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Thread the Needle

Doe-1

 

Each year, the counterpoint of the organized chaos of everyday life, is archery opener. Oh, I like the chaos - but my soul cries for the counterpoint. Opening morning of archery this year was damp and still, and found me on a tree stand over a well-worn deer trail between two frequented food plots where I felt sure I would see whitetails.   Everything went right, but all I saw were turkeys. I sneaked in and out without being detected, which is half the battle.

 

Two days later, I was heading out again. The next morning, everything seemed to go wrong, even though the weather and wind were perfect.   I could not find my gear, made noise getting into the woods, had to use my flashlight so I was sure I was seen and then dropped my rangefinder to the ground from my tree stand. I just figured, okay God, this one is up to you. He wired me to love bowhunting. I clicked off my flashlight and sat still for a few moments, clearing my brain. The darkness felt close, while the vastness of the woods made even a frog croaking in the distance sound loud. I do what I usually do. Pray. I set my bow down, raised both hands to my Creator and gave thanks there in the dark – asking for success even though I had bumbled through getting here.

 

The sun rose through the trees and the plot in the distance glistened with dew. My bow was at the ready, arrow nocked, caliper on the bow loop. Squirrels started corkscrewing down trees, birds began their songs, but otherwise the morning was so quiet I could hear mice in the leaves below.

 

An hour went by, then two. Then from nowhere a doe fawn galloped into the middle of the plot, frisking about like youngins’ do. It stopped to graze, then looked back a couple times. That was my cue that another deer was coming. I slo-mo turned and saw a large doe walking through the woods and up to the edge of the plot where it stopped.   All I could see of the doe was its midsection, and the top of its head pop up when it stopped grazing to look around. In the 22 yards between it and me, was what we call a “thread the needle” shot. There was just one small vertical opening for my arrow to fly through, just high enough for the arc of the arrow not to hit any leaves or branches. I practice this shot a lot at base camp, shooting 20-30 yards through the sliver openings between trees.   I slowly turned, drew my bow and held, focusing on that needle shot, then let the arrow fly. The doe bound off into the distance and then there was no sound after 5 seconds.

 

Doe-2

Just in case my shot wasn’t’ perfect, I waited a few minutes in my tree, then climbed down and went to where I saw the doe last. There was no arrow, so it was not a pass through shot, which meant no blood trail. I thought I made a perfect lung shot.   My heart sank because trying to track a deer with no blood trail, through heavy forest understory, is difficult. Doing a cross hatch pattern, I looked for blood or deep tracks, and found neither. After covering a couple acres doing this search, I went back to the spot the doe initially stood, and started all over again with no luck.

 

Standing in the middle of woods, I just stopped in dismay and disappointment. I knew that deer was dead somewhere. So I prayed again that I would have success finding the doe, that I would not waste this harvest. Then a thought came to me. When a deer is on a death run, it can’t think straight and instinctively does two things – follows a familiar path, and runs downhill. I went to a deer trail I knew of and walked the slight downhill slope it took. And there was the doe, piled up – this within 60 seconds of my prayer for help. I fell to my knees there in the woods and for the first time in my hunting career, cried like a baby. When God answers prayer that fast, it blows my mind. Composing myself, I went to the doe and flipped it over. There was my arrow, a perfect lung shot, with my broadhead lodged in a rib bone, so no exit wound.  

Doe-3

 

I texted my husband that I found the deer, piled up 80 yards from the plot. I field dressed the deer and dragged it back to the plot. My husband arrived with an ATV to take me and it back to camp and to get it processed right away since the day had heated up and we didn’t want it to spoil.

 

I start every hunt with prayer, usually standing on the deck of my cabin in the dark looking up at the constellation Orion, the hunter. I accept whatever is in store, because I just love being out there.   I usually harvest a deer, but I don’t assume I will.   I thank God for every moment in His creation, and for the energy and health to pursue my bowhunting passion. The narrow way is often not the easiest way, it takes practice. Threading the needle takes focus and resolve.