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Shot A Big One In the Guts.....

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Shot A Big One In the Guts.....

I know some guys like the story behind the hunt, so here it goes.


Yesterday the alarm went off far to soon, as it always seems this time of year. I drove over to a public piece of land in Wisconsin that I like to hunt during the rut. The area is a decent sized chunk of mainly open hardwoods with some thick brush mixed in here and there. A few ridges throughout create travel routes that can funnel deer through certain areas.


After parking the truck I tossed my climber on my back and off I was into the dark. Unless a deer intervened, I wouldn't be back to the truck until dark again. Half way into my 1/2 mile hike I went to turn on my GPS and realized it was in the truck.... "Oh well," I said to msyelf, I know these woods pretty good.....


I was in the tree I wanted just as the night was succumbing to day. As the woods slowly illuminated, I realized something just wasn't right. The ridge I was on was much smaller and shorter, not where I intended on hunting. More light brought more surprises..... Soon I could see an old fence line to the south fifty yards away, then a ground blind, then an elevated wood rifle stand.... A beaten down ATV path wound around just on the other side of the fence.....


I silently cursed myself for making such a foolish mistake. I dispise hunting near where others trample around carelessly. With prime time upon me I reasoned staying put for at least a few hours would be better than giving myself up and moving to the next ridge over.


The first hour past with nothing more than a few squirrels awakening for their morning acorn. Then I heard what every hunter loves to hear, a deer running in my direction! I stood and readied my bow. Just as I clipped my release on a doe comes barreling over the ridge between the rifle stand and ground blind to the south of me. She jumped the fence and flew by me just twenty yards away. 


Every rut hunter knows what's coming next, and soon she was out of sight behind me. The anticipation built, and built. Any second now......any second.


Soon after I hear something I didn't want to hear. In the distance, the monotone purr of an ATV slowly grew in volume. DANG IT!!! (Okay, I said things worse than that)


Soon the rider was in sight and parked his machine near the ground blind. He jumped off and starting walking east out of vision. I assumed he was going to check a camera or something similar. 


Five minutes past and I could hear some foot steps. I immediately assumed it was the rider returning, but the sound was from a different area? I looked up to see a gorgeous buck running the doe track like an ol' coonhound hot after some fur. I stood and again readied my bow. The puppet was on the string and coming right for me!!


As he hopped the fence I drew back and awaited him to continue through by my stand. At twenty three yards I let out a loud "UURRRP!" and he stopped dead in his tracks. In less than a second I settled my pin on his vitals and sent a Muzzy towards the promised land. As the arrow was in flight he again was too.... I clearly saw my arrow pass right through his paunch as he was moving forward. He let out a guttural grunt of suprise and pain as he was hit and ran off past my stand. 


My body went from an ultimate high, to a dreadful low, faster than the speed of light. I made some sound I don't recollect in an attempt to get him to stop. It went unnoticed. After roughly fifty yards he slowed down some and continued walking up the next ridge. I lost sight of him around a hundred yards away.


After the urge to punch myself in the face past, I sat down and collected my thoughts as best as I could. 


I knew three things for certain. One: I made a terrible shot. Two: He wasn't going to expire any time soon. Three: It was warm out and getting warmer.


As I sat there, I pulled out my range finder and scanned the area I saw him last. After a few minutes I saw him again just as he bedded down through a magic gap in the trees. A sigh of relief past over me knowing he didn't run to the next timezone. Minutes past and the purr of an ATV awoken me from my daze. I immediately thought "Oh no!", in fear that the noise would bump him from his bed! To my suprise, he stayed put as the rider slowly got out of hearing. I'm not a religious man, but I thanked God for it. 


Different thoughts raced through my head on what to do next. Since I could see him, it was possible he could see me. But the ATV didn't scare him, I should be able to climb down??? Do I wait a little while then climb down??? 


Eventually I decided that since I made this deer suffer, I owe him to at least sit here and do the same with him. It was going to be a long miserable day ahead, but I set my mind to do it. If I could be lucky enough to see him die before dark I wouldn't have to worry about spoilage. (Forecasted high was 70, low was 55 overnight)


The hands on the clock slowed to a crawl as I glassed him with my range finder every few minutes. After an hour, I again pulled up to glass him only to see him gone! I scanned the area just in time to again see him bed down in a sliver of a window through the trees. I again gave thanks.


Another hour passed, though it felt like ten, and the exact thing happened again. Another hour, and the same. He had worked his way thirty more yards UP the hill by now, but I could just see his rump now.


Thirty minutes later he stood, and walked all the way over the crest of the ridge and out of sight! My heart sank deep into my chest.



I quietly climbed down and headed for the truck.......


......To be continued 


Edited by B-man715
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As I drove home countless thoughts filled my head.

