First Whitetail With Arrow

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William M. Porter Jr., with his Dad's first bow kill deer September 18, 1982

FIRST WHITETAIL DEER WITH BOW AND ARROW

In Anson County, NC our bowhunting season this year came in on September 13, 1982 and the temperature is still in the mid eighties with the mosquitoes congregating by the thousands eager to drain all the blood they can steal from ones system.

Archery equipment has been checked and rechecked with daily practice until very tight groups can be maintained constantly out to 35 to 40 yards.  There has been much personal/internal debate concerning which hunting bow to take to the field this season.  My Bear Magnum shoots very good groups but is quite heavy, slower arrow speed and more noise than my Bear Brown Bear model compound bow.  The drawback is, the Brown Bear bow is a much shorter axle to axle length which pinches the drawing hand fingers badly and is less forgiving than the longer axle to axle Bear Magnum bow but good groups are possible, however it does penetrate the target deeper.

Well, the Brown Bear bow won out and hope I made the right choice since I had only been shooting this bow a few weeks prior to opening day and my groups are not as close as with the Bear Magnum.

I plan to hunt the same section that I hunted last year known as the Dr. Davis estate land.  There are nearly 3000 acres of wooded and open pasture land bordering the Pee Dee River, Blewett Falls area near Savannah Creek with much of this land leased by Joel Price who once had a sizeable dairy farm but now raises beef cattle instead on the pastured land.  This is some prime trophy hunting land featuring many small tributary streams and branches, oak lined ridges, lush bottom land and open pastures with coastal Bermuda type grass with myself and a few others hunters having permission to hunt this fantastic property.

Last year, I built a permanent tree stand platform near the old grist mill canal site that once powered the water driven granite stones turning the farmer’s corn into meal and grits and other grain products as well. The granite stones are covered with moss and vegetation located about 40 yards from my tree stand platform.   It is easy to form a mental picture of times gone by with the farmers bringing their horse and mule drawn wagons loaded down with their grain harvest to have the kernels water ground into meal, flour and grits.   If only those stones could talk and tell us of their many years of faithful and continuous service of what they “saw and heard” in a time when life was very hard, simple and yet rewarding,  “giving a fair days work for a fair days pay”.  The problem with this stand was the wind direction and my route of travel to get to the tree stand.  I saw very few deer during daylight hours but knew they were frequently in the area going from their bedding to feeding area.  There were good stands of White Oak trees in the immediate area along with smaller Willow Oak trees whose acorns matured earlier than the White Oak acorns and a hot spot for the deer.   My problem I was traveling on the original logging road that was once used to access the grist mill and traveling in the same direction that the deer were using of a morning and jumped deer in route to my tree stand;  this was a serious mistake on my part by lack of bow hunting experience and soon to be corrected.

I hunted this same stand in 1981 and haven’t taken a deer with a bow yet and at about 7:00 P.M. a doe and a fawn swam the canal and walked out in a cleared shooting lane when the dreaded “Buck Fever” hit.  When the deer splashed into the water and I saw them emerge onto the level ground I had already raised up from a seated position from the tree stand seat and brought my bow into position.  All of a sudden, my heart started pounding very loudly of which I could hear every heart beat and the muscles in the back of my legs started quivering like a dying rabbit and would no longer support my 200 lbs. weight.  I eased back down on the seat and watched the deer feed.  They were apparently feeding on wild grapes and I estimated the distance to be 30 yards and I had better not risk a shot at them in my present condition.  The deer trail came by the stand at about 12 yards and I figured they would use it.  Man was I ever wrong, the deer fed for about 15 minutes and slowly walked out of the shooting lane back into the canal at the same place they initially entered.  I later stepped the yardage off to where they were feeding and it was in the neighborhood of 28 yards.  I learned the hard way that if you have a good shot go ahead and take it and don’t wait on a better shot! That was the only opportunity I had the entire 1981 bowhunting season although a nice 6 and 8 point buck was bagged during our regular gun season.

