Early archery season ended here in WNC and with it ended me hunting the spot I call “High Expectations.” For me, “early archery season” is defined as the first of three seasons that are archery only. For the 2018 – 2019 season, the first archery season was September 8th through September 30th. During this time hunters could kill both antlered and antlerless deer.
This late summer and early fall time of year was incredibly busy for me. I got a promotion early in the summer and began to really get into the swing of my new position. In addition to work my personal life was super busy! I was out of town two weekends twice in September once for a camp reunion and the other time to enjoy Tyler and I’s 5 year anniversary in the nation’s capital. I was also running around like crazy, literally, training for a half marathon that would occur at the very beginning of November. That being said, I only hunted High Expectations once.
My High Expectations stand (which I introduced in this post) was hung on what I believe to be an elevator ridge. When I first hung the stand I believed that I had put myself in a location where I could be in the middle of several paths that deer may be traveling. I even hung a camera in the hopes of catching something passing by. When I went in for my first hunt, I pulled the card from the camera but couldn’t get the pictures to upload to my phone. At the time I thought this was a HUGE bummer but it ended up working out since there wasn’t a whole lot on the camera other than bears. I believe if I had been able to check it before getting in the stand my expectations would have been lowered and I would not enjoyed my sit as much as I did.My first hunt of High Expectations was perfect. The weather was nice, not too hot with a slight breeze, and with the use of my Thermacell I didn’t have issues with mosquitoes.
For me, just being able to sit still for three hours in the quiet woods was so soothing and I felt like I was home again.
I got comfortable in the stand quickly and settled into nature’s beauty. Sometimes I get bored in the stand and will play a game on my phone or read a book that I’ve brought with me but, on this hunt I just sat back and enjoyed observing the small birds flying below me in and out of the small pine growth and listening to the occasional dropping of acorns from the trees.
I could see from my stand that the scrape and the mock rubs that Tyler had made previously didn’t seem like they had been touched at all but, I did notice that there was a trail right below me that looked to be semi recently used by some sort of game. The leaves on the trail overturned so that I could see the bare dirt below them.
I sat in silence. For once the sound of squirrels wasn’t all around me and for a brief moment I thought I heard the slow walking of what I believe to have been a deer just over the ridge I was sitting on. My heart rate quickened. Could it be possible that I would kill a deer on my first hunt? I strained to listen hoping to hear the sound getting closer to me. It did for a while but, just as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared it was gone.
Later after shooting light had gone and I was out of the tree walking back to my car did I catch two eyes, glowing in the light of my headlamp about 50 yards in front of me. For a brief second, in part because it was dark, I thought the eyes belonged to a coyote but I saw the white flicker of a tail swishing behind what was probably a 1.5 – 2.5 year old doe. She picked her head up and looked at me then sauntered away with her white tail flicking behind her.
As I drove home I was still riding on the high that was an amazing hunt and pondered the words of Fred Bear:
“If you consider an unsuccessful hunt to be a waste of time, then the true meaning of the chase eludes you altogether.”
Although I didn’t kill anything on this hunt I was still successful. I enjoyed myself, and I finally saw a deer on public land during hunting season (I saw 0 last year). I knew that as I continued into fall that my hunts would be limited in number because I was busy in my work and personal life. In that moment I decided to focus on the valuable aspects and knowledge that I would gain from all subsequent hunts that I would go on.
About a week after that hunt, Tyler and I ventured out into the woods to collect my stand to get it down and ready to put up at another location. We did a little scouting of the area and found several rubs just 50 yards up from where my stand was located! I made a mental note that this area would be a place to watch this year and going into the coming seasons as well.
Stay tuned for more of what happens this 2018 – 2019 whitetail deer season!