Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Canada

My First Archery Harvest

Learning Archery Part 5

As our third season of bowhunting rapidly approached, we were consumed with excitement. Filled with confidence in our shooting abilities and our equipment. Both J and I felt that we had prepared as much as we could and were hopeful that our previous two seasons of close calls taught us enough to achieve our first archery harvest.

As it turned out, WE WERE RIGHT!!

Here I will share the start of my season and what led up to my first harvest. I will leave J’s story for a little guest post soon!

Similar to our second season, I towed my trailer out to the farm for our little “Deer Camp”. This was the second year of a tradition that I now look forward to as it allows us to focus on just the hunt and provides some quality time together. 

Opening morning came and with it, feelings of excitement, anticipation, and determination. We were ready to apply all the lessons we had learned and put our increasing skill as archers to use! I had put aside about a week for this first hunt. We jumped right into our previous years more successful tactics of setting up at high traffic areas and waiting for our chance. 

In was in this third season that we really became aware of the role of wind. We were cautious to pick our setups based on the wind direction. This allowed us to observe more deer move and pick up on their travel patterns, as they were not alerted to our presence. We continued to hunt the same main coulee and set of draws that we had the previous two years. There seemed to see less deer than in years prior. The pea fields were now canola as the farmers had rotated crops. With the change of food, so came the change in deer movement. 

My first week that year was pretty uneventful with no close calls. My one highlight from that first week was sharing a pack out with J after he was successful. (Small spoiler alert!) 

That fall my travel for work increased significantly and I was unable to put in the same amount of hours as the previous season. With me only being home for a handful of days each month, I knew that I could not be picky and that any opportunity on a healthy sized deer was a good one. I hunted for only 2 more days for the rest of that September and had a couple blown stalks. I was taking every opportunity to practice my stalks though, be it a doe or a buck.

This practice paid off. 

I had planned to hunt October 2nd and 3rd to utilize my time at home. But was forced to stay home on the 2nd due to a crazy winter storm that caused highway closures and with the storm, I knew no deer would be moving. Down to just the one day, I left super early (and it was a good thing, as my usual 1-hour drive became 2.5 hours due to the poor road conditions). Once I got to the farm, I was unable to get to the area I wanted to hunt as the road was drifted over. So, I nipped into town and met up with a buddy for coffee and waited until the road had cleared. 

It was 10:30am before the road was cleared. I made my way to this new coulee that I was excited to look into. The snow was a blessing, it had remained soft and deep along the edges of the field. Allowing me to ease around this particular draw without making a sound.

As I crept up to the edge of the draw, I had a nice brush of luck! There was a buck, feeding on brush below me. I was able to slide out of my pack and get a good range, 40 yds. Having shot groups at double this distance in practice and was confident. I sat back and tried to slow my breath, the adrenaline was nuts! It was finally going to happen!

Finally, when I was calm enough, I kneeled up, drew back and made a good quartering away shot. Right away it was obvious that it was a good hit as blood started to spurt out and quite heavily. From on top of the draw I watched as the deer left a road map of a blood trail in the snow. He ran about 80 yards before he piled up right at the base of the coulee. 

blood trail leading up to a harvest
The view of the blood trail from the top of the coulee!

I was shaking, it happened, I not only got my first archery harvest, but my first buck as well! Right away I sent a text to J to let him know what transpired. Then I dove off into the draw. 

first harvest

Once I got to my buck, the fact that I was alone really set in. Quartering out an animal by yourself takes a bit longer and is a bit more challenging. Especially when it’s only the 2nd animal you have done using that method!

Once I got the all the meat off and in game bags I knew I didn’t want to have to come back down the draw for two trips. The snow had begun to melt (typical Alberta fashion) and the steep slopes were becoming muddy. So, I loaded all 4 quarters, backstraps, and trim into my pack and slowly trudged my way out. 

harvest loaded up in pack
All packed up! Glad I didn’t have alot of gear with me that day!

Trekking poles were a lifesaver with the slick uphill conditions and by 1:15pm I was back at my truck.

The big takeaways for me after the hunt that day was that you need to make the most of your time and that things can happen fast. I had shot my buck 30 min after leaving my truck. Many of us have busy schedules and only get a few days in the field each year. With the onslaught of social media posts that show people hunting every day (or so it seems) it can be discouraging to those of us who cannot dedicate that much time. Do your homework and prepare in the off season and then make the most out of the time that you do have! After all, you can’t kill em from the couch!

harvest photo
Necessary grip and grin for the first harvest.

Hope you enjoyed this one. It was fun once again recounting such a big milestone! – R

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