Saturday, October 19, 2013

Deer Hunting Starts

October 5th was the start of bow season in Virginia and Oldest Son was ready.  Last year he got his first deer while hunting with our neighbor and his hunt club.  They were using dogs to run the deer and he got one using the shotgun.  All the time spent with our neighbor got him thinking that he needed to hunt with a bow, because it is more difficult, or more of a challenge, or more manly.  I'm not sure exactly the reasoning, but I figured he probably wouldn't be able to verbalize his desire to use a bow.

There is an advantage to using a bow, and in Virginia that includes crossbows.  The season for bows is the first phase of deer season.  Bowhunters get a full four weeks head start before muzzleloader season.  That means all the deer are still out and about in the mornings and evenings before they start getting spooked by the shooting and go nocturnal.

This season actually started in May, when we granted Oldest Son's wishes and bought him a compound bow for his birthday.  From that time until opening day, he had been practicing both at our house and with our neighbor.  This practice consisted of standing up on our back deck, and shooting down at targets at 10 and 20 yards away.  He would also go over to our neighbors house and shoot at targets off his deck at various distances, practicing his technique and form.  He felt that he was ready when the season started.

October 4th came and Oldest Son realized he didn't have any broadheads for his arrows.  A quick trip to the sporting goods store and he was ready for October 5th.  It was Saturday, I was ready to sleep in.  But that was not his plans.  Instead, I would be joining him for his first bow hunt.  Really?  On a Saturday morning?

5:15am on a Saturday morning comes way too soon when I would rather be sleeping in.  But being the supportive parent, I woke up Oldest Son and then got dressed in my best camouflage, if there is such a thing.  After spraying down our feet and legs with scent cover, we walked out to the double tree stand.  Yes, we walked out to the tree stand behind our house.  Actually our neighbor's house, but it was close enough not to drive.

We were in the tree stand by 6am so that we would be there and quiet before the season officially started a half hour before sunrise, which was at 7:05am.  About 7:15am I reminded Oldest Son that we would only be able to stay another 45 minutes or so before I would have to go and take Youngest Son to his soccer game.  The Good Wife was with Middle Son at his cross country meet.  It was a busy Saturday as usual once school starts.

Right then I saw a deer approach from the left side of the tree stand on the side I was sitting.  The deer walked behind some trees and I instructed Oldest Son to stand up.  Looking to the left, I could tell it was a buck.  I turned back to Oldest Son and he was standing with the bow drawn.  A few seconds later he let the arrow fly.

The buck let out a grunt and took off running.  As he ran, I could see the arrow in the back hind quarter of the deer.  He hit it, but not in the best position.  I wasn't sure if we would find this one.  After getting Oldest Son to sit down for a few minutes so he could stop shaking from all the adrenaline flowing through his body, we got down out of the tree stand and started tracking the deer.

Oldest Son put a new arrow in his bow in case we came upon the wounded deer.  While we were tracking the deer, he mentioned that the broadheads he bought have a money back guarantee if you don't find your animal.  I'm not sure how they verify that guarantee, but I thought we might get to try it.

After tracking the deer for about 45 minutes and 3/4 a mile, we found the deer.  Dead.  It had bled out.  The broadheads had done their job.

It was a big 11-point buck that measured out to about 140 points!  See the smile on Oldest Son's face?  It stayed there the whole weekend.  I could have asked him to do the worst chore I could think of, and he would still be smiling.

Luckily for us, the deer had run around towards the back of our house, so we only had to drag it about 200 yards to get it to our back yard.  After gutting the deer in the woods, we started pulling.  This thing was big, even after being gutted.  Now I know how older, out of shape hunters have heart attacks and die hunting.  It is getting the deer out of the woods!

It was unseasonably warm, even though we had gotten the deer out of the woods by around 10am.  After the neighbor came to congratulate Oldest Son on his potentially once in a lifetime trophy, we decided to get it mounted for him.

By the time we had it loaded on the truck and headed to the taxidermist, it was getting warm.  When we dropped it off at noon, the temperature gauge in the truck read 92 F.  Yes, that is not a typo.  It was 92 F the first day of deer season.  Deer season is supposed to mean fall weather, cooler temperatures and leaves changing color and falling to the ground.  Instead it meant deer meat heading south and flies all over the place.

I'm not sure how much of the meat was still good by the time we dropped the deer off.  The taxidermist was going to process what was left of the deer since the back end had gotten messed up pretty good.  At this point it doesn't really matter.  Oldest son got a trophy buck on the first day of the season hunting with a bow for the first time.  I'd say my 14 year old is becoming a man.  Well done Oldest Son.

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