–This is my submission for the Sportsman Channel Writing Contest for Hunters hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.–
Day 3 of my wonderful three day, hunting and fishing weekend! You can read about day 1 here and day 2 here. In case you have not been following my story, I took a three day weekend to hunt and fish around Martinsville, Va. I hunted on Saturday and Monday. On Sunday I fly fished the Smith River. My in-laws live in Martinsville, so it was a cheap, easy trip.
When I woke up early Monday morning I was expecting a pleasant day in my tree stand and some fine fellowship with my friend, Pastor Buck. I was not expecting to witness an event that I will remember forever or learn a profound lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
The Saturday before I had made a well placed shot at a doe, found good blood and lung tissue, but was unable to recover it. The blood trail just ended. As any hunter knows, this is very discouraging. All Sunday I replayed every moment in my mind, trying to figure out what went wrong. I came up with no answer. Sunday, between fly fishing the Smith River in the morning and evening, I attended church at Pastor Buck's church. He spoke on how that there is nothing a Christian can do to make God love them more than He already does.
Monday morning was a bust for both of us. I saw nothing and Buck let a doe pass by, hoping a buck would follow. When we broke for lunch he expressed regret for that decision. Over lunch we began to discuss his Sunday sermon. I brought up the question "Does God reward us for our good deeds or does he simply keep bad things that normally would happen to us from happening?" We discussed this for a while, but never came to a definitive conclusion.
After lunch we decided to change things up a bit. Buck told me of a large stand of Oaks near the property line that lead into a field of cut grass. Sounded perfect to me! Deer should move out of the thicket to feed in the evening. I set my stand about 150 yards from a barbed wire fence, which was the property line. I could see down into the bottom of a small ravine as well as the field line and a line of thick pine saplings. It was a textbook perfect stand.
About 15 minutes before sunset I heard a shot close by and soon learned by text that Buck had shot a small buck. I asked if he needed help, which he declined. I couldn't help but wonder if Buck shot a deer and I didn't because he was a better person than I (which he is) or if it is simply because he is a better hunter than I (which he is). In my mind I came to the conclusion that God probably doesn't work that way and that Buck was simply a better hunter.
The very moment I came to that conclusion I noticed a large doe walking the fence line. It was past sunset by now and I could not tell which side of the fence it was on. I turned my Nikon scope to 7X and observed the deer. Those Nikon Prostaff scopes are amazing. It made dusk look like noon. I could observe the deer clearly. It was on my side of the fence, but at least 150 yards away, out of range for my skill level with a muzzle loader, and on the property line. I had no intention of shooting at it.
As I watched it through my scope I saw it jump over the fence. It was then that the most amazing thing happened. Its hind leg got caught in the barbed wire! I heard it grunt in pain and saw it struggle wildly. It settled down, but at this point only its rump was visible. The hind leg was clearly broken.
I didn't know what to do. It's vitals were not visible, but I knew I had to attempt to put the deer out of its misery. It was getting dark fast, should I get down out of my stand and position myself for a shot or wait until the deer moved? The deer made the decision for me. It began struggling wildly again, actually launching itself back over the fence, giving me a clear view of its vitals. I took the long shot from my stand. The deer immediately stopped moving.
I climbed out of my stand in record time, reloaded and trotted to the deer with only my gun. At about 70 yards the deer began struggling again. Unsurprisingly, my first shot had missed. I was genuinely afraid that it would free itself, only to die a long agonizing death due to its injury. So, I took another shot at it. This time I had a very clear view of its vitals, but it was struggling around. Not an ideal shot, but I felt that time was running out.
After this shot I realized that my speed loaders we back at the tree. I ran back, reloaded, grabbed my possibilities pouch and ran back to the deer. As I approached all was still. That is, until I got to within about 20 yards. It began to struggle slightly and then sat still with its head up. It knew it was over. I rested my rifle against a tree and placed a bullet an inch behind its eye.
As I approached all I could think of was how the Bible teaches that God caused a ram to be stuck in a thicket for Abraham when he needed it. God did this because Abraham obeyed God's instructions. I was overwhelmed, not because I had finally killed a deer after a 17 year dry period, but because it was obvious to me that God gave me the deer. Killing this deer had nothing to do with my marksmanship or hunting skills. In fact I killed it in spite of my poor marksmanship and hunting skills! God used this deer to teach me a very tangible lesson that He does reward those who diligently seek Him!
I texted Buck to come over, he had to see this! He was as dumbfounded and amazed as I was. Neither of us had ever heard of a deer getting caught like this before. We could not get the leg loose and ended up having to cut off the deer's foot. If you look closely at the above picture you can see that it's hoof had a strange burr on it. When it jumped over the fence its hind foot flew back and caught the lower wire much like a fishing hook. Had it not struggled so wildly it probably could have released itself. However, it managed to wrap the top wire around its foot while struggling.
I will never forget this hunt. It was the most exciting and strange outdoor experience I have ever had!
Stay tuned for what happened after the shot and for the very first meal this deer provided for my family!