What it means to lose a deer

by Nov 7, 2012Uncategorized

What it means to lose a deer

It was horrible. I remember the noise she made when she dropped. How she spun on the ground trying to get back up. I can remember pretty much everything about that 2pm sunny, Saturday afternoon in November. I remember her finally getting back up and thinking she would just go a few more feet, fall and die. That is why I didn’t take that second shot.

When Dad came to get me from the tree stand and we started following the blood trail, it was almost a straight line. There was so much of it. We followed it and followed it and then, nothing. No blood. No tracks. It was like she disappeared into the ether. We searched until it was dark. Then Dad searched again on Sunday trying to find my doe. She was lost.

For any hunter, losing a deer is heart wrenching. To make an animal suffer goes against everything we stand for. Yes, I want to kill an animal, but I want to do it in a way that is so instant and carefully done that the deer does not suffer. To know that one did and that we never recovered it is something I, and many many hunters like me, have had to deal with.

I know three people who are hunting for their first whitetail this fall. My Hubby got his but my friend Robin and my cousin are still on the hunt. I received a text from my cousin this morning:

I had the big one in my sights and he got away =( I shot him Monday and hit him. Yesterday your Dad and I tracked him for miles before we lost his trail.

As we talked, my cousin explained how she hit this deer at about 100 yards and he ran. Ran! He ran from her field, about a mile north through the woods, crossed Route 2 and ended up crossing onto the property that I have my tree seat on. He never bedded down.

I would have preferred to have missed him completely!

When I lost my deer, my Dad said it happens to many hunters and throughout the years as I have talked to people, it is true. The more you hunt, the higher your chance is to lose a deer. But it really breaks your heart. My cousin is dealing with that now. Her first chance at a nice big buck and knowing that she hit him but just can’t find him… it tears at you and can shake your confidence.

Three years after I shot that doe, I still think about losing her when I am in that stand but now, I have another story about another deer.

I hope that while Dad and I head back into the woods on Friday, that he can find that deer somewhere in the woods. I think it would give my cousin the closure I never had.

3 Comments

  1. One year I shot an old warrior. He was a beauty. I saw him hunch and then he ran off. I knew it was a kill shot and he went to the creek to die, but the creek was a thick maze of Russian Olive trees. I looked and looked, but couldn't find him. I didn't shoot another deer because I knew I would find him. The next spring while my husband was turkey hunting I still looked for him and actually found him. I tagged the antlers (yes I had the tag in my pocket. I am a determined woman) and they hang in my bedroom. I have shot bigger deer, but he was the oldest and trickiest!

  2. Heart wrenching is a great description Erin..

  3. Well written. It bring back feelings of my own lost deer. I remembered every detail of my experience while reading about yours.

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Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.

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