Learning How to Recurve Bow Hunt Deer – 2019 Archery Season Guys Trip Day 1
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Leading up to October of 2019, I had put several months into preparations for what I would consider being my first “serious” deer season. I was at full commit level, using trail cameras, I had built a wooden ground blind platform, scouted land for sign, practiced my shooting, and sorted my gear. I had scouted both public and private land and had good spots on both parcels. With Alex and Sam coming to Wisconsin from out of state, I was playing somewhat of a guiding role as they were depending on me to have scouted and be ready to go for our three-day hunt. To say I was excited was a complete understatement.
The texting and planning began back in February, and time could not pass quickly enough. It seemed like each week there was some running joke inquiring about the proximity of the date of this trip. All three of us had never really deer hunted. Meaning we had dabbled, going once or twice in the past, but never really considered ourselves “deer hunters” nor had we ever harvested a deer. We were all hopeful this trip would be a slam dunk.
The first night of any group trip is most certainly filled with anything but sleep. Laughter, handshakes, stories, and drinks filled the air upon arrival and seamlessly transitioned into relentless scenarios that play out in your mind long after you should have fallen asleep. We had planned out the last-minute logistics and decided to hunt private the first morning due to wind conditions and travel. We all loaded some gear and laid out the rest before heading to bed. When the alarm goes off the first morning, rarely do you sit up with such exuberance. Coffee and excitement will curb the sleep you did not get, and your body will do the rest.
The first morning we had about twenty minutes of sneaking quietly through a grassy lowland and up a cornfield hill until we reached our ground blind. As we began to enter the marsh, we quickly realized that the water was way higher than when I had last scouted. There were mini streams of water, weaving through mazes of tall grass clumps. After only a few steps, water entered a boot and the boggy grass began to fight back. Quiet was pretty much a dream at that point, and tactical prowess a laughable farce. We now were just trying to get through it without horizontally dancing with the bog monster.
Despite a wet boot, and a bit of noise we made it through the bog patch. We gathered ourselves at the foot of the corn hill and walked slowly. It was a cold Wisconsin morning (in the twenties Fahrenheit), but after traversing the bog we looked like we just opened the door to a sauna. We crept into the two natural ground blinds I had set up earlier in the year that sandwiched a well-used travel corridor. We were set up and ready about forty-five minutes before legal shooting time.
We sat in the cold with wet clothes, when I realized quickly that I underdressed and did not layer appropriately. I made it three hours total before Sam walked up to me and said he is freezing and has to be done. I agreed and was also struggling. Alex had dressed appropriately in winter gear for the morning, while Sam and I had dressed for the afternoon temps. At the time we stood up it was 08:30 am and as we turned to look behind us, Sam watched three deer run off into the woods. They were walking straight towards us before we stood up. What a rookie mistake with instant repercussions. We shook our heads and headed back to the truck with intentions of coming back in the evening better prepared. The evening yielded another sit with plenty of scenery and poison ivy, but no deer.
The lesson from day one was very simple but so often poorly executed: dress for the weather and the conditions you will be hunting. Wear layers that you can take off or put on depending on your activity at each time of the day. Had Sam and I dressed warmer for the morning and planned for the bog, we may have all three had a chance to arrow a deer.