Hunter hunting along a marsh

Chelsea M. Louis G.

Information

  • Date Taken: 10/23/2021
  • Time Of Day: Evening
  • Method: Crossbow
  • County: Livingston County
  • Property: Private
  • Type of Photo: Deer

BACK TO BACK HARVESTS IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS ON 2 TARGET BUCKS!!

PART 1

I’m going to begin this story starting way back on July 1st when Louis sent me a picture of a buck that completely stood out to me. His rack had already grown out past his ears and one of his brow tines was significantly taller than the other. We like to try and name the deer that we see that stand out out to us. First name I thought of right away was Charlie, short for Charlie ‘Brow’n.

Charlie seemed to be just a quick tease for us though for the next couple of months, we didn’t get anymore pics. But, on September 27th Charlie showed himself once again and we were both pretty pumped seeing him and seeing how big he had gotten. It was on October 16th, I mentioned to Louis in a text saying that “I want to see pics with you behind Charlie.” Ironically, the next day, on October 17th, we got another picture of him hitting a scrape along side the field edge. We decided to move on the most recent information we were getting from the camera and hung a new stand in that location, also setting up a mock scrape tree to try and lure him close for a clean shot.

October 22nd, I’m hunting on the land that I have to hunt. It was a little bit of a slow morning so we were passing the time texting one another when our text convo went silent for about 15 minutes. Instinctively, I had a good feeling Louis had a deer close to him; no other reason for him or myself to just stop returning messages out of nowhere. His next text back to me was, “I JUST HAD CHARLIE AT 40 no shot.” I couldn’t believe it. I was so pumped up just hearing the news of Charlie being spotted, I could only imaging the rush of adrenaline Louis must’ve been feeling. There wasn’t much more action the rest of the morning and we decided to call it a hunt.

I got back to my truck and made my way to Louis to do a little touch up work to the new stand. I arrived and put my boots back on, we then grabbed the pole saw and went back to the new stand we had hung to finish trimming some shooting lanes to make the openings a little larger for an arrow to fly through cleanly. We noticed the mock scrape tree had already been getting hit so Louis put out some doe pee in the scrape and preorbital gland scent on the leafy branches over top of the scrape, then left for the afternoon to come back for the evening hunt.

I ended up sitting at the piece that I have to hunt again that evening and told Louis that he should hunt that new stand, and that’s exactly what he did. Louis seemed to be a bit grumpy that evening bc he wasn’t seeing any deer moving like he had the previous evening sits. At 6:30, he told me that he had something to his right, in the woods and that he couldn’t see it. One minute later, he told me, “he was due for a skunk since he had seen at least one deer every sit prior, sounds don’t count.” I responded to him, “You’re gonna see some deer, man.”

The conversation again, goes silent. I knew that the sound he had heard, must’ve been a deer and must be close. 16 minutes go by and my phone vibrates in my pocket. I pull it out, look at it, and the banner on the screen read, “I just shot Charlie.” My only response to him was, “Get the fuck outta here!!! Call me!” Knowing that he or myself would never joke about shooting a deer. We take it way too serious to just joke about it like that. I definitely believed him.

He called me right away and told me the story on how it happened and what had happened after the shot. He had seen it mule kick and start to run off, crashing a couple times before making it into the woods where he had lost sight but was able to hear it crash again and didn’t hear anything after that. Hearing this from him made me feel pretty confident that he was done for.

I packed my stuff, climbed down early from my hunt, filled with excitement and completely elated for my brother. I rushed as quickly as I could to his property, about 15 minutes from mine, anxiously awaiting to give my guy a big ol hug and to congratulate him. We waited for another 25 minutes before Louis and I made the walk back to start tracking the deer.

We arrived at the shot location and didn’t have a problem following the blood whatsoever. Tracked it roughly 70 yards into the timber and it led us to Charlie lying there, expired. We stood there for a few seconds admiring the animal and it seemed we were both at a of loss for words. Emotions were going crazy. We exchanged handshakes and hugs once again. It was checkmate in our hunters game of chess. The chase was over. The target animal had been tagged and harvested.

We took pictures for the memories to rest on the wall at home. I had recorded the tracking job for us to be able to watch whenever we please. Something he can show his beautiful daughter, Harper for years to come.

Congratulations, brother on another compound bow kill! Proud of you! Well deserved! Way to put in the work and keep adamant!! Happy as hell to be a part of everything once again and certainly cannot wait to do it all over!!

