bow. Fortunately, when I got back home I set up my target and found that my bow was shooting eight inches low at twenty yards. It was a relief to know that my equipment failed and not my ability to shoot straight. After discussing my problem with the archery coach at WCU, we both decided a new string and new sight should fix the issue.

With a new string, a new sight, and feeling confident, I just needed one more thing…a deer to come within range. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long. The rustling of leaves perked me up less than an hour into my hunt. Soon, I could make out the silhouette of a deer entering the plot. It carefully stepped into the food plot, looking all around before it began to feed. My heart was pounding as I grabbed my bow. Upon further inspection, there was one problem. This deer had tiny little horns on its head. I watched the spike feed in the plot for over twenty minutes, well within bow range the entire time. It was painful to be so jacked up and ready to shoot something to have a deer that wasn’t legal teasing me. Finally, the spike jerked his head up and looked down the plot. He was transfixed on something approaching.

I turned and looked in the direction the spike was looking. A mature doe was making her way down the plot and was almost to my shooting lane. I hurriedly grabbed my bow and stood up. I’d already ranged different sections of my shooting lane so I didn’t have to worry about doing that on the fly. She stepped into the lane at 30 yards and stopped. I drew back, took a breath, and let my arrow fly. The sound the arrow made upon contact was just the sound that I’d been waiting for. The deer kicked and hopped into a thicket just out of the food plot. She stood still, like she didn’t know what happened, then took a couple of steps and disappeared. I wasn’t sure whether she went down right there or disappeared into the woods. I grabbed my binoculars and quickly saw my arrow lying on the ground. From what I could tell, it was soaked in blood. It was still early, but I felt very confident in the shot, so I climbed on down. There was a blood trail that Ray Charles could have followed. The deer didn’t go thirty yards from where I shot her. This was the clean, quick kill that I’d hoped for. I loaded up the deer and made it back to camp long before the sun went down.

I finished cleaning the deer, cleaned myself up, and laid down for the night. I was grateful for the meat, grateful for another opportunity after last weekend’s mishaps, and grateful for being able to spend time in the woods. It was a nearly perfect afternoon. The only thing that could have made it better…if Mackenzie had been there and killed it, instead of me.

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