Bowhunting season is right around the corner. Make your preparations now.

My previous hunting season started off in the rain. I was disappointed. I enjoyed the evenings sitting in front of a fire, relaxing after a long day hunting. However, the disappointment quickly evaporated as I was presented with my first opportunity at a deer early on. One of the more important things that I learned this season was about the weather. Although warm, dry days make for a more comfortable hunt, they decrease the chances that you will encounter a deer in the day time.

Typically, what I like to do is a sit-in early in the morning, and later in the evening. There is a certain time when it isn’t quite dark, and it isn’t quite light. In the Military we called this early morning civil twilight, and early evening nautical twilight. This is when your eyes will play tricks on you, and it just so happens that this is a great time to encounter a deer. The key is to be in your blind, or stand before these times, and to wait for a deer to come to you. When I am not sitting-in, I like to follow game trails, explore new areas, and glass open areas.

I often get asked what the terrain is like where I hunt. Check out the following video to see the type of terrain that I hunt in.

However, in the rain you can encounter a deer almost anywhere. I was shocked at how many deer I encountered while I was driving towards the area that I wanted to do my morning sit-in. They were walking along the road, standing on hills, and basically meandering around (it was still too early for a legal harvest). As I left my truck I began to follow a game trail – one I had scouted earlier in the season – towards where I wanted to do my first hunt, and I saw a large doe. She was well outside my range, about 200m away. I began a slow methodical stalk to try to get into a better position.

I carefully selected each step. I wouldn’t take more than 2-3 steps without stopping, and looking at her. She was oblivious, just munching down on her breakfast. After about 20 minutes I was about 60m away.  I continued towards her until I was within 40m – I ranged her to make sure. I went to full drawn, but had to let down.  I hadn’t noticed it, but there were some low over-hanging branches that I was pretty sure were going to deflect my shot. As I moved perpendicular to her, I stepped on a small branch, snap.  She looked into my wood line, not at me, but in my general direction. I froze. She gingerly stood up and walked off, my one mistake had cost me.

Bowhunting Deer
Taking a lunch break.

The following day I had a similar encounter. I spotted a doe about 150m away. Like before, I began a stalk. This time I was able to get within 50m. I once again went to full draw, I waited for the wind to die down, and I released. I think that I had held the draw just a little too long, and in my depleted state I missed her by inches. The arrow cruised just over her. I inspected the area for blood just to be sure, and I tracked her into the wood line.  There was no blood and no sign that I had injured her. I went back to the area she was and searched for the arrow. After about 30 minutes I gave up on the arrow. I was using a nocturnal lighted nock, and decided to come back to that area after night fall. When I returned later that night, I was able to recover the arrow from a green glowing bush.  I inspected the arrow, no blood, deactivated the nock, and went back to camp. 

Bowhunting Deer

Although I hadn’t harvest a deer, I had two legitimate chances in two days, and that was exciting.  The morning of the third day the rain really started coming down. After parking my truck, and sorting my gear, I started hiking towards a field that I wanted to hunt for the day. Before I could get to the field, I had to cross an area of timber that was still pretty dark. I wasn’t really paying attention because in my mind they were in the field, not the timber. Something caught my eye on my left-hand side, another deer. This deer was quartered away to the left. I attempted to range the deer, but because it was so dense in the timber, my range finder wouldn’t register.

I estimated the deer at about 35m, I went to full draw. Like before, I noticed some low hanging branches. Rather then lower my draw, I dropped to a knee, breathed out, and activated my release.  The arrow impacted the deer, and I watched as a bright green LED bounced away from me deeper into the woods.

Bowhunting Deer
2015 tag cut!

I wanted to give the deer enough time to die, but with the rain, I didn’t want to wait so long that the blood washed away. After about 5 minutes I decided to go to where the deer had been hit, bright blood with bubbles, a killing shot. I decided to follow the torn up ground a little further to see if I could see any other signs of the deer. I walked no farther than 50m when I saw the deer down on its side. I sat in place, I didn’t want the deer to run. I watched as the deer died, this took no longer than a couple of minutes. 

Bowhunting Deer
Ice inside the chest cavity will help keep your deer cool.

I approached the deer and ensured that it had died. The shot had been with the deer had been facing away from me, not usually ideal. The arrow had entered the rear quarter and traveled through the lower cavity piercing the heart – I discovered this while field cleaning. It was the best possible outcome with the shot that I was presented. I dragged the deer to my truck and began the process of field cleaning. Anytime I can harvest an animal it is a special experience. Although I knew there was going to be a lot of work processing the deer, I had already began to mentally prepare for Elk. I didn’t know it then, but Elk was going to challenge me both mentally, and physically.