After the epic fail of opening day, I assumed this season was going to go the same as the last. I started a new job prior to opening day, which required me to work over 60 hours a week, plus Saturdays and some Sundays. The first weekend of Indiana season, I spent my only Saturday night off in the woods, and still had not seen anything since that one doe in Kentucky early season.
My dad, who is the smartest, most educated whitetail hunter that I know, decided to step in. He bought me a new blind this year (because he hates the thought of me hunting out of trees) and was really hoping that I would start hunting out of it more. He set up the blind where he spotted a giant rub near a poplar tree that I hunted out of at least 10 times the previous season. However, I have never seen a single deer hunting in this poplar tree. Quite the opposite, My dad has killed multiple bucks near this poplar tree, so he’s all for it. The next day, I woke up on Sunday, and spent all morning waiting for a doe to make a wrong decision. Nothing… Not one… A bit later, I received a text from my little brother who was bow hunting out of his blind closer to our house and he said he shot a doe. I waited another hour for something to happen before I wrote it off and decided to go help my dad get my brother’s deer taken care of. I went back out and hunted from that same tree even and still didn’t see a thing.
A few days later it was Wednesday, October 10th. It was cold that morning when I was driving to work and I couldn’t help but think how good it would be to be sitting in all my camo listening to the sounds of the nothingness around me and cold air hitting my cheeks. After work, all I could think about was hitting the woods. Driving home an idea popped in my head, there was a spot in Kentucky that I hunted quite a few times last year that was right on my way home from work. I looked in my back seat, and there sits my bow and all my gear… as usual. I decided to give it a try, knowing that I probably wouldn’t see anything… also, as usual! I wanted to try it anyway. I drove straight there and put on all my gear. I dragged out everything but the Go-Pro Camera, which was still in my bag with my last and only 2 arrows. As I walked softly to my stand, I was stopped in my tracks. There he stood. A buck I named Eagle. I had seen him on a trail camera a couple times the previous season. He looked gorgeous, big body, tall rack…WHAT AM I DOING?!? THIS IS REAL LIFE…DRAW, SHOOT!!! With no time to fiddle with the Go-Pro, I drew back, put my 30 yard pin on him, and just let it happen. As soon as I felt my finger touch the release I immediately wanted to take it back. “Wait! No! I wasn’t ready! I didn’t check to see if anything was lined up and level and didn’t remind myself not to rush the shot, ” I thought in a sudden panic. I had an instant sick feeling in my stomach as a prayed I didn’t blow my only chance. I watched my Ted Nugent arrow penetrate the perfect spot that I was aiming at. My hand cupped and flew over my mouth, as if I just witnessed an impossible phenomenon. For a brief second, I had to check and make sure this was not one of those crazy dreams where I wake up in the middle of the night stressing over my broadhead missing or accidentally using a fieldpoint.
It was real. I just did it. I just shot a great buck! Now, time to find him. I knew I should wait, but how could I? I know my shot was good placement, but it didn’t look like I got very much penetration. I ran over to the spot and searched for the first drop of blood. Nothing… I found half of my Nuge arrow with just touch of blood on the end. I can only hope that the other half is still inside of him. I searched around the arrow, still no blood. I called one of my more seasoned deer hunting buddies to come help out. We found the first spot of blood. One little drop about every 5 steps is all we could find. He looked at me with doubt and concern, but didn’t say a word, we kept searching. The signs were not looking in my favor, to say the least. We tracked him and tracked him, sometimes with no blood just by the discolored leaves that were turned up from the run. After an hour, he stopped and looked at me. He didn’t have to say a word, his thoughts were written all over his face. It read “I know how bad this sucks for you, but we need to call it quits.” Then he said out loud, “My friend shot a deer last year and hit shoulder bone and he only got about 2 inches of penetration, there’s just not enough good blood here to keep searching, I’m afraid the same thing has just happened to you.” I looked him in the eye and said, “I know I made a good shot on this deer. He’s lying dead somewhere… I can feel it. I’m not giving up!” He replied, “Well, I’ve seen you shoot, that’s enough for me to search until tomorrow morning!” His attitude immediately changed and we continued the search. Not ten minutes later, we found puddles of blood. You could not wipe the smile off my face! I knew we were going to find him. He stopped and grabbed my arm, and my eyes darted to the direction he was looking. I saw white! Yes, it is! A giant white belly! It’s HIM. We did it! I did it! We actually found him, this came true, it is all real! It CAN happen. I ran after him without another thought, grabbed him by the antlers then ran backed to my friend (still slowly walking up on the deer like I should have) hugged him and started jumping up and down in celebration. This was my day. Three years of hard work, countless hours in the woods, and months of practicing finally paid off. I now had a trophy buck to show for it. I knew this was going down as one of my happiest moments I ever experienced! I called my dad and tried to slow down my speech for long enough for him to understand what I was saying. I could tell he was happy for me and he told me he was proud. He knew I deserved it, and so did I. I’ll never forget getting the opportunity to field dress that buck, and hang him in the tree. Ultimate satisfaction.
Visit Randi on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RandiRowlettBucketListOutdoors