It was finally here. Deer season. Hours of scouting and practicing were complete; it was time to do this for real. My buddy Dan and I set out the day before the season opened up and set up camp on national forrest land (free to hunt!). Dan had an archer’s block that we used to make sure we were still zeroed and set for the hunt.

It definitely wasn’t as automatic as I had assumed it was going to be. I had a couple of deer get within 70 yards of me, but nothing even close to the range I needed to take a shot. One evening, after scouting a promising-looking clear-cut, I decided I was going to return to that spot and do an evening sit-in. Most deer like to restrict their movements to early morning and early evening, during transitioning light conditions.

I found a natural ground blind: a fallen tree complemented by two stumps, one of which I used as a back rest. This gave me a great view of the draw that I had settled into. As I got established, I ranged the terrain around me with my rangefinder, determining my maximum effective ranges and trying to gauge which way the deer would come. I had been sitting for about an hour when I heard thump-thump-thump. I peered over my log to see a doe running full speed away from my blind.

Damn, did I do something wrong? In a last-ditch effort, I used my deer call and let a single doe bleat go. Two more deer I hadn’t even seen popped up on my right. The deer that had been running away made a lazy circle back toward the other two deer. I believe that each group of deer thought that it had been the other that had bleated. (Who cares? At least they weren’t running away.)

I grabbed my bow, ensured the wrist strap was on, and eased myself over the log to get a shot. I ranged the deer—63 yards. Still too far. I had taken a shot at 60 yards earlier in the season and it had been disastrous; I clearly missed the deer and lost the arrow. I was excited, but decided to wait and see if they would move toward me. From my left, I caught movement. A doe (the fourth deer in the area).

From her posture, I could tell she was completely relaxed. (Why shouldn’t she be? I mean, look at all these deer.) She meandered toward some saplings and began eating them in front of me, clearly presenting her broadside. I tried to stay calm. I ranged her at 36 yards. This was it! With my bow at full-draw, I lined up my pins, slowly exhaled, and squeezed the trigger on my release. The arrow impacted her slightly above and behind her shoulder joint.

My first deer
My first deer

I watched her run about 100 meters before she laid down and died. During the gutting and cleaning process, we determined that I had double-lunged her. The only thing I could have done better would have been a heart shot. I was hooked. My first deer ever, and a bow kill at that. Of course, I am brushing over the difficult stuff. Dragging her up a steep clear-cut, gutting, skinning, and preparing the carcass for processing, the whole process took Dan and me about five or six hours. But it was worth every second.

For Part I of this series click here.

For Part II of this series click here.

(Featured image courtesy of Vino Wong)