Deer Season Wrap Up

At the end of the year, my hunting license expired, as did my unfilled deer tags. I went ahead and purchased my 2013 hunting license as well as one more deer tag, since I had another two weeks to hunt. I figured if I shot a deer, it counts towards 2012, and if not, I’d have it in the fall. Things were slow going for the last two weeks, with many excuses to not get out to the farm including weather and other engagements. Well, we went out on Tuesday afternoon, as it was the last day of the season.

The drive out was pleasant and uneventful. When we made our way into the hollow, we spotted three does. They were very familiar to us as we have seen this trio countless times in pictures and in real life. This was the same doe and her two yearlings that we spotted when we took Teen Bot out for Youth Deer Gun in October. Indeed, this was the very same doe that he passed up the shot on for multiple moral dilemmas. Good kid.

Those two yearlings have grown a lot in the last few months. Now they are nearly as big as their mother. Before I could get within one hundred yards of them, they spotted me and walked into the woods to watch me from there. I stopped and waited quietly to see what would happen. The slightly larger offspring walked back out from the treeline and watched me. With her ears erect and her nose pointed at me, she laid down in the grass and waited as I waited. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of her, at the full 5x optical zoom that my Nikon affords me. I didn’t bother posting the picture. You can see the doe if you know where to look, but I felt like it would be useless here.

So, there we sat in a man versus nature game of chicken; me not daring to move for fear of spooking them, the deer not daring to move for fear of me. The slightly smaller yearling tentatively walked from the treeline and stood beside her sister. With fifteen minutes left of the season, we waited, staring at each other. Neither one of them was in a position for an ethical kill and they were out of bow range anyway. Then suddenly, the three of them made an about face and bounded off to their left, up the trail that they’d carved through the woods toward the car path.

I swapped out the SD card in the camera in the hollow. With ten minutes to spare, we headed back up the trail, swapping out the card in the other camera along the way. I hoped to cross paths with them again at the top of the property with minutes to spare before the end of shooting hours. When we made it back to the gate, the deer were nowhere to be seen and it was time to call it quits. Oh well. Although there was no harvest, the hunt was good. I learned a lot and feel like I have skills that I can put to work in the fall.

As we drove back towards the city, we mused together about the combined deer seasons, and what we had learned. We even laughed about the fact that this particular doe had so narrowly escaped on so many occasions. I was about to take the turn from the property road onto the main road when something came out of nowhere and struck the front of the car in a flash of gray and a startling thud.

“What the!?!?!” I exclaimed as I put full pressure to the Brembo brake calipers. The Italian brakes stopped the car as abruptly as they should and I threw on the hand brake and the hazard lights.

“What was that?” Jennifer asked.

“I don’t know,” I said as I climbed out of the car, “some kind of animal.”

As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw a crumpled mass on the edge of the road. I shined my flashlight to see a relatively large feathered form. I squinted and looked for movement or blood. Suddenly, the creature popped to its feet, wings hanging to its sides.

“Stay back!” Jennifer said, to either Teen Bot, or me, or the bird, I can’t be sure

It stumbled side to side. Standing about two feet tall, its flat beak and horn-like crests gave it away. I reached for my camera about the time the owl shook its head as if to shake off the disorientation. Before I had the camera powered on, the creature shook its head again, spread its broad wings and confidently flapped them several times to propel itself into the air, circling to the nearby treeline.

“Well,” Jennifer mused, “I guess it’s okay.”

“Clearly,” I said, “Those were not the movements of an injured animal.”

Returning to the car, we inspected the front driver’s corner where it had hit. There were brush-like marks in the dust on the front fender near the headlight. We had not hit it, it had hit us. That explained why it was only dazed and not broken. We got back in the car and headed home. It was a good trip overall, and the three and a half months of deer archery were enriching even if they didn’t put meat in the freezer.