This 1982 bowhunting season, I had much brighter hopes of bagging a deer with the bow and arrow and trusted I had indeed been taught some very good lessons from my 1981 bowhunting season.  One thing that I had to change about hunting the canal area near the ole grist mill site was to come in from another direction.  The only alternative was to come up the Pee Dee River, Blewett Falls Lake by boat and walk directly across to the deer crossing.  I constructed another stand a few months before opening bow season across the canal on the river side in a very large poplar tree that had a several degree lean toward the south facing my other stand from 1981.  This would work fine since I planned to shoot any deer crossing the canal going toward the direction of the river which was their normal route for a morning hunt.

I found a 14 ft. treated 4 x 4 inch bridge timber floating on the river earlier during our spring and summer annual camping on Blewett Falls Lake and saved it for such a purpose and scrounged a piece of exterior plywood from the same source which was adequate to build the tree stand platform.  The yellow poplar tree was so large that my regular nylon safety strap/belt would not fit around the tree so I screwed a J hook into the tree to anchor my safety.  This stand also required the use of tree climbing hooks or “pole climbers” and the height of the platform was about 18 ft. high giving good visibility of any approaching deer.

Above topo map of hunting area.....my stand was above Mountain Creek on the left side of the Pee Dee River on the  Anson County side about 200 yards below where Savannah Creek flows into the Pee Dee River.  There is a long island in the middle of the River which is actually on the Richmond County side according to the county dividing line on the map.  

Finally opening day arrived on September 13, 1982 on a Monday and luck was in my favor because I had a scheduled regular day off from my work.  The alarm sounded a deafening awful racket around 4:00 A.M. and I debated my sanity seriously after leaving a snug and comfortable King Size bed with my bride snuggled up close as well! It took at least 30 minutes to drive to the closest landing on Blewett Falls Lake and the boat ride was another 20 minutes.  The sky was clear and no fog was present making a safe and quick trip to the canal.  The walk from the river to the canal stand was around 12 minutes and I had a trail opened up that a blind man could follow affording a quiet sneak in approach.  Also, there were plenty of "sting nettles" growing in the rich fertile soil between the river and the canal about chest high and would inflict some serious pain for a very long time if allowed to contact uncovered skin.  I was in the stand around 5:30 A.M. with sunrise around 6:30 A.M. and the wind was blowing very heavy at times and variable.  I stayed on stand until around 9:30 A.M. without seeing or hearing a single deer and went back down river to our old camp site commonly referred to Porter’s Point by the locals since we camped there so many years and quite often as well.  I cat napped until around 2:30 P.M. and headed back up river and stayed on stand until dark without hearing or seeing any deer movement.

 Pix below of Porter's Point campsite around July 1983.

Another view of Porter's Point looking back toward the old boat landing near the cove of Buffalo Creek.  This was our favorite camping site on Blewett Falls Lake.

Pix below of adjacent land owner Jerry Ingram (deceased) and Russ Wyatt taken in August 1982 during one of our annual two week camping adventures.  Jerry plowed his fields in a big John Deer tractor with closed cab and never did see any soil/dirt on him.  Jerry allowed us to access the above lake side camping area commonly called Porter's Point via his locked gated farm roads and fields instead of using the boat landing which allowed thieves to sabotage your vehicle and boat trailer.  Carolina Power and Light Co. owned the Blewett Falls Lake and water rights allowing camping on their right of way property.  We earned Jerry Ingram's respect by leaving his property in better shape than we found it each camping season and we had keys to access his farm roads.  Jerry was a very very generous and well liked man.  On the other hand ole Russ was a "river rat" back then and a likeable one at that. 

 

Below topo map of Porter's Point.

 

Above pix taken of the tree stand platform around 1990 where I harvested my first bow kill.  I believe that is "Ole Fred" in the foreground being a Fred Bear Custom Kodiak takedown recurve bow.

