A Tale of Two Does

Fortunately, I know some people with a White-tail Doe "problem".  Having the Does is not the problem.  Having too many of them on a ranch where you are trying to improve your deer herd's health is.  So, since my Texas hunting license affords me the privilege of harvesting up to five White-tailed deer during a season, I was happy to lend them my services for a day.  On this particular hunt, we had planed for a morning and afternoon session with rifles over feeders in order to choose older and larger does to harvest.  Its not every day that you get a chance to shoot two deer, and because I was able to do so this day, it sets up this story's comparison to make a point.  Shot selection matters, and here is why. My first hunt had me sitting in a tower blind about 100 yards from a feeder at first light.  As planned, we were there before the feeder went off, and once it did, the usual smorgasbord of animals were on hand to partake in the offering.  This morning, the area was crowded with bucks, a few does and some weanlings.  We watched the scene play out for about thirty minutes before I raised my rifle up and sighted in one of the healthy does.  But, as luck would have it, she could not keep still for long as a young buck was trailing her and making her nervous.  After a while, she had had enough and began to ease off back into the brush. At this point, I had her scoped while she was walking away and opted to make a noise to get her to stop just long enough for a broad-side shot in which I took.  I knew that I had only a few seconds so I took the highest probability shot I could and that was to the vitals of the upper-chest area.  After shooting, we saw her run off in a wounded manner and knew that she was hit.  We waited for about 20 minutes in the blind before we climbed out and went to look for her.  Good hunters know that a wounded deer can run for a long ways after being shot.  Depending on the severity, hurrying after a slightly wounded one might only cause the animal to run further away from the point of impact.   The average whitetail deer carries about eight pounds of blood in its system.  And, a full grown deer must lose at least 35 percent of its blood before it will fall.  So, we patiently walked up to the point of impact and searched for a blood trail. Following a blood trail involves several basic rules.  First, find the point of impact and take note of the amount of blood in the area.  A large amount of blood indicates that a good shot was made and if the blood is pink, then a lung shot was likely.  Start off in the direction the deer ran and look for blood and the splattering it makes when it hits the ground.  The drops from a running animal will generally point in the direction the animal is running and show forward momentum in their pattern.  When following a blood trail, make sure when you lose sight of it, to go back to the last sign and look a full 360 degrees before moving forward.  A deer will not just run in a straight line, but might get disoriented and bound off completely in another direction. Following these steps, we found the doe about forty yards into the brush and examined the wound.  The shot had penetrated the deer in the vitals and had a good exit wound on the other side.  Despite this, she still was able to run a good ways.  Because we were in a fairly open location, we were able to find her quickly.  But, this is not always the case for many hunters. The second hunt of the day was pretty much the same scenario as the morning's but this time, the doe cooperated and stood long enough for arguably the best way to dispatch a game animal with a rifle.  Raising my scope to my field of view, I carefully aimed for the small patch of white on the deer's neck, just about the where it blended in to the rest of its darker color.  Exhaling slowly, I gently squeezed the trigger and dropped her right in her tracks.  Obviously, no waiting and blood trail necessary.  And, most importantly, a more humane kill on the animal. Most deer hunters have their own opinions about shot placement.  But, the most experienced ones I know shoot for the neck.  Some may argue the lower probability of this shot, but if you spend enough time at the range - and you should - you gain the confidence in your weapon to make that shot repeatedly.  This brings up another good lesson and an idea for another story - range time before every hunt and during the off-season. 

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