I had a few days off and got in some great public land hunts.
Day 1: Temperatures dropped into the low 30's overnight. The high temperature for the following day was expected to be in the mid 50's. After weeks of warm temperatures in the 70’s and 60’s, deer should be on the move. I intended to hunt an archery zone where buck or doe harvest was legal. So, after dropping the kids off at school I, met up with my hunting partner and headed out to the woods. The lunar calendar said it was a great day with prime activity between 10am and 1pm. A pre-hunt inspection of my bow revealed a serving that was coming apart. We had time so I went back to the house grabbed a shot gun and hit a different piece of public land open to firearms. About 11:15am I caught a glimpse of a large mature buck crossing a shooting lane about 60 yards off. I watched as he followed a ridgeline headed my way. I lost him in the trees. About 15 minutes later I am surprised by the sound of shots fired behind me, I turned and between me and my partner stood a 6 pointer. I got off one shot at 16 yards and missed.
Day 2: After doing some cleaning around the house I decided to do an afternoon hunt. After all, the trusty calendar said the prime time for today was 2:40pm - 4:10pm. I prepared to go out with the shot gun when the phone rings..... My bow is ready! I ran out figuring I could pick it up about noon, sight it in at the shop and hit the woods by 2pm.
With bow in hand, I slipped in downwind of an established travel corridor. In the past, I have seen rubs along the ridge, lots of deer passing through and one or two mature bucks. This corridor is a deer favorite because it provides access to the entire property without crossing any open areas and all wind is funneled through. They can smell and hear anyone the moment they step into the woods. However, if you make your way within 30-40 yards of the ridgeline, there is a prevalent cross wind that carries your scent away from the corridor. A perfect ambush site.
I reach my tree and climb up about 25 feet with a Lone Wolf hand climber. I tie off my life line, notch an arrow and take a seat. Less than 5 minutes into the hunt, to my right, I see a large doe making her way out cautiously testing the wind. Immediately I know her, the Nanny Goat. I and this ole girl have been going at it for a few seasons. She is a very large and mature doe. Almost every time I hunt this area, I lock wits with the Ol’ Nanny. Her markings are very distinct. I have watched her lead the herd in this heavily travelled corridor of public land for at least 3 seasons. She is the first one to appear and the guardian who stomps, snorts and blows to warn everyone else. Smart and wily, I have been busted by her more times than not. In fact, she got wind of me a week earlier. I only saw her, but she stomped and it sounded like a cavalry scattering in the forest around me.
She appeared about 60 yards out surveying the tree line. I could see several more does about 20 yards beyond her eating. She was on sentinel duty, as usual, apart from the group. She gradually began to forage and wandered out of sight into the trees. I know this game. She wanders away out of sight, but keeps an eye on whatever in the tree line got her attention. While foraging, she will constantly circle the area to catch wind of anything untoward and peak into the canopy for anything unusual, movement. I did not move and barely breathed for fear of giving off enough scent to blow my cover. If she picked me off again, it would be same story…. I draw at a deer, she stomps, snorts and everyone runs.
Like a ghost she re-appeared just beyond a tree about 40 yards out from me, head down, eating mushrooms. She was unaware of my presence and totally relaxed. I had no intention of taking a shot that far. I practice out to 50 yards, but 30 yards is about where I draw the line for hunting. I had a narrow shooting lane and figured she would stay in that position until she finished the mushrooms off. The canopy hid my silhouette. I could draw smoothly, set a good anchor, aim and hold it for as long as needed. I decided to give it a go; waited for the wind to settle; aimed small and released the arrow. The shot was true. I was able to trace the flight and heard a solid thud. She jumped turned and trotted off about 75 yards, made a hard right turn and disappeared over a hill. I stayed in the stand focused on the last spot I saw her. Trying to memorized everything about that last positive sighting just in case there was no trail to track. In the distance I heard rustling in the leaves. I knew then she was down, I was certain that I finally got the Nanny Goat.
She was much bigger than I expected. No camera tricks, her body is as large as it looks below. She has some very distinct markings on her that allowed me to identify her. This, to me, is the equivalent of a trophy buck, an OLD doe. The smartest deer I have ever hunted.