PART 2

Early last week Chelsea mentioned to me that she wanted to come out hunting for one of the weekend days with me. I was happy to hear that she had the interest in getting out and that she had the time to do so in between her schooling and work. Again, I had another instinctive feeling that Chelsea was going to come out and and get an opportunity at one of the shooters that were on camera. I had even mentioned my inclination to my dad and a couple of buddies. I just had a really good feeling that was how it was going to play out that morning she hunted.

The following morning after Louis’s harvest, it’s October 23, the alarm sounds and it’s time for Chelsea, who’s hunting for the first time this season, and myself to wake up and get moving however, the waking up and get moving part didn’t come easy to Chelsea. I hit snooze once and gave her a few extra minutes to rest but when the alarm sounded again, it was the same story. I began to get frustrated. I don’t like to be late for anything, in fact I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late to anything I attend and I most certainly don’t want to be late to get in the woods in the mornings…one of my pet peeves actually. It got to a point where I had to firmly tell Chelsea that it was now or never, are you going or not, we’re late already? She chose to get up and get moving. We started to rush and get ready as quickly as we could and out the door we went. We only had about a 25 minute drive as we were staying at her cousins house the night before.

We arrived and I started to get everything I was going to need in my back pack in order to be able to film Chelsea’s hunt. I then got the crossbow out and cocked it for her. She and I were both ready to make the trek into the woods.

It was a very calm, cold and quiet morning. We had to tip toe our way to the tree in hopes of not spooking anything in the area away which we did successfully. I climbed up in the tree first and waited for Chelsea so I could help set her up with attaching her harness to the tree and then screwing in the hangers needed for the bow and both cameras. When we were settled in, there were only a handful of minutes left before there was legal shooting light.

There wasn’t any sight of deer movement for the first hour. I asked Chelsea a few times if she was comfortable and warm which she said that she was. I told chelsea to take the cross bow and practice shouldering it while aiming at my doe decoy that I had set up in hopes to lure a buck in closer. Chelsea seemed to be comfortable with holding the bow freehand while looking down the scope aiming at the decoy. I made a plan and told her that I would help hand her the bow if an opportunity were to come as it was kind of in a cumbersome spot for her to get with minimum movement.

I was just getting ready to record my morning interview, like I always try to do, when I heard the leaves rustle, knowing right away that it wasn’t a squirrel. I looked down and seen the legs of a deer walking our way and then a second later, I realized it was a shooter buck. This is it; it was a beautiful first deer yet alone, a buck opportunity!!

I told Chelsea, “Be quiet, deer coming…it’s a buck,” as I knew she couldn’t hear it coming with her winter hat and jacket hood over top of it. I quickly handed her the cross bow while turning on my cameras at the same time.

The buck was walking in our direction with his nose to the ground and was getting close fast. Expecting the buck to see the decoy and become a bit distracted and consumed by her being there, he did the opposite. As soon as he seen the decoy he stopped dead in his tracks at 15 yards and stood there just inside the tree line. He was very uneasy about the decoy. He started stomping at the ground while staring at her for a couple minutes. My stomach began to sink. I’ve seen and witnessed deer enough to know that when they do this similar ground stomping, it’s only a short matter of time before the deer will turn around and leave or bound off with their tail up, knowing something isn’t right about the situation.

Chelsea had the cross bow shouldered just like she had practiced minutes earlier and I had the deer on my camera screen. The buck started to make his move to turn away from the decoy but stopped again, turning his body slightly quartering to us but is still fixated on the decoy. I whispered to Chelsea, “if you have a clean shot, take it. Aim just under his face,” as that would be the area where his vitals would be with how he was standing and the way he had his neck and head turned to keep his eyes on the decoy. Even if she were to hit his shoulder, at that short of a distance and her using a bow that shoots 400+ ft/sec, I knew it would still penetrate through without and problems. Chelsea took her time and pulled the trigger. The buck did a huge mule kick in the air and then bounded off back in the direction that he came from. He went about 40-50 yards, stopped and stood there for a long moment, then continued to walk away with a couple flickers of his tail. Again, my heart sank. I knew that with the flickers of the tail, he had been hit, but I also knew that if it were a good shot, he should’ve already have crashed.

I told Chelsea on the drive there that if she were to shoot something, she would have to keep her composure and not start crying loudly like she had done with her turkey in the spring. After she had shot, she did a fantastic job staying quiet while letting her own emotions out.

5 minutes go by. I decide to get down to look at the arrow that was stuck in the ground. The arrow itself had very minimum blood on it. When I grabbed it, I could feel it was slimy. I smelled the arrow and my fingers and knew right away it was a gut shot. I climbed back into the tree to let Chelsea know what I had found and what I thought we would have to do. I told her that we are going to have to wait a minimum of 5-6 hours before we try to pursue the tracking in hopes that it would give the animal enough time to expire without jumping and pushing him further. We packed up our gear and made our way back to the truck.

