Friday, December 18, 2009

Late Season Bow Kill

Didn't take any pics....

Got a chance for a clean kill at the doe with the 2 yearlings that busted me last October when a nice 8 point came up to my bow stand. I made a mental note to meet her later in the year. Figured she'd remember where the stand was so decided to take her out so the same thing wouldn't happen again, at least with her.

I had a good opportunity on her late Sunday afternoon. Right after I released the arrow, with about 5" of snow on the ground and temps in the teens, I took off, didn't even go look to see if I got blood.
I had a "date" to meet my wife in a neighboring town 45 minutes away for dinner before she had to drive further south to get ready for work the next morning and I was going to be late if I didn't leave pronto.

I figured to give the doe a good couple hours to lay down and expire.
Got back about 2.5 hours later. Threw on my huntin' duds and a headlamp, grabbed a rope and knife and took off.

Got to where she was standing when I shot. A clear indication of a hit. A spray of bright blood where the arrow passed through her. There was a red line pointing in the snow where the arrow cut under on it's downward path to the ground. Was able to kick the snow away and find the arrow tangled in the long field grass under the snow.

Started tracking her. Not a lot of blood, but enough. Easy to tell she was bleeding from both sides. Got about 30 yards out and found where she had laid down. A good sign but it would have been better if she would have been in the bed, dead. Bed didn't have all that much blood in it.

Started tracking and she made a u-turn and starting heading for the swamp and away from the river. Good, she decided she was hurt too bad to swim.

Tracked her for a long way, 2-300 yards before I caught her eyes in my head lamp, 25 yards and through some brush in front of me. Looked like it was shaping up to be another knife kill episode. Stayed steady on her. Good sign that I got close enough to see her. From the tracks, she was not picking her feet up all the way, dragging them in the snow. Walking.

Another minute and I caught her in the light again. This time running with her tail up. Plenty of blood, but I knew I wasn't going to run her down. She was heading to a house 1/2 mile away where the occupants feed deer all year long. I know the people and they know me. I didn't want to push her there. Decided that if I didn't get her when I reach the logging road I knew I was going to hit soon, I'd stop the chase and come back out early in the AM.

I came to the logging road and walked the mile or so back to my hunting shack the long way around. I could have walked back the way I came, but I wanted to see how close I was to the main road where the logging road met it. Was planning on driving up to the logging road in the AM to try to save time. Had a business meeting at 11:30 in the morning in a town an hr. drive away. Was shaping up to be a busy morning.

Got back to the shack at 9PM, stoked the stove, read some Gray Owl and fell asleep after setting the alarm for 6:30.

Woke up in the night. Looked out the window and it seemed too light out. A hazy kinda light, the kind that is held close to the horizon due to a low ceiling. No stars. Opened the window and turned on the flashlight. Snowing....shit. No blood to follow, gotta act fast. Looked at my watch, 1:30 AM.
Got dressed and headed back out on the same tracks that would lead me back to the logging road where I left the blood trail. Snowed enough that there was no blood visible but still able to follow my own tracks without too much difficulty.

Got the logging road and the end of my footprints. Slowly followed a set of deer tracks that were a fuzzy blur in the snow, maintaining the established direction of her escape route. She got into another deer track, but I was able to see a few places where she was dragging her feet. Was able to follow the veer to the right as she left the other track.
Looking ahead, there she was, laying down, about 50 yards from where I had stopped tracking her. She must have laid right down where she was when I left her trail earlier in the evening.

Looking at her she seemed dead, but the eyes were not glassed over much and the center was not that deep shade of blue of a dead deer. I gave her gentle push with my foot and she blinked. I had to make a quick move before she "woke up". Pressing down on her head I held her tightly to the ground as I reached under her neck with my knife and made a cut across her throat, going as deep and as far as I could from side to side.

Blood starting running hard. She somehow had enough strength to try to run. Not get up then run, but to run in place, laying on her side. It took a few minutes before it was all over.

I looked at where I shot her, thinking I probably hit her high, which is common as a deer's reaction time is fast enough to "jump the arrow". To jump the arrow, though, the deer has to crouch just a little before the jump. This will cause a high hit.
The wound was directly behind the shoulder. The entry and exit points were no more than an inch or so too low, probably missing all the vital organs.

This doe would have died in it's bed 3o yards from being shot after being left 2.5 hrs. if any organs would have been hit, probably even if a lung would have been nicked. If perused without giving any time, it's conceivable a deer will run for a long way before it dies from loss of blood. This was not the case, however.

I proceeded to field dress the deer, looking what organs (heart, liver, lungs) may have been hit and as I suspected, none were. The shot was just too low.
But, as I've learned, arrows to an amazing job of killing. The wounds do not clot, so even, as in this case, by letting the deer have enough time, eventually there will be enough blood loss to eventually recover the animal.

This is why I've decided not to kill a doe with no snow. A buck I'll take a chance on, but a doe, why risk loosing it?

I drug the field dressed doe back the way I came, snow coming down hard now. Got back to the shack, deer hung up, stove stoked once more and all cleaned up and back to bed by 3AM.

Now, can I be lucky enough to bag a buck before the season is over?

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