Wow! I didn’t realize just how long it had been since I last wrote anything! I have just been so busy over the past couple of months that I have let my writing take a back seat. So, let me tell you about my progress in a few areas.
First, I told you about getting a bow and getting ready to attempt bow hunting. Yes. I am a hunter, or rather a huntress!! I love to be in the woods, listening to the sounds of the woods waking up. The squirrels scampering about, snacking on acorns and scattering leaves about. They are an arch enemy of many hunters due in part to their uncanny ability to stomp through leaves and rattle tree branches, making the hunter believe a massive whitetail is about to step out into an opening! I believe many squirrels remain alive today only because the deer hunter they ‘tricked’ didn’t want to ruin his or her hunt by shooting him!
As dawn begins to break, numerous birds begin their daily tasks of finding food and nest building. Their cheerful chirping and whistling will help wake a tiring hunter who has been sitting in or against a tree for a couple of hours already! Sometimes, a blue jay or a robin perhaps, will visit a nearby tree branch and begin to give said hunter an irate ‘talking to’! It is not uncommon for that trickster squirrel to join in the chastising from a distant tree. I have been sitting in an enclosed box blind, waiting for the ever elusive and massive buck to step into my previously chosen shooting lane, and been visited by one of these chastising squirrels who would sit on a tree limb a couple of feet outside my blind and relay my location to all creatures within a 50 mile radius! You got it! That squirrel was playing with his life!
As the sun slowly rises there is a very brief period of time when it seems to be at its brightest, yet the temperature in the air is at its coolest. It is at this time that you can feel a light breeze blowing, which will give just a slight chill, yet the sun is shining in just the right way to provide just enough warmth for a tree-sitter to prevent shivering so strong that the entire tree is shaking! It has been my experience that this is usually when the deer start showing up.
Let me back up just a little bit and tell you about my bow. I have been interested in learning to shoot a bow for quite some time now and recently had the opportunity to purchase a used bow from a friend. From the time she posted the bow for sale on her facebook page, to the time I told her I wanted it, there might have been a lapse of 5 minutes! I knew as soon as I saw the post that it was time for me to see if bow hunting was for me.
My husband and I had some concerns about my ability to pull the bow back to shoot because of my back and neck problems, including two surgeries and numerous disc herniations, buldges, and ruptures! We were afraid that I might not have the strength to pull, or that the act of repeatedly pulling the bow back would cause pain. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bow only to find out that I wasn’t going to like it, or wouldn’t be able to physically handle it. Because I had looked at the prices of some bows before I knew that the asking price of $125 wasn’t a bad price, so I jumped! I waited for a response to my message to her before telling my husband I had bought a bow! I was just a little bit worried that he might not be happy with me for spending that kind of money! If he was upset about it, he certainly didn’t show it!
As soon as I said I wanted to buy the bow, my excitement started building, and it hasn’t stopped yet! I LOVE IT!
I bought a Jennings Micro Carbon Extreme. It is an early 90’s model bow, built primarily for youth and small framed women. I am neither!! So, of course I had some concern about that! However, we were given the name and phone number of a bow tech who we found to be so incredibly helpful, and full of information for us!
I realized my husband was not upset with me, but instead was excited, when he came home with a bow he had found at our local pawn shop!! He found a Mathews Drenalin, fully rigged out, for $300! Because of connections he has made through his job, the pawn broker very kindly allowed him to put the bow on lay-away, telling my husband “take it with you so I don’t have to keep stepping over it. I know you’ll pay me.” To say my husband was excited about his purchase would be a serious understatement!
So, we called and set up a date and time to go see our bow man! He checked my draw length and decided the bow was set practically perfect for me! Then he had me pull it back, saw me struggle a little, and checked the draw weight. This was one of the areas I was concerned about because you have to be able to pull back enough weight to produce enough energy to send an arrow to, and through, your targeted harvest. I was a little worried when he said it was set at 38 pounds! Especially since he was backing it down a bit! But, he assured me that I would still be able to harvest a deer at the 36 pounds he now had the bow set at. He also told me that if I practiced and shot a few dozen arrows a day, that I would be coming back to get my poundage raised very soon.
