I have always been thankful for every deer that I was able to harvest but this one was much different. This was a deer I had pictures of for two years while never laying eyes on him in daylight. The first time we met was during the second day of firearms season. He chased a doe across the field and by the time I stopped him he was broadside at 90 yards offering a perfect shot. I had my muzzleloader up against the tree providing more stability, but in my excitement I rushed the shot hitting him in the shoulder. He mule kicked and took off in a way that made me feel good about the shot. We happened to be filming this hunt, so before taking up the blood trail we looked at the footage and my heart sank. I had put so much time in for this deer and now he might wonder off and suffer a slow agonizing death.
My uncle, Jason, was with me during this hunt. We decided to wait until the next morning to go look for him. After spending four hours walking one half of the property, we decided to start on the next. I was moving slow along a creek when I stumbled on a fresh pool of blood. As I followed the trail my phone rings and it was Jason telling me he had jumped my buck. He said the deer was obviously hurting but it was not going to die anytime soon.
I spent the whole next day walking and praying the deer had expired but came up empty handed. Over the next two days I had convinced myself that my season was over, not because I lost the biggest buck around but because there was an injured deer suffering from what I did. Supportively, one of my good friends convinced me the best thing I could do was sit out there everyday and hope for the best.
Almost a week had gone by since that hunt and the roller coaster started all over again. As I was sitting 20 feet in the air feeling sorry for myself, I caught a glimpse of something. I stood up and right away knew it was my deer!
Unfortunately, he was hurt bad and having a hard time moving his front left leg. Something had spooked him and he was just trying to get away as he came within 70 yards of me; however, I couldn’t get a shot before he hit the cut corn field. I didn’t know how far he could actually get, so I climbed down the tree and went after him. By the time I had snuck around walking slowly, he had made it 300 yards into the field where he layed down. I was in desperation mode so the only thing I could do was get on the ground and try to get close enough for a good shot. Forty-five minutes later I had him at 120 yards where I was able to end this nightmare.
That night I spent 30 minutes in an open field talking to a lifeless body apologizing and asking for forgiveness. I would be lying if I said there weren’t tears hitting the ground while we had this talk.
Anyone who hunts long enough will lose a deer. I wanted to share my journey in hopes that it might help other hunters understand the importance of persistance. Never give up and don’t take any hunts for granted. Every animal is a gift and should be respected.