Being able to return to where I began archery deer hunting brought back many memories. I was hopeful of harvesting a velvet antlered buck for the delicious protein. However, at the end of the day, I did not. Shot opportunities were present and I had many close calls, but the following scenarios played out, which did not allow me to take an ethical shot:
- Having a buck at 60-yards when my practiced and ethical shooting limit during this hunt was 50 yards, at the furthest.
- Being at full draw on a buck at 43-yards, but having him start to move before I could take the shot.
- Coming to full draw on a decent buck, another 43-yard shot opportunity, but having the sun directly in my eyes not allowing me to see my sights and the deer after drawing my bow back.
- Being in thick cover and having a few opportunities, but because of the cover I knew my arrow could deflect off branches, causing a miss or, worse yet, wound an animal.
- Having a legal buck moving towards me, but a barking dog in the distance caused the deer to run off.
- Being positioned on a group of deer only to have another, unseen hunter scare them off.
It was a roller coaster ride of a hunt, with emotions high and low. At the end of the day, I would not change a thing. On this hunt, I was able to spend a few days of quality time in the woods with my mom and our last day out was without a doubt a fun-filled day. We saw lots of wildlife and enjoyed the day exploring. Not only did we see deer, but we saw turkeys, a coyote, a 6×6 bull elk, chipmunks, Abert’s squirrels and various songbirds and raptors.
A successful hunt should not only be measured with punching your tag; it should also be enjoying the ride and spending time outdoors. Having personal limits and sticking to them will serve as sideboards for your hunt and each opportunity serving as an educational moment.
Being up in the mountains or out in the desert is the real prize, and we as hunters should step back and realize how blessed we are to be able to spend time outdoors. We should be filled with pride in knowing that the hunting licenses and stamps we purchase are being put to use in wildlife management. So, on your next hunt, enjoy the experience no matter how the cards may fall and if you are fortunate in taking an animal, realize this is just a bonus.