A doe with my bow… almost

November 26, 2012

Faith Outdoors

After shooting my biggest buck ever this fall, the only thing left to accomplish in the woods is getting my first deer with a bow. I would have to try for a doe because Minnesota allows hunters to tag only one buck per year.

I went out twice last week on a metro property that is archery only. The first time, I saw nothing. The second outing, which took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, nearly gave me an opportunity to take a nice doe.

I knew that the cold weather would get the deer moving, so I put on heavy layers and climbed into one of my ladder stands that morning. Things were very quiet until about 8:30, when I heard something walking in the snow behind me. I turned to look and saw a doe and her fawn coming in at about 25 to 30 yards.

They walked around a deadfall, then turned and started coming directly toward me. Their line of travel would take them almost right underneath my stand. Then, they stopped at about 15 yards or so.

The doe, walking ahead of her fawn, turned broadside and started nibbling on a small tree branch. Unfortunately, she was standing behind a small tree. The trunk was right in front of her vitals. There was room on either side, but I didn’t think I should shoot. She looked relaxed and content, and I figured she eventually would take a step forward.

That’s all I needed – one step. But, she ended up jerking her head up and spooking. I was flabbergasted. I thought I was motionless. Thinking about it later, I figured she probably saw my breath. Her head was up because she was munching on the twig, so my breath must have alerted her. That’s the problem with hunting in the cold – you can’t hide your breath.

She did what most spooked whitetails do – she ran about 25 to 30 yards, then turned and looked back. It was a great shot opportunity for a gun hunter, but I had no shot with my bow.

Amazingly, she stood there for a few moments, then turned and came all the way back in. I thought I would get a shot at her this time.

I was wrong. She stood facing me with her head up, looking right at me. Then, she did what no deer hunter wants to see – she stomped her foot.

I was hoping if I sat still, she would calm down and resume feeding. Instead, she did the worst thing possible – she snorted, then ran off. Game over.

Sure looked like things were going to come together for me this time. If it wasn’t for the small tree, I would have had a perfect broadside shot. But, that’s bow hunting. You can have a deer in range, but not take a shot.

I was bummed for a while, then reminded myself that I shot the buck of a lifetime earlier this month. That has a way of melting away the disappointment.

I hope to get out again, but not sure if I will. The archery season lasts until Dec. 31, but I don’t know how to hunt the post-rut period. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s all about food. So, finding food sources and setting up near them is the key. Don’t know if the two stands I have set up now are in the right place or not. One of them was in a good spot on Saturday, but I don’t know if deer movement patterns will change after the rut comes to a close.

I will do some more research on that. One thing appears likely – I definitely could end my second year of bow hunting without putting a tag on a deer. I can’t say that I failed to kill a deer. I hit two and don’t know if they died or not. All I know is I did not recover either one.

What I can say definitively is this – bow hunting is extremely hard, and any deer taken with my bow will be a well-earned  trophy!

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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