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A Dance with the Deer

I like to bow hunt along a lake near Raleigh, NC. The little wooded stretch I know best is an archery-only area. It's an archery-only area because you can see suburbia just a little ways off. I have seen deer there a number of times. So far, no success.

On my second to last day of deer hunting, I headed out with a few hours to spare before dark. I intended to still hunt a high deer traffic area. I mean, looking at the ground there, it looks like grand central station.

The weather was pleasant. A bit above freezing. The leaves on the ground had just enough moisture to dampen your footstep a bit if you were really careful. Of course, that usually makes it hard to hear the deer as well.

It took me maybe 30 minutes to walk (very slowly) from my truck, into the woods, and finally into the hide position I chose. It was a spot I have hunted from before.

In front of you, there could be seen a criss-crossing of trails. To your back there were a tangle of vines. The downside was that there was nothing to really hide you from view up front, so you had to be really really careful in your movements.

Behind the wall of vines was an area that the deer loved to bed-down in. Unfortunately, sometimes the deer liked to pass through that area as well, rather than in front of this hide position, but there was no way to cover both adequately.

I stood there watching the squirrels for maybe 1.5 hours.


Around 4pm or so, I heard deer coming it. You know how it is? You hear them and sometimes you have waited so long that you can't believe it? It was like that this day. It took a moment or two for me to believe they were deer.

These deer were making their way towards me to my right. Alas, it sounded like they were headed in a direction that would take them behind my position.

I made the classic hunters mistake. I was too impatient. I wanted to actually *see* them. Now! So, a bit too quickly, I turned my head and a bit of my body towards the right, hoping to get a glimpse of them.

I never saw them.

But they saw me.


They ran whence they came.

Now, I could have gotten pissed off and walked out the woods. But I didn't. I thought: "I betcha they didn't know *what* I was. I bet they saw *something* and it spooked them. But I bet they will be back."

So, I waited. About 10 minutes later, along came those deer again. This time they started to move towards the area behind me. Maybe they were trying to wind me? I didn't know. The breeze was very slight, but not in my favor, but it was slight enough that I wasn't overly concerned.

This time, I did it right. I moved as slowly as cold molasses twisting to view behind me to get a look.

Yup. Through the vines and beyond through a gap, one doe and then maybe another. I knew there were at least two deer, but I could only see that one doe clearly. She was a beauty, mature, and sizable.

I slowly moved back into position wondering what to do next. Just let them pass and hope they come back through in front of me? Or actually try to stalk them (difficult) around this thicket of vines?

As I was pondering this. Something (was it me?) spooked the deer again and they ran off to my right. No snort, but a burst of energy and they ran.

I immediately thought: "Opportunity! The deer have left, but I bet they will be back." I knew where they would *probably* go. It was time for me to get into that new position.

Stalking like I have never stalked before, I crept around that thicket of vines. The light was starting to fade - of course! I crept around that thicket without making a sound.

I got around to the other side, and got into a good position overlooking two trails and that gap where I saw that large doe.

I waited...

Loe and behold! Here they came again. But! Surprise surprise!. They were coming from *both* sides of me. When they ran off, I apparently only heard one of them run off to one side but not the other. The danger here was that the deer coming upon me towards my now right could very well follow a trail that would take her right up on top of me - this has happened to me before.

Luckily she didn't. I waited.

As they approached the area those deer slowed down and took their time. The light was really starting to fade now, but I was ready and concentrating on that gap about 15 yards away. The bow was up. All I had to do was draw.

[Aside: I was using a long bow. You can't draw a long bow and then hold it for minutes at a stretch like you can a compound. There is a reason they say a compound bow comes complete with training wheels! Ha! All ribbing aside, nothing against you compound guys, it's just not my cup of tea anymore.]

Just then, as I waited, the deer to my left did something that almost made me chuckle aloud. It wandered into the area I had just left. Irony! I pictured that deer dancing 10 yards in front of my previous hide position. We had effectively swapped positions in a comical rotation around these vines. Ha!

The deer to my right, in the mean time, slowly headed towards that gap.

I waited.

And waited.

It got darker.

And darker.

Finally! She was there! I could see her.

Well, almost.


The light was just too dim to take an ethical shot. I tried as best I could to make out her shoulder but just couldn't do it.

My night was done. I took my arrow off the string and smacked it against a tree limb a few times.


My dance with the deer was over. What a great hunt!


Comment On This Field Journal
Posted: 2/17/2011

Trophy Room
Great journal entry! I really enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing.
Posted: 1/21/2011

Trophy Room
You, sir, are a good story teller. Almost felt like I was there with you. Thanks for brightening my week with some vivid tales of my favorite passtime. Sounds like another great hunt, its not all about the outcome, but the chase.

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