Nearly 70 degrees in December and I have a day off from the office. The kids will be in school until 3pm, what to do…… sit in the house, watch television?!?!?! Nope, I’ve had buck fever since last night. Today will probably my last time to hunt for more than say 2-3 hours at a clip. In reality, I MIGHT get out maybe once or twice more during the Christmas break (weather permitting) and that will be it for the 2012 deer season. Within an hour I was standing in the woods trying to decide where to hunt. My usual spot would be the easiest to access, but I decided not to go there. My instincts told me to take my climber and hunt a different location. From my usual stand, I passed on many does and spikes for a mature buck. The location was good but, I believe we are now late or early post-rut and the patterns have changed.
I noticed that the does always came from the west, but one mature buck (and maybe a second) always came from the east. I have long suspected they entered the corridor via a funnel bordered by a high ridge on one side, water on the other and scrub pines in the ravine. I was certain they bedded there as well, because the wind is almost always perfect and renders the area almost unapproachable. It was near perfect. There is a catch; I noticed a strong cross wind. If you were able to get close to the water on and about 50 yards from to entrance, the cross wind is consistent enough to carry your scent away from the funnel and out to the water. So I got set up in a tree at the edge of the funnel above the cross wind and about 25 feet up to maximize the cross current scent cover. Should those does return and approach from behind, I am good.
About 5 minutes after I settled in, two nice mature does appeared like ghost at the entrance of the ravine where I expected the buck. I waited hoping for either the buck or a younger smaller doe (better eating) to follow them out into the clearing. They were feeding beneath a tree I ranged at 45 yards. I watched them for about 20-25 minutes and learned a lot about deer behavior and how sounds affect their behavior and level of alertness (the sounds of cars, horns, sirens, dogs, people talking even doors opening and closing carry much farther than I thought). After getting caught up in observing the does, two things came to mind: this is a really good spot, they have been inside of 50 yards for almost 30 minutes and have yet to see, hear or wind me; secondly, his may be my last or one of my last outings for the season and I have not punched a single tag!!!!
So I decided to take one of these does as it appeared there was nothing behind them. I reached down (love the Lone Wolf platform’s bow/gun mount), grabbed my bow, flipped the seat up and slowly rose into position to stand for the shot. The larger doe moved into a shooting lane and stood in front of a tree 30 yards out. She looked down; I drew the bow, held the pin just behind her shoulder and let it go. I saw the arrow nock light up and disappear. She jumped, spun around and both does ran off together. I watched them run side by side for about 75-100 yards then I only saw one tail waving over the hill. From my stand, I could see the arrow nock. It was still illuminated and I knew from the positioning it was a hit.
I waited about 15 minutes packed up my stand; threw it on to my back and headed over to the arrow. Covered in pink slightly foamed blood and missing a vane. Good and bad………. Good: probably a solid lung hit, she will fall inside 100 yards or so. Bad: lung shots don’t provide much of a blood trail and worse, it is starting to drizzle. I searched no blood, but I could see a trail of disturbed leaves in the direction they ran. Not 100% sure she was down I backed out went home, ate left over pizza, answered email from the office and about 3 hours later grabbed my secret weapon…….. Jake, our trusty German short haired.
No, not a trained hunting dog, but he points and tracks rabbits and anything else all over the yard. Last month, he chased deer into the woods and was lost for about 4 hours. I took him to the arrow; he sniffed it and on queue took off dragging me up the hill. Without coaxing he was going exactly where the deer ran!!! I was excited but trying to keep from getting dragged on my face by a near 70 pound dog in full trot. We went over the hill and I felt we were way past where I thought she was but I let him run. He stopped and started back and forth until he got a scent and dragged me within 10 yards of her!!! It finally hit me, he followed the scent of the first deer over the hill where I saw her, then doubled back to the down deer that was now dropping a little blood. He tracked her perfectly, they ran together and she doubled back to lie down… Jake did it!
Great fun on a last minute hunt.