The Smallest Speck of Blood

The 1998 whitetail season was about to begin in northeastern Saskatchewan and if the results of preseason scouting were any indication, this was going to be a year of great opportunity.

Just two weeks prior to opening day I had spotted a beautiful tall 5x5 on a pea field at dusk. The biggest typical whitetail I'd ever seen. Along with this buck two of my neighbours had spotted a massive non-typical with a droptine. Both of these bucks within two miles of my ranch. During the spring I had picked up a massive set of dark non-typical sheds and I wondered if this was the same buck.

I had an alfalfa field a short distance to the west of where these two big bucks were spotted and since elk season was on I had let a fellow from a nearby town hunt elk there. I had connected on a dry cow three weeks earlier in the archery season.

On night after hunting he stopped in at my house to tell me about a third big whitetail he had seen twice in the past few days. I asked him if the bucks rack was tall and light, hoping it was the monster 5x5. He said it wasn't but that it was tall and fairly massive with a spread of about 17 inches. He told me the buck came out both times in a heavily timbered corner and didn't stray to far from safety of the thick spruce. It made sense to me since the wind movement was almost always from the west. He was coming on from the east through the thickest cover.

Late the next morning I began to carefully pick my way through the timber looking for a spot to set up. About 100 yards back in the bush I found a scrape line where two trails intersected. I followed along the trail running north and south and found that it intersected about five more trails heading to the field.

Since the spot where the scrapes were was just to dense for a tree stand. I moved about 15 yards north of the scrapes where I could monitor the intersecting trail and put my stand way up (about 40 feet ) to make sure he wouldn't wind me.

The following evening I arrived at the stand at about 4:00 PM and settled in. It was a warm fall evening and very calm. After sitting for about an hour I began to hear the odd stick break and glimpse a few does and fawns as they began moving to the alfalfa field.

It was getting close to dusk and I was starting to make plans for my exit from the area when I heard the sound of antlers raking the lower dead limbs of a spruce tree followed by a pawing sound on the soft leaf mold. Then the sound of a buck urinating. My heart began to pound wildly in my chest. A buck was working the scrapes ! and close, but I couldn't see him due to the heavy cover.

I closed my eyes briefly and tried to calm down and when I opened them there he was coming down the trail right towards me. I could hear my heart pounding now and my legs and arms began to shake. As he moved into my first shooting lane I began to pull my bowstring. The only problem was my bowstring wasn't moving. I was so overcome with buck fever that My strength was sapped and my body felt like rubber. Try as I might I could not draw my bow. The big buck stopped, sensing something wasn't right. Then he turned and walked back in the direction he had come.

I was devastated, knowing that I had just blown the opportunity of a lifetime. As I sat and listened my heart began to slow down and the shakes began to subside, good thing because as I looked down the trail I could see him coming back. I stood up slowly and got ready. He was almost under my tree as I drew back with no problem this time. He stopped as my pin came to rest on him dead center behind the shoulder.

As I released there was a loud crack as he jumped, kicked, and tore into the thick poplar saplings to the north.

I sat for a few minutes in complete silence going over the events that had just unfolded. I felt good about the shot but was concerned about the loud crack the arrow made as it connected. I slowly made my way down the tree and carefully examined the ground where he had just stood. Nothing, not even a speck of blood. It was getting dark and I decided to leave the area for a few hours before attempting to trail him.I didn't want to leave him over night if I could help it since the country was full of coyotes.

When I came back I searched the area he had ran through for about 15 minutes and came up empty. Discouragement was starting to set in when I spotted the smallest speck of blood on a leaf. I quickly marked it and continued to crawl along with my flashlight. Before long I found more specks as the blood trail became more defined. It was easy going now as I crawled along the forest floor. I stopped for a break and shone the light up ahead . As I peered into the darkness I was greeted by the sight of a heavy 5 point antler sticking out of the grass. I was ecstatic as I moved forward to claim my prize.

Without a doubt this was the most exiting hunting experience I've had. The buck ended up scoring 155 4/8 P&Y.

As I dressed him out the mystery of the loud crack when the arrow hit him and the lack of a good blood trail was understood. Since I was shooting almost straight down the arrow struck a bone in his back and broke, however, the back half of the arrow stayed in his back while the front half travelled through his right lung and continued down his right front leg without breaking the skin. The only blood trail he left behind was from coughing as he ran.

Contributed by: Tim Francis

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