Friday, November 8:
I headed out at 8:00 a.m. with my bow and a folding stool. Cold wind cut across my face a bit, but mostly head on. I walked over to where I had seen a couple of scrapes, and with fresh overnight snow on the ground, I was curious to know if bucks had freshened them up. I was hunting does, but I was still curious.
The scrapes were covered in snow. I followed some track along an old logging road. Fresh snow partially filled the tracks, so it looked like deer had walked the path sometime during the night. When I came to within 20 yards of my neighbor's field edge, I stopped, leaned up against a tree and took a look around.
10 minutes passed and then I saw movement. 30 yards to my right through thick pine saplings, a doe. She was walking with the wind to her back, and I didn't move. No shot opportunity through that thick stuff, and I wanted to learn where she was headed. As I watched her through the binos, I saw a few more doe ahead of her. They'd get downwind of me in a couple hundred yards, but I wasn't concerned. I figured they were well on their way, and, being downwind, they weren't viable hunts for me anyway. Gotta let them go.
After I could no longer see them moving through the trees, I cut across their tracks, got the wind in my favor and walked on. Maybe they were feeding on a specific oak. Maybe there was some other browse they were interested in. Basically, I wanted to know where they were coming from and figure out why. As I traced their tracks backward, I came to a pinch point, looked up, and saw a doe broadside at 20 yards. I froze in a half-kneel, un-nocked bow in one hand, and the stool in the other. Guess I'm gonna do the mannequin. She came towards me to about 15 yards, walking the worn track a little above me and to my left. I could now see she was the lead doe in a group of three. She saw me, and locked on. The two doe behind her stopped in their tracks and watched her for a queue.
She stalled, stomped, head-bobbed, stomped some more, but never blew out. After a while, the two does behind her got bored, flicked their tails and pushed her on. I held my stance for as long as I could, and when I looked behind me, they were long gone. I checked my phone, and it was about 9:20, and I decided to set up.
I found a good "hole" with some shooting lanes. It was going to be tight, but that means it was also going to be challenging and exciting.
I was sitting for 5 minutes when I caught movement from my right about 30 yards away. The deer walked closer, putting a few trees between us. I drew back and held on the trees, hoping that the deer was a doe, and that it would walk to my right of the trees. I won half that bet.
She popped out from behind the trees at 15 yards, coming just to my left, almost straight at me, below the well worn track. There were a few hemlock saplings between us, but when she came to the opening, she spotted me and stopped. I had my pin on the back half of her shoulder, and I steadied my focus there. She was slightly quartered-to, and so close that I could see her individual muscle strands tighten up. I let the arrow fly before she could figure out what to do, or what I was. POP! Double-lungs.
I watched her bound once, trot, stop, flick her tail, walk, and then fall over. Dead deer.
Seconds after she fell, a Golden-crowned Kinglet landed on a branch just over my right shoulder and started singing, and not long after that, another doe came walking through on the well-worn path. She never saw me, and wandered off, maybe oblivious, maybe just moving on in a most natural way.
The woods then returned to its standard winter calm, and I sat there and thought more about death as an offering of life, waiting to walk up to a bounty of fresh kill that will help sustain my friends and family through the winter calm.
I stood at the site where I shot her, and took a photo of my setup. She was 9.5 yards away.