Didn't want to derail the success picture thread, so here's the story behind my “floater” posted in the success thread.
M4, you were absolutely correct on my hit. The wind was blowing about 15mph and he came slipping through pretty quickly. When I mouth bleated to stop him, he didn’t hear it over the wind & leaves. I did it again a little louder and hesitated, but kept going. On my third and louder bleat, he stopped…but only for a split second. As I was hitting the release he started walking again and I got a complete broadside pass-through right behind the rib cage. I knew instantly it was going to be a long day…or was it?
He bowed up, ran 5 yards and just stood there for about 30 seconds then slowly started walking in a short arc. He stopped about 35yds out and bedded down, but I had no clear shot. This is where it got mentally tough for me. I knew I made a bad shot, I knew he would eventually expire, but needed time, but now I had to sit there and watch it unfold in painfully slow detail. After about 10 min, he stood up and I was really hopefully he would clear some trees and let me get a 2nd arrow in him. He turned facing the opposite way and bedded back down facing away from me. He’d lift his head, look around when the wind swirled and just laid there calmly. After an hour, he started to lay his head down. I was hopeful the end was near. Once his head was down for about 10 minutes, I eased down the tree and was going to attempt to slip up behind him for a clear shot if needed. The very second my foot touched the ground, the top half of my stand slipped, hit the bottom and CLANK. All I saw was tail take off down into a little swell and up the other side. He went out about 100 yards and stopped. Finally he bedded down again… I opted to do the same and took a nap for about 30 min. I glassed where he last bedded and to my dismay, nothing. Started tracking and ended up jumping him up again. At this point I completely backed out for another hour and picked up the trail in the thickest, nastiest stuff you can imagine. I was on my hands and knees in briars so thick I couldn’t stand up, and jumped him yet one more time, but this time he didn’t move til I was within 10 yards or so of him and couldn’t even see him it was that thick. He was heading down and towards water. After going to get a machete from the neighbor to cut my way in deeper, I lost blood. He just stopped bleeding. I walked circles, grids and aimlessly for another hour and a half to no avail. I went over to return the machete and collect my thoughts as to what to do next when the neighbors 17yr old daughter comes out and exclaims “hey…did you shoot a little buck today”…..uh yeah why “he’s in the middle of the pond, we just saw him on our way back from church”. I politely said thank you and took off for a swim!
I can't believe how stupid I was to come out of the tree after only and hour, I know better. I should have stayed up there at least 4 hours with the shot I made. Although, in the end, getting him moving definitely helped bleed him out. I’ve had bad hits before and I never want to make an animal suffer, but having to watch it, well, I think it was karma from the bow hunting gods giving me some insight and incentive to shoot straighter. Thankfully I recovered him in the end and he did not go to waste.
M4- As for your coyote theory pushing them to water, perhaps, but I think there’s more to it. I spent years hunting coastal Carolina and deer always went to water there as well. Give the choice of coyotes or running into a gator infested swamp isn’t much of a choice, but they still headed to the swamp. Even in the mountains of Tn & Ga I’ve encountered the same. I’ve also seen it with both bow and gun shot deer. I think it’s just natural instinct, despite what other predators are in the area. My experience has been if you have a long track, they’re going to the thickest, nastiest, heaviest cover they can find and/or water. YMMV.
Not my proudest day of my bow hunting life, but for the rest of you that may end up with a bad hit, be patient and stay diligent (and don't depend on the neighbors coming home from church finding him for you)!