New York Bow Hunt, November 2018
Saturday morning, 11/3, in Otsego County was overcast, damp and cool. I was in my stand before sunrise and settled in to wait for for legal hunting hours to begin. I sat on the narrow seat, crammed in between the rails of the ladder stand and let my mind wander for a bit while I waited for the woods to get light. I’m not sure of the exact time when it happened but around 7:50 it started to rain in earnest. Not a heavy downpour but heavy enough to make me pull my hood up over my knit hat and wish that it was not raining.
With the rain coming down, wind rustling the remaining leaves on the trees and the creek behind the stand, normally a trickle at best but today babbling at a brisk pace, the chances of hearing a deer coming in where marginal. A short while after hunkering down to wait out the rain I heard something behind the stand that sounded different from rain, creek or wind. I snapped my head to the left. There was a big doe 30 yards away and on course to walk past the stand, just within range. I threw off my hood, grabbed the bow from the hanger and clipped on the release. She was walking fast which made me hesitant to shoot. The range was 22 yards but that’s where my arrow velocity starts to get sluggish and I didn’t want to risk miscalculating lead and making a bad shot.
I drew back when she walked behind a bush. She didn’t stop when she came out on the other side and briskly walked clear across the opening I was counting on for my shot. I was about to let off on the string as she approached a thick stand of old, decrepit apple trees when she stopped and stood broadside, calm as anything. The range was 23 yards, the maximum I’d want to shoot even with a calm, broadside deer. I had to make a decision, and make it fast. One more step and my opportunity would be gone. I straightened my posture and lined up the pin. The jaws of the released opened and I watched the arrow hit home with the tell tale “thud” of contact.
I knew immediately I had hit a little further back than I wanted. The deer jumped and ran a short distance, taking the same course it had from the start, stopping about 30 yards away to the right and out in front of my stand. My assessment was that I had made a solid hit on the liver but probably got some lung as well. I’m not proud to admit it, but I have experience with liver-shot deer and how they behave. This deer gave the classic indication of standing in the same spot for several minutes, barely moving. Then she walked another 15 yards and bedded down. Half an hour later I was filling out my carcass tag.
The outdoor temperature was cool with a stiff breeze blowing so I took my time skinning, quartering and boning out. Even so, I had plenty of time to get out for the evening, which proved extremely windy. I heard at least three trees or large limbs snap, which always makes one a bit jittery when sitting in a tree stand. I saw one antlerless deer the whole evening with no prospect for a shot. Sunday morning was still with a bit of sun, but nary a deer was moving, at least where I was sitting.
So there it is. One deer tagged and several weeks of deer hunting left…