Monday, October 26, 2009

My First Buck with a Bow.

Finally I got to go hunting! Wahoo! Saturday was out because I had a house full of CamoGirls friends sleeping over for her “friend” birthday party. Yes, I know, it was an excellent excuse to LEAVE the house… but it was also raining like Noah was building another Ark. So, Sunday morning, light rain, cool, no kids in the house (besides my own)… I loaded up the Bronco and off I went. Even overcast and misting it was a beautiful morning to be in the woods, with 10,000 chipmunks and a couple squirrels. But I am not complaining. When I came down from my stand I saw a couple kids up on the ridge behind me playing… oh well. I went home got some lunch, napped (needed after the other night). I headed back out around 3:15 and the sun had finally decided to peek out once and awhile.

Around 5:30 I watched a nice buck walk past at about 60 yards. He seemed to be on a mission. He came out of the same trail I walk to my stand but he didn’t turn towards me, he just kept going up the ridge towards the private property behind me. In case you haven’t read my other blogs, I hunt public land just a few miles from my house. Needless to say, my adrenaline was up a bit and I was really watching for movement now. About 70% of the leaves are down so I can see from one swamp to the other, it’s just a matter of looking in the right direction at the right time.

Not too long after the buck disappeared I heard some noise behind me that could have been a bow shot. Then nothing for a few minutes. Then, CRASH. I turn around and see the buck cruising down the ridge right towards me! I stand and get ready but he’s hit a flat spot on the ridge behind some brush were I saw those kids and disappeared. …waiting….waiting… I hear some thrashing and finally see the head and shoulders of the buck peeking out. Something doesn’t look right though. He dips down and back up a few times… then he comes a little farther out and I can see that he is thrashing on his front legs while his hind quarters is still down. Well, a few thoughts race through my mind at this point. I’ve been watching him for a few minutes through my Leupold range finder (first time I got to use it…very clear!) and I have not seen a wound. So, could it be the kids were setting leg traps? Did he get caught up in some barbed wire from an old fence line (lots of those in the woods)? Or is he wounded in his hind quarters and unable to move? I watched him run down the hill so the wound theory is iffy because I’ve been waiting to see if he expired and while he’s struggling, he’s definitely not going to be laying down for the long sleep any time soon. I wait another 10 minutes to see if a hunter makes an appearance…no such luck. By now, it’s been about 20 minutes and I’ve got to make a decision.

My hunt is not and never will be worth sitting there watching an animal struggle like that.

I leave my gear in the tree and quietly climb down. He’s about 60 yards away, up hill but there is no way I can sneak up on him all the way. I creep slowly up the hill using trees and brush as much as I can to try and avoid upsetting him further. I make it to about 5 yards away before he will be able to finally see me. I have decided that if I get close enough to see he’s been wounded, I’ll finish the job. But, if he’s caught in a trap or fence I will call for assistance and see if we can cover his head and get him freed… not something to try by myself with an animal carrying all those sharp points on his head!

I’m standing behind a large tree so to mitigate his stress and struggles. I go to full draw in case he’s wounded and step out. He’s on his front legs and immediately throws himself in the opposite direction when he sees me. That’s when I see the arrow wound directly over his spine on his hind quarters. He spins back immediately and I gently squeeze the release, sending 400 grains of carbon and steel that drops him instantly. Within seconds the woods are quite again. My first buck with a bow, a shot for the soul not the sustenance. I stand staring, knowing that I have achieved something that gives me no sense of accomplishment in the great hunt, but rather a sense of peace.

I hear a shout from above.. “did you get him?” The hunter had been tracking his wounded deer and finally caught up. I felt a sense of gladness that the hunter knew his shot was bad and was doing what he could to find the buck if he was down. An ethical hunter. He made his way down the hill and I introduced my self and shook his hand on such a nice buck he harvested. He offered me the kill but I simply told him I was just helping out to recover his deer, his shot, his deer. A beautiful 7 point 3 year old that I would guess ran to about 175 lbs.

We chatted a few minutes and by being there I got to meet the property owner from the ridge above. He tells me that he’s been watching five bucks running around were I’m hunting and this one is the smallest of the group…the smallest… hmmm. He tells me about his shot. The buck was at 18 yards when he released but turned, thus the bad hit. The broad head snapped off the end of the aluminum shaft. Pete (the hunter) is using a bow that looks about 25 years old. An old laminated wood, small circular wheel compound with aluminum arrows. If there is one example of a good reason to move up to more modern equipment, then this shot could justify it. From the details and looking at the wound it is easy to see that the buck jumped the string. You can also see that the kinetic energy was just a bit too low to push his broad head through the spine all the way and stop the deer at his stand. From our best guess, it looks like the buck slipped running down the ridge and that slip cause the final damage to his spine that prevented him from continuing on. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with an old bow but it is an example of problems that can be fixed if not avoided with newer equipment. BTW; I guess I can say that this is the first deer shot from my new PSE Omen. Even given the circumstances, I can say I’m impressed. Well, Pete and I exchange thanks again and I offered to help drag it up the ridge but he had an ATV. So I walked back to my stand to sit out the remainder of the evening… you never know. Besides, the deer in this area are used to people and noise. Pete quickly hooked up and as a final courtesy, he dragged the buck off without dressing it out first, just to make sure I had as much time in a quite woods as possible. Thanks Pete.

The woods remained quite the rest of the evening. Once it got dark I climbed down and headed in… only to hear several crashes in the swamp as deer spooked from my movement. They’ll be there next time.

