As I sat in my tree stand still trembling from the evening’s events, I was amazed. The day expired as the western sky faded into darkness, and thousands of stars began to emerge. Overhead and directly in front of me was the Big Dipper. "How appropriate", I smiled and thought to myself. "My cup truly runneth over. I had four shot opportunities in the last two days and two hours before I had prayed to get a deer, and preferably a buck that was at least a step up from the eight-pointer I arrowed two years ago. Sometimes things happen faster than expected!
The ladies of WomenHunters were together for our first whitetail deer hunt at Pine Ridge Farms just outside of Wautoma, Wisconsin. Pine Ridge is the dream of owner Matthew Brown (see Dream Weaver sidebar). The WomenHunters ProStaff are a close knit group who not only share adventure as hunters and fellow writers but as loyal friends who love each other. We were filming for the WomenHunters Outdoors TV show on this trip, and we were excited to be at Pine Ridge. Stand locations and guides were determined for opening morning and the stage was set.
I phoned my guide again and said I also had a buck down. He was ecstatic. A "search party" arrived at dark and we tracked the buck, which dropped 50 yards from the stand. Again I was puzzled since I thought I had heard him run much further. We then looked for the doe, finding both halves of my arrow crimson with blood, but could not pick up the blood trail. We spent until 10:30 p.m. tracking, but gave up out of sheer exhaustion until the next morning when we had better light. We spent another two and a half hours tracking in the morning, finding excellent blood a couple of times, but then it just ended. Then it picked up again a short distance later. I determined that the doe had gone about 80 yards and bedded down, as evidenced by a bedding area pooled with blood. When I shot my buck and he charged into the woods, she was spooked up again, and ran, which meant that the continued running I had heard was the doe being jumped, not the buck running further into the woods. We gave up the search.
Not to be defeated by this disappointing turn of events, I again hunted that evening. I told the guides to put the other ladies in the best spots, and just put me somewhere untested since I already had my buck. I wound up in what seemed to be a gun stand consisting only of a permanent wood platform with steps up to it. No seat, per se. There was a tiny flat cushion so I knew the afternoon hunt would be a butt buster. I was also cruising on four hours sleep and ready to tip over from exhaustion. One of my hunting mates, Wanda Garner, had talked fondly of taking naps in the woods, so I decided it was about time I tried it. I crawled out of the stand and just lay down in the dry pine needles at the foot of the tree next to me. I dozed for about an hour, and at 4:30 p.m. decided I had best get back down to business. I felt rested from my snooze, but I did get bitten up by no-see-ums. Back in the stand, I was just waiting for dark and to head out. I thought since I left my scent all over under my tree, I would not see any deer. No sooner did that thought go through my mind, when I heard movement behind and to the left of me. I am a left-handed shooter so this was not a good shot setup. A nice sized doe crept through the thick brush and stopped at least a half dozen times to look up at me. I saw her nose the air as she caught my scent, but she never saw me. She angled to walk right in front of my stand so I went to full draw and held. She stopped twice more to look at me and when her vitals were in an open spot 8 yards from me, I shot.
I saw no arrow in her as she bound away, but I thought I saw her stop and crumple to the ground in the distance. Did I miss her? The cover was so thick I could not see her, however, even with binoculars. I got down from my tree and could not find the arrow. I called for help and at dark we had our group tracking again. There was little if any blood. I was afraid we were going to have a repeat of the previous night’s lost doe and feeling jinxed, I was ready to just pack and go home. We looked for an hour and decided it was too hard to find blood in the dry pine needles and thick cover so we quit and went back to the lodge. Much to my delight, the doe was found atop the adjoining pine ridge the next morning. She apparently had walked slowly up the ridge after the shot, and tipped over. My shot was good, quartering in through the liver and out through the abdomen. There was virtually no blood trail however. My arrow was found embedded in the ground right by my stand, hidden by a small evergreen, having passed through the animal. I don’t think I have ever seen that much action in twenty four hours of hunting!
The last day our group was scheduled to pheasant hunt, but I had opted out because I consider myself to be a poor shot-gunner. Although I teach shotgun in Firearm Safety Classes and have led the pheasant hunting segments on our field days, I had never actually pheasant hunted before. I had shot clays many times, but never broke more than 8 out of 25. The ladies encouraged me to join them anyway, and I was given a borrowed gun, orange vest, and some shells. I ended up shooting two pheasants and discovered something quite amazing. I had always been a bad shot-gunner because I am a logical analyzer and I like the precision of aiming. Aiming does not work when shooting a shotgun, which in concept is something I knew. However, when in the field hunting behind dogs, and a bird is flushed, my predator self along with adrenalin kicked in, and I instinctively "pointed" instead of aiming, and nailed the birds.
Hunting with a group of wonderful ladies, and at such a beautiful facility made this hunt probably one of the most memorable ones in my hunting career. Also memorable was getting four shot opportunities in two days. I can’t wait to go back!
October © 2004