I wouldn't have to wait very long. At 6:40 a.m., I heard the unmistakable sound of water sloshing and a large animal heading my way. It was approaching from my rear and coming in rather quickly.
I got a glimpse, and it was a very large black hog (around 200 pounds) following a trail that would bring it to within a couple of feet of my tree as it passed by. I couldn't ask for a better set up. No reason to try a straight-on shot from 20 yards, as the hog was partially in cover and when it passed by my tree there would be no obstructions and I could pick my shot.
Yeah right! It never seems to work like that, does it?
The hog came to a dead stop inches away from the base of my tree. I held my breath as I was only about 5 feet above the big hog. Why had it stopped? Two more steps would bring it out into the clear for the shot I wanted.
Then I realized what was happening. The day before I had been at this location cutting away some limbs for shooting lanes. I was careful to move the branches where they would not obstruct the heavily used trail that ran right next to my stand.
It was THOSE branches that he hog had stopped to sniff. Not good, my friend! When a hog smells something suspicious, it is about to be over! But I had no shot.
The hog turned around, hesitated for a second, then bolted away from under my stand and, even worse, was starting and stopping in an erratic fashion. I tried a quick shot, but only found about five coarse hairs on my fletching: nothing but a close shave for that lucky hog.
I was very disappointed, but man was my adrenaline pumping! You can't simulate that at the bow range!
The next few hunts were uneventful; we were not seeing a lot of activity, hunting at several different locations.
Then my buddy Jimmy and I tried a new location and got up close to a few does and a nice 6-pointer, but we could not close the deal.
Trying still another location, we got back into the hog action mixed in with a couple of does.
The hogs were traveling in groups and coming out to feed right before dark. One afternoon, I saw walking single file, six hogs – five of which looked better than 150 pounds, with the sixth about 80 pounds.
But as we saw them and tried to anticipate their next move on the next hunt, they would come out in a different area. Close enough to see, but not to shoot. Hogs can be quite challenging to hunt on a public area, where you can't use feeders and bait. But that just makes it more fun for me.
On the same afternoon that I saw the six hogs, a nice mature doe came out and began feeding right behind me near the marsh. I was hunting in an area with numerous small willow trees, and trying to get a shot between those trees was very difficult to say the least.
I thought I had a shot several times, only to have the doe move on to the next bush to feed. I drew back when I had a good opening, but had to let down when she took a step and the kill zone disappeared behind another tree.
Still I wanted to be patient and get the right shot, so I waited. Finally at 25 yards, I thought I had the right opportunity.
I drew back and let an arrow fly.
All hell broke loose! The arrow slammed into one of those darned 2-inch willows no more than 1 ½ inches away from the kill zone.
The doe jumped, and at least two more deer bolted off that were in the area behind me. I had no idea whatsoever those deer were even there.
So now I am left looking at my arrow still quivering in the tree. I quickly nocked another arrow, as the doe had no idea what had happened and was back eating not more than 30 yards away.
But no matter how I tried, I could not get another open shot, and I watched the doe slowly fade away, feeding all the time, into the distance.
This was not the start to the season that I had hoped for. But again, the adrenaline was flowing; I just had not sealed the deal.
Pretty much sure that the day was done, I settled in and hoped for another chance. As the light began to fade, it looked like my chances were also fading away.
Suddenly I heard just a slight crack and could see a doe sneaking by at 40 yards. As she was walking rapidly, I quickly drew back, settled my 40-yard pin and released an arrow. This time from the reaction of the doe, I knew this encounter would have a better result. I made my way to the area of the shot, and quickly found blood. The doe had made two jumps and was down for good.
A double lung shot ensured that result. For sure not the biggest doe I ever shot, but after my first couple of efforts it sure felt good!
One deer down and now I am looking for the next one.
I'll let you guys know what I find on my next adventure.