Today, I did a little maintenance to my bow and resorted my arrows. I am on the look out for a feeder which I will attempt to maintain year round. We will continue to scout and watch the deer, and we will more than likely sit in the blind with cameras instead of guns and archery equipment at one time or another. The rabbits, squirrels, and quail have been prevalent, and we’ll continue to pursue them. By the time Deer Archery opens in October, we will be far more prepared than we were this year, and I’m sure we’ll have more stories to share!

13 thoughts on “Deer Season Wrap Up

  1. I had a small owl, possibly a saw whet fly into my old Pinto wagon years ago.
    It bounced off the side panel and was sitting in the grass beside the ditch
    when I stopped and looked. It was dazed but didn’t look physically hurt.

    We watched it for a while but then had to take off as we had a 90 minute drive ahead of us and it was already dark.

    • They are strange animals. I remember one living in the yard when I was a kid buzzing the car on a couple of occasions as we pulled into the driveway. The thing would be lit up by the headlights and would fill the windshield for just a split second before it soared over the roof. Looked like a ghost to a kid!

  2. Years ago I was out still hunting* through a river flood plain with my recurve bow and back quiver. Done up in full camo including gloves and head net.

    It was right at dusk, when I must have seen something out of the corner of my eye, (no way I heard it). I looked over to the side, and saw a large barn owl, probably a 6ft wingspan, coming straight for me. I stood there watching it, just marveling at how absolutely silently it flew even with those enormous wings. Then I said to myself, “Self, he thinks your a tree. Hes going to land on your head. That will not be pleasant”. I didn’t want to give away my position by making a commotion, so I moved the bow quickly back and forth to tell Mr Owl, no, this is not a tree.

    He changed course slightly and landed on a broken off tree about 3 feet from my head, and just sat there looking at me. We stared eye to eye like that for about fifteen minutes. Eventually l I carried on my way, and he flew off. One of the coolest animal experiences I’ve had out hunting.

    * For those not familiar with the term, you are on your feet, sort of stalking, but without a specific target. Moving through an area that deer travel hoping to catch them on the move. The term refers to how slow and quietly you are supposed to move, its almost like you are standing still. Covering 100 yards in 30 minutes is almost too fast.

    • That’s an awesome story! I’m thinking of doing a little more still hunting in the fall. Do you wear ghillie type clothing for that, or does regular camo do the job? Even though I haven’t had much problem getting close enough for a shot, it just seems like it would be fun. I’m going to have to go over the rules again, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t required to wear orange on private property while bow hunting.

  3. On my drive in to work this morning I saw a good size flock of wild turkeys spread out across a pasture beside the highway. Here in Eastern Oklahoma I’ve found the bottoms along the Canadian river to be a great place for spotting not only owls but also eagles.

    • The only time I see turkeys is when I’m not hunting them. I’ve seen their little dinosaur tracks all around the metro area, and they chill out in peoples’ front yards as long as there aren’t hunters around. As far as they are concerned, I may have to stick to Butterball and Tyson. I’ve seen and heard more owls this year than I ever remember before; barred, barn, and horned. The red tails have been pretty thick as well. We don’t see too many eagles here in the centraller part of the state though. Do you have any pictures you would be willing to share?

      • I never seem to have a camera when I see them. When I was a kid my friends and I seemed to spend all of our free time in the woods. I’m hoping now that I’m moving back out to the boonies I can do that a bit more often.

        • I always have a camera on me anymore. I’m running out of excuses to not write a review on it. I can’t always get to it before the the moment has passed though. And moving out to the boonies? You and me both, brother!

    • Haw! I put it on my Amazon wish list. I’ll have to give that a whirl. One afternoon when we were waiting for deer, a squirrel came up behind us and raised all kinds of hell. That thing was barking and spitting and chattering. It kept on despite the distant hooting that got closer and closer and closer. They aren’t very bright. Also, I’m not above eating squirrel. Teen Bot loves it!

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