About 4 years ago, just as the rut was hitting high gear, I made my way into the woods to my favorite stand. About 23 feet above the ground, overlooking a spring fed pond to my west, a plum thicket to my north, and two of the largest funnels in the woods one would ever see. It was not unusual to see 12 to 15 deer each time I hunted this spot. It was the kind of spot a guy could be real picky.
Anyhow, for an evening hunt, I crossed the fence to the land, made my way around the pond, and headed for my stand. As I approached the area of my stand, I discovered a doe with her back leg stuck in an old section of wire fence. She was still as I approached, but began to thrash and scream as I got closer. I was sickened by the sound of the doe, both in pain and shock, trying to get away from me only to cause her legs to become more tangled in the old fence.
After a moment or two I knew I had to do something. I did have a doe tag and she was a fairly mature doe, perhaps 4 or 5 years old. With my bow in hand, and a fairly empty freezer, I knew what I had to do. As I raised my bow and came to full draw, the doe laid her head down and stopped moving. What happened, I thought? I lowered the bow and looked again at the doe. She was looking at me without moving her head, almost resigned to the fact that her time was about up. I noticed an extra large white patch on her upper left shoulder. It seemed unique to me at the time. I stood there for what seemed like forever, probably less than a minute, and decided to see if I could reach her legs without her getting excited or trying to get up again. I did.
I bent down on one knee and began to see if I would be able to remove the tangled fence from her legs. With a twist to the left, then a twist to the right, I was able to free her legs from the fence. I stood up and took a step back, as if to give her some space to realize she was free. But nothing. She just laid there. I approached her again. She lifted her head and looked at me in the eyes. I patted her on the hind-quarter softly and kinds made a "gettieup" sound. As if a deer would know what that meant. She did. Without taking her eyes off me, she shook her hind legs and realized she was free. Slowly she stood and began to walk away. After a few steps, perhaps 5 or 6, she turned her head and looked at me again. Without much fan-fare, or even as much as a thank you, she sprinted off into the woods, showing no sign of any damage.
I have seen this same deer MANY times since this fateful day. As a matter of fact, I see her, white patch and all, each year during the rut. For the past three years, she has entered my hunting area, with a nice buck in tow, and paused in clear view, just long enough for me to shoot here male friend. Is she doing it on purpose, her way of thanking me? I'd like to think so but who knows.
The most famous shot I ever missed was the one I decided not to take, and it's paid dividends to me for many years.