Last week I had a great deer hunt, which will probably be my last deer hunt of the year before I transition over to chasing squirrels in the treetops and an occasional coyote hunt. For me the hunt was successful in every sense of the word. I thoroughly enjoyed the stillness in the woods while the 15-degree weather nipped at my fingertips and nose. The sky was extra clear as it often is in the winter. Yes, this was one of those special hunts you can only enjoy on a clear winter day, and I got a deer.
After I shot the deer with my muzzleloader it ran 75 yards and dropped in view of my stand. It was only 3:45pm giving me about another hour of light. I decided to kick back enjoy the sunset and see if I could fill another tag.
I was not blessed with another deer, but eagerly approached my downed deer immediately after legal shooting hours had passed. When I reached the deer I confirmed my suspicions when I had made the decision to shoot it. ………. I had shot an antlerless fawn buck. As I reflected for a few moments before field dressing as I always do I was not feeling shame, embarrassment, or inferior as some might expect. Instead I was thankful, excited for the meat, and I could not wait until I got home to show my son who just turned 3 Daddy’s deer.
As a member of the QDMA I am aware of the ramifications of shooting too many young bucks. I believe in the mission of the QDMA and advocate passing younger deer. As a matter of fact as admired my deer I wondered if this fawn back is the same one I passed on the opening weekend of the Wisconsin gun deer season about 3 weeks earlier.
Let me take you back to my hunt and the thoughts going through my mind at the time, so you can understand how I came to my decision and why I was so excited to take that particular deer.
When I noticed the deer I was immediately excited. I experienced the type of excitement where you feel your heart is going to jump out of your chest from pumping to hard. Ever since the farmer chisel plowed the property I hunt in early November deer activity had been minimal. The first opportunity the deer presented me I passed. I struggled with the fact it was still early in the evening and the deer was small. I hoped a bigger deer would come in before dark. Even as the deer stood broadside 20 yards in front of me I passed on the shot.
As the young deer started circling toward my food plot my mind was flooded with different thoughts. I remembered I had not seen this deer with any other ones on my trail camera, maybe I won’t see another deer tonight I thought to myself. In the back of mind I thought about the last 2 years where I had not harvested a deer. As the deer entered my food plot I was painfully aware with a 6 and 3 year old at home this might be my last deer hunt of year. I thought about my freezer, which only has a few pounds of ground venison left in it. I thought about the fact during the time since my last deer I have developed a strong desire to try venison heart, but haven’t had the opportunity. After all of those thoughts raced through my mind I made the decision to shoot the fawn buck. A decision I do not regret.
I know the majority of QDMA members and deer hunters in general are happy for me and understand my thought process, even experiencing similar feelings while hunting.
However, there are a few hunters out there right now who believe what I did was a horrible thing. I ask those people to patient and try and see the situation through a different lens. As I become a better hunter with more success it will be easier for me to pass on deer. It is important to remember we are all hunters who want the best for the future of deer and deer hunting.
Currently as I sit at my kitchen table watching the fat snowflakes fall my memory drifts to my hunt just 8 days ago. My mind is filled with positive memories and excitement. I will always treasure this hunt and remember 3-year-old Jack smiling as he excitedly examined the deer in the back of my truck when I got home, and I am happy to report the venison heart was delicious.