The weather was unseasonably warm Saturday, 52F in Johnstown on Jan 1st certainly isn't typical. It did not necessarily make hunting any more comfortable. I was lightly dressed and still sweating on Monday when it was 10F. It was a lot easier to move with stealth, but this seemed to be offset by a much more mobile and wary deer herd. On Monday I could creep into shooting distance as the deer seemed loathe to leave their beds. On Friday I saw lots of deer, but they kept me well out of range.

Archery hunting is primarily done from a tree stand, or occassionally a blind. Stalking is tough going, as mother nature has given a considerable advantage to deer with their keen sense of smell and hearing. The difficult terrain, brush, and my less than ninja-like stealth add to this advantage. I guessed that another day of stalking would yield similar results to Friday. My ankles weren't keen on another few hours of that hillside either.

I lucked out on Saturday. Something had spooked the deer in my direction. At first I thought they had seen me and were moving out of range… but as I watched they got closer. They had no idea I was there. So I nocked an arrow and waited. Minutes later deer were streaming past me on both sides. I only had a narrow shooting window through the brush, and they were really moving. Thanks to a vertiable deer traffic jam, one paused in the open. I took a shot and… nothing.

My arrow just seemed to disappear, and the deer took a few steps forward and passed out of view behind the brush. I started to doubt myself, and prepared to take a shot at the next deer. I soon realized that the deer I shot at wasn't moving ahead with the rest of the herd, and a few seconds later it crashed through the brush and landed in a heap. I got a deer.

I gave my wife & mother a call (mobile phones are pretty nifty in the woods) and they quickly joined me in the woods. They retreated to a safe distance as I prepared to do the gutting. It was a job I wasn't really looking forward to, but it wasn't as unpleasant as I feared.

Dragging the deer out wasn't going to be easy. We tried going up, but that was a heart attack waiting to happen. The long way… 1/2mi down to an access road turned out to be much easier. For part of the way we tied the deer to a pole, and my mother (yes, my mom is pretty cool) and I carried it out like a couple of natives.

Can't wait till next season.