The Suicide Doe – This Whitetail Deer’s Time had Come
Russ Chastain 11.11.20
A happy hunter with his quarry – (Photo © Russ Chastain)
In a deer hunter’s life, there are many ups and downs… and over the years a hunter will gain innumerable memories. Each successful hunt is a milestone, and every kill leaves a mark on a man… but some stand out more than others. I’m pretty sure that will be the case with this deer my nephew recently harvested, for reasons which shall become obvious.
This particular hunt was his first for the year, and through a magnificent turn of fortune I was already “bucked out” and couldn’t take another buck in Georgia that season. With 2 deer remaining in my club quota, I encouraged him to take a nice doe when he got a chance, which would leave one deer left in case he came across a nice buck later on. I spent time in the woods also, as a deer observer and hopeful slayer of coyotes.
The days passed with many deer sightings and some really cool stuff – such as me getting some awesome phone video of a 9-point buck working a scrape 20 feet from my stand. And then, just at dusk/dark on Thursday, I heard a shot. I soon learned my nephew had gotten a doe… and I got the story a little while later.
He’d been hunting some woods in a climbing stand, having decided to get off the beaten path in hopes of encountering a mature buck who might be wary of our many permanent stands. As dark approached, he left the dark woods and headed out. As he approached a food plot, he said, he remembered my advice that he should always sneak up on a plot in case there were deer there. Well, he did, and there were.
He’d eased up the dim woods trail and spotted some deer in the plot, and identified one of them as a nice doe. After using the scope on his Savage 270 (which I’d gifted to him years earlier) to help ID the deer, he had lowered the rifle. He knew she was a legal doe, but wasn’t 100% sure she was mature. That’s when the doe started coming to him.
He remained frozen in place as the curious deer approached him. Wearing camouflage and standing with the dark woods as a background, he was difficult for her to detect. She got within about 20 feet, then turned tail and ran away from him. He figured the jig was up, but he again raised the rifle to his shoulder. By now he knew the deer was plenty big enough. She stopped. She turned around. And then she began walking towards him again!
This was all too much, and he settled the crosshairs on the deer’s chest and squeezed the trigger. The deer dropped its front end low and lunged into the woods as my nephew observed a huge cloud of dust where the deer had just been.
His shot had been good and she didn’t go far. By the time I could drive my UTV back to him, he had recovered the 118-pound deer and dragged it back to the food plot.
I believe he would have liked to set a record for the heaviest doe ever – except while dragging it up that hill! And she was no slouch, her jawbone showing her to be about 6.5 years old. A fine harvest to help manage our herd.
Back at the skinning shack, we observed scarring on the backs of her ears. Both ears were about the same, and I don’t know what caused this. A doe taken by another hunter the next day had the same scarring (though less pronounced), but another I took later on had no evidence of this at all.
Do you know what caused this? It’s more than just absence of hair; there’s almost a groove worn into the back of each ear. At any rate, I’m thinking this “suicidal” doe has left an indelible memory that will remain long after all that deer sausage has been enjoyed. And that, my friends, is what hunting is all about.
Good luck out there.