Darryl, Kevin and I arrived at the cart road at about 6:15 a.m. and walked the road near Hollis, N.H., until it curved off to the right. It was about 40 degrees outside and I was on my first bowhunt for whitetail.
Darryl proceeded farther up the road, while Kevin and I backtracked to the first path that cut away from the road. Kevin positioned me just off the path at the top of the second hill and then he made his way to the top of the next hill.
I could hear the screech of an owl coming from some distance behind me, but my visibility was still limited due to darkness. Crows were squawking as they passed back and forth overhead. A red squirrel troubled by my presence chirped as he ran from tree to tree around me. In the distance in front of me came a rather loud growl that I guessed was probably produced by a fisher.
A Deer Snorts
I sat quietly with my bow loaded on my lap as I drank my coffee. I heard a strange blowing noise five or six times coming from the darkness behind me. Later that morning I was to learn the unfamiliar sound was that of a deer snorting. This was a deer I never saw, but apparently he saw me.
As it grew light, I could now see Kevin standing about 100 yards up the path on the top of his hill. Only a few minutes before I could not see him at all. A few minutes later I spotted Kevin at the bottom of the hill standing in a ravine littered with tree limbs and he was waving me to come to where he stood. I grabbed my bow and release, but left the rest of my gear where it lay.
As I approached, Kevin began back up the hill motioning me to follow and I heard him whisper, "do you want to see a deer?" I tried to do my best to not make any noise but move along as quickly as I could, no an easy task on this rugged terrain. When I got to the top, standing beside Kevin he quietly told me how he had just seen two does, but could not get a shot. He was still shaking with excitement. For the next 10 minutes we stood silently staring into the now well-lit forest. The ground dipped in front of us then climbed steeply for about 100 yards or more to the cart road above. Kevin said Darryl would be positioned somewhere down the road to our left. He had hoped that when Darryl came to meet us he would come from that direction and perhaps push the deer he had seen earlier toward us. As I scanned the edge of the cart road I spotted a rather large-bodied vividly red deer. Walking with its head down, I could not determine whether this animal was a buck or doe, but one thing was certain, it was a big animal!
Not more than 10 minutes passed and I could hear something moving down the hillside just to my left. I crouched close to the ground to try to spot the creature making the noise.
This was necessary because the trees were still thick with leaves and the ferns that covered the area were tall and green making for just a small window of visibility. At first all I saw was the flicker of an ear. In a low whisper I said, "Kevin, it's a deer and it's coming this way!"
Kevin then joined me on the ground and we continued to watch for more than 20 minutes as the doe slowly browsed her way down the hill. Kevin still was unable to get a look at the doe, but I told him that if she were to continue on her current path she would soon appear in the clearing right in front of him. Finally the doe reached the bottom of the ravine and I again whispered, "Kevin get ready, she's about to step out in front of you."
A Possible Shot
She had her nose to the ground as Kevin drew his bow. As he drew, the aluminum arrow running across the arrow rest produced a hideous screech. Instantly the doe's head came up, she looked in the direction of the unfamiliar sound and did a quick 180-degree turn and froze for a moment. Now on the alert, she cautiously continued to browse now moving in my direction. Weaving in-between the trees, her radar-like ears kept a constant vigil and I was afraid to move.
The doe finally came to a stop no more than 15 yards in front of me. There was a problem, however, not only had Mother Nature placed a huge oak between the deer, and me but also I was still crouched close to the ground and now the doe was staring right at me. From Kevin's perspective, it looked as though I would have a clear opportunity and I heard him in a hushed voice say "shoot." "I can't," was my reply. "Just shoot her," Kevin said again. "She's staring at me," I said.
Finally I decided one of us had to make a move as this Mexican staredown was causing my left foot to fall asleep. Just as I began to draw my bow, this cautious animal resolved to take to leaps placing her about 75 yards away to my right and in the safety of thick cover. Still uncertain about what had just taken place, the doe continued on her way at a leisurely pace out of my range.
I thought to myself what a great experience I had just been through to be so close to such a beautiful and cunning creature. The hunt ended without what some would consider success. However, since it was my first time hunting deer and having seen two of them in the same morning, I left with a sense of satisfaction. After all, this was only the start of a long season with many more hunts to come.