Sunday afternoon, I headed out with bow in hand for my third hunt of the 2020 season. I decided to hunt my private land spot for the second time. The weather was mid 50’s and cool. There was rain in the forecast for an hour at 4 pm, so I did bring a shell jacket just in case. Hiking into the woods, I had decided to get a bit more aggressive and set up in my saddle 20 yards closer the travel route I had observed on the previous sit.
I was running my Ozonics unit in the tree. Even though the breeze was very slight, it was pulling from my tree across the back of the travel corridor I was trying to intercept. While not a foolproof solution, I have had great success with the Ozonics masking my scent on my previous couple hunts this season. Shortly after I got set up, a group of does and yearlings were working their way through the trees headed for the farm field on the neighbor’s property. The rain was just starting to fall and I was wearing my Goretex shell jacket which was making a bit of noise. One of the younger deer heard it and got extremely interested in my tree. I froze and tried not to move an inch, but sure enough, the deer made me and it blew loudly. The group ran behind me about 200 yards and circled downwind. I could see the older deer moving back and forth with their noses in the air trying to wind me, but I believe the Ozone generator was doing its job and confusing them enough that they weren’t sure what was going on. About 10 minutes later, they made their way back through their original route and on to the field.
As the rain increased in intensity, the deer movement dried up for the next 30 minutes or so. Eventually, I took off my noisy jacket and got my bow in hand so I would be ready when they started moving again. Not long after that, another group of does came trotting through the woods about 30 yards from my tree. They were completely oblivious to my presence. I waited until they reached the clearing in the trees where I had a good shooting lane, drew back, and let my arrow fly at one of them. The doe did a huge mule kick and jump, and took off sprinting through the woods.
After waiting for 30 minutes, I slowly and quietly got down from the tree. I carefully packed up my gear and headed over to where I had shot the deer. The sun was starting to set at this point and I had to strain a bit, but eventually found the first few drops of blood on the ground. Scanning the area, I picked up the hit location and started to follow the blood trail. I proceeded cautiously. I was confident I had shot the deer right through the shoulder, but wanted to be careful in case the shot was off. I proceeded slowly, marking the trail every 50 or so yards with a reflective marker and recording some GPS coordinates.
After I got 100 yards from the initial shot site, the blood trail started to intensify and I began to observe sprayed blood on the leaves and ground. Growing more confident, I cranked on my flashlight as it was now dark and proceeded along the trail. After about another 100 yards, I reached some deadfall trees with a deep red blood smear on them. Looking just a few yards past them, I saw the deer piled up and dead.
I grabbed my tag and knife and got to work getting the deer field dressed. A younger doe, I was nonetheless happy to get my first kill of the season. Looking at the animal, I ascertained that I had indeed shot right through the shoulder. The arrow penetrated both lungs and right through the middle of the heart. It was a perfect shot.
After getting the deer home, I decided to donate the meat from my first deer this year to Sportsman Against Hunger. They are an incredible organization that allows sportsmen and women to donate a deer to help feed those in need. You simply check their site to find a processor who participates with them, drop off the tagged deer, and they do the rest. There is no cost to you and I highly encourage everyone to consider donating a deer this year. With the statewide shutdowns and virus, many people are struggling right now and it is a great way to give back while enjoying hunting. The processor even agreed to save me the backstraps.
Getting that doe was a great confidence booster early on in the season. While I am committed to hunting mature bucks this fall, I always am looking to fill the doe tags I buy every year. I knew that Sunday was the last day of the cold front and was happy to pull the trigger on a deer while they were still very active. After shooting, tracking, and recovering the deer, I will lay off that property for a week to let the deer settle back down and then will be back out there. I plan to try and move in closer to the potential buck bedding areas I have scouted and see if I can catch one moving during shooting hours.