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Mama's Final Lesson...

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Nov. 8th, 6:50am -

A large, old (teeth aged 4.5 years) Onamia Whitetail comes into view. 35 yards down wind a hunter stands motionless. Her two young fawns feed and mill about without a care in the world. The fact that they are both still around is a testament to her wisdom. The old doe sences something is not right. She has been here before. She decides on a different route, a decision that would prove to be fatal. She turns and heads south, her fawns out ahead of her, smelling everything to be smelled, including the new smell, the one the hunter left on the ladder stand he climed an hour before. 7:30am - The old doe catches a scent left by the hunter when he walked into his stand, even playing the wind and using scentkiller she still found it. She lock's up, turns her head, and looks at the hunters normal hiding place. A permanent stand built 14 years earlier, a stand that is 45 yards down wind of were she is now, but there is no one there, were is the hunter? The hunter is standing in a stand placed for archery hunting, a stand this doe does not know is there, a meer 8 yards away. 7:31am - the hammer falls on the .357 magnum the hunter holds in his hands. Moments later, she is gone, the woods are quitet once again. The young fawns watch her go. They look around taking it all in, including the hunter that they have now located. 'Till this moment, that smell was new to them, now it has a face, a meaning. They follow in the direction of their mother. 8:35am the hunter finds his doe, he makes note of the two small beds melted in the snow nearby...

Fast Farward...

Nov. 15th 7:05am

A small doe come's into view, she is easy to see against the fresh dusting of snow. The hunter recognizes her as the darker of the two fawns from the week before. 50 yards to the east of his stand, she stops, she knows this spot, she looks at the old permanent stand, she is only 12 yards from it. She looks again, then looks at the stand location the hunter used the week before. He is standing motionless, a tree between them. Something tells her to move on, avoid the area. 7:10am after standing in this one spot for 5 min the dicision is made, find another place to bed down for the day. She turns and slowly walks away.

The hunter smiles.... "Mama's final lesson..."

True story, real events.

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I did not see it that way. I can see how some would, but I did not.

I actualy spent the rest of the day thinking about the event as a hole, the combination of both encounters. When the big doe caught my scent, she instantly looked at the old stand. It was DOWN WIND of her. She was remembering an instance from her past that connected human scent to that stand location. At the same moment teaching her fawns to do the same. It made me wonder about deer from the past that I have taken from that stand, be it a doe or a yearling, that may have come in with a yearling or a fawn. When I aged the teath at 4.5 years, I wondered what deer I have encountered there in the last 3 or possibly 4 seasons. What event occured in those seasons? I have allway's had a deer look INTO the wind when catching a scent. Why did she look down wind? The fawns had obviosly never encountered a human or it's scent. They did not see me as a soarce of danger until I pulled the trigger and the big doe ran off. Even then they did not run, they walked calmly. They were looking for a place to bed down.

When the fawn came in a week later, and again looked at the old stand, just before looking in my direction, it made me think of all the other lessons the summer had. It made me wonder about all the other fawn's and yearlings we encounter.

Like I said, it made me smile. I try to learn something every year. This year I learned that memory and instinct are definate factors in this game. We do a lot to tip the ballance in out favor. But in the end it is the lessons that does teach fawns that ultimatly tips the results one way or another.

4.5 year old doe, a true trophy of a doe. Twins this year, probably last year as well, and a single. So has she taught 5 other deer about that spot? What other stands had she learned to avoid?

Admittedly it was a bit of a "bambi" moment, but it still made me smile. Mabe I'm cold, who knows....

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My guess is he was saying its sad because the mom got killed in front of the young, i dont think he was saying say to killing deer. I can see why he thinks its sad

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Wonderful story. It makes me happy and sad at the same time, which is why I love deer hunting. It's why I was happy to fill my one and only lottery tag in Sept. but am chomping at the bit to get out there again next year.

The sadness to me in deer hunting as I celebrate a successful kill, especially when taking a doe with fawns (which I'll do again and again, btw), is the mortality it represents. I know I'm getting older and I know one day, maybe sooner than I think, I'll leave this earth, just as the deer I took with my bow did. So mixed with the happiness of every tag filled is deep respect for the animal whose life I just took.

If I have just taken a doe with fawns, it makes me think about my own kids and how they'll do without me when the time comes. Like the doe in the story, I hope I've taught them well. So yes, it is a sad moment, but it is also happy and there's much to celebrate while we're still here and have another day to spend with our families and head into the woods.

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That's the best deer hunting story I've read this year. Many of us half million deer hunters out there don't get to witness the full circle of a deer's life.

My learning experience last weekend wasn't quite as vivid, but I did learn something related to this.

While driving deer through a piece of county land Saturday I pushed past a well kept but old permanent stand early in the drive. No deer sign was picked up until the stand was out of site and behind me.

I hit a nice bedding area and jumped large deer but couldn't see well enough to identify buck or doe. I cut the single set of tracks in the snow and followed them into a deer playground - tracks everywhere - and no stands.

I came out of the mess of sign on the trail of a doe and fawn - no more single large tracks. But the drive must continue so I start a zig - zag pattern.

At the point that I start running out of sign on each zig and zag I stop and survey my surroundings. Three times I spy a permanent stand at a distance through the woods after all the sign disappears. As I catch the doe and fawn trail each time I cross it in the fresh snow, I realize they are staying completely out sight of any deer stand in the woods until they land safely in a thick brushy swamp.

I'm thinking, if those stands have been hunted every year for the past 10 years, that makes at least two generations of deer that have learned their location. They learned to stay away and are training their offspring travel the safer routes.

I hung my portable between two of the bedding areas on Sunday morning. At 9:30, five deer were coming into the area. One average doe in front, three fawns, then one big doe. I was about to fire at the lead doe when the switching drafts betrayed my presence. They were gone without hesitation.

I have a new favorite spot and an understanding of how I have to hunt it next year.

Thanks for the story Neighbor_guy.

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