The tree had died and beginning to lean to the right as viewed from this camera angle.  This area had been logged out and the old grist mill stones were removed by Francis Burr who operated a dozer for the timber company and the stones are still on the property belonging to Mike Goodwin near the intersection of Ingram Mountain Road and Stanback Ferry Road in Lilesville, NC used as decor the last time I went by the place.  There were much more cover (trees) around the tree stand than in this pix.  The new logging road went within a few yards of the tree stand.  Time waits for no one!  06-22-08  Bill Porter

BACK TO THE HUNTING STORY

The nights were dark with the new moon only 4 days away which should have been good early morning hunting.  On Thursday September 16, 1982, I hunted the platform stand on the other side of the canal toward the river and was on stand by 5:45 A.M. and finally saw my first deer of the season.  An excellent looking 6 point buck about 14 inch spread walked directly under my 1981 tree stand pictured above at about 8:32 A.M. and was very alert and moved without making a sound.  He was about 50 yards away walking in the cleared shooting lane but a shot from this tree stand was not possible. The buck walked very proud and seemed to deliberately place each foot so as to be soundless.  He continued his route and came to within 12 yards of my current Poplar tree stand platform on the opposite side of the canal but a clean risk free shot was not possible. The buck walked to a point formed by a small branch that flows into the canal and looked the area over very carefully.  He then went to both of the deer crossings and stuck his head down and apparently smelled the trail leading into the canal.  The bank is about 4 ft. higher than the water level of the canal at this particular crossing with a ridge on either side of this flat area that covers maybe 75 yards square.  The terrain then tapers uphill sharply and it rises to an elevation of about 80 feet. This area is one of three similar crossings that allow deer access from the river swamp sections to the White oak lined ridges and farm pasture land on the other side of the ridge.  The buck acted as if he was not familiar with this section although it’s a guess at the best.

The Catawba Timber Company recently started cutting pine timber about half a mile away and could have possibly sent the young buck in this direction.  Anyway, he headed back toward my 1981 tree stand and walked in front of it and slowly exited the area.  I sure was hoping that the 6 point buck would go ahead and cross the canal where I was in ambush up in the tree stand but that was the last I saw of him.

My enthusiasm was now at mega levels so I decided to give it another try the next morning.  I believe I was on stand by 6:00 A.M. and saw a spike buck at 7:28 A.M. and he followed a similar course as the 6 point buck the day earlier but he did not travel as far down to the point and he didn’t go check out each crossing at the canal.  Again, it was impossible to get an arrow through the maze of small trees, vines, tree limbs and undergrowth so I had to be content with watching him fade away into the woods.  At 7:45 A.M. I saw a small doe across the canal on the other side of the branch walking toward my 1981 tree stand.  By now the “light bulb” came on and a clear message that I was definitely on the wrong stand!  Only there was one problem; how would I get across the canal to the other stand without wading the canal which I was not overly eager about doing? I walked up the canal about 75 yards and found a very large tree that had been uprooted and fallen across the canal above water level.  I walked the fallen tree to the other side and found another tree that was across the small branch that ran into the canal making fairly good access to the 1981 stand.  By walking parallel to the branch, I could travel directly to the stand without crossing the deer trails unless they changed their present course of travel.  I was so confident that this plan would work and that I would get my deer, I got a fresh roll of 35MM film to document the harvest.

I can’t remember whether I slept sound or not that night but I got up early enough the next morning to give me plenty of time to get on stand at least an hour prior to daybreak or at least I thought so. Things didn’t go that well traveling by boat up the Pee Dee River because the fog had set in and visibility was reduced to mere yards.  I had to travel very close to the shore line and at one point several miles up river where the river forks off in three directions between small islands collectively called Grassy Islands,  the channel gets shallow with numerous dead tree stumps that are hard as rocks right at the normal lake level and a sand bar extending down river several hundred yards and the water depth is less than 2 feet in some places.  I used a 200,000 candle watt blue spot light on my boat but it was about useless in such heavy fog.  Somehow I missed the first island and got turned around and unknowingly was headed back down river following the opposite shore line.  My boat pulls to the right when running at a slow speed and this must have had a hand in my turn around….got to blame something right?

