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2015 saddle doe with gun

d_rek

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Sep 25, 2014
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2,195
Location
SELP Michigan
** LONG READ **

Around 1:30pm on Nov. 25th I headed into town to pick up an private land anterless tag since I only had a restricted 4+ combo tag to use. I knew that I probably would not be seeing any decent bucks at this property and had only seen 3 smaller 1.5 yr old bucks prior to firearms opener. So after a quick trip into town I made the short 10 minute drive back out to my uncles property where I have permission to hunt.

I arrived around 2pm and quickly dressed outside the car, donned my aerohunter evolution tree saddle, strapped my pack on and grabbed my h&r ultra slug hunter. I had briefly considered taking my bow out earlier and actually kind of kicked myself later for not taking it.

I did the 800 yard hike to the tree I had prepped earlier this year, following the rutted two track and trail tacks installed in the spring after doing my post-season scouting, tied my shotgun to the lift cord, and ascended the tree to my tree saddle stand without incident. I checked time after strapping in and the clock read about quarter to 3pm.

Despite the impending warm front that was moving through I was hopeful I would see deer this sit for a couple of reasons: One - it was my first sit at this location in almost 3 weeks - since the week before firearms opener. Two, -Even though my uncle and cousins are hardcore hunters, they rarely hunt their own property unless they need to put something in the freezer. I more or less had the property completely to myself for the entire season up to this point, and was hoping that the pressure from firearms season would have pushed more deer onto my uncles property as there is a very prime bedding/sanctuary area there, but was unsure because there were no readily available food sources because he didn't have any crop in his fields this year and had only plowed them up to prepare for seeding corn for the next.

My stand is setup about 150 yards outside the sanctuary where a couple of old ditches, along with the natural understudy, creates an excellent funnel that dumps directly into the sanctuary. Personally I would like to hunt closer to the sanctuary on occasion but per my Uncle that part of the property is off limits, and since it is not my property I abide by his rules.

Around 3:30 I saw my first couple of deer. They appeared about 125 yards to my south, milling around in a .75 acre clearing my Uncle occasionally puts a food plot in. However for the last several years he has done nothing with the plot and it had overgrown to weeds. This year, though, he plowed it up and is planning on putting a food plot in next year. After watching those deer mill around I began to notice more movement from the direction of the funnel and, after a few more minutes, noticed 7-8 more deer milling around, all does and fawns.

While I had considered this stand location a success earlier in the year because of the amount of deer I had been seeing, I quickly learned that it was out of position by about 40 yards. I setup my stand on the wrong side of the funnel, where a few deer might occasionally pass through, but up to this point they had been more apt to move on the opposite side of the funnel between two sections of thick understudy. Still I was hopeful that I would be able to lure one into range for bow season, and did on several occasions, but for one reason or another I was never able to seal the deal with my bow. Still I thought this should be prime for firearms as the extended range would give me any number of clear shots at deer moving through the funnel. However for next year I will be relocating this stand the short distance to the other side of the funnel. Lesson learned.

Over the course of the next hour I counted 9-10 does with fawns. They initially grazed in the plowed food (weed) plot and slowly made their way through the funnel where I was setup. At about 4:15 they were directly in front of me moving through the funnel, although none of them presented me with a shot I was comfortable with taking even with my shotgun. A minute later I noticed more movement to my south and I saw a doe and a fawn working their directly towards me and into the small clearing where I had made my shooting lanes earlier in the year. After what seemed and eternity the doe and fawn finally came to about 25 yards of my stand, although they hung up.

I slowly peaked my head around the trunk of the tree that was concealing me and noticed the doe staring right at my stand. "Damn!", I thought - a guaranteed bust by an old nanny doe. After I took my peek at her I started to here this steady, "tap, tap, tap...". I slowly peaked around the opposite side of the tree and noticed the mama doe staring at my tree tapping her left hoof in a steady cadence. Again I thought to myself that I am surely going to be busted as something about the aspect of the tree must have caught her attention. Meanwhile the other 7-8 deer browsed heedlessly 50-60 yards opposite of the mama doe.

Fortunately after a few tense moments of me being absolutely certain a bust was going to occur the doe let up and started to move directly into my shooting lane at a slow clip. I knew my opportunity for a shot was nigh and I leveled the shotgun, braced my elbow against my chest for a rest and as she came into my shooting lane perfectly broadside I let the 20ga slug shotgun bark out it's truth. The doe ran off, with what looked like a good hit, and the rest of the deer scattered too.

I immediately saw a wound open up on the doe that looked like a solid lung hit. I also distinctly saw blood shoot out of both sides as she ran off. She hightailed it 60 yards and I clearly saw her law down and kick around. "Perfect!", I thought. A nice easy recovery was at hand... sadly it was not to be.

I waited about 15 minutes, thinking the doe is lying there simply waiting for me to recover. I went through the ritual of lowering my gear from the tree, unstrapping my tree strap, hooking up my lineman belt, and descending to ground level. Once there I dropped my aerohunter evolution, kneepads, and shotgun to the ground, donned my backpack, and began blood trailing in the quickly fading daylight.



