Missing or Wounding A Buck Is One Of The Most Heartbreaking Feelings A Hunter Experiences. Learn How Most Bucks Survive And Return To Your Stand Within A Few Days.
Today’s guest post is courtesy of Lauren Hahn. Lauren hunts most all wild game throughout the brush country of south Texas and the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Finding the time to go hunting can be difficult. Days are busy, responsibilities, chores and life’s demands can get in the way of making time to get out and enjoy all that the wild has to offer. I myself struggle with getting out into the field as much as I would like, but I find it extremely gratifying to get out there and get away from daily burdens. I would like to offer the story of the buck that I took this past season as a prime example of the rewards of making time to hunt and never giving up on the buck you missed.
I got my first bow this past August and practiced hard to learn how to properly use it so that I could bow hunt this fall. When October came, I hunted several times, and I found out how much I loved bow hunting. The proximity to the deer adds an element of difficulty not previously presented, and you are rewarded with seeing more, hearing more and experiencing more of the deer’s behavior, their interactions, their movements and communications. It challenges you to be a better hunter. To be more quiet, to be more still, more stealthy, more invisible and unscented.
I saw a multitude of deer, lots of young bucks, a few does, one doe missing a hind foot, and adult buck with faint spots. I finally saw a mature 9 point buck, and while in the throes of buck fever, as I struggled to get a clean, undetected draw with 26 deer in bow range in front of me, I had my hunt blown by 2 coyotes running through. The first coyotes I have ever seen in my 34 years of life in the Hill Country. Ugh, hunt over.
There was one buck in particular that I had seen on camera that I was hoping for a chance at: a heavy, mature 8 pointer. I kept hunting in pursuit of him. The next time I went out, the feeder went off, and he came in literally passing right next to the big cedar bush my tripod was placed in. I rushed to get my bow up, quickly drew and released. I saw the arrow hit him as he whirled away. I saw him walk off slowly, hit the fence, and lay down. I jumped out of my tripod and knelt for a better view and waited. Then he got up, walked and laid down. And again, and then he disappeared from sight behind a cedar tree. I found the arrow right where I shot him, broken in half and smeared with fat and blood. I called my Dad. He said wait, then circle around him to push him back into the property if he wasn’t dead yet. I did just that, and when I walked the fence-line, he was gone. I found where he had laid, twice, and the blood was faint. More like a cut than a vital wound. I was sick to my stomach; crushed the deer was gone, ill at the thought he was hurt and not dead. My Dad came to help me look for him, but there was very little to see. We looked until dark, and then it rained 2 inches that night. I went to my parent’s house, and couldn’t hardly eat the delicious chicken and dumplings my Mom had made for supper.
I struggled with the thought of shooting another deer with a bow, as a clean, ethical kill is paramount in my hunting experience. I decided to get up and go the next morning, and I did. I was rewarded with several hours of watching bucks spar and yearlings splash in the water from the heavy rains. There was a 3 year old 6 pointer that I watched closely, and decided if I didn’t see any sign of the buck I had wounded, I would try to take him later in the evening hunt as a management buck. Sure enough, that evening the 6 pointer came in. I waited for a good broadside presentation, drew and released. I got a good shot, double lung with a passthrough, and he ran about 70 yards and died. I was elated to get my first bow kill, but the thought of that wounded 8 continued to eat at me.
My Dad checked the camera and told me that the 8 came in to feed 2 days after I had wounded him, and then my brother confirmed he saw him 2 weeks later. They assured me that they would leave him for me and I decided to continue the pursuit. I also hunted other places, passed on other bucks, waiting for him. I even missed a big buck with a rifle, and ultimately watched my husband take him later that evening. Nearly every weekend, with the support and encouragement of my husband, I hunted the buck I had wounded. However, no one had seen him in nearly 2 months, no pictures on camera. Nothing. The property is only 100 acres and his sightings were limited to the back side, and he came in from the neighbors. I was losing hope that he was even still around.
New Year’s weekend, the last weekend of regular hunting season, I decided to give it one more go, and if I saw one of the other mature bucks I might take one of them instead. I was perched up in the tripod, which had been moved to another site for gun hunting and was glassing the deer in front of me: a young 6 point, a few does and yearlings, just watching them closely for entertainment. Into my binocular view walks my buck, the 8 pointer I had wounded. He had lost a considerable amount of weight and broken his left G 3 off. I dropped the binoculars, threw my husband’s 243 up and waited what seemed like an eternity for a clean shot. He was quartered ever so slightly away and I got him through both lungs. He walked about 20 yards, laid down and took his last breath. I walked up to him, looked at him closely, in silent appreciation for his life. He was a beautiful animal. I took him home, gutted and skinned him, processed his meat, tanned his hide, boiled and cleaned his skull for a European mount and used his feet to make a rack for the wall. Even his bones went into stock.
I have never spent so much time out in the wild, hunting like that. It made a huge impression on me. It made me a better hunter and developed in me an even deeper appreciation for the thrill of the chase and the spirit of the hunt. I encourage you to try to devote more time and effort to develop your skills as a hunter and allow yourself the opportunity to experience all of the incredible beauty the wild has to offer. Most importantly, should you miss a buck early in the season, never give up on him until… the last sunset.
Lauren is famous for sharing her mouth-watering recipes nearly every evening in her Facebook Group: Puro Pinche Low Fence Hunting. Check out her group and sample below some of the wonderful wild game recipes she shares daily! Thank you Lauren for sharing this inspiring story with WildBuck.
This recipe is a great way to utilize some of your venison. It’s a quick and easy meal too…enjoy! – Lauren
Deer and Broccoli
1 lb deer meat, all silver connective tissue removed and sliced across the grain 1/8” thick
2/3 cup oyster sauce
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2/3 cup sherry
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
Mix sauce ingredients together. Stir in deer meat, cover and place in refrigerator to marinate at least 30 min.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb broccoli cut into florets
½ inch ginger root, finely grated on microplane
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on microplane
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli and stir fry until broccoli is bright green and starting to brown just a bit. Stir in ginger and garlic and fry very briefly, maybe 1 minute more, then remove broccoli from skillet and put into a bowl to keep warm.
Pour the meat and the marinade into the skillet. Cook over medium high heat until the meat goes from looking translucent maroon to opaque. Don’t overcook. Just as the meat turns, add the broccoli back in and gently stir to combine. Cook one minute more, then serve over steamed jasmine rice.