First archery harvest, through the eyes of seasoned hunting vet

Eric Davis

Mayhood's Sporting Goods

While it took me quite a few years to decide to give bowhunting a shot, it quickly became one of my favorite ways to hunt. I started out using a Jennings bow that my friend’s mother had picked up at a yard sale and gave it to me. I took the bow to Bass Pro Shops and got set up with everything I’d need to use it. At first I couldn’t pull the 60-pound draw weight (I was a 5’ 10” 14 year-old that weighed 140 pounds soaking wet) so I did push ups every morning and every night until I could draw the bow.

After a few years of flinging arrows at deer and missing every single time, I upgraded to a Bear that I bought off from Craigslist. I took that bow to a pro shop, had them set the bow up for me and spent a lot of time shooting the bow. That fall I was more than ready for archery season to begin. I bought a rangefinder to keep me from incorrectly guessing ranges and missing deer, this was by far the greatest investment I could have made.

I had hunted a good amount without seeing many deer but was still determined as late October rolled around. On the 24 of that month, I decided to hunt in a stand, that is perched on the steep hill leading down to Seneca Lake at the winery, which is where I still hunt. The stand is nicknamed “The Nosebleed” because when looking towards the lake, it feels like the nosebleed seats of sports stadiums.



With the deer starting to show signs of the rut, I used a doe-in-heat lure on a scent drag on the walk to the stand. About 20 yards before the stand, I stopped and tied the scent drag in a bush that way I would have a good shot at a deer if it followed the scent right to me. I climbed up the ladder of the stand and got settled in.

After an hour or so, I looked up the logging road that I had walked down and saw the outline of a deer in the road. It had its nose right to the ground and was following my scent trail right to the stand. After a few steps, I could clearly see it was a doe and knew that I was going to attempt to shoot her, if she gave me the opportunity. She kept following the trail and I grabbed my bow as she approached the bush where I had hung the urine-soaked pad.

She apparently had read the script and turned broadside and took two steps off the trail to get a really good whiff of the scent pad in the bush. I drew my bow and got ready for the shot. However she had taken one step too many and her vitals were completely covered by a different bush. I stayed at full draw for what seemed like forever and finally had to let down as she would not quit sniffing that scent pad. Finally she backed up and continued down the trail.

Now she was in the wide open and facing right at me. I started to try to figure when I should draw back again and it looked like it wouldn’t be until she had walked passed the stand. Just a few steps in front of the stand, she turned to follow an old deer trail that was perpendicular to the logging road. She took a few steps and I thought my chances were pretty much over as she would disappear into the thick brush behind the stand before I would have enough cover to draw my bow undetected.

Luckily, a grey squirrel went bounding through the dry leaves about 50 yards past the deer from me and it startled the doe. She turned her head to see what the commotion was and I took my opportunity to draw my bow without being noticed. The doe was maybe 7 yards away almost underneath me and I took a deep breath and remembered to aim low with my 15 yard pin. I picked a spot close to the bottom of her chest, just behind her front leg and squeezed my release.

The arrow made a loud thump and she took off running. I could see the vanes of my arrow sticking out on the entry side so I knew my broadhead had completely passed through the deer’s vitals. I tried to keep track of where she ran with my binoculars but lost her in the brush.

After a couple seconds, I heard a ton of commotion in leaves and brush about 80 yards away. I assumed that she had expired but wanted to be safe so I stayed in the stand for 30 minutes. I took that time to try to calm down the adrenaline that was pumping in my veins and called the man I learned to hunt from to tell him what had happened.

After the half hour was up, I climbed down and started looking for the start of the blood trail. After a few minutes of slight panic from not finding any blood, I decided to head toward the path she took as she ran away and quickly found a good blood trail.

Maybe five minutes of tracking later, I found the doe near the area where I had heard the commotion. It took me a minute to comprehend everything that had occurred. When I was ready, I started the real work of field dressing and dragging the doe back to my car.

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