My First Deer by Pete Gamet
We all remember the first deer. Whether it was a buck, doe or with a gun or bow, it didn’t matter, as long as it was a deer. This is about my first deer with a bow and something that I will always remember.
When I started hunting back in 1996. My in-laws suggested that I hunt behind my wife’s grandparent’s house. It was 80 acres with about 30 acres wooded. The rest was either crops or buildings. I did some scouting a couple of days earlier and found a good spot to set my tree stand. I set up in an old cottonwood that forked about 20 feet up. Three major runways went right by it and the tree was about 10 yards off of the trails. To the north was a little 1 acre clearing, to the west was a swamp, to the south and east is where the trails started and headed for either the clearing or the swamp. So all I had to do was wait.
The morning I decided to go out was overcast and damp from the rain the night before. I headed for the property around 5:30 that morning and started walking in as the light was just showing through the trees. I didn’t notice the cold and dampness till after I got in the stand. Before long the deer started to move and I could make out different shapes walking through the woods. So far none spotted me. They were just does with fawns headed for the clearing. After about an hour the movement started to slow down as the deer were grazing in the little clearing just to the north of me.
About 9:00 that morning, I started hearing a sparring match between a couple of bucks off in the distance. I didn’t think much about it, for all I knew it could have been the neighbor trying to rattle one in. A little while later, I heard a twig break to the north of me. It was a doe with fawns moving in my direction at a nice pace. Behind her, about 50 yards out was a nice eight-point buck following the doe. The doe and fawns went right by me and didn’t even notice me. After they went by, I looked for the buck. He was still traveling the same trail as the doe and fawns. Which would take him right by my stand.
When he got within 30 yards of my stand, I started getting the bow ready. I was nervous as all hell. I remembered what a friend told me earlier to avoid getting buck fever. Once you see the buck, take yours eyes off the antlers and concentrate on the kill zone. I was trying to do just that. When the buck was within 20 yards I started to draw back slowly. Finally, when he stepped behind a tree, I went to full draw. Now he is about 10 yards and coming closer. He had to walk around this little cedar tree and when he comes around the other side I would release. Easier said than done. I put my sights right were I figure him to walk out and waited. Sure enough, he was coming around the cedar like I thought but was taking his time and checking for scent on the ground. It felt like an eternity waiting for him to present a shot. Finally, he was around the cedar and I had a good quartering towards me shot. I put my 10-yard pin right behind the shoulder and released the arrow. I watched as the buck jumped a little as if to get out of the way, but the arrow found the mark. I didn’t hit him where I was aiming; I hit him in the head. I looked down from the stand and got one heck of a shock. Instead of hitting him in the chest like I wanted, I hit it between the antlers. I was starting to get sick from all the blood on the ground and the buck still trashing around. I sat there for ten minutes listening this buck dying and the death bawls. It is a sound that I never wanted to hear again.
When he finally stopped moving and I could tell he stopped breathing, I climbed down. The whole way down I kept an eye on it. I didn’t want to get caught by a wounded deer.
After I climbed down and was able to see just what had happened, I was a little relieved. The buck was laying about 8 feet from the base of the tree I was just in. So I didn’t have to track it. As I was looking it over and trying to figure out just what happened, a couple of the neighbors come by to investigate the noise. They helped me gut it and drag it back to my truck. The whole time shaking their heads as to how I shot it in the head. It was pure luck and nothing more. To this day I remember that October morning and I never want to hear the bawl again.