It’s impossible for a man to be in pursuit of the wild life without the proper equipment and transportation. Last year after giving my truck to my ex (it is a long story for another time), I found myself in the unenviable position of short on cash (those darn kids needing a college education and dental work at the same time, and not having an off road vehicle.
Thanks to the generosity of my outdoors partner Douglas and his trusty and rusty 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, we didn’t miss a hunting or fishing expedition, but it’s no way to live. And so about a year ago following one of the basic tenets of men in the pursuit of wild life, I started researching and searching for an inexpensive but good quality vehicle. My first choices of a vehicle were either a mid 1990’s 4x4 Toyota Tacoma pickup or 4Runner. It turns out the 4 door pickups are very hard to find so I quickly narrowed the search to 4Runners. Good condition, low mileage, 4x4’s are also a rarity so I just took my time….about 6 months until I found the right one. I looked online in a 100 mile radius and as luck would have it, I found the right one 3 miles from home, neglected sitting in a small car lot on a side road wedged in with many other cars, bumper to bumper, junk yard style under some oak trees. The 4Runner was just right, 4x4, 3.0 V-6, SR5 trim, leather seats, cruise control, auto transmission, Timing belt and water pump replaced at 109k and tow hitch. It had 113k miles by one non-smoking owner and a car fax report verified that it had been maintained….well until it ended up sitting under the trees. After some serious negotiating and a check out by my mechanic, I paid $3k. Exterior is in great shape but the interior had a far amount of wear. Additionally, the tires were dry rotted and it was in need of a tune up and complete fluid change. More on the clean up, modifications later and the repairs saga later!
While the Hoginator and his wife are enjoying a vacation….yes, I said vacation! Taking non-hunting vacations that overlap with opening day is just plain wrong but that is a subject for another post.
My game plan for opening weekend was to hunt the morning on some private land where I would kill the first legal deer that came out. With that out of the way, I would go to the national wildlife refuge where my plan was to kill another deer or hog or both in the afternoon.
Everything was going as planned. My gear was ready; truck packed, and alarm set. When Saturday morning arrived I was out the door at 4:55 AM. The drive was uneventful under the dark night sky. there were no deer or hogs seen on the side of the road, a good indicator that there may morning activity. When I arrived at the property I pulled my climber out, strap my pack and go to it and walked in to my setup location. The pine tree I climbed is a perfect tree in the perfect place….not easy to come by even in a forest. It's a tall straight 10 to 12 inch diameter longleaf Southern Yellow Pine. It's one of my favorite trees on the property and from about 25 feet up and looking under the canopy of a very large Live Oak to one side and a fence line to the other. I’ve probably killed at least 10 or more deer from that tree.
I was up the tree and ready just before first light. I listened and watched as the sky grew lighter and when I could see the pins of my sight I stood up ready just in case deer would move. Finally at 8:45 AM ago and three yearlings and a mature doe came out of the thicket and under the oak tree. They all moved within range but one of the yearlings was acting skittish. The deer all decided to turn and head back into the brush. The mature doe offered a steeply angled shot and only for a moment before she would slip into the brush. I drew back put my 20 yard pin in the exact location that I expected my arrow to enter, cut through any ribs pierce the lung and perhaps even the heart. When I released my arrow there was there sound of a good hit as the arrow found its mark. However in that split second before the doe disappeared, I was surprised to see is that my arrow was not buried as deep as I had expected. In fact for the split second I watched the deer run out of sight it looked like most of the arrow was not embedded.
To make a long disappointing story short, I waited some time, followed a weak blood trail and determined that the doe had travelled onto private property I did not have permission to enter. I think that the fact that I had substantially reduced my draw weight due to a shoulder injury, and was using a new broadhead that was not a cut on contact head contributed to not recovering the doe.