We had some close calls and saw some nice deer, but to make a long story short, on Night 3 I was able to connect on a decent 9 point buck (had a g2 broken off). Fortunately and Unfortunately, I got to watch him for 20 minutes follow a doe around, make a scrape, and slowly make his way to me up a draw. This got my blood pumping and I got buck fever- which typically doesn't affect me til after the shot, but I was excited! He would be my largest bow kill yet. Once he got to 25 yards, he turned perfectly broadside, I drew my bow, and as soon as I released I knew I messed up. I pulled the shot, and I watched my arrow go directly into his liver. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I watched him run a hundred yards, stop, and I thought he would lay down in the tall CRP grass. I could see blood running down his side, and I thought he'd be easily recoverable even though I made a less than desirable shot. Unfortunately, a doe ran up to him, bumped him, and he took off over a hill- and my heart sank even more.
After 20 minutes I climbed out of my stand and started marking blood because it was getting dark. I knew I wouldn't bump him immediately because of how far he went. We followed a blood trail over an hour and a half for a quarter mile before my dad and I lost the trail. We had to stop and resume in the morning. I hardly slept. First light found us in the field picking up the blood trail. We were able to follow it another 200 yards before we lost it in tumbleweeds and then short CRP grass. We started making big circles trying to pick up blood for the next hour with no luck. Finally, I looked at aerial map on my phone, and saw a stock tank on border of public and private ground a half mile away, in the general direction the previous blood trail headed. So, my dad went to the fenceline to check it out while I continued looking for blood. 10 minutes later he called me, and said he could see the deer on private next to the stock tank. So, we called the sheriff, who called the landowner, and got us permission to retrieve the buck. Unfortunately, Coyotes got to him overnight, and there wasn't much left of him.
The sheriff took pity on me, and decided to give me a salvage tag for the deer. So, I didn't have to use my buck tag on him. I didn't even know this was a possibility, but I was grateful the sheriff decided to do this. I was able to salvage about 20 lbs of meat from the neck and front shoulders, and the antlers. I still felt guilty and awful, and even though he was my biggest bow kill yet, I wasn't excited in the least. The knot in my stomach remained, even though I had found my deer.
The following day my dad made a perfect shot on a mature doe, to ensure he would have some meat going home. luckily it was only 300 yards from the truck, and it was the easiest haul out I've ever done.
I had couple shots at does over the following couple days, but I had lost all confidence in myself. I knew I had pulled the shot, but still felt uncomfortable at flinging an arrow. So, I finally I broke out the shooting block and practiced. I was dead on at 20, 30, and 40. It proved I really did just pull the shot, and my bow hadn't gotten knocked around at some point. This made me somewhat more confident to take a shot again, that it truly was just nerves. Unfortunately, all deer movement stopped after that. We went 3 days with only seeing 1-2 deer a day (stand hunting and driving around glassing for deer). It made it very tough.
On the second to last day i shot a young buck at 14 yards. After not seeing a deer within range for 3 days, I needed meat to go home, and I held out for a more mature deer long enough. I made a perfect shot, and the knot in my stomach went away, and I was more excited about this deer than I was the larger one. I am glad i had the opportunity to shoot another deer and restore my confidence , and redeem myself (to myself). Unfortunately, my dad never got an opportunity at a buck during the latter half of our hunt. He was just happy he had shot the doe, and we got to spend time together.
What I learned: I need to practice shooting my bow with adrenaline going though my system; Its not the size of the deer that matters- its the story and feelings behind it; Time spent with my dad is well worth the money for out of state hunts every year; My dad is awful at packing his truck and food for us for 11 days.
Bets of luck to everyone else for the remainder of the season!
Great hunt ! Gotta love whitetail hunting in the sunflower state.
Congrats on your bucks, go get some more nxt year
I got a call from a Kansas Parks and Wildlife officer this morning. It was a pleasant call, albeit under negative (for me) circumstances. After re-living the experience and my story, he confirmed the sheriff giving me a carcass salvage tag was in error, and I should have tagged the buck with my deer tag. I feel awful that this situation has occurred, and I feel rightfully guilty. Hopefully someone else can learn from my mistakes and errors.
Moral of the story- don't get a salvage tag. Tag your deer right away per usual, and look forward to next year.
Good luck to those of you still with tags, and have a happy holiday season.