The pungent smell of a buck drifted down on the morning thermals right when an urge to stretch crawled through my muscles. The yearn to stretch was mentally pushed aside, on a windless morning like this the smell of a deer this strong leaves me with no doubt a buck is close, very close. A glance at the winding string tied to my bow tip indicates the deer is uphill behind me 45 degrees to my right. Deer just like turkeys seem to always approach on my weak side. Many years of turkey hunting has taught me how to hide on the ground in plain sight and at moments like this, a hunter must be quiet and motionless. Everything in the woods has slowed to the speed of a molasses flow. My eyes have moved as far to the right side of my head as possible and strain to push further, there is no sound of a moving deer perhaps my nose mistook the odor. I slowly inhale, nope, there is no mistake a rutting buck is not far away. With a smell like that my bet is he is an elder carefully checking the safety of his next steps. My eyes shift to confirm the thermal’s direction. According to the frayed dental floss tied on my bow tip still shows the path of scent movement is in my favor.
Last week while sitting in a Gobbler Lounger a doe unexpectedly showed up standing right in front of me at ten yards. She busted me, stomped her foot, snorted and bounded away. After a few minutes, I bleated in the manner Ishi once upon a time would do to call deer for Pope and Young. After a short period of time, she came back, stopped at fifteen yards and bolted when my arrow passed through her engine room. I found her laying peacefully within forty yards of my shot.
Knowing that the buck uphill behind me could move off unseen in any number of directions, I decided to make the Ishi call. In this case, I did not dare touch the heel of hand to my lips. Instead, I pressed my lips tightly together as when I kee-kee on a wing bone. As I sucked air in through my lips, the desired soft bleat sounded. It worked, the buck begins quartering down the hill passing 6 feet to my right and continued angling down the slope toward the trail I had figured deer would walk along broadside past me.
Keeping an eye on the buck and the winding string on my bow I could anticipate the exact spot where the buck’s nose would intersect my scent line, much experience has taught me if there is going to be a fatal shot it must occur before that intersection. When his head went behind a tree I raised my bow, he never noticed and when his front leg extended out for his next step my arrow hit in the pocket with a hair cutting blood spraying thump. The surprised buck launched, scrambling/crashing away, all went quiet, after the saga of the buck trail last year I decided to wait 30 minutes before standing up to check anything out. Even though my broadhead was robust, sharp and the shot was good. Checked the time, 9:00 A, at 9:10A there was loud sounds of a falling deer sliding down a steep hill being cheered on by some startled squirrels. Not sure who made more noise the buck or the squirrels, this little puzzle kept me occupied for the next twenty minutes or so. Then that long-awaited stretch as I stood up felt so good.
Sure I had heard the buck drop I contained the urge to make haste to the place of that sound; it is always best to move with purpose along the trail without taking any shortcuts until you see the deer laying dead. At the point of the shot, there was lots of cut deer hair and foamy pink blood, but the amount of blood leading out from there was less than I like to see. However, with the large divets kicked up through the fallen leaves, there was no doubt which way the buck went. I advanced on high alert watching the trail well ahead for my deer after moving forty yards the edge of the deepest ravine on the property came into view, and few feet from the drop was a huge puddle of blood as if someone had just dumped it from a pail. Best of all 150 yards almost straight down, at the bottom of the ravine lay my buck.