This past Saturday kicked off the Georgia deer hunting season. My father and I have been looking forward to this day especially since we acquired a new track of land. Friday night was a sleepless one with too much excitement for what I was going to experience the next day. We have been putting forth the effort scouting for food and tracking countless miles through the woods in search of fresh sign. My “Eye of the Tiger” alarm sounded off at 5 a.m. which was enough time to make breakfast, shower, and get dressed in our camouflage we laid out the night before. We wanted to be set by 6:30 at the latest, well before the sun started to wake up.
This was our first actual sit since we decided to obtain this piece of property. We placed our climbers in two sweet gum trees in a hardwood bottom along side a creek. We were both sitting about 20 yards off a major trail overlooking some beauty berries that the deer had been feeding on. An arrow was knocked and opportunity was awaiting.
At about 10:15, a doe with two fawns came strolling along a hillside just inside the hardwoods. Automatically, even though the Doe was mature and legal, we never touched our bows nor thought about placing an arrow through her vitals. We are very ethical hunters and harvesting this doe may jeopardize the lives of the playful fawns. It was an exciting sit, especially since we saw deer.
That afternoon, we moved our stands to an area in some mature pines next to a creek where some muscadine vines were dropping some muscadines. Due to the long walk with our tree-stands on our back, back packs, and bows, we were a little late getting in and decided to head back to camp and prepare supper. My father’s stand was well placed dividing hardwoods and pines. My stand was placed along a creek situated in a mature pine tree.
The next morning at about 7:15, I could see a mature doe making her way 20 yards off the creek towards me. This was my first opportunity of the season. My heart was pumping and I could feel the adrenaline running through my veins. This is the feeling that I live for and hope to never lose. Yeah, it was just a doe, but there is nothing like that first encounter of the season. There was a lesson yet to be taught to me and I was unaware but eager. As she was approaching my stand, I slowly got myself in position and attached my release to my knocked bow. She came in broadside exposing her vitals to me at 35 yards, a shot I have made successfully numerous times before. I decided not to draw and let her come closer as she fed on the falling muscadines. She was making her way to about 30 yards and came across an opening between the vines and mature pines and did what every hunter’s worst fear, she looked right up at me. She was a mature doe and knew those woods like the back of her paw just as though we know our layout of our home. She knew I was not supposed to be there but was unsure of what I was. The wind was blowing in my direction so I knew there was no way she smelled me. She stood there for 5 minutes stomping the ground and moving her head up and down trying to get me to move before she took off blowing to alarm other deer within the area.
The opportunity was present, I was prepared, but I got to greedy on distance and could not make it happen. She might have saw the saliva dripping from my mouth! Hind site 20 20, I should have taken the shot at 35 yards. As I have said before, the one thing about hunting, is that you have no control over the object of the game, the mature doe’s intention. Even though I was not successful harvesting her, there was a valuable lesson learned. It could have been worse, it could have been a big mature buck. Hunting keeps you humble and makes you become better.
I ended up seeing four more deer, a doe with three fawns, 5 hogs that were out of range, and a hen. Once I got down from my stand, I went and got my father. One way we have been successful is going and walking out the area that the deer were coming from. I can say this, we now know exactly where our next set up will take place. We are constantly learning and studying maps and the habitat of the deer. Their movement patterns are going to change throughout the season. It’s our job to scout and make notes so that in turn, we will be successful.
On our way out we discovered a persimmon tree loaded with persimmons. They were within reach of a deer to consume, but had yet been touched. Persimmons are like candy to deer. We will keep our eye on this tree and once they start disappearing, a stand will be within range.