You Owe It To The Deer
Kids Outdoor Outpost October 2018
I gave it my best on the opening day of the archery season, but I got eaten up by skeeters and had beads of sweat rolling down my face after the walk to my stand. The temperatures across Georgia swelled in most places to the high 80s or low 90s. The result? No deer brought back to the skinning pole for many of us (including yours truly).
Thankfully, those hot days are starting to slowly amble to a close and the days of summer gradually slide to the fall season. Leaves are starting to drop more consistently, signaling their annual departure that happens in front of our winter. The scene is set for Halloween, pumpkins, corn mazes and lots of football.
It’s time for any venison from last year’s deer to find its way into a slow cooker of chili or spaghetti. A window or two in your house will get opened to allow some of that refreshing cool air to bring in the fall air.
Mid October launches the start of our primitive-weapons season, followed quickly by the firearms opener one week later.
The walk to your stand is much more pleasant. Cool evening temps allow for a nice chill in the morning, and maybe you even see your breath steaming now.
You quietly walk to a ladder stand situated near a white oak that is dropping acorns. Just after sunrise, a decent-sized doe gingerly steps out of a thicket toward that white oak at about 50 yards. She’s alone and has a long snout. She’s got a few years on her, and she’s smart. But the wind is in your favor, and she has no idea that you’re about 15 feet up and downwind of her. You size her up in your scope and decide it’s time to replenish the freezer with more venison.
You have a round chambered and slowly squeeze the safety off. You continue to breathe, although it seems difficult to do in the excitement. You begin to apply pressure to the trigger, and it goes off, taking you completely by surprise.
You are dismayed when what you thought was a well-placed hit in the vitals actually caused her to “hunch” her back, and she slowly walked off with her tail down. You set some landmarks in your mind with the direction that she went. Reality sets in with a load of doubt. You’re really not sure if you made a fatal hit on the deer.
So, what do you do now? Do you scurry down the tree and look for a blood trail? Do you text your friends and tell them that you’ve shot a deer? Do you just keep hunting since you are unsure if you killed the deer? After all, it’s only a doe, right?
Well, here’s some sound advice. First, the hit was probably a gut shot. She will probably die, but it will take some time. There may not be much of a blood trail, due to the hit behind the vitals, which likely is now sealed with intestine. Play close attention to the direction she walked. A shot deer has a strong pulse of adrenaline, which causes dehydration in them. Look for a possible route to water.
You owe it to the animal you are hunting to spend ample time to recover them, regardless if it’s a buck or doe.
Once those backstraps hit the grill, I can guarantee you that no one even can tell. Good luck, and stay safe in the field.