Last weekend I had the good fortune of having some company on my hunting expeditions. My sister Caitlin, her boyfriend Jay and my dad all came out to Tim's cottage for a nice family weekend. (that monday was also my dad's birthday. Happy birthday dad!) On Saturday morning, Jay and I took off on the Big Red to the stands I have set up while Caitlin, who still needed to work on her sight pins, headed out to the train tracks with Tim for a morning goose hunt.
Jay and I got into our stands before sunrise, strapped ourselves in and sat for two hours without any deer sightings. I had a fleeting moment of excitement when I heard what I thought was a deer approaching but it turned out to be a fisher coming in to take a look around. I am guilty of text messaging from my stand but only to tell Jay I was coming down to get him. I suggested we go have a look at a different trail I had found as a possible spot for Caitlin to sit as she is still leery of climbing up into a tree stand.
The two stands I have set up are both along a North-South running ridge that is a fair distance from any quad trails or roads and is generally only accessed by hunters with most only entering the area during rifle season. Chances were that very few people had been up there this year if any except me going in to set up the stands (one of which is actually below the ridge on the west side with the other only about 300 yards east up the ridge).
Jay and I met at his stand down below the ridge and proceeded southward down a deer trail along the bottom edge of the ridge. We came to the spot I had picked for Caitlin. It looked promising with fresh droppings and tracks that I thought were from that morning. We decided to follow the second trail up the ridge and go for a little wander. Heading South again we began stealthily sneaking through the network of trails that hugged the top edge of the ridge. Almost immediately we both heard something in the bush. We both stopped, looking at each other and then into the trees. Suddenly I caught a flash of light brown fur and then the bouncing white tail as it bee lined away from us. We had no chance at a shot but were both pleased to have seen a deer. We continued on about a half a mile down this ridge trying our best to stay quiet. Jay was getting into it and when we spotted a second deer way back in the woods he wanted to go after it. It was traveling parallel to our path so we flanked it back the way we had come for a distance but it picked us up as it's trail neared ours and was gone with the flash of a tail. The morning was getting a bit late so we decided to start heading back to the trike. I had to make a pit stop and went a little ways down the ridge to take care of that while Jay stayed up on the ridge. Being female, pit stops in the bush aren't always the easiest thing to pull off especially when you still have your tree harness on, so it took me a little while. When I came back up the ridge Jay was no where in sight. I continued to walk up not really bothering to be quiet at that point any more. Suddenly Jay popped up from a crouched position maybe twenty yards in front of me. "Can I shoot Bambi??", he asked in an excited sort of whisper/yell. I gave him the thumbs up, not really comprehending what was going on, and continued walking towards him. Then I saw him kneel down and raise his bow. I stopped. There were ears flicking not ten yards in front of him! I stood there holding my breath as he drew his bow in plain sight of the young doe. He fired, the deer ran about fifteen yards, stopped and looked back at him then took off into the bush. I was pretty sure he had missed just based on how the deer reacted but hoping for the best I told him to stay where he had shot from and I went to look for his arrow and/or blood. No blood. No Hair. No arrow. No deer. He told me afterward that he thought he heard it hit bush after he shot. He also told me he was shaking so badly when he shot that he panicked and just put all his pins on the body of the deer and released. Unfortunately, he shot over it's back. I was just blown away by the fact that this deer walked straight down the trail right for him about two puffs into his cigarette. Very bizarre but very cool, I thought. He had other thoughts of course but these things happen.
Keep in mind this was his very first hunting experience ever. He has only been shooting bow for maybe two months. He is a naturally good shot but had no experience with live animals or "Buck Fever" (even though this wasn't a buck). I told him how lucky we were to see those deer that day and how awesome it was that he got a shot off at one. He agreed and his face still lights up every time he tells the story. No deer for us that day but a great experience none the less.
As a hilarious bonus we discovered when we got back to the cottage that Tim had shot a goose and that Bruizer, Caitlin and Jay's American Bulldog/Boxer cross, was a gooser! He had pounced on the still flapping goose in the swamp and held it at bay until Tim came and picked it up.
I am so fascinated by animals. You just never know what they will do next!