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2017 Virginia Doe

With work and a new addition to my family, finding time in the woods has been difficult.  Once I saw the impending storm front coming through on the Halloween weekend Saturday evening, I knew it would be an ideal opportunity to burn one of my few “all-day-sit” cards.

The wind would be out of the south, so I decided to use my climber on a tree I had prepped the year before but never hunted.  My alarm was set for earlier than normal as I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get set up.  I quickly got prepped up and out the door after my pre-hunt interview.

Typically my trails are highly visible in the black of night as they are overly marked with white flagging tape, not fluorescent orange, as a dear friend of mine taught me several years back. As expected, I quickly found the head of the trail from the service road on the property.  Making it roughly 20 yards or so, a downed tree blocked the usual trail.  Not a show stopper, I’ll just sidestep around the tree and make my way back on the trail…  About 45 minutes later (and now 30 minutes from shooting light) I knew I needed to find a tree and get set up ASAP.  I found the closest one that looked suitable and started climbing.  I climbed a little higher than normal to account for the minimal cover and quickly set up my gear.

As daylight peeked through the trees I started to survey my surroundings.  Luckily, my timber stand improvement in the area gave several reasonable shooting opportunities.  I had set up in a tree about ten yards from an existing ladder stand, and about 60 yards away from the tree I had intended to climb.

This morning was making me doubt my choice of stands.    Not only did I terribly miss my mark, but I had heard/seen zero deer in the precious “magic hour” of the morning.  About the only entertainment I had were the numerous squirrels in the area.  At one point I had five chasing each other within my 15 yard radius.  There was zero chance of me hearing any deer with this ruckus.

Luckily I spotted some movement to the east and quickly stood up.  Out popped a couple does… followed by a couple more… then a couple more… directly towards my stand.  As they approached my heart started racing once I noticed they kept looking to the southwest.  Out popped a yearling prancing like an NFL player about to score a touchdown.  Deer number seven.

By this point all seven deer had worked their way to less than ten yards.  Surprisingly they each were interested in my treestand’s  bungee cord at the bottom of the tree, but didn’t seem to mind the smell. As they made their way underneath me to the right of my stand, I turned to prepare for a shot.  Picking out the biggest in the group, I waited until I had my favorite angle:  A quartering away shot. 

At eight yards, I lined up my pin with her far leg and let my 125gr whitetail special fly, watching my Firenock disappear in her side.  Jumping straight up and kicking, she took off running to the south around a downed oak.

After about ninety minutes I was convinced a buck wasn’t in the cards for the day. I decided to pack up for the morning and start tracking.  If the crash I heard was my doe then I could potentially be back out in the afternoon!  As soon as my cameras were in my bag I hear footsteps to the east again.  This time a basket rack four-point came through at 30 yards, following the doe’s exit path.

Once on the ground my excitement turned to confusion as I looked at my arrow shaft.  Some light, watery blood with a lot of fatty residue on my shaft indicated a less than ideal shot. Debating if I should give her more time, I decided to track slower than normal in the event that she bedded down. About an hour later, I had made it roughly three-hundred yards with minimal blood.  

Confused and frustrated, I was surprised when I found a bright red, bubbly pool of blood. The blood quickly picked up, at this point standing up while tracking.  Head down, videoing the progress, I looked up to see a splotch of brown in the reeds near the lake.  I almost walked up on her, until I realized that I could still see the rise and fall of her breathing.  I put the camera down and nocked my final arrow, the target the exact spot I had hit her the first time.  

After traveling another 15 yards, she expired.  Elated and relieved, I set upon the hard part of my day: documenting and processing my harvest. This much-needed meat will feed my growing family for a quite some time, but thanks to self filming the memories will be mine to share forever. 

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