My First Deer
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Deer season is finally here and I am writing this post from the trailer on our family friend’s property in Western Washington, about 3 hours from our own home. Opening day was just this past Sunday and I was lucky enough to be up here, sans Wildchild with both my parents. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, which is funny because I wanted to just head home already.
We hadn’t seen a single deer in the two days prior to opening day, not even on the like 8 cameras my Dad set up around the property . My pregnancy hormones were getting to me and I was desperately missing Wildchild. When you bedshare every night since your child was born (in this case 5 years) being away from them that long is rough. That was probably the longest I had ever been away from him in his entire life!
The morning of opening day, the camera had caught a couple of bucks by the deer blind and a doe at various points just before sunset. After Aaron convinced me to stay, with a little help from Wildchild, we decided to head up to the blind just before sunset to see what would happen.
Oddly enough, I have cell reception in the blind. So, I was messaging with my husband a bit over Facebook. I was getting frustrated the closer it was getting to the time that my phone had said was going to be sunset. My Dad was in full gear, sitting outside the blind, right behind me. To be honest, this blind is tiny. It barely gives me enough space to get a full draw on my bow and had my Dad been in there too, I would’ve elbowed him in the face.
Around 7 pm, I hear a crash in the trees and look up to see a small group of bucks. Holy adrenaline rush Batman! My whole body was shaking and I was trying (and failing according to my Dad) to control my breathing quietly. One buck came in close enough for me to draw on him. I. Couldn’t. Get. My. Bow. To. Draw. Back. Being that I was 13 weeks pregnant and already emotional, I almost cried. I tried to calm down a bit to give it another try, but they took off down the hill. I was so angry at myself you guys. I choked, hard. I texted my sister to whine about how much I sucked and she told me it happens.
Deer or Coyote?
About 30 minutes later, coming down the road straight at the blind was something. I whispered to my Dad that it was either a coyote or a deer, but couldn’t quite tell yet. My eyesight isn’t the greatest with things very far away, especially after two bouts of Optic Neuritis. Turns out it was a doe. Once she got right in front of the blind she went broadside, the perfect shot! Except, I couldn’t draw again because my heart was trying to burst out of my chest again. I took several deep breaths, at which point this doe is staring directly into the blind. I pep talk myself “get it together Barbara, there is no way you are going to bitch out again. SUCK IT UP!” She goes broadside, I take a deep breath, get pissed, and draw back. What felt like forever later, I release my arrow and HIT HER!
My Dad calls out “nice shot” and she takes off IN THE EXACT DIRECTION WE DON’T WANT! Which is into the woods. I get out of the blind and start hopping around because I have to burn off some of this adrenaline coursing through me. I am messaging my husband and my sister “OMG, I GOT ONE!!!”
My Dad heads back to the trailer to get my Mom and we find my arrow with lighted nock not too far into the trees. Only problem? No deer and it’s only about half of my arrow. Dad let’s me know he can smell her, aka the death, and she is somewhere in the woods. At this point, it’s pitch black out. So, we head back to the trailer so I can use the bathroom and my Dad heads up to our friend’s house to grab reinforcements. See, our friend has this wonder dog. He can track deer. Slight problem though, he is now a senior dog and doesn’t move as well as he used to. They have a younger dog as well, but he’s a bit crazy still and not as good as this older dog. Then, for good measure the senior mini snauchzer joins as well. So, we end up with 5 adults and 3 dogs, hiking through the forest in pitch black with a few flashlights to find this deer. I was convinced we were not gonna find it.
At some point I hear a couple of our friends call out “found it!” So, my Mom and I head back to the truck cause we realize we cannot see lights from anybody else. I desperately need to get some water or Gatorade into my system and to take a few moments to breath. Out of nowhere we notice headlights appear to be driving straight up the hill. It’s my Dad’s friend and apparently there is an old road running along the back of the woods where the deer went and into the field we were sitting in. He let us know that they found the deer and were pulling it out.
Shortly after that my Dad pops out of the woods, dripping sweat, huffing and puffing like crazy. This man is 59 and has pretty bad arthritis in his hip, so for him to hike that much is a pretty big deal. The 3 of us Mom, friend, and I had to convince this man to drink some freaking Gatorade and at least lean on the truck for 2 seconds. He’s crazy lol.
Anyway, we all hop into the truck and drive down to where my deer is. I’m told by a friend visiting our friends that I have to drag it to the truck from the side of the woods. Sure, no problem. That was until my Dad and I lift it to place it in the back of our friend’s truck. I thought he was gonna roll it a certain way. Nope, so I get deer hooves straight to the cheek. Oh well.
The Hard Part
We load everybody back up again, drop them off, and head back into the woods to field dress this deer. Now, keep in mind I have no eaten since before we headed into the blind around 6 something. Also, I have no idea what I am doing. I choked, again. The smell was making me way too nauseous. Plus, we are doing this whole thing by freaking flashlight cause at this point its like nine at night. I watch what my Dad is doing though, ask questions, hold the leg out of the way, etc.
My Dad finds the rest of my arrow floating around the heart and lungs of this deer. We didn’t realize how much of my arrow had snapped inside until he found it. It was a pretty sizeable piece as you can see:
After the gutting was done, we had to go rinse everything out. There was a lot of internal bleeding so it took a bit to rinse. We almost dropped her out of the back of the truck trying to get the rest of the water and such out. I can’t even explain how exhausted we are at this point lol.
We head up to the barn to hang and begin the process I enjoy the most: skinning. It’s so methodical and reminds me of my A&P classes in college. Yea, I’m weird. Oh well. By the time everything is all said and done, we don’t finish up until midnight and we are supposed to leave in the morning so my Dad can go to work the following day.
After only 4 hours of sleep, which is terrible for anybody, but especially a pregnant woman, we headed home. I was utterly exhausted and think I was able to nap for about an hour after we got everything unloaded and I had a shower. It certainly was not long enough!
Sadly, the weather decided to warm up a few days after we left and when we came back for another hunting trip the meat was covered in mold. We had to toss the whole carcass into the backwoods of the property. I was ridiculously upset over that and since Washington only allows one deer unless you have a special permit, I was out of luck.
Hopefully next year will be a bit more successful. Stay tuned to hear all about how Aaron’s hunt went!
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