Saturday, September 19, 2009

Breaking the Ice

The night of Sept. 17th, a night of firsts and of what I hope will be many more to come.

The weather was rather warm and humid, as it normally is here in Southwest Georgia. I was lucky to have a decent steady breeze, that would sometimes crest as a heavy wind, blowing from the southwest as I peered east awaiting the arrival of the elegant whitetail deer. Hoping for a mature buck, I knocked an arrow and began the wait overlooking two groups of persimmon trees, each 25 yards away, one to the north the other to the east.

As I sat waiting, a jay flies in and lights behind me in my backdrop of a wild cherry tree and scrub oaks. He hangs out for a few minutes providing a small amount of entertainment, and eventually flies off to search for more food in the next group of trees. Time continues to pass and is filled with admiring God's great creation and catnaps. ;^) A light sprinkle begins to fall, with the sun shining bright and no clouds above me. This was a common occurence in Florida but was my first time seeing it here in Georgia. The sprinkle fades away and the sun begins to set.

As the sun is setting, I hear a loud blow of a doe through the woods and on another field to the east of me. It was followed by another and then a sequence of short lighter ones as she ran away to the south. I was hoping she would turn and run into the hardwood bottom between us and come out in my field, but it didn't happen. A few minutes pass and I scan my persimmons to see if anything is coming in when I see a deer's head passing through the tall grass, coming right at me to feast. It was a good size doe with a brilliant brownish/red coat. Behind her was more movement, an old grey doe that I had been trying to harvest for three years. I had the chance last year, but right as I went to draw back my bow she spotted me and began to blow like mad for 13 minutes. Not entirely spooked she did present a shot, but my release let go in draw back and the arrow when flying to the ground. As I reached for another arrow the movement was enough to push her over the limit and send her on her way, with her yearling and fawn closely behind.

This time would be different. As she stepped out of the grass and began feeding, she walked behind a young persimmon tree that provided the best time to draw. I come to full draw and wait for her to present me with a clean shot, and as she does I see more movement from where she come from. It was her fawn from last year, and she walked right behind her keeping me from taking the shot. As I remain in full draw for what seemed like eternity but was more like 45 seconds, she raises her head and looks right at me. "Great, she is gonna get spooked and run off", I think to myself while I sit there starting to shake from being at full draw for so long. She turns her head to the side and attempts to make me out but my leafy camo suit provides enough break up to put her at ease and she continues feeding. She takes a couple quick steps clearing her two offspring and I attempt to bleat to stop her. The bleat sounded like a doe getting hit by a Mack truck, but it worked. She stopped and turned to look, presenting me with the ideal broadside shot. I centered my pin, hit the release and listened to the thwack of the arrow as it struck just behind her shoulder in the heart area. She takes off to the north into the field and her offspring head east into the bottom. She ran to what I thought was about 20 yards and stopped, I watched for a few seconds and then she disappeared as she fell into the tall grass.

It was 7:45 pm (est) when I shot her, just at sunset. I knew I still needed to let her lay for at least 20 minutes, so I call my wife to let her know, her husband the mighty hunter, had broke the ice and would be bringing home some meat for the freezer. I make a few more phone calls, ask a buddy to come help me load her up and head to my truck to complete the recovery. He arrives and the search begins.

Knowing where I last saw her, I figured it wouldn't take long to find her. Well... the sun had set and darkness was in full effect. The spot where I thought she fell was not the one. So we start to circle out and a few minutes later, jackpot, he finds her. On the same line I thought she was just 20 yards out further. We put her in the back of my truck and take her to his house for processing. He shows me how to do it since this the the first deer in my recent hunting experience that I can actually harvest the meat. I had harvested a button muley while stationed in Wyoming, that I processed but did not do it too well. And last year I took my first antlered whitetail, but it took me a week to find him.

This was my first doe ever, she weighed about 170+ on the hoof and toothed aged older than 6 years old. She was an alpha doe that ruled our 92 acres, keeping off any deer that she didn't like. And now will provide many a meal for me and my family.