Written by: Bob Rice (aka: 1eyedbob) 2/4/2017
Most of this is reprinted from a conversation I had with another forum member. It is all my account of my last week of deer season, here in Ohio. Please take into consideration that not only am I new to deer hunting in general but also new to crossbows. I’ve thrown a little humor spin to my story to make it enjoyable, but that’s who I am. Sit back and enjoy, as your own pictures of past hunts and memories fill the void that we like to think is filled with nothing but knowledge.
I’m finally back at home, sitting comfortably in front the fireplace. Yes, it’s gas and I only have to throw a switch on the wall, but I live in the city. Some modern luxuries are nice, but a little smoke and the smell of burning hardwood, would be nice.
This past Monday I drove out to my buddie’s farm in Southeastern Ohio, in a small town I went to school in during the late seventies and eighties. After I had pulled into his driveway, he came out and was on his way to work. We chatted for a bit and he took off. He did ask how the road condition was coming in because he didn’t want to chain up, as it had been snowing and there are some steep hills.
I grabbed my backpack that held a few things I always carry while hunting and retrieved my crossbow from its case. My wife had heard me talk about wanting a case for protecting my bow when travelling, so she ordered me a nice camouflage, soft style for Christmas. I had my sights set on a hard case for more protection but she didn’t know that. I am very loved, what can I say.
As I walked up and across the field that morning, I could hear an owl hooting off in the distance. This was going to be a great day, I could just feel it. There was a slight breeze blowing out of the West as usual, and I was thankful to have an enclosure waiting for me to sit in. Now these aren’t just any deer blinds, no sir. These have swivel chairs and a propane heater. An offer I couldn’t refuse.
As I came upon the first blind, I decided to walk on to the second blind. The second one has tags on each tree with the distance written on them. No need for a range finder. And I thought city folk had it easy. I began running through my mental checklist and procedure for entering the blind. That’s when it hit me. CRAP! I left my quiver in that fancy new case since it has its own compartment for arrows.
After cussing myself for not having any arrows, I turned around to hike back uphill to my car. Now I could feel the snow blowing into my face and thought how nice a heated blind would be. I had packed my toe warmer heat packs and fleece pants, but intentionally left those at my mom’s house to hunt the unheated tree stand that was there.
After retrieving the quiver and attaching it to its rightful position, I began the trek back to the blind. The wind had picked a little as had the snow, and for a brief moment I thought about just using the first blind since it was closer. But I’ve seen deer from the other blind and am stubborn at times, so I continued on. It was about then that I began to notice the sweat forming on my back and chest and was becoming more thankful for the awaiting heater and chair, in the confines of an enclosure.
As I approached the feeder station and blind, my heart warmed up a bit, just knowing I was there. I climbed the ladder up to the top of the double stacked scaffolding that the blind sits on, and remembered not to open the door too far or it would make an awfully loud, SQUEAK! I did not want to announce my presence to every deer in the county so I cautiously snuck in and closed the door.
While taking off my backpack and hanging my bow up, remember high class blind here boys, I began to get my bearings again. That’s when I realized that something was terribly wrong. I had my bow, arrows with broad-heads, skinning knife, pee bottle, even my Hotseat cushion, but where’s the heater? I turned on my cellphone’s light and scoured the floor under and around the chair. Hard to hide a heater and propane tanks in a 4’x4′ blind.
What?! You’ve got to be kidding me! How could my friend neglect to mention that he had removed the heater for the season? He ALWAYS made it a point to say, “Don’t overdress when you come out to hunt at my place, I’ll spoil you”.
Well it didn’t take too long for the chill to take over. What do I do, tough it out or bail? I’m wearing my 600 gram Rocky’s with two pair of wool socks and wool underwear, so I decided to sit it out for a bit. I think I started steaming a little, but that was because it was starting to eat at me. Anyhow, nine-o-clock rolled around and the feeder started whirring. Usually scares the crap out of me, but not this time, I was ready. Bring on the deer! I could picture deer running in for a meal like it was last call at a packed bar. But the problem was, there wasn’t hardly any corn coming out of the feeder. What?!! How long had this been going on? Maybe for days and the deer wouldn’t be coming in at all. I could feel my shoulders sink in a little as my day continued to look rather bleak.
I managed to wait and watch the wind and snow come in harder, which began to add to my shivering. At about 10:30 I got a text from my buddy asking if I had seen anything yet and that he was home from work early. Bad weather has a tendency to do that in construction. I told him no and mentioned that the feeder wasn’t really feeding anything. I expected him to follow up with something like, “I’ll be out to hunt the other blind”, or, “I forgot to tell you I took out the heaters”, but no.
