My second deer this year standing about ten yards away
I bought my first bow in the spring of 2000. I spent the entire summer learning how to shoot it and preparing for the fall bow season. That year I probably spent 15-20 days out in the woods and only saw two deer, a small buck and a doe. i remember thinking back then that I could let them go because I would see more deer. Over the next 11 years I have gone out and spent about ten days a year sitting in the woods waiting to see more deer. Including those first two deer I have had a total 4 deer come within bow range. Each time they were small bucks or does and it was early in the season and I would think to myself, its a long season, I'll have more opportunities. This has gone on for 11 years and I was starting to get discouraged.
In 2007 I had just returned from an overseas deployment with the National Guard and purchased a new bow. I had made up my mind that I was going to dedicate time to bow hunting and get my first deer with a bow. At the same time I started and two years later my wife and I had our first child. So I was lucky to get out 3-4 days a year. You just can't be successful when you spend that little time out in the woods.
This year I met a new friend who has some land and told me that there are deer all over his land and I could come out anytime I wanted to. So I went out, scouted the area, hung my stand and prepared for the season. The first couple of days of hunting I didn't see any deer but did see some wild turkeys and a big ass raccoon. I had been going out in the mornings and hadn't seen any so decided to go out after work and sit until dark.
Venison red curry with lentil stew and rice
The first evening I went out I got to my stand around 4:30 and sat for about 45 minutes. There were squirrels all around me and one that was in the tree with me about 3 feet away. With all the dry leaves on the ground and the dozens of squirrels around it was very loud in the woods that afternoon. At 5:15 I heard something moving through the woods that wasn't a squirrel. Through the buckthorn I could make out a large brown shape about 20 yards away, then I saw another and another. All at once I had 4 does stand around my stand. One of the deer was making its way right through the buckthorn towards me. At this point I had already made up my mind that I would be taking the first deer I saw. The doe stepped out of the buckthorn about 8 feet away from the tree I was sitting in. I drew back my bow and released an arrow before I even realized what I was doing. The deer jumped and ran about 20 yards then stood still for what seemed like an eternity. The deer laid down put her head down and stopped moving. I stayed in my stand for for 30 more minutes the got down out of my stand and went to see my deer. As I got closer to the deer she jumped up and went crashing through the woods. I heard one loud crash and the silence. I was a little shocked that the deer got up and ran, so decided I would leave it for and hour and then start looking again. When I came back an hour later I followed the blood trail for about fifty yards and found my deer.
Jalepeno Summer Sausage
I don't think words can explain the adrenaline that was flowing through me at that point. I have replayed the whole hunt in my mind over and over and the only thing I can remember is not being patient. I am not usually the type of person that lets a situation get the best of me but it was very clear to me that I was lucky to even hit the deer, I don't remember aiming just drawing the bow and releasing it. It was really an exhilarating experience. The area I was hunting in is part of the 601 metro area so I can shoot an unlimited number of antlerless deer in that area. Five days later I was back in the stand and shot my second deer with a bow.
Ma Yi Shang Shu
My freezer is filling up and I now have enough venison to start cooking again. The first thing on my list was to make a batch of jalepeno summer sausage to share with my buddy. In exchange for allowing me to hunt on his land I will be sharing some of the meat with him. I will be making some brats and some breakfast sausage in the near future to share with him as well. In the last week I have made several dishes with venison. I made a Ma Yi Shang Shu or ants on trees from an Alton Brown recipe only I substituted ground venison for the pork. I also made a Venison red curry with lentil stew and rice that was pretty fantastic. Now that I have a supply of venison the options are endless. The best part is that I still have about 2 months of the archery season left and will be heading out for the rifle season so I should be able to put 2 or 3 more deer in the freezer this year. Thanks to Mark and Christine for letting me come out, I have really enjoyed the opportunity.