Another deer connection

November 12, 2010

Faith Outdoors

Sometimes, when you hunt or fish, you play a hunch. That’s what happened yesterday, when I left the office a little early to go down to one of my deer hunting spots near Red Wing for an afternoon sit.

On this piece of private property, we had built a stand toward the back end of a small meadow that formerly was used as a cow pasture. I wanted to hunt this meadow because deer like to come out into it and graze. They’ll often do this in the late afternoon, so I figured I might hit it just right.

Problem was, the wind was wrong. It was coming from the southwest, meaning the wind would blow my scent right to where the deer come out. That could mean that a deer might smell me and spook before I even see it.

This may be what happened to my friend, Bernie Schwab, who hunted the stand all day Saturday and Sunday morning. He had a south to southwest wind the whole time, and never saw a deer.

With this in mind, I made a slight adjustment. Instead of  sitting in the stand, I positioned myself on the other side of the meadow. Now, the southwest wind we had yesterday would blow my scent away from the meadow and into the woods.

I walked down toward the far end of the meadow and tucked myself in along the fenceline at the edge of the woods. I trimmed some brush away to clear a shooting lane, then settled into my folding chair.

It was an old chair that I had bought more than 10 years ago that is showing its age. I have newer, sturdier chairs, but I chose this one because it’s lighter and because I shot my first two deer from it.

I was hoping for my third on this occasion. It was a beautiful afternoon — not too hot, not too cold. I got to the spot at about 3:30 p.m., so I had almost two hours to hunt. That’s plenty of time in the evening. There have been times when I have sat in a stand late in the day and saw a deer within an hour.

As the sun started to dip below the horizon, things got quiet. I really like this time of day. It’s so peaceful. I was filled with anticipation, my eyes and ears on high alert. This was prime time for a deer sighting.

Just minutes after the sun went down, I saw some movement to my right. Then, I made out the head of a doe walking in the meadow. I quickly raised my gun and tried to find the deer in my scope.

When I did, it was behind a tree, with the heart and lung area blocked. I wasn’t worried. I knew the deer was calm and relaxed, unaware of my presence. Just a second or two later, it stepped past the tree and exposed its vitals.

There was some brush between me and the deer, but it was small branches that I knew my 12-gauge slug would get through without a problem. Some people don’t like shooting through brush, but I felt confident about making this shot.

I pulled the trigger, then the deer turned and started running down the hill. Not sure if my shot got through the brush, I fired again. The deer went down and stayed down.

Turns out my first shot was a good one, hitting both lungs. I was very excited to get this deer, a nice, healthy, mature doe. I had missed a chance at one just like it on Saturday, so I was glad to get another chance at an adult doe.

Some people need to shoot a buck to be satisfied. Not me. Every deer is a trophy, and I like venison so much it doesn’t matter what kind of deer I shoot. I was ecstatic about getting this deer, and I knelt down beside it, put my hand on it and said a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

This is something I always try to do after harvesting an animal. When I’m out hunting, I take what the Lord gives me, then I thank him for it. I don’t want to be like the nine lepers Jesus healed who did not come back to thank him. I want to be like the one who did.

I quickly field dressed the deer and started dragging it back to my car. Then, I decided to see how far I could drive toward the deer from where I parked. Turns out I was able to make it the entire way. So, the deer drag was a short one.

Praise God! I had done a long one on Saturday and wasn’t too interested in another one like it. I smiled all the way home, then started calling family members and friends to tell the story of God’s blessing.

The last call was to my dad. Along with recounting the details of my hunt, I was able to wish him a happy Veteran’s Day. He is a World War II vet, and I hope to hear more of his stories soon. In the meantime, I’m excited about the venison that will be filling my freezer very soon.

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.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek