Always bring more than one arrow
Saturday was the first time I was able to get out and go bow hunting.
There could not have been a better day for my first outing of the deer season. Damon, Amanda and I had all left our bow cases at the cabin from the recent practice session so all I had to do was stop by, grab my bow and I was on my way.
My quiver had six arrows but none of them were broad-head tipped. My practice tips were on all the arrows, including the extras in the case. Not to worry, I would just borrow one of Damon's arrows. He had six with hunting arrows and was not planning to hunt this morning. Even if he was, nobody needs six arrows. It is very rare to get a second shot while bow hunting, unless, of course, a person is shooting at squirrels while deer hunting is slow.
I walked into the timber just as it was getting light. It had rained the night before so walking was perfectly quiet. I like to walk through the woods without making a sound. It is amazing the animals a person can walk up on when the wind is right and the leaves are quiet.
I made my way to a huge oak tree at the edge of a ditch. I could crawl down on exposed roots, be mostly hidden on three sides and completely hidden on the side toward the gully. I was feeling pretty smug about my fine natural blind, complete with bow rest and foot stool as the morning sun starting streaming through the partially naked trees.
I saw movement across the ditch when something broke the streaks of sunlight and shadow. It was an almost adult fawn. I watched closely as another fawn and their mother appeared. They were coming toward the ditch and would probably cross in front, within a few yards of where I hid.
As the deer approached, my line of sight was blocked by the big tree. I knew I would be able to hear them when they started up my side of the ditch and was ready to pull back the arrow before they came into sight. I could not hear them moving but noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head slightly and saw the first fawn at the bottom of the ditch behind me rather than coming up the trail in front of me where she was supposed to be. From 10 feet away, her big brown eyes met mine for an instant before she flagged her tail, warning the others, and dashed away.
I saw several more deer, none within range, before I decided I should go home and do something constructive.
Heading back to the truck, I walked in a logging trail, when I saw a buck across the ditch between 35 and 40 yards away. He was in range and good enough to fill my first tag. For some reason, he had not seen me.
I was standing in the open with nothing between us. I froze, waiting for a chance to pull up my bow and draw. He stopped browsing long enough to turn his head away from me to scratch his ear. I pulled up, put the 40-yard pin on his shoulder and released.
The arrow hit the ground just under his chest. I had forgotten; Damon hunts with a heavier arrow and broadhead. The extra weight was just enough to make the arrow drop a few more inches than my lighter arrows.
The buck jumped up in the air, looked around for a bit, and went back to eating. I had just blown it. The one and only arrow was gone.
Going to retrieve Damon's arrow, I walked straight toward the deer and down through the ditch. When I emerged from the gully, the buck was still standing there, now less than 20 yards away, waiting for the second shot that would never happen.
I have decided if a person is going to borrow an arrow, they might as well borrow two. Contrary to popular opinion, there sometimes is a possibility of getting a second shot.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.