CBM Staff - Eugene (Gene) Schang is a well known and respected hunter who resides near the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gene is an expert when it comes to hunting suburban, big game. As this article clearly demonstrates, Gene consistently fills his tags under very tough conditions.
The Longest Recovery
(by E. Schang)
It was tight, but I was fortunate to secure access into and out of the tract. A few stands were hung within sight of three houses and I kept tabs on this guy till he shed his velvet in early September. I was somewhat disappointed to see that one day after his velvet was shed, he had already broke his left G2 about half way up. Here in Pennsylvania, our archery season opens around the 1st of October. I anxiously awaited my first day in the stand and passed the days by shooting my Excalibur Vortex religiously every other day and preparing my equipment.
Opening day finally arrived and I spent my morning in a different area looking to fill a doe tag. After an uneventful morning, I headed to the stand I hoped this buck would pass as he headed towards his night time feeding routine among the manicured and landscaped lawns. Several does with their fawns fed on through but antlers were not sighted that night. The next afternoon, after hustling home from work and de-scenting the best I could, I managed to see the same family group of does. Later that week , the wind was again right to give it a go but the on and off rain showers had me contemplating an attempt.
With my Port-a-Roof Magnum over my head, I again was scanning the still dense foliage for movement. Several groups of does fed past without giving me a look. With the light failing fast, I caught legs headed in the direction of one of my shooting lanes. When the deer stepped clear, and I recognized him as the broken G2 buck. My Excalibur moved on its own to my shoulder as I prepared for the shot. At the soft grunt the buck stopped and the arrow was on its way followed by the sound that archers know well of a broadhead slicing through flesh.
At the shot, the buck turned and headed back from where he appeared. Hearing nothing but the occasional drop of water hitting the tree umbrella, I calmed my nerves and replayed the shot. I was confident as I climbed down the ladder and inspected the area where the buck was standing. Nothing was found. No blood, hair or arrow. Still confident, I began to walk the trail the buck had taken. After 20 yards without any sign and darkness approaching, I made the call to back out and look in the morning with better light. I knew that if I bumped this buck, there was a good chance that he would vacate the woodlot and most likely never be found. I headed home, oblivious to what was happening to the deer I had shot a short time ago.
After a restless night, I awoke early to log into several of the internet social networking outdoor sites that are becoming so popular. Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon a post about a 8 point that was found dead in a parking lot around the area I was hunting. The post went on to say that the deer was picked up by our state Game Commission. My heart sank. Through the tools available on these various sites I was able to get in touch with this person and indeed found out that this buck was most likely the deer I shot the night before. I made a quick call to the regional office of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and was greeted with skepticism by the operator when I relayed my story. I was promised that they would contact the local conversation officer to verify the story and that he would be in touch with me.
I headed out the door when there was ample light to the area where I hoped to find my deer. With rain overnight, any sign had vanished. I did find half of my arrow, confirming the hit, but after scouring the entire woodlot, I came up empty. Out of options, I dejectedly headed home to find a message on my answering machine from our local conservation officer. He wanted to meet me where I was hunting to discuss my story. After a thorough investigation and very pointed questions, he finally offered the information that I hoped for. He had in his possession the buck I worked so hard for and finally tracked down. I was instructed where to meet him to finally put my tag in his ear 12 miles from where I had taken the shot.
The shot was a good double lung hit, but high, which explains the lack of sign initially and the 150 yards the deer traveled. I have gone over the "what ifs" countless times and still believe I made the right call to back away. If I decided to follow up that evening, I most likely would have seen the commotion in the parking lot and recovered him under awkward circumstances. If I had followed him, and the hit was not good, I very well could have pushed him out of the area and lost him forever. I would have found that deer the next morning if he stayed where logic says he should have.
Many pieces had to fall into place for this recovery to happen. When I think about it, I still shake my head in disbelief. Without seeing a random message posted on a networking site, I would go on never knowing what had actually transpired. Hunting the tight spots has its ups and downs and I experienced them both at their pinnacles last fall. The lesson I have learned from this experience is the importance of precise shot placement to assure a short of a recovery as possible in these small parcels that many deer call home. Also, knowing likely escape routes from potential stand sites has to be factored into a shoot, no shoot scenario. After all, the recovery is the end game and the most important aspect of what we do. Lessons learned the hard way but an experience I will never forget . I do hope that your next recovery is much less dramatic than mine and is measured in yards, not miles.