I’m sitting here tonight, tapping slowly away at the keyboard, stuggling to find the right words for how I feel. I hate to start using words like frustrated, disappointed, or depressed again. I thought I was over that earlier in November. But here I am again, feeling all of those dreaded emotions. But lets rewind…

If you follow Wired To Hunt on Facebook, you probably saw an excited post from me around 5:45 last night of “Big Doe Down!!!” and truth be told, I was pretty dang excited. It’s been a long season, and I finally had venison for the freezer. But 15 minutes after my doe went down on the edge of my swamp, she unbelievably got back to her feet and headed into the woods. Seriously? I couldn’t believe it.

I waited til well after dark, and snuck back home. Once there, I burned a few hours by eating dinner, heading to Dustin’s house to help with his buck, and completed a few other tasks. Four hours after my shot, I finally headed back out to the area I last saw my doe, expecting to find her dead just within the woods. Well, I was almost right. Upon entering the woods, five yards from me, the doe jumped up out of her bed and bolted farther into the swamp. I was stunned. Upon reviewing the footage of the shot earlier, it looked like I had hit her a little back but still most likely in the liver. After 4 hours left alone, I thought for sure she would have expired. But I was wrong, so we immediately backed out and I settled in for a long night dwelling on the evenings events.

Fast forward now to tonight. I wasn’t able to get back to the woods til after work, so I headed out around 7:00 PM. I hiked to the spot where we bumped her and quickly found her tracks. With snow still on the ground from yesterday, it was relatively easy at first to follow her tracks and blood. But very quickly, blood disappeared and her tracks mixed with those of the other 30 or so other deer that I had seen come through this area the night before! (I kid you not, I saw 30+ deer last night in an hour of hunting, fun night in that regard). For the next hour or so I scoured the swampy ground, finding the occasional blot of reddish brown melting snow and moving forward one step at a time. I honestly thought she would have been bedded 50 yards from where we bumped her, but that certainly didn’t happen. I tracked her maybe 100 yards with barely any sign, and then she turned back out from the swamp and headed into the corn field at the back of my property. At this point she started to bleed a little more,  and I thought she had to be right ahead. But no, wrong again.

200 yards. 300 yards. 400 yards. I kept walking, searching, squinting. Blood, follow the tracks, blood again. She had to be over this next hill. But no, she never was. After two hours and 600+yards of tracking, the blood dried up and soon after I reached the end of my property. After letting her sit for 24 hours, if it was a mortal hit, I can’t believe she would have traveled this far. So my hopes and prayers are that she was able to clot up and live to see another day.

Soooo, the latest chapter of my 2011 season is in the books and unfortunately it’s not one that I’ll be interested in reading about again. I know this is a reality of hunting, but it’s a tough one to swallow. That being said, I suppose the only cure for this ailment now is a little self reflection and a return to the treestand.

And so that is what I’ll do. I promise/hope I’ll have a more positive story to share soon!