Deer Hunting in Southwest Louisiana
Sleepy the deer
Sleepy the \'Sleep-In\' Deer
This year my teenage son Matthew showed his first interest in deer hunting. Matthew and my daughter Emily have been accompanying me on hunting trips for deer and turkey since they were little tykes. The hunting trips have tapered off as high school activities have increased. Although hunting is my passion, Matt has not showed much of an interest in taking a deer in the past. When I heard him say that he wanted to kill a deer this year, I have to admit, I was eager and determined to make it happen!
We started off at the beginning of the season by sitting on stand in a spot on our farm that I have been preparing for a few years now. Last year I built a box blind large enough to sit three people on the edge of a field near the bayou. This spot is in a pinch point that the few deer in my area must travel to move along the shadowy high timber next to the wood line. I soon came to understand that sitting in a box stand for several hours at a time is interesting for someone like me but tiresome for someone like Matt. We made two long hunts together in the box and Matt started losing interest without seeing much activity.
This Thanksgiving, like other high school kids, Matt was off of school. A perfect time to get him involved and make this deer hunting thing happen! I got an invite to take Matt to a friend’s private lease for a day hunt the day before turkey day to shoot a doe. Their club had several management does to take and he had offered to let Matt kill his first deer there at his place. We made the trip and saw several bucks but we were only allowed to shoot does. One huge ten point buck came within forty yards of the stand but no does gave us the opportunity of a shot. After the hunt Matt was excited to see deer and told me that he wanted to go hunting again to get a deer.
Friday afternoon my daughter and I hunted our big stand on the farm. We didn\'t see anything during the hunt but I pulled the card from a trail camera that I have there to see what had been lurking nearby. The first thing that I did when we got home was look at the pictures with the kids. There were a few of the usual suspects, normal night time only deer showing up at the witching hour. Then I saw it, low and behold…. daytime photos of deer! There was a doe and a young six point showing up fairly regularly around 9:45 in the morning. I immediately showed Matt the pictures and told him that we should go to the stand in the morning and he agreed.
I guess that I have long forgotten how it feels to be a sleepy 14 year old with your dad trying to wake you up out of bed on a Saturday morning before sunrise. I can’t sleep that late anymore especially during hunting season but Matt does not like to get up. He said he wanted to sleep in. Knowing that it would be the perfect day, I persisted and finally got him out of the bed and ready to go. The sun was already up and gleaming. I was trying to rush him out the door and talking about being late when Matt reminded me that the deer weren’t going to get there until 9:00 am! Ha! I told him that we needed to be there before they got there and that if we were to see a deer it would be a sleepy deer that doesn\'t like to get up early, a “Sleepy” deer for a “Sleepy” Matt.
We sneaked across the field and into the stand after a short cool walk from the truck. There were some deep impressions of deer tracks pressed into the soft ground all around the area where we were hunting. I could tell that they were recent. The temperature was still around 34 degrees and there was a good frost on the ground from the night before with a calm wind. Once we got in the stand we carefully loaded the rifle and reviewed the proper shot placement for a clean kill and the safe operation of the gun. The sun was starting to burn off the frost as the rising vapors of mist climbed into to air from the grass around the stand.
We were having fun in the stand watching our breath in the cold air when I noticed movement to my left out of the window. A doe was moving quickly across the amber tinted weeds and into a shooting lane that I had cut through the grass in the field. “Get your gun quick” I whispered as I helped him get his rifle into position to make a shot. I turned the camera on to get the event on video. The deer continued along her path making haste, definitely on a mission. I stopped the moving doe with a loud deer bleat sound. “Boom”! The deer just stood there, then turned to her left broad side, Matt had missed! I quickly handed my rifle to him and he eased it out of the window to center the cross-hairs on her again. “She’s running away” Matt said as I watched her bound off unharmed into the cover of the field before he could make a second shot.
It’s a deflating feeling to miss a deer and watch it run off. Let’s face it, it happens to the best of us. Matt and I talked about what happened and where he was aiming trying to go over the train of events that led to our misfortune. We watched the video and saw that the deer turned to her left right before the shot. I told him that no matter what, we were going to keep trying to get him a deer this year. He said that even though he missed, the hunt was a rush of a feeling and he was excited and glad that he woke up and made it to the stand. I told him that it was a good day and still early and not yet 9:00. I reminded him that sometimes when a single doe is on the move, a buck is not far behind. We decided to keep a sharp eye out for another deer because a buck may be a few minutes behind on her trail.
Just then I caught movement from the edge of the shadowed tree line, a buck with his head down right on the trail where the doe had walked! “There he is!” I exclaimed. With stealthy but quick movements, Matt and I changed places in the stand. He wasted no time getting the rifle in the window as I moved the camera out of the way. I made another sound to stop the young buck that was moving from left to right even more rapidly than the doe. Matt instinctively leveled the rifle and “Boom!” the deer jumped from the shot impact and cut across the grass into the lane running to his terminal resting place at the end of the lane.
Seeing the deer expire within view of the stand, we wasted no time getting down and making our way to the prize. The deer was a small six point with a beautiful coat, a great deer for a young man’s first. Matt and I took pictures and enjoyed the moment being sure to give thanks to God for the blessings of the hunt. We are all so fortunate and blessed to be able to enjoy the hunting opportunities our great state of Louisiana has to offer and to share our hunting experiences with our children and friends.
Sleepy the deer was down and it all happened before 9:00!