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Thanks, I Needed That!
By Mike E. Neilson

A flicker of white through the early fall Indiana foliage caught my attention as I scanned the creek bottom that had become so familiar over the years. First one, then several deer shapes emerged in the pre-dawn gloom only to be swallowed up by the grasses and trees when I diverted my gaze for a fraction of a second from one shape to another. Slowly, shifting my weight and moving only when the deer were not looking, I was able to get into a shooting position.

The stage was set. A nice mature doe was broadside within shooting range and unaware of my presence. As I began to draw, a loud snort erupted from my left as a fawn saw my movement and alerted the herd that something was amiss. At full draw, I waited for the doe to relax. And waited and waited and waited. With muscles failing and concentration slipping away, I had to let down and the final act played out with deer bounding away in all directions.

Sound familiar? My whole deer season was like this with only minor variations. Sometimes another hunter buggered the hunt up, sometimes the deer never presented a shot and on at least 3 occasions I flat out missed the shot. Needless to say my hunting confidence was about as low as it could go. I needed something to shake me up and get my confidence back. The answer lay in a soccer coach, some bad weather and a suicidal deer.

I had been talking to my son's soccer coach, Ann, all summer long about having the team over for a party at the end of the season. My only stipulation was that the party had to be held before deer season started. This wasn't a problem because deer season starts October first and the summer soccer program is well over by then but it was a good ice breaker and a chance to ask permission to hunt.

The coach agreed to the party and we struck up a conversation about my hunting. She informed me that she had lots of deer on her family farm and I could come out and shoot one if I shared the meat. Well it didn't take long before that invitation was snatched up! I was on her doorstep the next evening after work ready to walk the property and maybe sit in a stand for the night.

Ann and I walked her property for over an hour, talking about the land, deer and nature in general. She told me of the other hunters whom she allowed on the property, where and where not to go. The property was a patchwork of flat fields bisected by creek bottoms and small woodlots. All the while we walked, the wind was whipping out of the west and dark storm clouds filled the sky. The temperature began to drop and the wind increased as we headed back towards the farm house.

With less than an hour of shooting light left, I asked Ann if I could walk the property by myself, hoping to at least see a deer before the weather turned too ugly and sunset arrived. She wished me well and told me that I could hunt anytime.

I double timed my walk to the nearest woods with the wind at my back hoping to get to the back of the property and start a slow stalk with the wind in my favor. The clouds thickened and lowered as I rounded a corner of the front woods that is split by a small lane. As I peaked around the corner, the wind was blowing strongly at my back and my scent was carried right towards a deer grazing in the lane.

I couldn't believe my luck. I was amazed that this deer would be here after I had just walked through the same area. With the wind blowing like it was, I was sure the deer would has scented me sooner and bolted for cover. With nothing to lose and the thought that I'd just see how close I could get to this deer, I started my stalk. I started into the woods but it was too dark with the failing light and the thick clouds so I went out into the lane with the deer.

As I stepped out of the woods, the deer turned and walked away from me with an almost arrogant manor. At this point I decided to go for broke and started stalking directly toward the deer. Stepping on an unseen stick, the deer turned toward the cracking sound and stared straight at me. I did a quick head bob coupled with a couple of bleats to try to simulate the actions of another deer. Low and behold the deer reversed directions and started walking toward me. Disbelief overwhelmed me as I saw this deer, clearly bent on suicide, come over towards me and turn broadside at twenty yards. With nothing between us but air, I drew back and released an arrow. I heard the impact of the arrow on the deer as it turned and ran. I had been gone from the farm house less than 10 minutes and had just shot a deer. The fates had restored my confidence.

With darkness fast approaching as well as a vicious storm, I began bloodtrailing quicker than I usually would on a deer. After the first few yards of tracking it became apparent from the bloodtrail that the deer would not go far.

I recovered the deer only forty yards from where I had shot it. I quickly walked back to the farm house, informed the landowner that I had shot a deer and engaged the help of her young teenage son Dustin to help field dress and load the deer into the truck. Dustin, being a farm kid, is used to this kind of work but none-the-less seemed fascinated by the deer and what was involved in field dressing.

A week later I returned to the farm, not to hunt, but to fulfill my promise of sharing the meat. With the exception of some backstrap cuts, I gave the family the entire deer. I must confess that my wife Mary, had encouraged me to give them the whole deer…she needed the freezer space.

Mike Neilson is a freelance outdoor writer (AGLOW, OWAA), who has written many outdoor stories conerning his hunts in Indiana and other parts of the world. Mike is also an official Pope & Young measurer, member of NAHC and Safari Club.

Copyright © 1997, by Mike Neilson

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