Self photo by L. Ross
September 15th dawned clear and cool, but the daytime temperature would soar. As always, the pre-season jitters kept me awake the night before in anticipation of the adventure ahead.
The canoe moved silently through the pre-dawn stillness. The only things stirring were the beavers that swam nearby and the slap of their tails on the water signalling their disapproval of my presence. Further up the river, luminous eyes peered at me from the darkness of the foliage along the shoreline.
Despite getting an early start, the sky was beginning to have a pale glow preceding full light. I hurried to the hunting site and unloaded the climbing stand, backpack, bow and quiver. After stringing the bow, a quick visit to the trail cam revealed recent visits by several does.
The stand was hung, ascension was accomplished. hooks inserted into tree for backpack and quiver and now the waiting began. Fear that the slightly late arrival may have spooked some nearby deer ran through my mind.
The stand site was a natural funnel between a large pond and the river. The corridor was about 75 yards wide connecting nearby hardwood upland with a lush, overgrown marshland. Three trails coursed through the funnel---one near the river, one along a small outlet stream from the pond and another along the edge of the pond. The stand site was along the outlet stream.
About 30 minutes after taking the stand, a doe was spotted moving along the trail bordering the pond shoreline. It was too far for a shot, so I used a can call to make a bleat. The doe stopped immediately. I called twice more. She turned and backtracked into heavy vegetation, out of my sight. My guess was that she would move stealthily toward me to check out the strange doe call.
The guess was right. She emerged from the brush and moved quietly along the stream. A large fawn and three more does followed single file behind her. I locked onto her and slowly raised my bow. The arrow flew at the release, but went under her. She jumped and moved about 5 yards father away and I shot again, missing another time. She disappeared into the brush to my right and the others spooked back the way they had come, from my left.
Disappointment is just a word, but it was real to me at that point. I had blown my chance! Probably no more deer would come my way this morning.
To my surprise, about 45 minutes later, a movement was spotted to my left. Watching intently, the movement turned into a deer. It came along the same trail as earlier and jumped to my side of the stream. Again, I could seen the others trailing her. I couldn't believe she was back. As she passed by at 18 yards, the arrow was released from the longbow and smacked her with a thud. It hit a bone and didn't pass through, but part of the shaft broke off as she brushed against a tree.
After 30 minutes, I climbed down and hunted the first two arrows to let more time elapse before trailing the doe. Luckily, both were recovered.
The site of the hit was located and the partial shaft was found, covered with blood. Due to striking a bone and not passing through, the blood trail was non-existent. Looking at the trails and the logical direction the deer would travel, I followed slowly, looking ahead in case of a wounded animal. In less than 50 yards, I spotted her laying still in the underbrush.
A moment of thanks, a drag back to the canoe and a few photos, then it was time for field dressing. After wrapping her in a mesh bag, it was into the canoe, to the truck and off to the processor.
The bow used was a James Parker Bamboo Dragon longbow. It pulls 61# at 31". The arrows were Port Orford cedar that I had fletched, crested and tipped with 125 grain Woodsman broadheads.
James Parker is a skilled North Carolina bowyer and master flintknapper. He is also a black belt in a couple of martial arts disciplines. Check out his website at: http://www.huntworthyproductions.com/.