Opening weekend in Indiana has always been good to me. I have seldom hunted our close friend’s farm in early October without harvesting a doe or two. Our trail cameras showed the deer were just as thick if not more so than previous years, and we shouldn’t have any trouble putting some meat in the freezer. The only thing stopping me from quick success was a commitment I made to SELFILM all of my hunts this year. I had SELFILMED my Merriam’s turkey hunt this spring in Nebraska, and didn’t think a SELFILMED deer hunt would be any more difficult. As the saying about assumptions goes, I was quickly going to find out just how much harder a SELFILMED deer hunt could be.
On the first evening, I failed on an opportunity to tag a doe just before dark. I had everything lined up perfect, but as I checked my LCD screen one last time to make sure the deer was in frame, I bumped my thumb trigger with my cheek and sent my arrow and the tip of my nose sailing off in the distance. Needless to say, the doe didn’t stick around long to figure out what had happened. Deer – 1, me – 0! The next night, October 6, we had winds coming from the North. I only have one stand good for a North wind, so I made my way that direction. I decided after the previous nights adventures, I’d get out to the stand a little early to make sure I had my camera situated exactly how I wanted it. It was about 4:30 after just finishing up my setup when I turned around to find a big doe starting right in my direction at 25 yards. I figured I was busted for sure, but surprisingly she began feeding in my Frigid Forage food plot. I couldn’t believe she did not see or hear my shifting gear around. Regardless, it was round 2 and I was planning to make the most of it. I hit the power button on my wireless remote to fire up the GoPro and turned on the XA10. I got the doe in frame and slowly drew back my Hoyt Carbon Element. I took one quick look at the LCD on my camera to ensure everything looked OK and let her rip! I watched in disbelief as my arrow bounced right off the top of her back. Deer – 2, hunter – 0.
I sat back and replayed in my mind everything that had just happened. I held my pin solid, I squeezed the trigger, and everything should have been fine. It was not until after I reviewed my footage later I realized how drastically I dropped my arm to make the shot. Focusing too much on the camera instead of my shot, I had stood upright to make sure I could see my camera’s LCD screen and didn’t bend at the waist before taking my shot. To say I was dejected was an understatement. I had spent countless hours preparing for that moment only to rush and blow a perfect opportunity. I almost climbed down and went back to the house, but I finally convinced myself I’d do myself no good by hanging my head. I did a quick interview and nocked another arrow on the off-chance I might see another deer. I barely had time to sit down before I caught movement to my right. I began scanning the wood line and quickly spotted the source. A very cautious and alert doe was slowly creeping towards the field edge. Judging by the way she acted, she had either heard or seen my miss. I carefully powered up the XA10 once more and hit the power on my GoPro remote. The doe was now only 20 yards away, and I questioned whether or not I’d be able to grab my bow without her spotting me. I knew once she hit the field I’d have no chance, so I quickly spun, grabbed my bow and turned back to face her. Luckily she was none the wiser. For what seemed like an eternity, she inched her way out into the field. No sooner than she cleared the tree line, I learned the reason for her cautious behavior. She had been close by all right, the gash across her back told me she was the doe I had just shot at! This was no yearling doe, and I could not believe she had ventured back into the field. But, when a gift falls in your lap, you don’t question it. Slowly I got the camera settled on her. I drew my bow, settled the pin of my Spot Hogg sight and released. My shot was a little high and back, but she was quartering away at a good angle. Blood began pumping immediately. I got the camera back on her as she wasted no time rounding the edge of the tree line in front of me before making it out of sight. I could see good blood coming out of her as she ran off, so I was confident I’d be able to recover her.
After sitting down to compose myself, I climbed out of the tree to check my arrow. It had good bubbly blood from the broadhead all the way to the fletching. Despite my confidence I’d find her, I knew the shot was a little high so I decided I would not follow her very far except to mark where she entered the woods. I followed the blood-trail no more than 25 yards and as I looked up, I could see she was laying at the edge of the field.
Despite my trials and tribulations, I had finally found success on my first SELFILMED whitetail hunt. Much like anything in life, there are lessons to be learned. After looking over the GoPro footage again, I nearly made the same mistake I did on my first shot. I had only slightly bent at the waist when I released, but nothing like I should have with a shot at that angle. In the future, I’ll be sure to make my shooting form top priority and not the camera. I was glad to have learned this valuable lesson and still make a quick ethical kill in the process. Finally, I was proud to have my first deer on the ground for the 2012 season. God willing, I will find more success in the woods before the year is out.