Taking a doe, and the takeaways from it

She had followed the first doe from the patch of saplings to my west with 30 minutes of shooting light left. Sitting high in a single maple with only a small immature  sampling breaking up my outline, I had hauled my old climber deep into the overgrown remunerates of a swamp, and was watching a doe work her way from the west toward my tree. This natural funnel has provided plenty of quality encounters and on this particular night, put a doe in shooting range.

The shot was fast and lethal, exactly what we want as hunters. The drag 40 acres to the road, however, was not.

Shooting a doe seems simple and fairly uneventful to some. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard people say, “I only killed a doe.” Did you “only kill a doe?” Next to the meat, how do you use a doe kill to prepare to tag your buck? Here are a fewquick things to do when you fill you doe tag:

• Last season, my first deer of the year was the last doe in a line of three and, thankfully, a summer's worth of practicing paid off at 7:45 in the morning.  But as I sat and reflected on the quick encounter, a few things hit me. The group did not travel down the well-worn game trail to my left. They swung right, behind my tree, forcing me to wait until they  passed far enough for me to stand and turn. I also noticed a large branch I had cut earlier in the year to clear a shooting lane was blocking my 10-yard shot. In the end I had to make a 20-yard quartering-away shot count. When you are reflecting on your hunt later in the day or a few days later with friends, ask yourself these questions. Where did she come from? Why did she come from that particular location? How did she approach the stand? When did she come in? This might seem like a bit of overkill when thinking about your doe kill. But answer these questions and it can help you prepare and make any adjustments for later when you sit for a buck. When I sat and answered these questions I realized I needed to move that branch, keep an eye on my six early in the morning as the deer are leaving the fields, and although the wind was blowing in their face, the southwest wind in this particular location also brought the overpowering odor from the nearby commercial egg farm to cover my scent.  With this realization, it also opened up another spot I can hunt with specific winds. All this information I have logged away in my mind to put into play as the season progresses. Don’t lose this important information.

• Okay, swabbing out the mouth of a deer might seem semi morbid. But remember, one of the ways deer communicate is through the saliva left on licking branches. Cotton balls are absorbent. Capture the saliva from your fresh kill and store in plastic bags to later hang over scrapes. Adding fresh saliva over a scrape, especially on properties the deer was not from, can drive bucks crazy as they try to figure out who is the new gal on the block.

• Smelling like a deer never hurt anyone. Maybe your family won’t appreciate it but, oh well, you can shower after the hunt, too. A popular method has always been to hang fresh tarsal glands near your stand. Another is to store the fresh tarsal in a closed container with your clothing. I like keeping my fresh tarsal in closed spaces to make the scent last longer. 

Some people act like shooting a doe make you less of a hunter. That is a lie; be thankful for the chance to sit in the woods and for fresh venison. Enjoy the time you have in the woods and savor success as you take your doe home. But also remember to take lessons and information from the woods to make you a better hunter later.

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