Sonya got interested in bow hunting last year because her boyfriend is pretty avid at hunting with his bow. She wanted a bow and we got her the Hoyt Ignite last year for Christmas so she could get to working with it all year.
She started out opening day and her boyfriend took her out in the double stand, but nothing presented itself to her properly and nothing happened. She got a late start in the season with asking my neighbor for permission so the deer looked at her stand every time they went by it. So we started hunting the field where the rock break is and it grows up with Johnson grass and we made hole inside of it with shooting lanes for her takes shots, if they present themselves.
As shown below, I sat on the inside with a limited view and her on the outside. I had a very poor view, but I’m only coaching here. It’s just a shoot, don’t shoot capacity that I’m operating in, so its all fine.
Then of course we have to share this one. 😀 She stayed up late Thursday night with her boyfriend and then wanted hunt Friday evening also. She’s a tough girl, but she can’t hang if she doesn’t get enough sleep. She passed out on her chair sideways for 25 minutes, but she had Dad to wake her up if any deer came by, but nothing happened that afternoon, but its still a great photo for future teasing. 😀
The grass patch in the field was not working out. She wanted to limit her shots to 20 yards and deer were staying farther away, or only button bucks were presenting close enough. We moved back into the pine trees into the two man stand, or the one man and one girl stand. The first night we had 15 deer walk by us with in 20 to 25 yards, but only two were mature Does and not a single buck. The two mature does stayed on the other neighbors property and skirted through cover not leaving a clean shot in any kind of possibility. I could tell we probably were not going to get a shot on a good deer, so I told her we are practicing on the button bucks. I told her she was going to practice standing and then drawing on them and aim like she was taking the shot, but not to release.
When the first button buck went with its head behind a tree I said “Now, now, now” and she stood up. Then it moved again and turn its head looking away and I said “Draw” and shortly later “Let the bow down” and she eased the arrow forward. This really helped her a lot as she was completely unsure about how to draw without being seen. It was nice to practice on deer that did not matter and were not as smart to hone her skills.
Then a few days later my buddy Jerry came over one night and had two beers with us and told her to come up to his family farm and pick a tree and hang a stand and him and his brothers would get her into some deer. We went up one Sunday and I picked nice walnut tree on the edge of the bean field where Jerry said the Does are feeding all the time. Below is Sonya cleaning up her stuff before she had to head off to work. I stayed later and trimmed a few branches, chewed the fat with the brothers and had a beer or two.
Sonya headed out on Friday afternoon to Jerry’s farm and said she was going to give it a try, by herself. She wanted someone with her for the first kill, but I told her I can’t hang on the ladder the entire time while she’s hunting. As you can see from the picture above I would have not had anywhere to really be close enough to talk to her and be safe. She calls about 1 hour before dark and a big doe got in front of her broadside and she did the drill we rehearsed with standing and drawing. She said she watched that does eyes and she sank her head down into the soybeans and she drew the bow back and put the arrow through the deer.
When she called me, I have to say she was in a havoc and could hardly talk to me to get all the details out correctly. I had to say “Slow down, .. I can’t understand you.” but I know about what was going on or she wouldn’t be this worked up. I came right up and we waited and the deer had ran though the beans to the driveway and into the corn. I asked her which way it went in the corn and I got the “I don’t know, I couldn’t see it once it was in the corn.” I sighed as I never mentioned to watch the corn tassels to indicate the movement of the deer in the corn. It just never occurred to me until now, but now she knows. I also used this opportunity to express “details, details, details” as the novice hunter appeared to be showing through again as she didn’t learn yet to commit everything to memory as it probably would be important until we found that deer.
I went over on the driveway 150 yards out and called her cell and had her show me exactly where the deer went into the corn and I marked the driveway with my boot. We searched the beans for blood and found very little. Then her boyfriend and his brother showed up and and they searched the beans for blood and found a little and we searched the corn a bit too.
The corn had natural walkways in it near where the deer went in that all funneled over by a rock ridge with trees and a bedding area. We searched it high and low and searched the corn heading east back towards the barn but found nothing and it was dark for a while. We quit and Sonya and I said we would start again in the morning even though it was only to be 55 degrees that night.
We got up at 6:30 and had a quick breakfast and headed over to the farm. Little did we know that Jerry’s son Tristan was excited that Sonya shot a deer and was already out in the beans before we even left the house that morning. Sonya and I parked down at the barn and found Tristan and went all through it and started searching again. We knew what we did the night before so we started grid searching the standing corn, hoping that it fell in there, but nothing was found. Then we started breaking up and searching all the rock ridge spots, some which are pretty thick. I headed east toward the barn searching ridges and Tristan took Sonya West back toward their house searching the other ridges. Then Sonya called me and said “We found her!” 🙂 We made the assumption the deer went in and veered to the right to the closest rock ridge, but she went in and made a direct left and then over 100 yards to a open rock ridge and died there.
We were excited and started to drag it out and I threw the drag harness I had years ago that I gave to Sonya on the deer and noticed I should have added a rope to it, but anyways wrapped it around the deer and started dragging. I got about 20 yards and Sonya yells, “Wait, This one is mine!” and then comes over and takes the drag from me and starts dragging her deer. As soon as she left I went right for the iPhone because I knew it was a moment I wanted to remember. 🙂
Sonya with her deer
Sonya sitting on my truck with Tristan before she drove the deer off to the butcher. We normally process our own deer but my wife Trish and Sonya both said they would feel more comfortable with a professional making sure the meet had not gone bad over night. Myself, Tristan and Jerry all thought it was fine, but on a day like this sometimes some things just need to be passed over.