by Don Forsey
Rainy day 6
Nov, 14 2005 Andover, NY Allegheny County
I was at my friend Joe’s camp alone from Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 until Tuesday morning the 15th.
It was a Monday evening hunt and it was the first calm, quiet hunt of the season. Most of the days so far have been breezy or downright windy. I was hunting in an area I have never hunted before. It was only 50 yards away from where I have hunted before, but it was still new territory for me.
I wanted to put a stand in this area last year, but there were too many treestand brackets in that area already from Joe and Mike Beutel. So I kept out of the area by about 70 yards and ended up getting a buck on the last day of the archery season out of the Mock stand.
This area that I hunted this time is called the Far Draw. It is a vertical line of thickets and apple trees that furnish the deer lots of cover and security. It runs up the hillside like a big finger of cover. The wind, if any, was out of the west sneaking across the hill. I had not seen a deer yet this day.
I had a tom turkey come up to me in the morning hunt at Nut Way and clucked to me a few times looking for the source of the calling. I had called just to amuse myself from the lack of game to focus on. Not knowing that a turkey was in the area, he must have seen me because after a few clucks he descended back into the depths of what we call “The Hole“. It’s a steep dark bottom part of our hill that borders thickets that is a deer haven. Anyways... back to the evening hunt.
It was getting late in the evening and I was thinking… something better come along soon or I will not have seen a deer all day and that has not happened all season. Just in the nick of time, I heard a deer approaching from my right heading uphill, which is where the deer almost always come from. The deer was coming uphill, which was half the battle. Now I needed the deer to cut towards me, below me, in front, behind me, or above me. As my luck would have it he cut across in front of me, which is downhill from me. At 40 yards I could tell it was a buck, but if he stopped to feed I might not have enough light to get an arrow released. He did not stop.
There was a three trunked tree 22 yards straight downhill from me and I thought to myself, "If he goes behind that tree I am not taking the shot." Again, as my luck would have it, he walked on the up hillside of the tree, which gave me a 20 yard shot.
I drew in one fluid motion and aimed for the lower third of his body (up to this point I could not tell how many points his antlers had, I try and make a point of counting them when I walk up to a dead deer if I have a shot). I released with confidence, I heard a quick crack and the deer bucked up his back end like a bull trying to throw his rider. He immediately headed downhill for about 20 yards and then cut back to the right, which was the direction he originally came from. My first thoughts were that it was a good hit and holy cow I have never seen a deer run that fast.
The farther he ran the less I could see in the impeding darkness. So I had to rely on my hearing. I was expecting a crash of some sort soon, but instead I heard many small crashes as he sped away. I could hear dry branches snapping and sun dried leaves crunching as he ran. I could not tell if all of the noise was from the deer busting through anything in his path or if he was staggering and rolling down hill to his death. Within 15-20 seconds all of the noise stopped. Now I didn’t know if it was because he
was out of earshot or if he was on the ground dead.
I waited 10 minutes and it was pretty dark by now. I did not hear a thing more from the direction the deer ran off to. I decided to get my gear together and climb down from my climber. I was eager to go look for blood or hair, or with any luck, an arrow. I only had a little headlamp to see with. I looked at the spot that the deer was when I released my arrow. I could see where he first bucked because of the turned up leaves. Also, because of the kicked up leaves, I could see that he ran down hill and then turned right to cut straight across the hillside. But I was now about 40-50 yards from the point of impact and I still have no sign of blood, hair, or arrow.
I then decided to get back to camp and let the deer go overnight. I was hoping in my mind that the buck was lying on the ground where I last heard him just minutes before. I called home to my Wife Dana and asked her of a weather report... “Rain by 2 AM”. Crap, that’s no good.
That night’s sleep was short and stirring, not knowing what awaited me in the morning. I was awakened at 1:10 am by heavy rain hitting the camp roof. Well, so much for my blood trail in the morning. I slept in because I didn’t need to look for a deer in the dark.
It was not raining when I got up at 6:30. I headed up the hill on my four-wheeler with my camo raingear. I rode my bike into the woods almost to where my stand was the night before. As I was getting off my bike, I had mixed emotions about the outcome of my search. First, I was unsure of my chances of finding a deer with no sign whatsoever. Second, I was confident of the shot and was ready to start looking where I had last heard any sound the night before. I followed the scattered leaves until I saw no more. I could see freshly broken dead branches on the forest floor. That must have been all of the crashing noises I heard. I cut through a second thicket and came into an opening; a sound startled me uphill to my right. A huge porcupine was about 25 yards away. It sounded like it hissed at me. I kept on heading across the hill entering a mental note as to where I had seen the porcupine, because I did not want to come out of those thickets again any closer to him. I saw him a few more times as I slowly zig zagged downhill.
I crossed two small ravines and then started heading back towards the bike. Heading lower down the hill this time I thought to myself, if he was hurting from my shot then chances are, he will not run uphill. So I started back toward the direction that I thought the buck would have taken. Five minutes later I came to a few ATV trails and started heading downhill on the second path I came to. Fur caught my eye and there he was 30 yards below me.
It was raining the entire time I was searching for the deer. I saw no sign of the deer struggling to get to his feet. And he was facing towards my tree stand when he died, probably to check his back trail after my shot. He went about 150 yards. He was a nice 6-point with a 14 ½” spread with no brow tines. He had a big body also.
I took a few pics with my digital and field dressed him. I was lucky. I dragged him to where I could get him out on my ATV, then headed back to camp to pack and head home for a day or two. I headed out that morning looking for a dead deer with no sign, but because I started looking in the right direction in the first place, because I paid close attention the night before it was like everything worked out as planned. Yes, and with a little luck.