I have a treestand location that’s basically outside my backdoor that I call “Wi-Fi”. This stand got its name because it is close enough to my house that I still get a wi-fi connection from the router. Don’t let the fact that the stand skirts the tree line in my backyard fool you. This stand gets a lot of use, and many game animals have been seen and harvested from it. The close location of this stand to my house is extremely convenient, especially when time constraints from everyday life only allow for a short hunt after work. Because of this, “Wi-Fi” is my go-to hunting spot on the weekdays.
This story begins on Saturday, the 15th of October. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and found that the clock read well past the time for which I had set the alarm. Apparently, I had neglected to turn the alarm on when I set it the night prior. As I leaped from my bed to throw on some base layers, I knew that I would not have enough time to take my climber to a location that is in the Allegheny National Forest, which is adjacent to my property. As I put on my last layer of outerwear and grabbed my bow, I watched as the night’s darkness gave way to the morning light. I knew that I had to hunt “Wi-Fi” if I wanted a chance of seeing a deer this late in the morning. I wasn’t sure whether to emphasize speed or stealth as I made my way to “Wi-Fi”. I let out a sigh of relief after my feet made the transition from the last ladder rung to the stand without spooking any game.
The first hour was spent watching the friendly grey squirrel that is a common visitor to my stand. In frustration, I pondered my mistake with the alarm and not making it to my preferred location in the Allegheny National Forest. I then heard a welcomed sound, the grunt of a whitetail somewhere through the brush behind me. I slowly turned my head and scanned the area that I suspected the deer to be. My body was motionless, except for my scanning eyes, as I tried to get a visual verification of the deer. Then I saw it. As the deer turned its head, I caught sight of its antlers. After I received verification that his eyes weren't on me, I clipped my release to the bowstring and positioned my body for a shot. He took a few steps closer to me and was now within a range I felt comfortable shooting. I quickly drew the bow back as the deer’s nose momentarily sniffed the ground. He lifted his head suddenly and started into a fast trot. I let out the best doe bleats my human vocal cords could muster, but he quickly trotted right through my shooting lane. For the second time that morning, frustration set in as I watched the buck trot further out of range.
I slowly relaxed my bowstring and contemplated what went wrong. Unable to conclude what caused the deer to startle, or why he didn’t acknowledge my manufactured bleats, I forced my mind, once again, to focus on the woods around me. After all, it was still early in the deer season. I still had time to fill my tag. Not more than 20 minutes later, I saw movement from the same direction that the buck had run. Unable to verify the gender of the approaching deer, I rotated my body to a shooting lane that I thought this deer would certainly intersect. The deer continued to approach along the path. With the sight of antlers, I brought my bow to full draw. Success was had this time with my doe bleats. Seconds after the buck stopped, I found my mark and sent a Rage broadhead flying. I watched as the buck bounded to the edge of my visibility. He stopped and stood still. In a moment of disbelief, I wondered if I had missed. Thankfully the thought of a failed shot was proven wrong as the deer lost its balance and fell.
I knew what had to be done next. I climbed down from the stand and took the short walk back home. I slid open the backdoor and asked my 4-year-old daughter, Natalie, if I could have her help with something. Her face was full of curiosity as her inquisitive mind questioned the task at hand. I watched her excitement grow as I explained that I had shot a buck and "needed" her help finding it. The event quickly turned into a family affair as my wife, Diane, eagerly joined in as well. The three of us made the short trek to where the deer had once stood, now only marked by the bloody arrow stuck in the ground. After I explained to my daughter what to look for, her 4-year-old eyes had no problem seeing the trail of blood. The search began. After just a short distance, my wife and I noticed the deer lying dead just a few yards off of the defined trail. We both watched as Natalie walked the trail, past the deer. Within a few steps, she developed a look of confusion due to the fact the bloodtrail had ceased. With a little direction, she backtracked and then resumed her trailing. As she continued on, her excitement grew. Her loud gasp was followed by a big smile as she walked upon the treasure. The feelings of happiness and pride were shared by all three of us, although for different reasons. As I grabbed ahold of the deer’s antlers to move it onto the trail, I was quickly stopped by Natalie.
"No! No daddy, wait!” She said, with a serious look upon her face. She paused briefly before saying, "Let's do it again!".
I smiled with amusement, although, within I was brimming with joy. Diane laughed aloud at the situation.
It turns out, the deer that I shot was not the same deer that I saw earlier in the day. In fact, it was a much smaller buck. However, it was not the deer's size that made this hunt memorable for me, it was the look on my daughter’s face when she found the buck. Her look of excitement made this hunt one of my favorites.