14. Deer

A. Tracking is an art .. Archery stories
We are always trying to get our kids and young relatives to become hunters and sportsmen or at least understand the ethics. Tracking is as necessary to sportsmanship and woodscraft as accurate shooting. We can't make them trackers but we can give them a primer.

Tracking a wounded deer starts before you make the shot You need to mark and remember where he is, how he reacts to the shot and see exactly where he goes as long as he's in sight. The next step is to wait. A wounded animal will stop as soon as they feel safe from danger. Don't move too soon or you can spook an animal that stopped just out of sight into a long-running, adrenaline pumping, try at escape. Let him be still, calm down a bit and he will either die there or, at least, stiffen and have more difficulty if he does try to move away later. Where he was standing can be seen by the hoof marks he made digging in when he jumped and started to run. Hit by either arrow or bullet there will be, although often hard to find, hairs that were cut off at the entrance wound and they will fall to the ground and will confirm a hit. There will probably be blood on the off side. Here, or farther on along the track, the qualities of the blood can tell you if he's been hit in the lung, gut or has an arterial hit. It's helpful to know as much as you can as soon as you can when you do take up the trail.

When you start on the blood trail be careful not to obliterate the trail by walking on the tracks or blood trail. Blood will be found as tiny drops that fall from hairs or spray from a lung puncture and it will, as often as not, be on grass or twigs anywhere from ground level to as high up as the wound. It may be on both sides of the hoof prints an well as in them. Some people have excellent color perception and can see minute specks of color while standing. Others may have to be on hands and knees to see those same specks. Pinpoints of blood that show up well on white rocks become increasingly more difficult to see on dried grass, leaves, underbrush and dirt. Some hunters use small bits of toilet paper to flag the location of the blood as they are found, allowing a continuing trail to be seen behind the trackers. Help me bow hunters.

B. Jason

C. Chris and the 5 foot deer

D. It had horns when I shot it
Patrick was hunting from the cliffs across the creek at Mickey's. This was back when you needed a doe tag from the land owner to legally take a doe. So Pat needed a buck. Bill was with him when he spotted a buck across the creek. Pat took careful aim, and dropped the deer where he stood. They worked their way down and across the creek and through the gate. Pat went ahead while Bill closed the gate and was standing at he deer's front feet and looking hard at the deer and asked when Bill walked up. "Did I shoot an illegal doe?" Bill answered, "Nope, there were horns." "OK," asked Pat,"where are they now?" A closer look showed tall spikes both in the leaves about a foot above the head. That year, we had several deer loose their antlers when they hit the ground or when the hunter tried to drag them by the horns. There's been no good explanation for the defect in the antlers that year and only that year. But at the time, it did give Patrick a start.

F. Why not? Cows come when you honk.
Patrick was hunting the "Middle of the Road" tree stand at Mickey's and it had not been a productive morning. Even the does that almost daily followed the treeline in front of the house had not come by. And Pat had a bit of the sniffles, which didn't help at all. About to clog up completely, he decided to take a chance and unstuff his nose so he could hopefully breathe until it was time to go in. He regretted having only a white handkerchief that would show for a hundred yards, but it would have to do. He settled the Model 670 across his knees and carefully pulled out the handkerchief. In spite of the noise that would come, he blew a couple of really good resonating honks. He quietly put away his handkerchief and started to pick up his rifle, knowing it would be quite awhile before anything would come by after the noise. As he did, there was the sound of hooves and brush down the road behind him. He turned slowly just in time to see one of the scarce eight point bucks ease his head through the cedar about 60 yards away. The buck cautiously looked around for a minute and slowly stepped into the road. Patrick was ready and took him clean. We'd all heard a little about grunting for bucks, but Blowing for them was something new.

G. Dennis and the fence shot

H. What's that rustling in the bushes?
The deer that everybody knew something about

I. We all saw the dust fly
Doug's doe that got well

J. What blood?
John's colorless blood

K. When you shoot the wrong deer
Riley was in Jack's box placed on the ridge in the back at EB’s and was mostly concentrating on the bottom feeder where he had taken a doe or two over the years, when he heard a buck huffing through the cedars. He was pleased to count four very good points on the near side, the only side he could see clearly. Riley waited for him to clear the cedars and BANG. He walked up to him, only to see that the off side antler been broken off at the head. EB's sage observation: “You really should have shot the other deer that broke it off”.