How long should I leave him?

What if another hunter bumps him?

What if another hunter TAKES HIM?

What if a hot doe pulls him away?

I had so many "what if's" it was driving me crazy. But I knew the only thing I could do was give him time. Anything thing else on my end would lessen my chances of a recovery.

Everything else was out of my control.

Once home I tried to take my mind off of it by having a beer and watching TV. Only to catch myself flipping to the Outdoor Channel which made things even worse. Then I tried surfing the Web to take my mind off things and 10 seconds later I was on a hunting site.....

The day took F-o-r-e-v-e-r....... I shot the buck at 7:30 a.m. and vowed not to set foot in the woods again until 7:30 pm.

Finally it was time to go and I double checked my list.

GPS, check. Toilet paper, check. Head lamps, check. Knife, check. Spot light, check.

And the secret weapon, check.

Fortunately I have a pack of beagles, with one 'ol retired hare hound named Gunner. He has been with me going on ten years. When he was young I broke him off deer, but with his age and running style (slow) I've since put him to other uses. The last few years I have been using him to track deer. I've taken him out several times on well hit deer a few hours after the shot. Even if a one died in sight, I would bring him out to train.

He's got a pretty good sniffer on his face, but a 12 hour old track is something I wasn't too confident about.

We arrived at the parking area at 7:31 pm. I threw on my back pack, leashed old Gunner up, and off we went into night. The woods where I shot the buck is mainly mature hardwoods with zero understory. As we approached my stand site I was scanning the woods with my spotlight. Ahead I saw three sets of eyes glowing, all deer, none of which were the wounded buck....

I thought to myself, this ain't gonna be good. The deer bolted as we got closer. Once we were at the shot site I let Gunner smell the arrow and the ground around it. He showed a little interest and began walking where the buck had gone. Once we got to the area the deer had just bolted from, all he wanted to do was follow that fresh line... 



I tied him to a tree and tried following the blood trail unsuccessfully myself. Earlier in the day I took a compass bearing with a real compass to where I saw the buck bed down. It was 305 degrees north west, and 120 yards away via the range finder. 

Of course I now had my GPS and had left the compass in the truck. Using the GPS compass and stepping off to the beds it still somehow took me almost two hours to find them..... Man, I was getting frustrated. 

Once I found a bed with blood I brought Gunner over. He licked up most of it and started working. In a half hour we had done nothing but small circles. He kept wanting to go from where the fresh deer had bolted, which was almost 180 degrees from where the buck walked over the ridge......

I again tied him up and started looking for blood. I found blood from bed to bed, but at the last bed I couldn't find a single drop leaving it. 

Little circles turned into bigger ones...... Soon I found myself doing a one man grid search for hours with the spotlight with zero success. The nearest water source that I was aware of was a creek a half mile away on heavily guarded private property, so that was out.

In frustration we walked back to the truck with our heads low......

It was an unseasonably warm night, and I left full well sadly knowing tomorrow would be a feeble attempt at just finding him........


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Nice story. Bittersweet is about the best way to describe this.  I am not familiar with WI and dogs in the woods, but it sure sounds like a great way to track a deer and ensure a find.  I'd guess the knuckleheads around us would just let them loose all weekend and ruin everyone's hunts.

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Anyways guys, here is a pic of the deer, the hunter, and the hound. He's not a "monster", but should make any Wisconsin public land do-it-yourself hunter proud.


He is a monster dog in my eye's! :)  Oh nice Deer too.

Edited by leech~~
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My hat is off to you for sticking to it to find your trophy!!
A question for all on the side--does this Buck need to be tagged?? 
I know of the same situation in Minnesota, and no-one can tell me if the buck was "taken", thus requiring tagging.


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To be honest, I'm unsure of the legal obligations of tagging with a kill tag in these situations.


But for me, morally there was zero doubt whether to tag him or not. I had taken a great deer's life and recovered him in a reasonably prudent amount of time. I tagged him and registered him online.

Now if a guy shot a buck on September 15th and recovered the skull on November 15th, that to me would be entirely a personal choice whether to continue hunting or not. Legally, one may very well have to go through a game warden to take the skull without validating a kill tag?

Edited by B-man715
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Really nice job on the recovery.  The number one thing you did right was to sit tight and wait.  Every story we hear about a poor hit that results in a lost deer usually starts with a track job that starts way to soon and leads to jumping the deer.  Patience is never an easy thing to acquire but the deer usually isn't going to go too far if you can have patience and let it be long enough.

And no question you tag an animal in that situation.  You shoot it, you find it, you tag it.  Doesn't matter if it takes 2 minutes or 2 days.  Also doesn't matter if the meat had spoiled, the coyotes got to it, or half the prized rack has broken off.  The deer still gets tagged.


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