Opening day of shotgun deer season a hunter sitting in a stand about 250 yards behind me let go a volley of 5 shots. I knew what he was shooting at. A couple weeks earlier during archery season I'd seen a nice big 8 pointer in the area. No doubt he was sending lead at the buck. I would wonder what circumstance required 5 shots, however. After all, as ethical hunters we respect, and understand the game we are after. We'd never take a shot at a moving deer, nor take a hail mary at a deer out of range. We just don't do that. Right?
After a few more days on stand, and not seeing any deer, I'd decided I'd take to the ground. I enjoy still hunting, and tracking in snow when conditions permit. Having put some time in learning the wood lot I was hunting I'd located a few heavily used trails, and some bedding areas. The plan was to travel along the many ridge lines which paralled the areas I wished to investigate. From above I felt I had a chance to spot a deer travelling in the funnel below.
I believe this plan would have worked well had I not been distracted by a huge pile of deer hair strewn about the ground near a bedding area. Investigating the area I soon located a leg, then a few ribs, then, the mother load. Spine, connected to a skull, adorned with a huge rack. Yup, the coyotes had made a fine meal of the big buck I'd seen during the archery season. At first I thought it to be another deer, but after a bit of reflection I realized it was the same one.
Unfortunately, and I think you'll agree with me, although the coyotes ate this deer, I doubt they killed it. This deer had been wounded by a hunter, and eventually died. Though, it is possible the coyotes got to it after it had grown weak due to it's wound and were able to finish it off.
I also find it unfortunate that the hunter responsible for this will probably not learn from it. He probably thinks he missed, and dreams of seeing this deer as an even bigger buck next year. He probably will sit in the same stand, and probably thinks he can take the same shot again, making it next time if he just concentrates a bit harder. He probably doesn't recognize that what he's done could have reflected poorly on all hunters if found by anyone other than another hunter. He probably watches way too much TV programming that shows big bucks being killed, but never the countless hours the professional host spends at the rifle range.
By now you must be wondering how it is I benefitted by this experience. After all, it does say in the first paragraph that I "benefitted a little bit from someone elses screw up." Well, I certainly wasn't going to let a beautiful 8 pointer rot away in the woods. So here he is.
Thanks for reading, and if you can, please take a little something from this story.