Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Savage and his "tracking" dog Bonnie met me at my house at 8:30 am. We were off. Bonnie had spent her life in the shadow of ace tracking dog Duchess and never had much luck following the blood. This was her first time in the field since Duchess had died. We were all hoping for the best. I had wrapped a florescent orange deer drag around the tree where I found my arrow. No blood. The next step was to find the last spot where I had seen the buck, before he disappeared into the forest. We found that, no problem, and found a nice puddle of bright red blood. Things were looking up.Savage put Bonnie on it and she seemed to follow the track. I'm being kind. That dog didn't have a clue. Thank God she's cute and charming. Hence the quotes around tracking. I think she was looking for butterflies.
   What followed was a painstaking process of trying to find a pin prick of blood on a carpet of brown and yellow leaves, dotted with splashes of red. Step by step Savage and I moved deeper into the woods. My heart sank with every step. Then, every time I was about to give up, I'd hear Savage call out "Blood!" I don't know how many times we lost the sparse blood trail, only to have Savage spy a dot the size of a tick on one brown leaf. I don't think I found one drop. I was no better at this than Bonnie. At least Savage didn't tie me to a tree.
   Four hours into the track and we were at a loss. We'd traveled at least two hundred yards into the woods and at a break in a stone wall we lost the trail. The three of us stood there not knowing which way to turn. Savage looked around. "He should've bedded down by now." he said glumly. There was a trail cutting right down the middle of a flat. It seemed logical that the wounded deer would head for the path of least resistance, but we couldn't find a speck of blood or gut fluid. What to do? I asked Savage if he'd checked a stand of pines up a hill. He said he had, but not all the way to the top. I stumbled up the ridge, walking around aimlessly. I was about to turn around and head back, when to my left I saw a rack and a brown back. It was the dead buck. You can't imagine my relief. I yelled for Savage. "I found him!" Success.
   The shot was a terrible one. The combination of low light and not stopping that deer had caused me to hit him way far back. I was ashamed to have not killed this magnificent creature cleanly, but so elated to have found him....in one piece, that I didn't dwell on it. I felt too good. What followed was a comedy of errors, trying to drag this big buck out. Neither of us is a spring chicken and this was a big deer. We got him down onto the flat and both of us were out of breath. There was a time........no longer. We borrowed a golf cart from Majestic Farms and tied the antlers to the spot where the golf bags go. It could've made the cover of Outdoor Life or Golf Digest. I can't thank Savage enough. If he had not gotten me within 50 yards of that deer I never would've found him. In this weather he would've rotted by afternoon or been torn to shreds by coyotes. As it is I have him skinned, quartered and in my fridge. Backstrap for Shewho's birthday party. I am one happy man.    


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