This has been one of the worst seasons for bowhunting luck I can remember. It started off by me having a doe jump the string on opening day and I hit her high in the shoulder neck area. I did not recover that deer, but believe my hit was not lethal. Then it seems every buck that came in range was smaller than what I wanted to take off of my property. Most were 1-1/2 years old with a few up and coming 2-1/2 year olds thrown in. The big guys were there, I just could not get them to show up at a stand while I was in it. Got plenty of trail cam pics of them although mostly at night. I did see a few in daylight but never in range.
Fast forward to my Christmas weekend hunt. I arrived on Sunday afternoon and hunted a creek crossing that leads to my neighbors soy bean field. About a half hour before dark I see some deer in the bean field. Checking them out with my binoculars I could see there were 3 small bucks feasting on the beans. They slowly made their way in my direction. They were headed for the little creek crossing. When the first one was at 20 yards I shifted the camera arm to adjust the angle and he spotted my movement. All I saw after that was tails. I wasn't planning on shooting one of them anyway but it would have made nice video.
After hunting Monday morning in the middle of a group of beds in the snow and not seeing a deer, I went to check my trail cameras. I was happy to find a group of bucks in my soy bean plot just 3 days earlier during daylight. It just so happens one of them was this guy.
A nice tall 8 pointer who used to have really tall brow tines. He has broken one of them in the last month. He is still a shooter. I have my Ameristep Intimadator ground blind brushed in about 6 yards behind the trail camera.
I will be there in the evening with hopes the group of bucks shows up in daylight again. This time of year the deer don't stray too far from a food source. They have to eat to maintain their bodies in the cold weather.
I'm tucked in my Ameristep Intimadator Blind a little before 2:00, figuring they won't show up much before dark. I like hunting out of ground blinds in the late season for a variety of reasons.
1. The trees are all bare and you are extremely exposed hunting from treestands.
2. I can get out of the weather hunting in the ground blind. Especially the wind, which makes some hunts almost unbearable.
3. I can get close to where I think the deer will be. There doesn't have to be a perfect tree for a stand. Plus close shots are easier with all of the extra clothes on.
4. I am completely hidden in the blacked out blind as long as I wear black clothing. You can get away with a lot of movement in a ground blind.
5. It's really cool being on eye level with the deer.
About 4;30 I peeked out the back of the blind and see 5 does/fawns heading my direction in the food plot. I t will be dark soon and I see no sign of the bucks. I decided to go ahead and take a doe if the shot presented itself. I get the camera and all of the mics turned on and pointed the direction they will enter from. The first one slips by without offering a shot, but the second one, a nice doe, offers a slight quartering away shot. I zoom in and come to full draw. I take carefull aim and touch off the release. I hear a good thump, but my Firenock fails to light. So I didn't see exactly where the arrow hit the deer. I waited a few minutes and gathered my things. I wanted to look at the impact sight and try to find my arrow while there was still a little daylight. I found some hair and a few drops of blood where my doe was standing. I could not find my arrow. I took up the track hoping my aim was true and i would see my prize just over the hillside laying in the snow. As I followed the trail I wasn't seeing as much bnlood as I had hoped for. And what blood there was is hard to see. It is falling through the fresh powdery snow and not showing up very well. Luckily she is staying on one of the many trails leading to and from the food plots. Within a hundred yards I see where she had bedded but she is nowhere in sight. By now its getting pretty dark. I try to find more blood after the bed but can't seem to pick the trail back up with my light. Since the temperature was going to be around 20* that night I made the decision to back out and come back the next day to look for her.
I had to be at work for a meeting in the morning so I didn't get back in the woods until almost noon. I stopped on the way and picked up my buddy Bob to help in the search. The trail was much easier to follow the next day. The blood in the snow had sort of blossomed like coloring in a snow cone. We found the bed from the night before. She had taken a different trail and headed down the hill instead of continueing across it. The blood was really starting to show itself now, making it easy to follow at a walk. We hit the bottom of the hollow and I noticed some fresh coyote tracks. Then Bob said, there's whats left of your doe. The coyotes had picked her clean. There was nothing left but the hide and most of the bones.
After examining the carcas I could see where my Rage had exited through the 3rd rib from the back. We figured I got liver and at least the back of one lung. All in all she traveled about 200 yards to where the coyotes found her. As the saying goes, when in doubt back out. Except when the woods are full of hungry coyotes. I know what I'll be doing once the deer season is over. Time to fire up the predator call.
I definately have plans to move some stands and clear out some new shooting lanes for next season. I'm going to reevaluate my approach and see what needs changing to be in the right spot at the right time to kill some of the good bucks roaming my woods. My luck has to change.
If you want to give ground blind hunting a try. Check out the Ameristep Intimidator Ground Blind and the rest of the Ameristep lineup here at Bowhunting.com.