Most shots with a bow are taken at thirty yards or less. If a hunter is desperate, or the biggest buck they have ever seen, some people will take a shot out to 40 yards. Anything beyond that is pushing one's luck to unacceptable levels.
Sunday morning, I planned to hunt for just a few hours early in the morning. The weather was supposed to turn warm and the deer would quit moving. The rut is just beginning so the bucks would rather bed down during the day than fight the heat in hopes of finding a receptive doe.
There is a major deer trail crossing the creek at the far end of our lake. The one side has a hay field and pasture that is sprinkled with cedar trees. The other side is a fairly steep hill with some mature oaks and open places also populated with small cedars. I decided to hunt from the ground hoping to catch a deer coming from the hayfield heading across the creek to bed down in the timber.
It was dark and the temperature was just above freezing when I jumped on the Gator and motored across the pasture as quietly as a Gator will go. I climbed the fence and made my way to my hunting spot. A nice full cedar tree about three feet tall makes a perfect blind. A person can watch a large area but between the camouflage clothing and the tree, it is difficult for anything to see the hunter. This day, I was going to take the first deer that passed by. I need deer jerky.
Before it was light enough to see, something walked by on the trail. I could hear their feet rustling in the leaves about twenty yards away. That was a perfect distance. The wind was in my favor and they were using the trail. It has always been my belief, if some deer are using a trail at night, some will use the same trail during the day. Some of my opinions are not as sound as others. No other deer used that trail after it got light.
A turkey called off in the distance. I got out my binoculars to check it out. I have a turkey tag, but no turkey call. If it came any closer, it would only be by random chance. There was not to be a random chance as I heard it moving away, continuing to call as it went. Through the binoculars I saw two does and three fawn picking their way through the timber on the other side of the creek. Of course they were not going to come my way. They were going into the timber to bed down before it got too hot. While I had my binoculars out and with nothing else to do, I decided to glass the opposite hillside. Within just a few minutes, a white flash of light caught my eye. Sunlight reflected off the antlers of a big buck laying under a cedar tree part way up the opposite hill. He was about three hundred yards away, watching me as I watched him. He could see the entire area around him from his cover of the small bushy cedar tree and had the wind at his back. Nothing would come anywhere near that he would not know about.
It was at this point, I decided, it is best to leave one's binoculars at home. It is pointless and frustrating to see everything out to three or four hundred yards when there is nothing a person can do about it.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa