A memorable recovery with son’s first deer


Feb 24, 2021
We were drawn in the TPWD public hunt system for a youth only doe hunt just south of San Antonio. Often times, these hunts are just giving people an opportunity to hunt, and the quality of the hunt isn’t all that great. In fact I’ve been on plenty of these hunts where I’m the only breathing thing in the woods and there ain’t no hope of shooting a deer. But time in the field is better than time on the couch. So off we went. We were the last pick for designated areas, and we took the last spot left over. It wasn’t bad, there was a creek bed that ran behind the blind with a mowed clearing between two thickets. Essentially a perfect crossing.

To help manage expectations with my kids, I remind them that first we’re happy to get to hunt. Then be happy if you see something. Then be happy if you’re something legal to shoot. Then be happy if you get a shot, and if all that works out, hopefully you come home with a full cooler. It was that mindset that my 10yr old had as we got comfortable in the blind. Fortunately the first afternoon we saw two does. Out of range, no shot, but hey at least we saw something!

The next morning head back out and get settled. An absolute bruiser of a mature buck comes out and takes his time grazing, fully broadside at 50yds. Of course this was a doe hunt. Of course! We enjoyed seeing a good deer and laughed at how that was the nicest deer we’d see over the next 10 years, a total freebie of a shot, and we couldn’t take it. We ate extra snacks to make ourselves feel better.

Headed back in for a nap and returned for the afternoon hunt. Deer everywhere that afternoon! It was more of a watch and wait for the right opportunity than a hope we see something situation. Finally a nice doe comes into the clearing and begins grazing. I told my son to take his time, that she had no idea we were there and he had alll the time in the world. Several deep breaths, making sure he was set, and he was finally settled for the shot. Bang! ...and she jumped and bolted into the mesquite thicket. She looked awfully strong for having been shot with a 30-30 inside 50yds. I wasn’t confident but tried to remain optimistic. We found hair, but no blood...and no doe. We searched for over an hour and a half through dusk into nightfall. If he hit her, maybe it was off. Not a drop of blood anywhere. But she sure jumped like she’d been hit.

We reported in to the ranger station that we’d taken a shot, thought he’d hit, but did not see blood or find a deer. The ranger said to go ahead and hunt the final morning, that they were overrun with does and could use another one taken. We thanked him and headed back. My son was bummed because he swore he didn’t flinch. I was beginning to question the 170gr Fusion ammo. All just the frustration and over thinking after something doesn’t go right.

Back at it in the morning, again managing expectations and making sure my son knew we’d technically gotten all the luck we could’ve hoped for, we just didn’t get the deer in the cooler. We sat and sat and sat in the wet cold. The Buddy heater kept us warm, and we completely lucked out when a group of three does came into the clearing. I reminded my son that the gun can’t hurt ya, just keep it right up behind her shoulder and squeeze gently until it surprises you. Bang! ...and she bolts. Now I am 100% convinced that either my son is flinching bad or the ammo isn’t expanding or who knows what. We get out of the blind after 20 minutes and go look for blood. None. No hair no nothing. My son is really really upset, both by the fact that he didn’t get a deer and the fact that he may have wounded 2 of them.

We look all over the place, no blood, no hair, no doe. I call the hunt. I cannot let him shoot again at this point as an ethical matter, and I explain to him that we tried our best and used our second chance. He obviously doesn’t want to go home, so he proposes to hike around and maybe we’ll see his doe. I’m thinking that doe is a gone pecan, but we can have fun scouting around so I agree. we go down to the creek bed, no doe. We walk along the creek some, and there are the other two does. They see us and walk a little like they are confused. But they don’t run. This makes me think maybe he did wound the doe and maybe these two are hanging with her because they don’t know what else to do. We scout and search for his deer all over again. The does hang in the area. Nada. Frustrating but we’d kind of already accepted defeat at that point. We hike along the creek and pop back out of the woods at the far end of the mowed clearing, about 300yds from the blind. Time to hoof it back and load up the truck. We plow through the mowed grass and about 75yds from the blind BLOOD! Holy crap on a stick, we’d completely underestimated the shot distance and had missed the blood.

Immediately in the direction of where the doe bolted is a game trail through the mesquite thicket. We head in that direction and crash into the brambles and branches trying to look for more blood, the trail goes down the creek bank, which we had already searched once before, and I crouch and begin going down the bank. I get to where his feet are now eye level and turn to have him hand me his find his doe laying under a mesquite bough, completely hidden from view except at ground level. And his shot was perfect. He hadn’t flinched. Holy moly! What a turn of events. The lucky coincidence of having gone hiking to stumble across the blood was certainly not lost on us, and we rejoiced at the failure transforming to success. We decided to scour the thicket line for the first doe in case she’d died covered up like this one, but did not find any sign of her. And, as we had the first two days, we ate more snacks...there’s always an excuse for more snacks.


Corn king 60

Active member
Feb 4, 2021
Congrats to you both
great lesson look look look and never give up until 100 % sure
we all owe that much to the critters

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