I was so excited when he told me that I was going to shoot a couple arrows for him that I had my hubby, the technologically challenged man that he is, prepare to take a picture of my first ever bow shot. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when he was already preparing to do just that before I even asked!
Thinking we would be going outside to a target range, I started to grab up my bow and get ready to head outside. But Mr. Jigs (my bow man) told me just to hold tight as he opened the back door to his shop. Right there, outside the door, was a hanging target! He stepped out of the way, handed me an arrow, told me to load it, draw back, and shoot at the target! He could tell I was excited about this being my first ever bow shot, and I think my enthusiasm made him a little excited for me as well! My very first shot…….
Then I got to pick out my arrows!! Pink ones of course!
Hubby’s turn didn’t go as well. 😦 When he went to pull back his bow, he tried and tried, but just could not pull that bow back! Mr. Jigs took the bow to measure the draw back weight and couldn’t get it to peak out! So, he put it in the bow press to see what was going on and found that the string was off the cam! He fixed that and then measured again to find the bow was set at 68 pounds. However, the draw length was a little too short for my hubby! Because he isn’t a Mathews dealer, Mr. Jigs informed us that he couldn’t get the needed cam to increase the draw length! So, he told us that we could possibly get a cam off Ebay and bring it to him and he would be happy to switch it out for us. Unfortunately, we left the bow shop that day with my excitement dampened some because of hubby’s misfortune.
The good news is that we found a cam and had it installed and returned to our bow man to get it adjusted, as well as to purchase the hubby some arrows. Our oldest son went with us to get his bow adjusted at the same time. (There is another story there about a little boy and some pepper spray that I’ll save for another day!) Now, all of our bows are ready for hunting season.
I had been shooting at least 2 dozen arrows a day and on our return trip to the bow shop had my draw weight increased to 40 pounds!! I was excited about that! Hubby didn’t really start practicing until the bow adjustments were made.
We had chosen our stand sights and prepped them for opening day, even though hubby wasn’t going to be able to hunt just yet. All the camo was washed in scentfree laundry soap and placed in a trashbag with pine needles and pinecones. Backpacks were packed and ready. Safety harness was purchased and lifeline rope installed at my stand. I could not wait for opening day of archery season to get here!!
On opening day I did something I have never done before. I went by myself to the woods, in the dark, and climbed up into my stand to hunt. I didn’t see anything that morning, but I was just proud of the fact that I had gone by myself!
It wasn’t until about 2 weeks later that I finally saw my first deer. I knew this kind of hunting was going to be a lot different from hunting in a box blind. In the box blind you are able to move a little. In the tree, you better not move until just the perfect time! In the box blind your scent is not as easily disbursed for the deer to smell you. The box blind provides good cover to move your weapon into place and prepare to make a shot. All of this is limited in the tree because of the deer’s keen senses of smell and sight!
It was late evening, almost to the end of good shooting light when I saw her. A very large doe walking just outside my comfortable shot range and behind some thin brush. She walked across from the left, managing to keep some brush between she and I. She stayed about 30 yards out. My comfortable range at this point was maxed at 20 and we had ranged all over at my stand where I thought I would have a good shot, with the longest shot I expected to make at 22 yards. She was about 5-10 yards past that, but I had hopes that she might come back to my feeder and present me with a shot.
When I spotted her I knew I had to be perfectly still and pray that she couldn’t smell me! With little to no wind, I wasn’t too worried about smell. I was afraid she was going to see me shaking!! I was so pumped and nervous all at the same time! She made it to a point where her head was behind a tree so I quickly stood up and got my bow, attaching my release to the D-loop quickly. She came out from behind the tree, took a few more steps, then slowly turned around and headed back in the direction she came from. This gave me hope that she would go over to my feeder!! But, she took a slight turn in the wrong direction! Then she stopped, looked around (though not at me), and BLEW!! As she blew she ran away. I was so upset!!
I don’t know if she smelled me or noticed something different by me being standing with my bow, but she busted me. I couldn’t do anything for a few minutes because my knees were shaking so hard! I finally made it down from my stand (thank heavens for my safety harness and lifeline!) and walked out to where hubby was waiting for me since he was hunting that evening as well, and sadly shared what had happened. He just said not to worry about it. She would be back.