There’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes from any deer killed on public land in Michigan. The large number of hunters and the “if it’s brown it’s down” mentality makes for a ton of hunting pressure on state land—especially in southern Michigan. With this in mind, it always feels good to find deer out there, let alone kill one. I only have one good piece of private land to hunt this fall and to avoid burning out the property by overhunting it, I am spending an equal amount of time chasing deer on several different public land spots.
Wednesday, I headed back to a state game area I hunted the previous weekend to try and fill my second doe tag. I had observed a group of does from about 60 yards the previous hunt and was determined to move in a little closer to them to get a shot. The weather on Wednesday was unseasonably warm for October at about 70 degrees with a pretty consistent 18-20 mph wind. There were also occasional gusts throughout the afternoon that were reaching close to 30 mph.
I headed out on the property at 2:30 pm to have plenty of time to get set up and account for any earlier than normal deer movement. Hiking back, I had to maneuver through dozens of enormous deadfall trees, thorns, and other underbrush. After a long trek back I picked a tree that was in the middle of the transition area, but provided a lot of cover. I climbed up and got my saddle, platform, and camera gear set up. Of course, only when I was all the way up the tree did I notice that there was an empty climber stand at the base of a tree about 20 yards away, but luckily for me, it was and remained empty through my sit.
The wind was blowing hard enough that I had some legitimate concerns about the tree I was in remaining upright, but luckily for me, it did. After about two hours of no deer movement, a group of does started moving out from the bedding area to the east, across the area I was in. The group dispersed as each one went a slightly different route around my tree. North of me, by about 30 yards, one of the does stopped in between several trees. I quietly raised my bow, drew back the string, and released my arrow towards the doe.
The doe quickly walked off—and for a minute, I wasn’t sure if I had hit it at all. Losing sight of it, I scanned the area with my binoculars. Then, I saw the doe come back into view to my east. It laid down, thrashed around once or twice, and died. It was about 6 pm at this point. I waited in the tree for 15 minutes before doing anything, then slowly climbed down and quietly packed up my gear. I first went over to the shot site to see if I could gather the arrow or any intel about where the doe was hit, but was not successful in gaining any information from it.
Cautiously walking over toward the downed deer I found where it laid down and verified it was dead. Tagging the animal, I got to work dressing out the animal, and then dragging it out of the cover. It was a grueling 600-yard drag to get it up the hill from the area where I shot it to the nearest clearing. It was about 9:00 pm when I finally got it back to the car.
Filling my second doe tag this early in the season was unexpected, but a great start to 2020. It is a great feeling to get some meat in the freezer early on and I can now prepare and focus on finding a mature buck on the properties I’m hunting.