Don’t Be So Sure 

By HSP Member, Tom
By HSP Member, Tom

Here he comes, trailing a doe down the field edge on the far side of the creek. Just like the script called for... except that the stock of the muzzleloader scraped across the fabric of the blind!

Even at 80 yards with the wind in my face, both deer picked up the sound and movement and froze, looking directly at my blind. The buck's vitals were behind a big oak that was just 5 feet away.

When the doe moved, he moved. He stopped again, presenting a perfect standing broadside shot. At 20 minutes until sunrise, there was barely enough light to see the crosshairs against a deer hide background.

At the squeeze, there was fire and smoke that blotted out everything. Long seconds later there were two deer running out of the field into the woods to the north-northwest. One of them fell as it entered the woods.

Sure that the buck was down where he fell, I took a mental compass reading of that spot from the blind. Picked up the gun and pack and walked back to the road to cross the bridge over the creek then back to the spot where he fell. No buck! No blood! There was a ten yard wide mat of corn stalks along the edge of the field from where the creek had flooded. A drop of blood would have been obvious against the cornstalk background.

Just inside the woods there was a dry slough about three feet deep. Just deep enough for a deer to drop down into and look like it had fallen, to someone sitting at field level. This was not looking promising!

I spent the next two hours combing every square yard of cover on our side of the property line and maybe some on the other side. Had lots of negative thoughts to deal with racing through my head. Did I knock the scope off zero? Did I flinch? Maybe my powder was damp and didn't produce enough velocity for penetration. "You know, I didn't feel any kick when the gun discharged." "Come on Tom ... get your head back in the game." "You never do feel the kick in the heat of the moment!"

I Finally did what should have been done two hours ago. Went back to where he was standing when I shot and walked in widening circles around that spot. Never found a drop of blood, but the larger circles took me about 100 yards West and there he was in grass not six inches high. He was embarrassingly obvious. White rump patch and nice rack sticking up. How could I not have seen him when I first walked north along the creek? Because I was sure that he went north-northwest and couldn't imagine that I was mistaken.

When I went back to the blind, I noticed that the big oak was almost due west. It's likely that the 100 yards he ran was "behind" that tree.

There are several lessons to be learned here: When you believe you hit him good, you probably did...when you start thinking of giving up, don't...when you are sure you are right, don't be so sure.