Another year we had a good buck with one deformed antler. He was a big-bodied buck and none of us thought he could have gotten that big without some body noticing a bad side. We discussed it with EB and decided that it most likely was due to an injury earlier in the year and that we should give him until the following year to come back. EB's son came by a week or so later and culled him for us.

Lease members take the wrong deer on occasion, too. Bill moved a box to the south west side of the back one day and hunted it the next morning. It sat right beside the jeep road overlooking the south-most draw running east. He took a new Bishop .25-06 and was sure it would do the trick. He'd been there for about an hour and a half when a shootable buck with a doe following. Usually the doe goes ahead. They came slowly down the south edge of the draw headed east. They were then well over 250 yards from the box. After passing the deepest part of the draw where the road crossed they moved up to a bench about half way to the top. The curve of the draw brought them closer to the blind. At 200 yards they went behind a single large cedar, the buck still leading by about 10 yards. The rifle was ready for them to come back in view. The sun was now up and behind the cedar, and almost directly in the eyepiece. The back lighted form moved clear of the cedar but the crosshairs were clear on the shoulder of the dark body. The deer hesitated and then dropped when the shot was made. The other deer scrambled up to the rim back west. You could see the antlers. The doe had come out first. Maybe the buck had noticed the new box as they turned north. In any event, he'd gone back to the normal pattern of waiting in cover for the doe to go first.

Ralph and Doug stood by as Bill took a sighting, with his new range finding scope, across the field at Mickey's. They were on the cliff facing west. On the trap beyond the far side of the lower field a doe was squatting to whizz. Bill waited until she straightened up and took a step. She stopped and with the scope set to 400 yards, rifle rested on the rock wall, he fired. The doe went down, legs in the air, kicking wildly. A second shot would have been better but Bill was hesitant to shoot again and possibly miss. In a few seconds the doe collapsed and was still. The guys walked back to the truck and drove down the road than dropped off the north edge of the cliff. It took about five minutes to get to the trap. The doe was not there. There was no blood on the grass, but the grass was flattened. About three feet behind the flattened grass was the urine still wet on the ground. The looked around for some sign of her leaving. About 10 feet further behind where the doe stood was a fawn, struck by the bullet that must have barely clipped the does spine and only stunned her.

L. Ryan's first
... and Doug didn't clean it

M. "You shoot!" "No, you shoot!"
Ryan and Bob
Broadhead in the chest Ralph shot it two years later. Who shot?
Bill, Ralph and everyone else with Doug

Doug and Bill sat under a cedar right at the edge of the cliff at Mickey's. They watched three does feeding across the creek and moving closer to the cliffs. They knew that they needed a doe for the old cowman and his wife that leased the place for their cattle. After about a half an hour of watching the game started.
"You ought to take one. We haven't given Woodley his yet."
There was no response right away.
Then,"You've got an extra doe tag, and you like to give him the meat. You take her."
"Well, we better take one soon, before they slip away."
"Let's think about it."
They didn't slip away and for the next quarter hour the talk went slowly back and forth and the does bedded down near the creek under a small mott of live oak. Low scrub ringed an open place under the trees. Behind the scrub the deer felt themselves hidden. From the cliff they could be seen. The deer lay still and took turns getting up to quietly browse for a bit, then lay back down. Bill didn't usually watch deer for that long back then. He'd only been hunting deer for a couple of years and was more often a "pick one and shoot" hunter. Doug had seen so many deer over time that he knew what he was seeing and knew what to look for and to note any unusual behavior.
In a while the game started again.
"You think the middle one's better than the one on the right?"
"They're pretty much the same, but the middle ones older."
"You think we ought to take both and have Woodley set for the season?"
They thought about it.

N. The Spitin' doe

O. Unusual antlers
Bob, a guest from the city, who on one occasion opened the gate to let the truck pass and closed himself on the other side, shot a six point on Mickey's. But that buck was no bigger than a skinny Alsatian and had on the right, a beam of about six inches and tines not half that, and on the left, a little knot, flat on his head, about two inches across of three tines of one inch each. This was at least a three and a half years old and couldn't have weighed more that 50 pounds live.
Doug in Coleman
The left side fault

Q. Hybrid deer
The lease in near Fort Stockton.

R. Fawns
Ralph and two different fawns

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You'll see headings with no story. They haven't been written yet. I'm waiting to talk to the guys that were there.

If you remember any details better than are written, email the edited text to me. If your recollection may not be accurate, join the club. (-CRS-)

Accuracy should be just a bit less important than a good tale.


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