Fast forward 5 hours. We arrived back and followed the deers path he had taken when he walked away. We came across blood rather quickly and continued following it. The blood trail grew bigger and so did my hopes of finding him. The buck had crossed a dirt road where it was easy to see that he was bleeding pretty bad. My hopes at this point were that she maybe had caught it’s liver as well on the shot. Before continuing on the blood trail, We had to go and ask permission with the property owner if it would be ok if we continued our search onto their land, which was granted.

The deer had clearly crossed their front lawn walking through their grass which made for hard tracking as there weren’t hardly any leaves on the ground to help pick up the blood. We took our time and slowly followed blood across their driveway and into the patch of woods next to their house for 50 yards where we came across a bed where he had laid down. Once again, my stomach sank and anxiety went up. Really was hoping that he would’ve been expired in the first bed he laid in.

We continued to look for more blood after the bed for quite some time circling the bed. Neither Chelsea or myself could find any. I was ready to call for a tracking dog at this point so I told Chelsea that we needed to back out and go to the truck so we don’t keep spreading our scent in the area where it might confuse a tracking dog. We got back to the truck, and I started looking online as well as asking friends for recommendations of good tracking dogs. I was recommended by a few friends to try and get a hold of a gentleman named Robert Miller. I was told that he was one of the best in the area, if not in the state. Luckily for us, when I called he was getting ready to start tracking for a different Hunter so he was able to pick up his phone. I told him the scenario of what had happened and told him that I would send him pictures and the video I had recorded of the shot placement on the deer. Robert called me back as soon as he was done looking at my footage and told me that that deer could easily live 24 hours And that if I wanted him to show up with his dogs, I would need to go around and ask permission to adjacent landowners if we could go and track on their land and then he would call me back when he was done with his track. I told him I would do just that and that I/we really appreciate it.

I drove around and knocked on six doors
praying that they would allow us to continue our search and thankfully five of them did however, I couldn’t get in contact with one owner because nobody was home, luckily we didn’t need to go on their land. At this time, All we could do was sit and wait to hear back from Robert. A few hours had passed and still no word from him. I made the decision for Chelsea and I had to go back and try doing a grid search of the section of woods where we last had blood, trying to avoid touching any branches or limbs that were in our way. We looked for just shy of 2 hours and still came up with nothing. Again, I pulled us out of the woods because I felt like there was nothing more we could do at that time.

A half hour later, I received a phone call from Robert. I told him what we had done and that we had found nothing and that we had permission to x, y and z’s properties. I was on speakerphone with him as we were both looking at the satellite view of the land to try and get an understanding as to where that deer may have gone. Robert told me what could happen if he came out with his dog, and that was that he could find it and the deer may be expired or that the dog may find it and jump him causing for a further tracking job. He also told me that his dog isn’t as good as his old dog was when it comes to tracking after 24 hours but if we were to jump him, it would leave a fresh scent trail for the dog to pick up again if we needed to come back the next day. I told Robert that I wanted to do everything in my capability and my due diligence as an ethical hunter to retrieve this deer. I really wanted to Chelsea to have this deer as well as put meat in our freezer instead of leaving it to die slowly and left for coyotes. I told Robert that I was willing to pay him whatever his cost would be to come and try giving us a hand, whether we retrieve it or not, it was the right thing to do. He said that he would be there in a half hour.

Robert arrived, we shook hands and introduced ourselves. He put his dog on a 30-40’ leash and off we went. I took him to the spot where the deer had crossed the road. Sergeant(the dog) had already had his nose to the ground smelling the blood. As soon as Robert gave the command to “find it,” sergeant went to town and within two minutes, lead us to the spot of our last blood, the same thing that took Chelsea and myself a half hour. Watching sergeant work was absolutely fascinating and completely amazing. It was clear that Robert had spent hundreds of hours training this dog.

Sergeant didn’t stop for a second at our last blood he continued right through and ended up finding more blood that we did not and continued on the deers trail until it came to a point where it was clear that the deer had bedded down in multiple spots in a small patch of tall, thick grass. Sergeant circled this area a couple of times having a hard time picking up where the deer had gone after he had left this area. Sergeant lead us back towards the road and I told Robert that I would have to go and ask permission to the house across the street because I didn’t think that the deer would go back that way in the open. Robert agreed with me but told me to go and ask permission just in case while he took sergeant back to the patch of grass where the beds were to see if he can pick something up that Sergeant missed the first time.

