I have debated with myself for two weeks trying to decide if I should tell this story. I finally decided that I should because hunting isn't just about all the successes we have in the field. It is also about the failures we have. We don't often talk about the failures but it is the failures that we learn from the most.
I had a few days off in the beginning of October and had been invited up to Angus, MN by an old friend, James Oberg to do a little bowhunting. James has a bunch of farmland that he owns and has been seeing a lot of deer so I figured I would head up and sit and if the right deer presented itself I would take a shot.
The first morning out started quickly with a mom and two yearlings coming out into a clearing in front of me. I watched them for a while and then a small spike buck and equally small 4 pointer wondered out of the woods and started sparring for about 20 minutes. There seemed to be deer all around me and out walked a nice looking 6 point buck that under most circumstances I would have shot in a heartbeat. The buck walked around in front of me for so long that I almost changed my mind about shooting him. He was a big bodied deer and I kept looking at him thinking, that he would be a lot of meat in the freezer. I ended up letting him go because it was the first morning out and I had already seen a lot of deer.
The morning passed and I climbed out of my stand and spent the afternoon walking fields looking for sharp-tail grouse. I only saw one but did jump a cow moose out of a swamp about 30 yards away. When you are expecting a grouse and get a moose it comes as quite a shock. I walked a couple more field edges and then made my way down to the stand again and climbed in for the evening.
Again, right away out came a couple of fawns and a decent doe. They made there way down the field and I sat in silence for a while before seeing a couple of deer about 200 yards down the field of corn. The deer in front seemed pretty set on making its way down towards me and the one behind it was content to follow. As the first deer came within range I was able to see that it was a small 6 point buck and I was perfectly willing to pass on him. The Deer that followed was a decent 8 pointer with a tall but nice rack and would have easily been the biggest buck I had ever shot and the first buck I had ever shot with a bow. I waited and waited to see if he would walk pass and when it looked like he was going to I slowly stood up and got myself ready.
The stand I was hunting wasn't terribly high up in the tree so I was a little afraid that I was going to spook this deer. I got to my feet and the deer was about 15 yards out from my stand. As the deer walked closer and closer I was certain I was going to take the shot and drew back my bow. When the deer was directly in front of me giving me a perfect broadside shot I put my pin right behind and above the shoulder blade. I released my arrow and hit what I thought was a perfect shot. I could see blood pouring out of the deer as it ran off into the woods. After I shot I noticed some movement off to my left and about a 100 yards down the field edge was a beautiful 10 pointer. I couldn't see that deer while I was focused on the 8 pointer because of the angle the deer was coming at. James had a better vantage point of what was going on and came over after I climbed down. He said he was surprised I shot the 8 when the 10 was coming. Unfortunately I didn't see the 10 until after I had already made the shot on the 8.
When I walked over to find my arrow I was shocked to see that it was kind of an off gray color. I had hit the intestines somehow. I don't know if the deer flinched or if the arrow deflected of a rib but where I saw the arrow go in at and where it came out at the shot wasn't as good as I thought. James and I walked over to the woods to see if there was a good blood trail and there was blood everywhere. It was starting to get dark and the idea of leaving the deer for few hours over even over night was thrown out as soon as the coyotes started howling. I was pretty certain by the amount of blood I was seeing that this deer was down. We went back to the truck and got some flashlights and started following the trail. It wasn't a hard trail to follow and there was blood on both sides of the trail. James and I followed that blood trail for two hours before we lost it.
I have no idea how that deer managed to run as far as it did. I have arrowed a lot of deer and even the ones that I didn't get the best hit on didn't go that far. As best as I could tell that deer never quit running after it was shot. The blood trail was constant and there was never a point where it looked like it had bed down or even stopped for any amount of time. I have never lost a deer before, in all my years of hunting I have followed every deer to the end. I have been told that if you hunt long enough that it will happen to everyone. I was just pretty sure it was never going to happen to me.
Over the last two weeks I have replayed that shot in my head over and over again. What if I had waited just a little bit longer and taken a quartering away shot? What if I had just taken that 6 pointer that morning? What if I had passed on that 8 pointer? I can second guess myself from now till eternity. As sure as I was that my shot was good what I have taken away from this is that when you are hunting wild animals nothing is a sure thing.