Well, I’d had enough. I grabbed my pack and my crossbow, yes with the quiver attached, and headed back. It didn’t take long to see how fierce the wind was blowing across the open field, as my footprints had already filled in and some slight drifting was occurring. No more picturesque visions of rolling green pastures or the ominous hooting of a distant owl.
After trudging back to my car, discharging my crossbow, and putting my stuff in the back, I started the car and waited for the engine to warm up so that I could begin the process of thawing out. As I waited, I sent my buddy a text instead of actually walking in to talk to him, because I knew that my emotions would be easily seen. I let him know that I’d had enough of the cold and was heading out. Being a man of few words at times, he replied, Ok. Again, no mention or apology for not having a heater! Upon thawing out on the ride back to my mom’s, I had to laugh at myself for taking it so personal that I had expected things to be the way I had envisioned them to be. Boy isn’t that just like life at times.
My next day was not any better in the weather department of hunting. The ladder stand I was to use sits on a North facing slope that gets about one hour of sun at about two-o-clock in the afternoon. The weather forecast called for flurries and light rain drizzle throughout the morning. Well, they pretty much nailed the forecast and I was wetter than yesterday and even more cold. Winds were gusting to 30 mph, which I was protected from on the shaded side of the mountain. Nothing was moving except the trees, my teeth on occasion, and the creek I had to cross to get to this little piece of paradise. Did I mention that the creek was up? I did my best to sit in the stand until I had to pee so bad that I might as well leave. Let me tell you, that right after having to expose just enough of myself to my frozen fingers that, well you get the picture.
Day two was a valiant effort, but even the deer were hunkered down. So I remained in the house plotting out my strategy for Wednesday. My wife had blessed me with the opportunity to hunt the last week of archery deer season and by golly I was intent on taking it. She also got a chuckle of out of my day’s events.
Wednesday brought about a change in the weather, and it was for the better. A beautiful forecast for the day and I had dispersed some cut apple and corn upon leaving the woods the two days prior. I finished my sausage and egg sandwich that I had made, and washed it down with the last sip of coffee. I dressed for the day, applied my, “deer cologne”, as my mom calls it, grabbed my bow with the quiver attached, and headed out.
I could tell that the creek was down a little because I had my little key chain light clenched in my teeth. It was still flowing enough to feel the force of it and the rock bottom was slippery. Once on the other side, I began my climb up into the woods. As I neared the stand, I broadcast more cut apple and could see that the deer had readily accepted my offerings from the day before. I began to get a good feeling.
I climbed into my perch and awaited that magic moment of daybreak. You know it is about to happen as the Chickadees begin flitting about and you catch the movement of squirrels from their nighttime hideaways. Soon the woodpeckers will be sounding out and the crows will be calling as they fly overhead.
At around 8:00 I caught movement from the pines, coming towards my area of observation. Of course, I knew it was my apples and deer cologne that had his attention. At least that was what I had hoped. As the deer got closer I could see that it was a six-point Buck, that’s a 3×3 for you Westerners. When he got to a point where he was hidden from me, I raised my crossbow to be ready. He continued to come in and I felt myself tighten up a little. Upon doing so, the cold metal stand made a slight metallic sound. I froze, but the Buck was aware of something out of place.
He continued to come in for the sweetness of the apples, but very cautious. I then had a dilemma. He was at 28 yards, a distance I am extremely confident of making a deadly shot from, but was slightly facing towards me. Although I consider myself a novice, I knew this was not the best presentation for a kill shot. As hard as it was, I had to let temptation give way to ethics. I think he sensed my struggle when he saw me blink and then bolted off. I can tell you that I slept well that night knowing I didn’t just wound him.
About two hours later I watched a doe and a late fawn come in to feed as well. Really? Am I being presented with another test of morals and ethics? Talk about soul searching. But I thought it would be different. You know, cut and dry. There’s a deer, shoot it. I never thought about being put in the position making a call to shoot or not, but I’m glad it happened so early in my new-found passion.
My last two days were uneventful as far as seeing any deer. The wind blew more and it never got even close to thirty degrees. The fact that I had taken a five-point Buck earlier in the season with my crossbow, not to mention my first deer ever, and a large doe in Michigan with a rifle, made it easier to draw my week to a close.
I consider myself a spiritual man and these experiences bring me closer to God. I’ve always loved the woods, even as a kid growing up in Amish country. My friends and I would spend countless hours in and around them. Climbing trees, building forts, making fires, cooking Sassafras tea, camping out, you name it. Oh yeah, and I always had a slingshot. Homemade out of a tree branch and a bike tube or one of those fancy store bought ones that actually came with steel shot. Boy those were the times.