Why I passed on my first White Tail with a bow.
It was the first Saturday of bow season here in Maine; I was hunting behind my house down by a small stream under some Oak trees. At about 4 p.m. a good-sized doe (130-140 pounds) walked into the clearing and stopped about 15 yards from my stand.
I waited until she put her head down behind a small bush that concealed her site and stood up. My heart was racing, my first White Tailed Deer with a bow. The shot was perfect, 15 yards fully broadside. I drew back lined up the pin and then nothing.
The nothing was the small lamb that came out of the low-lying undergrowth, mom had looked back and given it the all clear signal. So here I am, full draw, slowly watching my first deer with a bow slip away.
Now, here in Bucksport, we are in the special archery zone, which simply means we have too many deer. You can take unlimited does and one buck during the season. This begs the question, why let it go, why not shoot or try to take both?
The answer may surprise you, I consider myself a meat hunter, taking the doe would have been easy, taking the lamb would have been easy. I just couldn't release the arrow, I couldn't. I came to that decision very quickly, almost to quickly. I slowly let the string in to rest and just watched, I watched a mother teaching her child what mast crops are safe to eat and when the food crop is available. I watched those two deer for almost 45 minutes. I saw how the mother communicated to the fawn through body movement, how if it wandered off all she had to do was flick her tail or paw the ground and the fawn would come back. I let this go until I couldn't take it, I screamed, not a blood-curdling scream, just a loud "BANG".
I watched them tear off into the thick stuff by the stream. I waited and then out comes the doe again, she looked right through me, pawing the ground and grunting. Satisfied that it was safe, she gave one look at the stream border and out walked the fawn. I watched them again and again I yelled "Your Dead!". Again they ran off into the safety of the streams thick vegetation.
Again, 15 minutes passed, and here comes the doe, blowing, snorting and pawing at the ground. Again she settled down and again, one look at the thick stuff and out walks the fawn. I watched them for a good hour and they finally left the clearing. I climbed down and headed home, happy. Strange I passed up an easy shot, I passed up my first deer with a bow, and I was happy.
Now back to the decision, why didn't I shoot? Like I said, I am a meat hunter, I also enjoy waking up at "0 dark thirty" with friends and heading out to the stands, I enjoy eating lunch on the back of the tailgate or on the four-wheeler. I enjoy the stories; the laughter and pleasure of seeing a friend succeed, even if I have not.
I didn't take that doe, because....because, I'm not totally sure why I didn't! I wasn't breaking any laws. I had practiced and practiced, and am sure I could have made the shot. I guess that is the difference between a trophy hunter and a meat/experience hunter. I hunt for the experience, if possible for the freezer full of venison. I don't hunt to kill.
I couldn't stand the thought of that fawn starving this winter; it most likely would have, as we have had a great deal of snow. I couldn't stand gutting the doe, listening to the fawn bleating. I let them live, maybe so I could sleep at night, maybe so my wife would let me sleep at night.
I honestly don't know. (Yeah it was so my wife would let me sleep)
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