|We found 6 piles of old moose poop in this area|
Brendan has had little time in the woods during the archery season since he made the varsity football team in his Sophomore year in high school. Those 3 years of high school football left little time for chasing deer with the bow and even the gun during most football seasons. After graduation he headed off to college which once again left little time for hunting. Now he is in graduate school, but living at home and finding the time to get back out in the woods on a regular basis and it has paid off for him. He shot a nice long beard this past spring and just last weekend he arrowed his first deer with a bow.
I will do my best to tell his story with the same excitement and passion that he does, but it is so much better to listen to him tell it in person.
We are fortunate to have a few nice pieces of state land within minutes of our house and I have hunted this land for over 15 years and know my way around pretty well and spent the late summer getting Brendan reacquainted with the area and offering up some suggestions on where to hunt. With the storms we've had the past two falls, there are plenty of new deadfalls that offer some great little ground hides in some key travel areas and I had one such deadfall picked out since last year just for this occasion. My only concern was how much hunting pressure we would see here especially with the new additiona of crossbows being legal for everyone during the archery season. For the first 5 days of the season, I would drive around the state forest and check for hunters on my way to work, and Brendan would do the same in the late evening on his way home from school. In those first 5 days we did NOT see a single vehicle or hunter in the spots we wanted to hunt. So Friday night before the first Saturday of the season, I suggested we attempt to hunt the area we'd been watching, but warned Brendan that I expected to see other hunters in the area. It had been a long and tough week as my mother-in-law was in the hospital recovering from bypass surgery and we were getting little sleep so we overslept on Saturday and didn't get out until after first light. Not in my original plan and I thought for sure we'd lost our spot to other hunters. When we arrived at the gate to park I was shocked to be the only vehicle there.
|Brandon trying to figure out why we are not seeing any Squirrels.|
We dropped Brendan off at his ground blind and then Brandon and I headed off to hunt some squirrels. Brandon is still learning to shoot a bow and has his safety course and license, but needs a few more weeks to gain confidence in his shooting. About 8:30 I got a call from Brendan saying he just had a really nice buck sneak in to his blind at just 15 yards away, but has he adjusted to get a shot he got snorted by another deer he never saw. One thing I enjoy about hunting is you learn something new every outing and every encounter with an animal and this was one of those lessons for Brendan. As is typical with many of us that have had these encounters they haunt our dreams on a regular basis and they sure did for Brendan. He thought he blew his only shot for the season and the season was just 6 days old! Lesson learned.
Brendan had to wait until the next Friday to get back out to the woods and as he was sneakign into his deadfall, he got snorted again. He didn't see anything the rest of the morning, but he did take some time to mosey around and check out the sign and just as weeks past there was plenty of fresh sign so he snuck out and decided to wait until Saturday morning to hunt it again instead of hunting it that afternoon.
|The arrow tells the story!|
It didn't take Brandon and I long to arrive at Brendan's deadfall where we found him standing there with a grin from ear to ear. I calmly approached and had him walk me through what had just happened. Brendan had just put his phone back in his pocket, heard some crunching and looked up and could see a deer moving through the thick brush on a trail that would take this deer right by Brendan's hide. The deer stepped out of the little hemlocks which had been blocking most of Brendan's view of the deer just long enough for Brendan to see antlers and then he went into that fast shot planning mode that we all have gone through. He waited for the deer to step behind a tree, went to full draw and as the deer made two steps from behind the tree he bleated at it and as the deer stopped and the pin settled just above the deer's heart Brendan released an arrow. He said he heard the thud and watched the deer take off tail down. The deer jumped two deadfalls and after the second he heard a large crash but couldn't see anything or hear anything after. I'm not going to lie, I was a little excited at that point and was struggling to sit tight for a bit more to give the deer a little more time, but he and I needed it to clam down and get ready for the tracking job at hand.
|Blood at the shot|
|Blood almost two feet up the tree.|
I had Brendan line me up where he thought the deer was when he shot and I found no blood or sign and my heart sank into my stomach. I thought, no way. So I had him rethink it and I played the deer and he walked me past the shot and off in the direction he saw it run. still no sign. I wasn't more then about 10 steps from where he said the deer was standing when he shot, so I spun around and headed in the direction the deer had come from and I found blood. I had Brendan come to the blood and walk it back to see exactly where the deer was standing. He was only off about 10 feet but just enough to not find sign where he first lined me up. I then had him look for the arrow, which is a key part to determining what type of shot you got on the deer. I noticed a very small drop of blood going away from the blood trail and then another. So I had Brendan follow those tiny drops and it led him right to his arrow. Those drops of blood had come off the arrow after it passed through the buck. Only at that point was I confident that the last jump and crash of that deer was where we would find Brendan's deer, but why pass up a training and learning opportunity so I sat back and had Brendan and Brandon follow up the blood trail as I coached from the back of the line. They tracked it over one small dead fall and right to a second. I decided to walk around the deadfall to the right, but stopped after a couple of steps because I could see the buck laying there dead. Brendan caught me stop quickly and said "You see him don't you?!" and I just nodded and he looked up and there it was. The nice little 7 pointer - we refuse to give him the 8th point - didn't go more then 50 yards from a double lung complete pass thru shot. There was as sigh of relief and some high fives and more then a few hugs and back slaps, oh and a few pictures and then the work began. Brendan filled his tag out, and we decided to drag it out of the area and field dress it away from his hunting area so we loaded the buck on the Dead Sled and strapped Brendan in and yelled MUSH!
|That Dead Sled is nice to have for dragging.|
Brendan dragged the buck out and once we reached a spot far enough from his hunting area we started a new lesson on field dressing a deer. Brendan has a degree in Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Services and is in Graduate school pursing a Masters in Occupation Therapy so he took the opportunity to turn all "Mr. Anatomy" on us and held a show and tell session showing off all the different things he learned ins school as we worked through the process of dressing the deer. I was very impressed with his knowledge and the fact that he didn't puke as it had been almost 6 or 7 years since he last shot and field dressed a deer.
|Brendan's First Archery Deer!|
I'm happy he had a successful hunt for many reasons and I was glad I was there to share it, but I am extremely proud to see how well he learned from all those previous hunting trips and of course from his schooling! His passion for the outdoors is evident and growing every day, Having fresh venison in the freezer is just icing on the cake!
Being able to share my passion for the outdoors with my kids, family and friends is really what my blog is all about and I look forward to this weeks outing as fall turkey opens up and we will try to get Brandon his first bird. That is if I can get both of them away from the bow for a day.
It doesn't get any better then this!