November 14, 2002
by Chris Feeney
I must have resembled a three-year-old who didn't get what he wanted for Christmas as I moped around the house, sighing and mumbling to myself, kicking at the air every so often. The only problem about that analogy is the little kid eventually forgets about his disappointment and moves on while here I sit on Monday morning and I'm still blue as can be.
Funny how a hobby that brings so much enjoyment can also send a fellow to the dumps. After a decade of deer hunting I finally took my first shot at that trophy buck. Unfortunately only three of those years have included bow hunting for deer and it appears like that's not enough practice for me.
When I got back to the house Saturday evening the family was getting ready for supper. After I didn't offer any information they finally began the quiz. Did you see any? Yes. Did you see the big one? Yes. He was too far away to get a shot? Nope. That sparked a little more interest in the questionnaire, but it also showed me how much faith they have in my hunting ability because the next question was Did you miss? Nope. Finally their last option was that I actually may have got the deer, but unfortunately I had to say no once again.
I'll make this hour-long story short. He came out. I was ready for him, as I saw him coming. I had my bow drawn waiting as he headed straight to me. At 17 steps he began to quarter away from me, I believed to turn back away and follow the trail of two does that had followed the same path. That's when I took "the shot" and that's when I learned I'm apparently not a very good shot. The arrow struck home, but it drifted a little high and too far back. The big guy bolted about 50 yards and stopped in a nearby stand of trees. He stood there for 30 minutes looking back toward the stand to try to see what had bit him. Finally it grew too dark to see and I got down and went to the house.
We came back a couple hours later to look for the trail. We managed to find the one large pool where the buck had stood watching the field. Two other spots were located trailing away from that spot but that was the end of the trail. We gave up after a couple hours but then returned Sunday morning for three or four more hours walking the area in search of the deer to no avail.
I was disappointed that my big buck had got away. But I was most disappointed by the fact that I had wounded the deer. I just hope my shot was so bad that the big guy is still running around enjoying the rut.
I guess everyone got tired of my pouting because my mother-in-law finally gave me a pep talk. She pulled out the old cliché about if you fall off a horse you need to get back up and get right on again for another ride. (This is also the woman who told my wife after a minor tussle during the early stages of our courtship that there are other fish in the sea.) Well I'm glad one of us listened to her.
I went back to the same stand Sunday night as I figured it would likely be my last bow hunting outing before gun season opens this weekend. Now there is no Disney ending to this story. I didn't see the same deer and get him the second time. However I did see five different bucks, including another trophy-sized deer. Not once, but twice did he momentarily present me with shot opportunities, neither of which I could safely take with a bow. After 10 years of taking just one shot at a buck (during my first gun season back in my college days) I had two nights in a row with an opportunity at a wall hanger. The second night I didn't actually get a shot but I left the stand feeling much better about the upcoming gun season.