The Heart of a Hunter

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October 2009.
The bow shot was true.
The arrow passed between the ribs on one side, through both lungs and broke a rib as it exited the other side.
The buck stumbled, made a mad dash down toward the creek and died after only going 40 yards or so.
Fifty-five year old Doug observed most of this from his stand... and felt the exhiliration go through him... it was a great feeling and another sweet bow kill.
Climbing down after an hour or so - and with nightfall looming - Doug moved through the North Carolina woods with ease as he angled down toward the creek.
Finding the buck and knowing it was a long drag to the truck, Doug called his buddy to come help get and load the deer. This was a prophetic move and one that Doug would long appreciate.
After dragging the buck a few scant yards to the creek - while field dressing the buck, the knife slipped and put a nasty gash in Doug's thumb.
Disgusted with himself, Doug is now shaking off his own blood and moves to a large, flat rock to wash his hands and see how badly he is cut.

The accident was swift and sudden in it's simplicity.
After rinsing his hands, Doug rose, took a step backwards on the rock - and his feet went out from under him and he landed flat on his back, with his head then striking the flat of the rock behind him.
Dazed and half unconscious, Doug laid there til his buddy arrived.
Fast forward more than half a year later.
After months of rehab, the shoulder damage appears permanent. The back has healed and the stitches to the head and thumb are long gone.
Pain management has been an issue.
Strength and range of mobility are incredibly limited.
Bow season 2010 rolls around and the left handed PSE remains in the closet - he cannot draw it. A crossbow looms in the future - but 2010 is not the year.
Bow season comes and goes and we enter rifle season.
Managing the rifle is no piece of cake, but after several range sessions, Doug is ready to try.
Several hunts come and go and we move into the middle of November. Deer are seen but none taken.
On an unusally warm day in the second week of November, Doug decides an afternoon hunt is in order.
With a kiss to the wife and a bag lunch, Doug heads out mid morning and ends up in a secluded tree stand that sits over a dense thicket between a small swamp and a pine plantation. Doug knows deer frequent this thicket and hopes that this is the right spot...
The morning comes and lunch passes by... the hours drag on and no deer are seen. With only an hour of hunting light remaining, Doug spies a small doe sneaking through the thicket and behind her is an even smaller fawn... head down, they move out into the pine thicket and disappear.
Settling back into his seat, Doug is ready to dismiss this sighting when a nice eight pointer comes out along the same trail - but moving FAST!!!
In just a second, he is gone..... out into the pines... headed along the same path the doe and fawn took.
"Darn it", Doug thinks... "well, he was not a great shooter anyway" and he settles back down once more...
Moments pass and then the doe and fawn run from the pines and right back into the thicket - with the eight pointer running behind and grunting up a storm!!!
A racket ensues in the thicket as Doug hears running back and forth, lots of grunting, crashing of sticks and just general mayhem!
Back out of the thicket the three fly - this time further down the thicket but angled back toward Doug....moving from his right to his left, they pass within mere yards of the front of the stand and quickly fade out of sight...
"Wow, that was fast - and great to watch" muses Doug - and then he hears a sound - way over to the right - that is unmistakable... the crashing of limbs, rustling of leaves and a deer grunting deep down in his chest... headed this way - and moving quickly!
Rifle at the ready, Doug watches as a great buck comes stiff leggedly into view... he is in full rut - neck swollen, eyes rolled back in their sockets, drool hanging from his lips... he is oblivious to the world as he makes a bee line for the trail the deer used only a moment before!
The 150 grain bullet catches him at the base of the neck, tears through the spine and then breaks the right shoulder into pieces before exiting the body and being lost forever in the soft North Carolina ground.
The 185 pound deer has chased his last doe and is dead before he hits the ground.
Ten minutes later and some thirty five miles away, a cell phone chirps.
The call is answered and the first thing he hears is "I am not standing on a flat rock and yes, my knife is safely stowed in my pocket. Come give a brother a hand"!!

(Doug is a dear friend of mine and I was delighted to get this picture and be able to relay his great story. God Bless all who overcome adversity and those that assist them as they do so.)


ManOfTheFall's picture

That was a great story with

That was a great story with some tense scary moments. I did enjoy reading it though especially with the good outcome. Doug was very lucky he didn't suffer a serious head injury. Hopefully some day he can get back out there with his bow. If not with the bow he can get a crossbow and see how fun that is also. I'm glad to hear he didn't have anything majorly wrong and he is healing up. Congratulations goes out to Doug on a very nice buck, and thank you for sharing your story. 

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Nice story Jim, and a great

Nice story Jim, and a great deer.  It actually looks like an old, deep woods deer from the northeast.  Does not look like a southern deer. Maybe he is a snowbird and went south for the winter... lol

Awesome buck!  Glad to hear he got another one too!  Congrats to him!

CVC's picture

Who talk about tough luck and

Who talk about tough luck and determination to come back.  Maybe that should be his nickname, the comeback kid.  I think hunting is good for the soul of a man.  What other pursuits would drive someone to fight back from injuries to get back into the woods despite the pain and harvest a beautiful deer like the one he did?

I have read blog stories written by journalist and realize they shoud take some notes from the members here that write stories.  Maybe the form is not proper journalism form, but the heart of the story speaks to the readers and isn't that what writing is about?

jim boyd's picture

Comeback Kid!

I am delighted to report now that Doug has taken another excellent eight point buck in North Carolina!

I do not have all of the details yet - I have only seen a photograph of the buck - but once I do have good information, I will pass it along.

I am very proud of Doug and his adventures (and harvests!) this year!

CVC's picture

well that is exciting news  i

well that is exciting news  i look forward to a story and pictures  

jaybe's picture

Good Title!

The Heart of a Hunter is sure a good title for this story.

I think every hunter can identify with the prospect of our ability to get out in pursuit of wild game being lost.

For most of us, the odds of an accident such as this is probably very small.

But for all of us, this right could be lost through bad legal decisions made without our consent.

I don't mean to divert attention from the heart of your brother - which is obviously "A Hunter's Heart" - only to remind us all that if some people have their way, we could all end up playing video games rather than actual hunting.

I applaud your brother for his determination to get back out there.

Congrats on the fine buck.

I pray that his injuries are still healing and that he'll be pain free in the future.