-Sent from d_mobile
 

d_rek

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Sep 25, 2014
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2,195
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SELP Michigan
The blood trail was easy to follow and I clearly got a passthrough as indicated by blood on both sides of the trail, but it is much darker than anticipated. About 30-40 yards on the trail I am wondering if I didn’t hit low or further back than I first thought and as I am pondering this the doe I shot jumps up, and runs off, and my heart sinks. I quickly uncinched and dropped my pack, grab my binoculars, and watch her slowly make her way 150 yards through the forest before I lose sight of her. She was clearly hunched up and I could see blood on along her midsection about 4-5 inches up from her belly, but now I am convinced I liver shot her.

So now I am faced with a dilemma: Double back for my shotgun and keep trailing her, knowing I may bump her again, or let her rest for a few hours and hope like hell I can find her. Knowing that I absolutely would not have an opportunity to get back out today (thanksgiving) I decide that I will trail her and if I find her bedded and not dead, put another round in her. So I head back to my stand, grab my shotgun, headlamp and blood trailing light, and the roll of TP I keep handy for just such occasions (well, for other reasons too) and decide to blood trail in earnest.

By now it is almost 5:30 and shooting light is quickly going down the drain. I slowly and steadily pick up the blood trail, marking it every 5 ft or so with TP. It is easy to follow without the snow, but the little snow that is still on ground is making this track job a breeze so far. Unfortunately I hit the neighbors property line, which is clearly marked with yellow caution tape on trees going south-to-north. Not wanting to get on anyones bad side I decide the ethical thing to do is to back out and meet my uncles neighbor.

I drop my pack and shotgun and beeline along the property line, through some thick nasty stuff, until eventually popping out of the woods near his house. I walk up to their house, knock on the door, meet the neighbor, explain the situation and, after exchanging some pleasantries and well wishes as they too are a fellow hunter, am back in the woods on the trail after about 1/2hr. Again I cannot express enough how we, as hunters, should all be respectful of each others property and rights. I am glad I met the neighbor and even more satisfied that they understood the situation and decided to let me track the deer onto their property. I am deeply grateful they allowed me to do this.

So after finding my gear in the dark I quickly pick up the blood trail again. Now I am probably 250-300 yards from where I shot the deer. I am hoping like hell there is a dead deer at the end of the trail based on the amount of blood I am finding, but am uncertain. After another 50 yards of trailing I raise my headlamp and flashlight and see my doe bedded down not 20 yards in front of me, alive, staring directly into my lights. My stomach clenches now. Even in the dark I can clearly see matted blood along the side of her and pooled up beneath her. We have staredown in the dark for what seems like an eternity and being unsure of what my next move is I call my Uncle to see if he would recommend putting a shot in her. I explain the situation and he advises that if I have a shot to take it.

Wanting to do the right thing I weigh the ethics of shooting this animal in the dark. I know it is after legal shooting hours and that makes me nervous. However I know beyond a doubt this is the animal I shot previously. Again I weigh whether or not I should let her sit and come back later, not knowing if she will be in the same spot or not, or if I should attempt a shot in the dark. Before I can make the decision the doe makes it for me by slowly standing up. She is clearly wounded and in pain. She hacks briefly and I can kind of see her spit or puke something up. I put the headlamp on her and hold the flashlight against the muzzle of my shotgun. I can clearly see her entire body and eery glowing eyes illuminated in my scope. I cock the hammer on the slug gun, take a deep breath, and pull the trigger.

She drops where she stands.

I wait an excruciatingly long moment, walk up to her, and confirm my decision to take the second shot. Inspecting the first shot It looks like I hit further back than intended by 2-3” and squarely plugged her liver. This is further confirmed after I gut her and find her liver completely reduced to a red, gelatinous mess. The 2nd shot was an easy double lung pass through guaranteeing a quick kill. So I gut her and make the long drag in the dark to the edge of my uncles wood. An exhausting and grueling thing to under cover of darkness.

By now it is almost 7:30 at night. I leave the deer and gear and head up to my uncles to get the quad and some help. A few minutes later my cousin and I roll up in the quad, load the deer and bring it back to the house. My FIL comes and picks it up in his chevy 2500 HD, I pack up my stuff, and head home. We hand the deer, clean up, and call it a night.

I am still at odds over my decision to shoot her in the dark. I knew I would not be able to make it out today to blood trail her. I did not know if I would find her after running into her that second time. All I wanted to do was make a quick, clean kill and end her suffering. I am unsure why the shot was so far back in the first place as my slug gun has always put the accutip slugs I shoot pretty much exactly where I want them: Maybe I pulled the muzzle at the last second, perhaps she took a step too far forward, maybe it had something to do with proximity and angle of elevation? Again, unsure and will do a thorough equipment check to see where I might have went wrong.

Regardless I am glad that I recovered this deer. I had lost a deer last season while bowhunting and it was a terrible feeling, and not something I wanted to experience again. I will make sure we utilize every bit of meat from this animal to graciously feed my family.

So ends the tail of the big nanny doe. I hope you enjoyed reading!