While I continued back down river, the fog began to lift and I observed a familiar tree stump in mid river and realized I was going in the wrong direction.  Much valuable time had been lost so I did a 180 degree turn and headed back up river on correct course.  Oh, if only I had my compass.  I finally made it to my regular docking place and by this time it was getting daylight enough so I didn’t need my flashlight.  I arrived on stand at 6:30 A.M. and got settled on the cold hard seat anxiously awaiting another buck to walk by this stand as they had done the past two mornings. The wind direction was coming from the South to South West and in my favor.

A Grey Squirrel I nick named white tail because of its tail a solid white albino color was busily seeking acorns to my right.  I first saw ole white tail last year and he is using the same path from his den to these white oak trees and has not been annoyed by my presence in his feeding area.  With complete camouflage on, one seems to become a part of the surrounding except for the intolerable insects.  The mosquitoes are beginning to sound like WWII fighter planes while attacking my uncovered hands and when one occasionally gets trapped in my camouflage face net while enjoying his morning meal much to my displeasure.  Several oak trees line the canal adjacent to my other stand which is at least 50 yards away and the white oak acorns hit the water with a loud plop sound ever so often breaking the morning stillness.

The shooting lane from this stand is around 30 yards and has green lush grass in it about 18 inches in height and now the deer trails going through it are readily visible.  The canal has a few regular homesteaders mainly turtles that are very active. I can’t tell whether they are seeking food or is just having fun playing games with one another.  Occasionally, a wood duck will zoom overhead following the canal and crash into the water.  How they can make so much noise in the water without doing any harm to themselves is beyond me.

I am thinking the deer will approach from my left side following the ole grist mill road bed and will angle by the stand like they did earlier or at least I hoped so.  The grist mill road bends sharply to the right about 10 yards from the stand and has thick trees on both sides of it making it hard to see a deer before he is right on top of you.

At 7:57 A.M. I noticed movement to my left where the grist mill road bends sharply to the right and observed a spike buck moving on the outside edge of the road about 20 yards from the my position.  He did not make a sound approaching and feeding on the grass.   I slowly raised my body from the tree stand platform seat trying not to make a sound while getting my bow from off my knee into a shooting position that had a broadhead arrow nocked and ready for flight upon command.  My blood pressure was increasing and I asked myself the question, “Will he take the same path he did the day before?"  I decided I would take the first available humane shot not gambling he would take his earlier path. The spike buck raised his head and took another step forward not aware of my presence and was still not in a position where I could get an arrow through the over hanging limbs and a couple small trees were blocking any possible shot.  There was about a two foot opening between a couple trees and it looked as if he was going to pass on the other side of them or between them.  The buck casually moved forward and I slowly drew my bow back anchoring my first finger at the corner of my mouth which is my normal anchor point not aware of the 67 lb. pull of the bow.  The buck stopped with his vital area behind a small tree that has a split trunk and I don’t know how long he stayed behind that tree and I decided to let down my bow releasing the steadily increasing tension that is taking its toll on the strength of my shoulder/back area and my nerves as well.  I reasoned that the young spike buck suspected that something just wasn’t right but I guess his immaturity didn’t alarm him.  I kept my eyes on the buck and he looked around and must have decided nothing was amiss and he took another step forward while I slowly drew the bow back to full draw in one fluid motion as his vitals cleared the opening.  I had the 20 yard sight pin centered in the string peep and sighted behind his shoulder and low. The Easton autumn orange XX75 2018 arrow tipped with a Wasp 4 blade camlock 145 grain broadhead left the bow and gave a smacking sound like when you hit your hands together and the deer lunged forward. The mental picture that I had was as if the arrow was in slow motion heading toward the deer and it looked like the arrow was traveling lower than my point of aim and there was a mist of water that left the bow string when the arrow was released due to all the dampness and humidity of the morning ride up the river.  I could not see the buck after he lunged forward because of a large tree obstructing my view and the thick undergrowth, however I did notice my arrow sticking in the ground in the clearing between the two trees and I felt much anxiety as there was a possibility that I had shot low and missed the deer altogether.

