Last month I blogged about me being scared to death by a killer moose and I realized that I only covered half the story. My dad and I were hoping that my little run-in with the moose scared him enough that he would go to a different water hole. I don't know if dad said that just to help me gird up my loins or if that was actually true. Anyway it worked because I once again took that long hike up the mountain back to that watering hole. I sat and waited and remembered the moose. This time I made to pay more attention to my surroundings. I didn't want a repeat of what happened last time.
The best part of bow hunting was the watching and waiting. It was very peaceful; you were there with just your thoughts (as long as you weren't interrupted by some rude moose) and it was fun to watch nature. I would watch the mice again play around my boots. I would watch the birds come in for a drink and a quick bath.
And then suddenly I heard a much larger animal carefully coming to the waterhole. It was a deer and more importantly it was a buck. He was not a large buck but still it was a buck and I now had my chance to snag a deer. It walked around and waterhole and finally stopped right in front of me. He was standing exactly where we had marked our 20-yard mark. This should be an easy kill. I raised my bow and pulled back and aimed.
Please ignore my shirt tucked into my pants and that horrible haircut.
I was excited. My heart was beating so fast. The next most exciting thing was tracking the deer after you strike it. If you aim right, you hit the deer right in the lungs and it will take off running and will not last more than a couple of minutes before it dies. After you hit the deer with your arrow you sit back down and let it go. You wait about twenty minutes and then you go track it down. I was really excited to track it down.
The buck had no idea I was there. I carefully aimed and released my arrow and it hit the deer.
Sadly, my dad and I didn't notice the small sapling directly in the path. My arrow hit that and veered it off course and it hit the deer in the upper back. The deer instead of running collapsed right then and there. At least I wouldn't have to track it but I hated seeing it lay there. It looked right at me and I started to feel a little bad. It was like he knew I was there and knew that I was the one the hit him.
So I sat and waited like I was supposed to do. I waited for twenty minutes and the deer was still alive. I was thinking of just heading back to the truck. By the time I met dad and walked back up the deer will be dead. I was about it get up when I heard something else come into the water hole. The buck heard it too and turned to see. It was that doe and her two little fawns that I saw the last time. The buck made these horrible snorting sounds and the doe snorted back and suddenly it was gone! The buck warned them to get out of there. That didn't help my feelings of guilt. So after they took off, I took off too.
I walked down to the truck and my dad saw me and started to head down too. I told him what happened and we decided to have a drink before we headed up to make sure that the buck had died. So we toasted my first deer over a Diet Coke and a Dew and then headed up. I didn't take my bow or gear and my dad took his bow in case another one came in. We hiked up to the watering hole and found the buck.
And he was still alive.
I felt horrible. That poor thing was suffering and it was my fault. My dad took his bow and shot it and it finally died within minutes. We examined where I hit the deer and we came to the conclusion that I must have hit it right in the back bone and paralyzed it. We then gutted it and hauled it down the mountain. I have to admit that I was no longer excited about deer hunting. I was no longer excited that I got my first deer. If it was dead by the time we got back up there I am sure that my feelings would have been dramatically different. I was feeling quite down the whole rest of the night.
I eventually got over it. The deer steaks and jerky definitely helped me get over it. The deer was very tasty and lasted quite a long time and that made it all worth it. But I am not sure I wanted to hunt again. If I could guarantee that it would be quick and easy for the deer, I would do it again. I just was not a fan of inflicting pain on an innocent animal. I don't have anything against hunting and would do it again if only I knew that it would be over for the animal quickly.
I left for my LDS mission soon after and we sold my bow to get some money for it. That was the last time I went hunting.