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Author Topic: Lessons Learned - by Mickey E. Lotz  (Read 321 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Lessons Learned - by Mickey E. Lotz
« on: May 18, 2003, 06:54:00 PM »
Lessons Learned

by Mickey E. Lotz

 

When Dianne and I left home two hours earlier for the 40-minute drive to the Brown Co. farm we hunt it was spitting snow mixed with sleet.  Upon our arrival we parked the car by the old barn and started gathering our gear.  We were here to meet our long time hunting buddy Mike Olson for an afternoon hunt and we looked up just in time to see Mike coming down the drive in his Toyota pick-up. Occasionally glancing skyward we chatted while Mike got ready.  There was a chance of snow according to the latest forecast, yet all that was falling at this point was the occasional large flake lazily drifting down silently coming to rest on the frozen soil.

We hiked across the large soybean field headed for the woods, although the beans had been picked months ago and all that remained was stalk stubble.  The ground was frozen from the recent cold weather and as hard as concrete.  With the usual “ good lucks “ we split up with Mike and Dianne heading west, while I headed due south towards another big soybean field in the bottoms down by the creek.  Dianne and Mike were headed to stands we had previously set, while I carried my Loc-On Windwalker stand and a set of aluminum Rapid Rails on my back, a combo that allows me the freedom to hunt any spot that looks “hot”.  As I walked the tractor path that cuts through the woods in the bottoms I spied “ the tree “. I tend to hunt in trees I have feelings about and they rarely let me down. Try explaining that to a new comer. In a matter of 3 or 4 minutes I was safety belted in, bow in hand, and hunting.  It was November 15th and although we had not noticed much rut activity as of yet, they had to get going with it soon.

I stood there for the next 30 minutes just enjoying the peace and solitude.  The winter woods have a different kind of beauty.  In the summer there are the lush greens, the buzzing insects, and the flitting bird life caught up in the activity of raising the next generation of brightly colored feathered songsters.  In autumn the greens disappear and are replaced with an intense shower of color.  The reds, yellows and oranges of the hardwood leaf dying, with the squirrels and chipmunks busy making desperate forages for nuts to store for when snow covers all and times are tough.  Meanwhile winter appears a monochromatic gray, cold and silent, with hardly any sign of life out and about to entertain the casual observer.

All of a sudden all hell broke loose.  I think the Eskimos would call it a white out.  All I can tell you is, it snowed so hard I couldn’t see 10 yards and it was snowing straight sideways.  I turned my back to the wind put my nose against the bark of the tree and let the snow pile up.  Ten minutes or so later, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped and the sun came out.  In that short time two inches of the white stuff blanketed everything, and I do mean everything!  I wiped the snow off my bow and arrow, and pushed what I could off my treestand with my feet.  I looked around to survey the area which now, covered with snow, looked even more barren when compared to the leaf littered forest floor I was watching just a short time earlier.  I glanced to my right just in time to see a small doe pop out of the weedy area at the near end of the soybean field.  I grabbed my grunt call and let out a few soft grunts.  The doe’s head snapped up and looked in my direction.  She wandered over, stopping about 20 yards from my stand, and proceeded to squat and relieve herself.  By her actions I assumed she was in heat and that a buck would soon follow.  All right I thought, live bait.

For the next 20 minutes she stood stock still looking around, but no buck ever came.  Since the farmer had mentioned he’d like some fresh venison I decided to go ahead and harvest the doe given the opportunity.  The doe walked closer stopping mere steps from my stand but the angle was wrong.  I was shooting my Morrison longbow “Sweet Thing” and wanted a broadside shot.  If I couldn’t get it, I wouldn’t shoot.  She suddenly turned presenting me with the shot I wanted, but as I drew, my new super duper burr proof, waterproof, windproof, Chuck Adams replica but some what noisy Cabela’s camo made some barely audible noise.  The doe heard it and took three quick hops before stopping and turning broadside to look back to see what had spooked her.  I re-focused behind her shoulder and released.  The doe instinctively turned down and away from the arrow speeding towards her and leapt over a leaning dead tree, which caught my arrow dead center.  I watched as the doe slowly walked away apparently unsure as to what had just happened.  About 30 yards out the doe waged her tail.  Not the “ everything’s ok” wag, but the fast side-to-side “I’m mortally wounded” wag.  I said to myself, “now why’d she do that? I missed!  I saw the arrow fly past her as she turned and buy in that log!”  A quick glance in the direction of the shot confirmed it.  “Yep, there’s the arrow with the white and yellow fletch plainly visible, still quite yellow and quite white!”  I looked back to watch the doe walk another 20 yards before losing sight of her in the trees.  “Oh well, I might as well climb down and dig my arrow out of that tree while it’s still light” I thought.  So I lowered my bow, climbed down and walked over to the fallen log.  When I got to the arrow I examined it for a hit.  Not a speck of blood was present, but I noticed there were 3 or 4 gray hairs at the base of the broadhead.  “I’ll be darned, that must have been close!”  I once again examined the broadhead, shaft and fletching, smelling it for any hint of body fluids.  Nothing!  Just those few hairs. I wiggled the cedar back and forth until the arrow pulled free.  The nice thing about a two bladed Zwickey is you can usually get them to come out of a tree trunk.  That’s very important if you m…m…miss occasionally like I do.  Anyhow I stood up and looked at the tracks in the snow where the doe had cleared the log, and spotted it.  Blood! Not much, just a couple of fine drops.  “Rats, now I’ve got to follow her and make sure she’s alright.”  I wanted to climb back into my stand and continue hunting for the last 45 minutes, but I had a responsibility that comes with the privilege to hunt.

I was an unusual blood trail, real fine blood sort of splattered to the left side of the deer’s tracks.  I’m thinking I must have slid the arrow across the deer’s shoulder; a muscle cut that would undoubtedly heal.  Still, I had an obligation to follow and make sure.  Sixty yards further up the trail I found her lifeless body.  You could have knocked me over with a feather!  “What the heck killed her?”  I thought.  It hadn’t been ten minutes since I  “knew” I had missed this deer.  Closer examination revealed one blade of the shaving sharp Zwickey broadhead had slit the left side of her neck severing the carotid artery.  Death had come quickly and painlessly. When you think about the distance the arrow had to travel, the spinning shaft and the timing of the deer turning away from the arrow it is almost inconceivable that this had happened. Yet, fate had spoken and we had no choice but to listen. It was obviously destined to be.

I headed over to find Mike and Dianne for some help with the dragging chores.  They too were amazed with the turn of events.  We returned to the fallen doe and I filled out and put my tag around on of her legs.  I pulled my belt knife for the job that always follows a successful hunt.  I was extremely thankful that thorough a series unbelievable circumstances the deer was not lost, her meat was not wasted.

I titled this article “Lessons Learned” because I learned four valuable lessons that evening.  First and foremost is the importance of using wickedly sharp broadheads.  Second, that you must examine any and all evidence as quickly as possible.  Third is to follow up all blood trails no matter how insignificant they seem, and fourth, to interpret whatever signals the animal gives you.

As we dragged the doe up to the vehicles it started snowing again, not as hard as before, but still very hard.  It was pretense of a winter in which record amounts of snow would accumulate.  I spent a lot of hours that winter sitting in front of the fireplace reflecting on one cold gray November evening when a small whitetail doe sacrificed her life to teach me some very valuable lessons.

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