I kept trying to see the spike buck again and about 15 yards from the opening between the two trees I saw the deer again. The terrain starts to elevate quickly and the deer was attempting to go uphill into a thicket.  I had another arrow nocked ready but there were too many limbs and small trees in the way to justify another shot. The buck’s back legs began to wobble and he weaved as if he was drunk and tried to go forward but staggered backwards and moved to the left out of sight again.  At this point I figured I had in fact made a good hit and the excitement was really building up fast and I could hardly wait to verify it. I then heard a large crashing sound and a sound as if you had hit two hollow sticks together. I must have made a good hit was my thoughts!  This was the first arrow that I had released at a deer and was my second season hunting them with bow and arrow so one can imagine the level of excitement.

I had read and been told that one should wait at least half an hour before following a hit deer in order to give it a chance to die.  Anyway, I waited until 8:13 A.M. (fifteen minutes) before getting down from the 18 ft. elevated tree stand/platform and retrieved my arrow which was coated with blood the full length of the arrow and solidly embedded in the ground.  I didn’t see a blood trail so I went up the hillside to where I had last seen the deer and noticed two large bloody areas separated about a foot or so apart and the deer was lying about 5 feet away from the pools of crimson red blood and had fallen into a depression where a large tree root had once occupied that space. I picked up a stick and tossed it at the deer and he did not move. His eyes were glazed over and at this point I felt like giving out a war hoop shout and I certainly did later driving the boat down the river with my first deer taken with bow and arrow. The spike buck was a four (4) pointer having a couple small brow tines and a long way from being a trophy to some but a trophy indeed to me!  The little buck was quickly field dressed and noticed that the broadhead had sliced a portion of his heart off.   I estimated his live weight to be around 125 lbs. although he was very heavy dragging him out. I couldn’t cross the logs like I had earlier and had to wade the canal instead and had a tough laborious time trying to get the little buck up the slick bank onto the opposite side of the canal.  I finally managed to get the buck out of the canal and dragged him back to my boat and headed down river for the return trip home.  I took a few pixs of the little buck but could only find one pix of the deer with our son Bill, Jr.



That first buck with bow and arrow will always remain special and it doesn’t have to be a deer but anything that brings joy and happiness that occupies ones memory whereby we are able to replay the event whenever one likes.  Thanks to God for allowing us the opportunities to enjoy his creation!

Upon arriving home the deer was hung outback on a large pecan tree overhanging limb that had a “block and tackle” rope affixed for hoisting deer and the deer was skinned and butchered.

FIRST DEER TAKEN WITH RECURVE BOW

Above pix taken in 1983 with my first whitetail deer taken with an ole Fred Bear Custom Kodiak 65# takedown recurve bow.  I had my ole Baker Tree Stand secured to a Poplar tree not too far from Savannah Creek on the Davis Estate Land and a regular deer trail was approx. 22 yards from the tree stand.  I practiced from our back hard at cardboard deer cut outs at that distance until I felt comfortable with a 22 yard instinctive bow shot.

Arthritis and "gap shooting" retired my recurve bow shooting, however I did win the NC State NFAA field championship in 1989 shooting traditional archery equipment with a custom made Black Widow takedown recurve bow.  Prior to the State Championship Tournament,  I had won first place in all the North Carolina sectional shoots I attended and no one showed up at the State Championship in Winston-Salem, NC to challenge me and all I had to do was to complete the tournament.  Naturally,  I shot one of the best scores ever which I believe was higher than the National Championship that was later shot that year out of State! 

 


Written by Bill Porter September 1982 with a few additional comments added since then and typed today June 22, 2008 for web publishing.

LEAVING ON A SPIRITUAL NOTE

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
 

IN GOD WE TRUST - GOD BLESS AMERICA - "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE"   JOHN 3:16 KJV 

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