One tag down and a doe on the ground – but not until after an 18-hour roller-coaster ride

Right now, my work schedule is insane and doesn’t allow much time to do anything, let alone hunt. But I’ve been taking every opportunity I’ve been afforded to spend time in the deer woods.

On Oct. 28, I got off work at four in the afternoon, raced home, and headed to a stand. Obviously, a late start was not ideal, but you’ve gotta hunt while the sun shines, right?

I’d only been sitting for a half-hour when my eyes caught movement in a small grassy spot in the corner of a combined bean field, about 60 yards to the south. They were fairly obscured by trees and brush, but looking through my binocular, I saw four deer in the group. I continued to keep an eye on them until I noticed that one of the does looked to be branching off from the others and heading back in my direction.

I stood up and got my bow ready to draw. I only waited a few moments before I saw the brown of the doe’s fur in between the branches of a large, mostly leafless tree. She was a mere few yards from my shooting lane and I drew back my bow. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds that passed before she was standing perfectly broadside.

Accelerated heart rate, shaky hands and legs quivering, I launched an arrow. Then, I heard the smack. There was bright red blood up a good length of the arrow shaft, but barely any on the ground. There are few things more frustrating than finding little blood on the edge of darkness, mostly because this frustration is usually followed by a bombardment of second-guesses in which you question every single movement that led up to the shot.

My dad and husband came out to help look for the doe. I proceeded to crawl along on my hands and knees holding a flashlight and wearing a headlamp, searching for any miniscule droplets of blood I could see. My wrists and knees ached, and I began to feel the onslaught of shame and embarrassment.

Despite what I’d originally thought, it became evident that something had gone wrong before, during or after the shot. The replay was on a constant loop in my mind. After more than three hours, I called it quits and we all went home. I was angry at myself for making such a massive mistake.

Worse, though, was having no clue what I’d done wrong.

I had to work the next day, but my husband and our son, Brady, went out again to look for the doe. I reached out to a friend of mine who is a DNR CPO and explained the situation. He gave me permission to tell Brian that if he did find the deer, he could go ahead and attach my tag to it, as it’s illegal to tag someone else’s deer, even if the tag belongs to that person.

I was heading back from lunch when I got the call that they’d found my doe. It turned out that she hadn’t gone more than 125 yards before dropping. It was a double-lung shot that had barely missed the heart. Because there wasn’t an exit wound and that half the arrow was still inside the deer may have explained the minor amount of blood. Who knows?

I was so grateful to learn that my shot was true and resulted in a quick death. And I don’t wish to take another 18-hour roller-coaster ride like that any time soon.

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