Regards,
d_rek


-Sent from d_mobile
 

d_rek

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Sep 25, 2014
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SELP Michigan
Thanks!!

I'm not sure why all the pictures got doubled up. If you look closely at the picture of the stump in the dark there is a little critter I came across literally 10ft from where I recovered the doe. He was just standing there as timid as could be. I could have probably walked up to him and kicked him if I wanted to. But I have no beef with coons they have their place in the world. Kind of cool to see him just sitting there like that though.
 

DIYSaddler

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Jul 22, 2015
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632
Hey at least you brought her home. Taking the shot and not letting her suffer was most definitely the ethical course of action and if you had in issues with a Conservation Officers your neighbors and your uncle would have been able to corroborate on your behalf. I lost one this year because of a broad-head malfunction and another because my sight ring had loosed up and drifted down. I'm still sick about it but god was good enough to grace me with the third which is already in the freezer.
 

redsquirrel

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Congrats, thats a nice doe!

That is a tough decision whether to track or not. I would be too chicken to take a shot after dark so I probably would have backed out and went back in the dark after a few hours of waiting. With a slug through the liver I would expect her to die faster than if it were an arrow, but you never know. I have had a couple occasions where they were too weak to get up and I had to end things by slitting their throats and it isn't pleasant.

I'm glad it worked out for you and you have some good meat in the freezer!
 

drew13

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Sep 11, 2014
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Maine
Well done, d_rek and good story!

I definitely agree with your decision to take the follow up shot after dark. You did the right thing.


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essdub

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Feb 22, 2015
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Greenville South Carolina area
I really enjoyed this post. I feel your pain about the shot too. But I think you made the right call. I lost a doe this year trying to follow blood trail in the rain. It sucks. I found her a few days later by watching the buzzards. Great story and I'm glad you got her. Meat in the freezer.

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d_rek

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Sep 25, 2014
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SELP Michigan
Thanks everyone!

I agree every deer is a trophy. I have found in my short hunting career that my buck stories are nowhere near as interesting as my doe stories, and that true test of a hunter is not in taking the shot itself but in what happens afterwards.

This was also the first deer that I completely butchered myself. It seemed like we got a lot more meat from the deer doing it ourselves versus what we would get from the processor. I'm not sure how much the processor wastes or uses for trim but all of my loins, steaks, and roasts look huge compared to theirs. Needless to say i'll be butchering my own deer every chance I get from here on out.
 

essdub

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Feb 22, 2015
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Greenville South Carolina area
Re: RE: Re: 2015 saddle doe with gun

d_rek said:
Thanks everyone!

I agree every deer is a trophy. I have found in my short hunting career that my buck stories are nowhere near as interesting as my doe stories, and that true test of a hunter is not in taking the shot itself but in what happens afterwards.

This was also the first deer that I completely butchered myself. It seemed like we got a lot more meat from the deer doing it ourselves versus what we would get from the processor. I'm not sure how much the processor wastes or uses for trim but all of my loins, steaks, and roasts look huge compared to theirs. Needless to say i'll be butchering my own deer every chance I get from here on out.
Yeah I nOticed the same thing a cOuple years ago. I just gotta get some of the equipment to make sausage and stuff. I've been pretty happy, though, with making steaks and small cuts and jerky.
I also figured that with the processors, I'm not really saving much money over buying meat from grocers. Granted, it's deer and not beef, but I just thought I'd save them the trouble and myself some money and do it myself.
Since we aren't required to check in or register any deer, I do worry that some people might be taking a lot more deer than they should. So I refuse to exceed the number of tags I get. I usually buy four antler less tags and we have a maximum of five deer including those four. I still got one left this year and it needs to be a particular buck who has gotten lucky a few times in the last couple of seaSons.


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d_rek

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SELP Michigan
Yes cost was also a primary motivation for wanting to butcher my own deer. It's usually $75-85/deer at the processors around here for your basic processing and while they generally do a pretty good job after spending money on tags, ammo, arrows, broadheads, camo, gear, etc. these deer start to get pricey lol.

Really it was only a matter of time before I started to butcher my own deer. I wanted to last year but never got a deer so didn't have a chance. I kind of relate it to filleting my own fish - I wouldn't even considering taking my fish to someone else to fillet so why do that with my deer?

I already own a vacuum sealer and the in-laws have a 2hp grinder from gander mountain that works great. We did almost 30lbs of burger in 15-20 minutes - if that. Sealing it all took a little longer but that's to be expected.
 

woods89

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Nov 13, 2014
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Congrats! And I would have likely done the same thing as you with the follow-up shot.
Processing your own is really cool. I grew up doing it and it feels really good to be involved with every step of the process. It would take a very unusual circumstance to make me take mine to a processor.

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boone0

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Sep 28, 2014
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Nice write up. I agree on processing your own, if you have the space to do it, its very satisfying to go from the woods to freezer all on your own.
 

DIYSaddler

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Jul 22, 2015
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Just had an update on one of mine that got away. A buddy of mine hunting in the same area just pulled my broadhead out of the deer he shot the 2 days ago.
 
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