A Long Game of Chess with a Matriarch Doe Comes to an End
The setting has been too familiar. The similar still morning, the similar walk down the sewer line, the similar blow of a doe that has made us!
I have been hunting this property for over 8 years now. It is a small property that gets a lot of deer traffic coming and going. It doesn’t hold deer but they enjoy visiting the tasty vegetation planted on the sewer line for the land owners’ horses. Most of the deer stay just on the other side of the creek and venture into the horse pastures just before dark and all through the night. I usually try to sneak in and hour or so before dark and try to set up on them as they are coming in to feed for the afternoon and throughout night. I can however get away with a morning hunt or two during the early season when they have not realized that they are fair game again. They usually bust me but if they seek cover in the brush piles within the horse pasture it’s just a matter of time before they try to get back across the creek to their bedding area, having to filter past me to get there.
Me and Rich started out this morning not knowing what to expect on this property. I haven’t hunted it at all yet and I just moved the double set 4 days earlier. I made the move because over the past few years I have been getting busted time and time again. Last year I didn’t harvest one deer off this property because a very wise deer had me figured out. A very wise old doe. She had witnessed me harvest several deer in her presence over the years but managed to escape my arrow. We gathered all of our gear and headed to the stand.
Just as we past the horse stables I paused and thought to myself “Ok… no blowing, crashing or splashing… were good…” We crossed the back field and eased up to the edge of the field. Just as we rounded the first bend I paused and thought to myself again ” “No blowing, crashing or splashing… were good…” There was just a straight shot to the stand and we were on a horse trail that was beat down pretty well, making our approach very stealthy. I smiled and thought to myself “We’re going to make it to the stand without getting busted” Just as fast as the thought entered my head, it left… we just got blown at! She was not happy and she made it known that we were in her block of woods. We stopped for a just a second and then double timed it to the stand. We were already made but it was so thick that there was no way they could see what tree we were in or where we went period.
We slipped in the stand and got comfortable. I told Rich, “Hopefully if everything works out they will come back through or another group will come in.” We sat and waited. We waited. And waited. Ah well, we guessed they crossed somewhere down the creek from us. I was checking my watch to see how much time we had before I had to get to work when Rich tapped me on the shoulder, “There’s a deer, coming around the corner.” He got the camera ready and I stood up to get in the right position to let the arrow fly!
Just as the deer rounded the corner I could tell she was an old doe. She was super cautious and just knew something wasn’t right. I asked Rich if he had her on camera, “Yeah, I got her!” Game on! I got ready to let the arrow fly as soon as she presented me with a shot. Just as she was getting within range, the gig was up! She was getting jumpy and started heading to the pasture fence. If she jumps over it, I wont have a shot. She started to stomp and try to get the rest of her offspring to pay attention. We didn’t know what accompanied her but I wasn’t going to wait to find out! SMAAAACCCCKKKK! She dropped right in her tracks! I didn’t intentionally aim for the spine but the arrow found it’s way dead center. I followed up with another arrow and the game of chess was over.
As we sat there celebrating the harvest we noticed some movement followed by some loud blowing! There stood another 2 1/2 old doe. She kept coming towards the Matriarch Doe, would blow then flee. She did this over and over and over again. I told Rich to get ready and take her if he got a shot. She stayed behind the brush as she ran back and forth though. As things got quite we thought she must have left the area, SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH! Right behind us 4 deer just crossed the creek! There was the older doe, a yearling and 2 fawns. The Matriarch was accompanied by 3 generations of deer! She was obviously the boss and the rest seemed almost confused on what to do without her. They didn’t want to leave the area but as they all took one more look back they headed away from us.
What a journey it has been with this old gal. This had to be right up there with harvesting a Giant Buck for me.