Maryland opening day.
Well, Saturday was opening day for rifle season here in Maryland. It went flawlessly. We got to our groundstand about an hour before light. This was only my second time out ever. The first time, I didn't even see a deer.
So sitting there in the dark for about an hour, my mind was playing all kinds of tricks on me. I was imagining all kinds of deer standing right out in front of me. Of course as we all know when it becomes light we all get a little disappointed. Whether it was our imaginations or to much coffee we expect there to be at least 15 deer standing in front of us. Well there weren't any. Until about an hour later............
My hunting buddy spotted a large doe on the ridge line about 150 yards up and away. So I got my cross hairs on her and waited until she got a little closer. She turned and headed down hill at the same time. I really got the cross hairs on her and she pasted behind a rather large oak. At this point she was standing at a little under 100 yards. So I anticipated where she would pop out on the other side. Just as I lined up to the spot and settled my gun on a branch waiting. When just then my buddy said hey look there.
I opened up my other eye and saw a button buck straight ahead 20 yards away and still moving closer. So I decided that was a shot I couldnt refuse. So I dropped my rifle lower and reset on the button buck. While moving my rifle he must of seen me move and froze. I lined my cross hairs on the right shoulder as he was facing 1/4 towards me facing my right. I took a breath, and pull the trigger.
It was a fast, clean perfect kill shot. He ran towards me down hill to the right 10 yards and fell. Right in front of me. I could have spit and hit him. He was 5 yards from me. Dead. I did it. My first deer. It was amazing. Exciting. Exhausting. Then my buddy was able to take a very clean broad side shot. The doe ran left in a straight line 70 yards and dropped dead. It was an amazing day. I was then taught how to gut, skin and process the meat.
Heck of an opening day for you!!! Those are the times that you will never forget.
So after an amazing morning we went back to our stand around 2:30 and settled in. Unfortunately I was reminded of why hunting should often be called "waiting" instead.
We sat there until a little after dark and called it quits. I was still feeling great. I had no problems with not harvesting any deer that evening. I was in fact a little bummed that a third member of our group at another stand not to far from us hadn't gotten one all day.
Needless to say I returned Sunday morning to try again. I was hoping the the gods above weren't thinking me greedy for returning. I made up my mind that I probably wasn't going to take a deer unless the circumstances were in my favor. In hopes that the third member of our party might get one today. I was still feeling really satisfied from the harvest the previous day.
Well 10 minutes after daylight broke I was presented with said opportunity. An 8 point big healthy buck showed his head at the ridge line. He walked right in to a clearing facing down hill and slightly to the right. He was at just over 100 yards. He stopped and froze. I had a clear clean shot lined up. Through a shoulder into a lung and possibly two. It was a strange head down angle though. I took the shot. He jumped straight up, shook his front legs and took two leaps backwards and to the right. He was out of sight. He had gone back up and over the ridge. We left him alone. It felt like three days. It was actually about an hour and a half. We didn't want to rush it or mess up the hunting for the other hunters out there. We both felt it appeared to be a clean shot . He jumped straight up and didn't buck as thought it was a gut shot. We figured worst case it was a chest shot with no exit hole. We finally headed up the long hill to the ridge and found a blood trail. My buddy was convinced it wasn't a vital shot or it didn't exit because the blood trail was faint. After about 2 hours of looking we followed the trail. It had run pretty far. At this point I was starting to feel real bad about my poorly placed shot. I just wanted to find it and finish what I had started. Needless to say we never did find it. It had run on to some private property own by the audobon society and it was a wild life preserve. We had been warned many times not to trespass. Against my better judgement I personally trespassed for about 20 minutes on private property to finish the job and I lost the trail. I feel horrible is so many ways. I wish I could right this wrong somehow but it looks like that's not going to happen.
So in a matter of 48 hours I have felt the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. As a legal and responsible hunter in the state of Maryland I feel horrible about what I've done and vow to always do the best I can and take better shots. I don't know if I missed or got buck fever but whatever the case was I will never get closer.
Always remember never to "push" shots and wait until the most perfect/ethical opportunity presents itself. We owe it to the animals in making a clean kill.
Trust me. I know . I feel so horrible. I also feel so guilty. If it wasn't for the private property signs, I would still be searching. I will certainly take more time on my next shot. I plan on hitting the range next weekend to make sure I'm still sighted in and to reassure myself that can shoot well. Then the following weekend will be the last of the rifle season.if have have proven to myself that I am sighted in and can still group 1" @ 100 use then i will hunt again then.
"Always remember never to "push" shots and wait until the most perfect/ethical opportunity presents itself. We owe it to the animals in making a clean kill."
Have to agree with TG 100% on this one, but it sounds like you've learned some very valuable lessons over the weekend. Just keep these lessons learned in the back of your mind when hunting and when teaching your kids later on in life so they won't have to learn these lessons the hard way.
And congratulations on a successful weekend. Spending time in the woods with family and friends is what hunting is all about.
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