First day shot, and a question
The last day of bow season, my dad text and said the big one just winded him, following 5 doe. So I headed up to the gamelands a few hours later and walked below him hoping to push the deer back his way. A long shot but worth a try as it was the last day. It was about a 2.5 mile walk to do what I thought may push the deer correctly, and get any others around the ridge on their feet. In doing so, I came across a place I'd had never been, one I've been close to, but never stepped foot on, maybe an acre. It was one of those places in the big woods, where you enter and say this is it. This is a spot that I'll add to the list to check every year, and if there's a big one in the area, he'll use this area. There were rubs as big as my leg, headed both directions, scrapes everywhere. Laurel 25 feet high, brush chest high, a series of flats off a point, and gushing spring on top(strange), and two escape routes into impenetrable laurel.
Needless to say I was fired up. My dad is getting older, starting to lose his sharpness and maybe desire a bit, and I wanted to see him get this buck. I was in this buck's home, and surely he would show in the daylight at some point in rifle. I was hoping he was with doe elsewhere but did end up jumping a single deer while there. So I headed to Field & Stream in Altoona to pick up 2 double ladder stands. The next Sunday was 20-30 mph winds, with gusts in the 40s. Perfect for hanging a stand, maybe for tree tipping too, but a good day to hang a stand. A west wind too, perfect for our approach. So 3 of us did the walk, put the stand up and got out of there. GPS track says 1.6 miles, but it's an easy walk.
So I asked my dad if he was going to wait for this buck to show or take the first opportunity at a nice one. Of course he said first nice one, as he said I'm not sure how many years I have left. I explained to him that, we're in this bucks wheelhouse, and you may never have another chance at a buck of this age. He didn't mind, but I'm thinking in the my mind, that all the evidence I've seen in the area surrounding this area leads me to believe the other bucks are staying out of this immediate spot. They are bedding on the fringes, and maybe giving this guy his space? I hoped anyway.
First morning at the parking lot, there were 8 trucks at 5:15, not surprising, it's a huge area, so we're not too concerned. No flashing lights on the way in, so we are good. All set up, a perfect WNW 10-15 mph wind. NW and W would have been good, but WNW is perfect as it wraps around the point but we're 75 yards downwind so our scent should not wrap and carry on WNW. Daylight comes followed by a few shots in the area but nothing close. At 9:45 I notice this opening on the point that I thought, that looks like a spot a deer might cross, so I start focusing on it, probably more glazing over at this point, and under my nose I see an ear about 40 yards. Dad get your gun (he used to say that to me, my how times have changed). It was quite difficult to pick this deer out but she eventually stepped out. She was very cautious and head-bobbed about 10 times, just watching us. After a 20 minute stare down, she did a 5 yard J hook, and disappeared. One hour passes with us not seeing anything, or being able to move much, assuming the doe bedded. At 10:40, I see a deer pass thru the previous opening I was focusing on, thought I saw antlers but it disappeared quickly. 30 seconds later, here comes a nice one down off the point, presumably following the doe's trail. Dad's got the gun up on the shooting rail. The buck comes straight for us. He turned his head sideways to get thru the laurel. Oh my.. oh my. At 50 yards, he turned quartering to, then moved his back legs toward us, almost completely broadside. You kiddin'? Dad centered the crosshairs, and squeezed. The buck jumped about an 8 foot laurel bush and stood there, then another jump and looked around. Two more high hops and the buck disappeared. 2 minutes later two doe came running up to our right. Maybe the buck jumped them or the shot got them moving. I got down 20 minutes later and checked the area, got 2" white hair, 2 pieces had brown tips. Where the deer landed on his second jump, there was 1/4" white hair. We looked around for a bit, and were able to follow his tracks for about 15 yards. We expanded the search to about 100 yards and found nothing. The laurel is so thick, you'd be hard pressed to find a deer without a blood trail to follow. A perfect plan where everything followed the script, but the end result is empty.
Dad shot his gun again today. 4 holes within an inch at 50 yards. I was actually hoping the gun was off.
My question is, has anyone ever shot a deer and had it bound and stop and go like this from a good hit? Also, deer that did not bleed with a shot from a rifle? All but one I shot with a rifle that didn't immediately fall, ran hard, and bled. I've seen Dad shoot running deer at 100 yards, but I'm at a loss with this one. I guess what is bothering me, is that small chance the deer is dead. We did what we could in terms of searching, and based on the reaction of the deer and the white hair, we think the bullet shaved the deer low. Thoughts?
Rub pic and hair pic attached.
It's a good spot. Just not today.