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Season Ender
Author: Weston Paul
Groups: Tribe Stories
May 9, 2013

Montana's general hunting season was quickly coming to a close and I had yet to fill my deer tag. The bigger buck I’d been after continued to stay just out of range. With the clock ticking I passed on some good bucks, however, it was beginning to feel like crunch time.

This was my third year hunting this area and I had yet to kill a buck. Deer really have the ability to humble me. I made it a point to hunt a bit harder this year in an effort to kill a mature deer. I set my stands early in the year, focusing on a few new locations, and logged as much time in the stand as I could. As the rut heated up, I made a few all day sits and with the changing weather came an increase in deer activity. The bucks were active and my biggest predicament was which stand I should sit in. I held out on several decent deer with the hope of shooting a trophy.

Just when I thought I was getting these deer figured out, they’d throw me for a loop. The deer I wanted always seemed to be just out of range or he picked the trail that went behind my stand. Treestand hunting is a patience builder, but as the end of the season approached, my patience was growing thin.

With a little over a week to go, I really wanted to put some more meat in the freezer and I still had hopes of hanging a trophy on the wall, however,I’d been hunting a lot and I was beginning to question my priorities. That morning, I snuck in extra early and I made up my mind that I needed to call it quits this year. 'One last sit and I’m hanging up the bow', I told myself. Just a little before first light, the area started to come alive. I could make out several does and I knew that a good buck was nearby. Another half an hour passed and I saw him. He was following a few does. They crossed the fence and were moving directly towards me. I got everything ready and the next thing I knew, they turned and started feeding away. As they disappeared I got a little disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it. 

At that moment I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a smaller buck and it looked like he had something tangled up in his antlers. As he got closer, I realized he had an arrow sticking out of his neck. My mind raced, but my bow was ready. He was certainly not the trophy I was after, but he was hurting. Would he make it through the winter with that kind of wound? He was getting closer and as his head passed behind a big cottonwood, I drew. He kept walking, never noticing me, and I stopped him on my left side. He looked up and I’d already settled in for a 16 yard shot.   He jumped and ran about 60 yards.

As I got down out of my stand, I was relieved to bring my season to an end and top off the freezer. Certainly not with a trophy whitetail, but I feel I made the ethical choice. Who knows how long he had been walking around with that arrow sticking out of his neck. Even though I’m fairly new to archery hunting, I do know shots such as this are sometimes reality.

To the former owner of that arrow – I know that wasn’t where you intended to place it, but I’ll gladly use it to shoot gophers in the spring.

Nice job you made the right call. We need more guys like you out in the woods.
Posted by vince on May 10, 2013 10:08 AM

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