Now, anyone that knows me should realize that there was some opportunity here once I got home….. so… I walked in the door carrying my bow. CamoGirl said I looked tired and was all sweaty. I said it was a long tough walk out tonight…. CG: did you get something???? I showed her the quiver and as her eyes saw the arrow completely painted in red…. You Did You Did!!! I said yup, a nice 7 pointer. She asked if she had been there could she have shot it? … I thought for a minute and said… Yup. Then I showed her the picture… she looked at it…looked at me… who is that? Pete, I said, the guy who shot it first! I quickly related the story. Then I told her to text mom… (she was taking my eldest back to CMU). I think the phone had barely finished sending the text when it rang! …Who is that? (in the picture). Story time again!

Asides from the fun at their expense, there was one question, asked by both CamoGirl and mom… Was I glad CamoGirl was not there to see that. I thought for few seconds and said no. It’s part of hunting, it’s part of what we sometimes have to deal with and something that CamoGirl might have to experience first hand some day. I told them both that it was a good lesson in Ethics, and a learning experience on the differences in deer physiology and our own. Mother nature has different rules for her animals and what they feel. The buck was obviously stressed but showed no indication that he was in any major pain. You will know if a deer is in pain, it is something that you will not forget. I was a positive meeting of two hunters who until that day did not know each other. If that buck had not been claimed by the hunter, I would have tagged it myself even if that is not the way I would ever want to harvest a deer, it would be the right thing to do.

My first buck with a bow: Pete and his 7 pointer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My weekend deer.

Well, if you’ve been following my blogs and my posts on the forum, you know I’ve been struggling to get out for a hunt yet for this year since the youth hunt I took my daughter on. …well, this weekend was no different. I guess it’s all a matter of opportunity because my wife said we have an “opportunity” to get a weekend alone since grandma is heading back to Alabama next weekend and she can watch the critters and my daughter this weekend, if we want….It’s been raining all week and the weather is supposed to be cold and clear on Saturday. I’d been thinking that would be perfect for getting the deer moving for my first hunt…anticipation…chopped at the knees.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a weekend with my wife is a wonderful idea, it’s just tough when you’ve been itching to get into the woods for some hunting and the season is here and you’ve still seen no “opportunity” to get out there. I get to read all the other pro staffers blogs on how much fun they’re having getting out hunting the geese and ducks and the adventures in the first week of bow season…. I need my doctor to call in a prescription for hunters itch ointment. Forget the cortizone, get me some huntizone!

Well, if I couldn’t get out hunting I at least got to enjoy an absolutely excellent weekend with my wife. We headed up north for the fall colors along the west Michigan coast line. It was cold, it snowed and the wind was ferocious…basically, it was incredible. The colors are about half way out and the only downfall was that lack of full sun to enjoy them more.

We stopped just north of Frankfort at the Betsie Point Lighthouse ( ) and walked the beach a bit.

I took a few pictures.

The one I missed was of my wife bent over looking for Petoskey stones ( ) and completely missing the large wave coming in…. I didn’t know what to do, keep laughing or grab her before she did a nose dive into the lake…. In a life saving decision (mine!) I grabbed a hold of her jacket before she had to start swimming…. That would have made an excellent picture to remember! At least she had another pair of shoes in the car and the heater took care of the cold feet fairly quickly.

(This petoskey seeker was a little bit more aware, he stayed a little higher on the beach and didn't turn his back on the Lady of the Lake!)

On the way south from the lighthouse, wouldn’t you know it, I got to see what I was missing…

My Weekend Deer.

I’m still not sure if that is just salting the wound, just punishment for my out burst from the lighthouse “incident” or a message that good things are waiting for me in the wonderful woods of Michigan.

So, whether you’re out in the woods hunting, sitting in a duck blind calling in a green or two or just enjoying the colors of Michigan’s fall, it’s all good. Get out side and live!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Opening Weekend of Bow Season...but not for Me.

Well, the first weekend of Michigan’s bow season arrived to find me unable to get out and hunt. Now before anyone get’s worried, no injuries are involved unless you count the one to my patience.

As luck would have it, the power steering on my Expedition, ok, my wife’s Expedition, decided it was time to blow a line and scream about it. Now, my dilemma is this, I can fix it myself for less then a $100 or save time and get into the woods by paying the shop over $500 for the new lines and pump installation…. My next thought is …gee, what could I buy for $400….a new gun, new camo…. Hmmmm. I explained this to the wife and “my” decision was to fix it myself since she could go shopping with $400 extra… My next thought was…the way my luck is going I’ll get into the job and something will go wrong…down vehicle until it’s fixed. OK, my solution is to get my Bronco running, which has been down since it’s power steering box decided that steering was too much work… I’ll fix my Bronco and then we’ll have a vehicle to drive while I’m working on the Expedition… besides, I’d rather drive my Bronco any day! So I get the right tools to pull the steering box and pitman arm and get to work, and work, and work, and work…. How come a part with 15 years of service just don’t want to come off! I hate having to take a torch to a vehicle but there’s no helping it…time to burn off a little grease! And burn, and burn, and burn…talk about stubborn! After about an hour of heating I finally get things separated (with the exceptional help of my step dad!) . I get the new steering box installed and find that the steering shaft bolt is toast and the pitman arm nut is toast. You would think two little parts would be easy to find…. Right. After a day of running around hunting down a nut and bolt …INSTEAD OF DEER!... I get the beast put back together and turn the key….tic, tic, tic…. Guess I left a light on or something…. Jumper cables and turn the key….I love a V8!

While it rained all weekend and I would have hunted anyways, some times you just have to buck up and get your chores done…. Now, I have to get the Expedition fixed or my hunting privileges might be revoked! But at least my Deerhtn machine is ready to prowl!
Here's a picture from last year with my daughter and the "old" UNJ logo!