Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Blue Jay Deer (Video and Blog Post)

I am working 24/7.  So, with no time for an outdoor adventure now, I am forced to work on unfinished outdoor projects from 2010 at night.  I have pulled together a video from one of my two successful 2010 bowhunting trips.

It was early November and the temperatures were cold, but pleasant.  I was one of those still and quiet days when you can hear the smallest sounds from far away.  Song birds were singing and the turkeys are gobbling.  The deer were on the move just as the sun came up, but all of them were small bucks.  This didn't deter me, I had decided that I was not going to be picky this year.  I was hunting for meat.  My stockpiles of venison were  dangerously low and this was not the time to trophy hunt.

A small buck headed my way and I readied my bow.  He was headed on a collision course for my tree and would either need to walk in front of me or behind me.  My tree is a very large Pecan tree with wide broad limbs that sweep low toward the ground, to low for the deer to comfortably walk through.  He be forced to take one of the trails leading around me.  When he arrives at the point where he must choose his direction, he chose wisely and elected to use the trail behind me.  Traveling at a fast walk searching for a doe, his nose just off the ground with a desperate look in his eye.  There was no time to react.  I could only watch him go by out of the corner of my eye.  "There goes your one opportunity for this morning" I thought to myself.  Usually only one shot opportunity presents itself for a given hunt, but this day would be different.  I watched him disappear into the brush and looked back from where he had approached my stand, there was another buck approaching and this one was bigger.

When the second buck came to the "fork in the road" he selected the path that would put him in my shooting lane.  This is when time slows down and every second takes an eternity.  I wait for him to lower his head as he walks, so he won't catch the movement as I draw my bow.  When he does just that and I react quickly by silently drawing back the string until the familiar feeling of the release is on my cheek.  But there is a problem, the sun is rising be hind me and, although the leaves and branches of the tree break-up my outline, the deer caught the movement and has locked his eyes on me.  Now I am stuck.  The buck stands motionless looking in my direction, waiting for me to move and give away my position.  I am holding my bow at full draw, trying to remain calm.   Suddenly, good fortune arrives in the form of a bird.  A squawking blue jay flutters into my tree and lands near my general vicinity.  As the jay squawks, the deer looks as though he is thinking to himself, "I thought I saw a predator in that tree, but maybe it is  only that bird, oh I am just being paranoid".  The jay continues to put on a tremendous show as he hops and squawks in the branches behind me.  Then the deer relaxes his gaze, looks left and right and then turns for my shot.  This is where practice pays dividends.  If you aren't ready for this situation and never practice shooting after holding your bow at full draw for an extended period of time, you will end up flubbing the shot as your muscles begin to quiver and shake.  Luckily, experience (that is another word for my past failures) has taught me to prepare for this scenario.  There is only a brief opportunity as the deer turns broadside and begins a slow walk.  Up until now, I have not had a shot opportunity because the deer was at a sharp angle quartering toward me. Now I have a perfect broadside shot, but it will only be available for a few seconds and then he will be gone.  I look through the peep, the distance is 23 yards so hold the top sight pin just a little high.  I loosen the grip of my left so that I don't torque the bow.  The grip is now firmly pulling against the palm of my bow hand between my thumb and index finger.  I focus on the target, a small patch of hair behind the front shoulder of the deer.  I begin to squeeze the release with my trigger finger and at the instant the arrow is released, it is a surprise to me.  I can see the arrow sailing toward the deer and his instinctive reaction to lower his body as he prepares to spring away from danger, but the arrow is to quick.  It strikes him with a THWACK, and he leaps.  Turning into the thick brush of a plumb bush I hear him running and crashing.  He continues into thicker brush and then, silence.  I wait as I normally do before following the trail, replaying the shot in my head.  Trying to remember where the deer was hit and telling myself it was a good hit.  While I am waiting, a nice eight point steps out of the brush and stops about 15 yards from my tree.  Now I do have two buck tags, but I do believe I am getting old when I pass on a buck because I don't want to clean and butcher two at the same time.  Before I can change my mind he leaves and I am relieved.  I cautiously begin the tracking process and even though I think I know where he is, I always begin tracking at the point of impact.  I find my arrow and some hair and then spots of blood.  I ease into the stand of small trees and and find him about 20 yards in.

It is a unique blend of feelings when you kill a deer.  I am elated at taking a deer with a bow.  I feel a sense of accomplishment from the practice and preparation required, I relish the thought of the great meals this deer will provide, and I feel a large sense of responsibility to ensure I honor this beautiful creature by fully utilizing it.  I quickly begin the work of field dressing and dragging it out of the woods.  By Noon it is quartered and in my cooler for the trip back home where the final butchering will take place.  On the drive home I replay the events of the day in my head.  Not just the deer I had taken, but the birds, the turkeys, the coyote I had seen and the other deer.  I count myself lucky to be able to experience the outdoors and play a part in it as well.


  1. Very nice post. I found your blog today through OBN. I like it. In fact I will hit the "follow" button right now. =)

    The Average Joe Fisherman

  2. Thanks Ryan! I appreciate your encouraging words. I will have to come over to your blog and visit as well.