I was granted permission and as I was walking back to meet up with Robert, I received a phone call from him. He told me that Sergeant had found new blood and was on the right path and to meet him in a certain spot on the property so that’s what we did. When we met up with Robert, he had told me that Sergeant had just jumped the deer and for me to run back to the truck to grab the bow while he took Sergeant back to his vehicle to maintain legality purposes. I took my jacket off, left it with Chelsea and ran fast as I could with my 18 inch rubber boots, two layers of pants and my hunting undershirt. I wish I had already grabbed the bow from the rip, but I guess I was leaning on Robert to give me the advice to do so. I arrived at the truck, damn near hyperventilating and sweat beading down my face, I got the crossbow out, cocked it and ran back as fast as I could to where I had left Robert and Chelsea but they were gone. I reached for my phone to contact them but soon realized that I had left my phone in the jacket that I had taken off before the run. Now I am going instinctively in the direction of what I felt the deer may have ran and luckily, I found Chelsea. She was waving me forward and whispered in a loud manner for me to hurry up and get to there because she could see the deer. I walked over as fast as I could and as quietly as I could to hand her the crossbow so that she could get a shot. When I got to her, the deer had heard a branch snap under our boots, jumped up and ran away again.

The three of us regrouped and made a plan to try and sneak up on this buck once again. Luckily the deer had ran in an area that was a lot more quiet of a walk. We followed blood to the crest of the hill where we peaked over and could see the buck laying down. It was at this time where Chelsea was able to finally put another clean and ethical shot on this buck.

The buck never moved after the shot. It had expired within seconds of making the shot. The sense of relief along with the complete adrenaline rush had our emotions going crazy! We hugged, shook hands and tagged Chelsea’s first deer. Being the genuine person that Robert is, he went against his rule that he has for himself and that he had posted on his Facebook page and helped me drag the deer back to the truck. When we arrived, I asked Robert for his information so I could pay him. He said before we do that we had to take pictures of Chelsea, Sergeant and the deer together. Myself, knowing that Robert had the rest of the night to continue to go out and track other hunters deer, just showed how personable enough he was to take the time and help us take some beautiful pictures, pictures that will last longer than a lifetime.

Robert went way out of his way, to not only make sure that this buck was recovered, but to make sure that we were completely satisfied with the end results of retrieving this deer and so that Chelsea and myself are in a couple pictures together. Originally, I had thought that this was a new 10 point at first that was coming in at us. There was leaf cover and everything happens so fast. It wasn’t until after we recovered the buck, I realized it was one of the target bucks I had been following on my trail cams. That made it even better!!

As excited as I was knowing the deer wasn’t suffering any longer I couldn’t help but to feel empathy for the animal. Yes, we are hunters, but the last thing we want is for an animal to suffer, we LOVE animals. I was very elated knowing the the buck was going to come home to feed us and not laying there suffering, waiting for the coyotes to get him.

Every hunt I go on, I try to learn something new, whether it’s certain sounds animals make, what patterns or routes taken more frequent by animals…etc, or in this case, to just let the deer continue on its path the way he was in hopes of getting a better, more clean and ethical of a shot for an inexperienced hunter. I have to understand that I have been hunting for over 20 years now and have hundreds of not thousands of hours sitting in the stand. I have shot and lost my share of deer when I was younger. I have learned from those mistakes and know when I’m comfortable taking another shot on an animal. I now understand that Chelsea is completely new to hunting and I cannot expect her to know nearly close to as much as I have thought myself through my past personal experiences. The only real way to learn is by making your own mistakes and wanting to better yourself to keep from making the same mistake twice. If that deer were standing broadside, the shot placement that Chelsea made would’ve been lethal. But since the deer was slightly quartering to us, the arrows path went through the gut. This was the first time Chelsea has pulled the trigger on a deer. In the mix of the adrenaline rush and excitement, I can understand how easy it is to black out and not really look at the big picture of things as i have done it myself. Chelsea knew in her head where to aim on the deer and she hit her mark, it was just a bad angle for the arrow to hit that mark this time.

Through this endeavor, I had learned a handful of things, including mistakes made on my part that I take responsibility for. I can only take what I have learned and apply the knowledge into the future endeavors, and I hope Chelsea does as well.

After everything was done and over with, it became apparent to Chelsea that her cousin is great, if not best friends with Robert’s daughter. As big as this world really is, it sure can seem small at times. Pretty neat.

10-23-21
CONGRATULATIONS CHELSEA ON A MAGNIFICENT FIRST DEER. I love you and again, couldn’t be any more proud of the way you handled and took in everything that happened on this day! You did amazing!!