I recently received a call from my uncle inviting me to come bowhunt behind their Cobb County house with my cousins. I jumped at the opportunity since this meant I wouldn’t have to get up so early like I normally would if I were going to our lease in Coweta County.
Tuesday, Nov. 4 came, and I arrived at my uncles at 6:15 a.m. sharp. My uncle walked me back to the ladder stand I would be hunting. I checked the wind before getting in the stand and decided to walk about 15 yards away to spray some Code Blue doe estrus on the ground. I made my way back and got settled in the stand. Once in my stand, I sprayed the doe estrus about four times and just waited for the sun to come up.
Right before 7 a.m., I caught movement at about 80 yards up on the hill to my right. I slowly reached for my bow and watched this deer approach directly down wind from me. Fortunately, I was wearing my ScentBlocker suit and Under Armour scent control thermals. By then I could tell it was a buck and a shooter.
As the deer continued to approach, I drew back my bow at 40 yards. I attempted to grunt, but my throat was so dry it hardly made a noise. By now the buck was crossing behind trees and brush at 30 yards. I was still in full draw. I thought about letting off the bow, but as I did, the deer suddenly made a u-turn and started heading for the spot where I had sprayed the estrus on the ground. He continued moving and stopped in an opening at 27 yards. I put my pin on his shoulder and let the arrow fly.
I heard a loud sound, and the buck turned and took off running. He hunched and was favoring a leg as he ran off.
I waited about 30 minutes to get down and inspect the area for blood and look for my arrow. I found plenty of blood but no arrow. I made my way back into my stand and waited another hour for my uncle and cousins to decide if they wanted to keep hunting or help me look for the buck. My uncle texted me back and made the decision to help me track the deer.
We started off finding a good amount of blood and followed the trail with pretty good ease for around 90 yards. At the 90-yard mark is where I found my arrow. I was shooting a Carbon Express arrow with the expandable Rage broadheads. The arrow was there except for about 6 inches, which included the fletching. We continued to follow the blood trail for another 100 yards and decided to mark the trail and return later.
At this moment, that sick feeling started to creep into my stomach. It was that feeling that the shot I made wasn’t as good as originally thought, and I just might not find this deer. I put even more pressure on myself, as I never want to be hunting on someone else’s land and not recover a deer.
I waited another hour and decided to meet up with my cousin to go back and pick up the blood trail. While we were walking back, an orange stray cat was following us. My cousin told me they sometimes feed it on the back steps, but it was probably following us in hopes we would give it some food.
We made it back to the spot where I left off with my uncle. Only this time the sun was at a different angle, and it made it harder to see the blood trail. Not only could I not see the blood trail, but I had lost it completely. That feeling I had went even deeper, and my hopes were fading fast.
I said a quick prayer and noticed that the cat that was following us was in front of me about 10 yards sniffing and licking the ground. I told my cousin to stay where we last found the blood, and I was going to check out the cat. To my complete surprise, the cat was on the blood trail.
We continued moving forward over the next couple hundred yards, and when we couldn’t find the blood, the cat would stay on the trail, stop at the blood and wait for us to catch up to him. I remember specifically coming across an old gravel road in the woods, and I couldn’t see any blood. I noticed the cat sniffing a certain spot on the road, so I walked over, and it was blood on a leaf. My cousin and I just would look at each other in amazement and laugh.
We continued looking for blood and following the cat, as it was dead on the blood trail. To both of our surprises, after 500 yards of tracking, some prayer and one unusually gifted cat, we found the 8-point buck.
We were both super pumped. This was my first bow-kill, and it took me around six hours from the time I released the arrow to finding the buck. The sense of accomplishment and the perseverance I learned through all this is something I will carry the rest of my life and hope to pass to my two boys.
I was never a cat person, but after this experience, it made me reconsider my stance as I would have never found this buck without the help of a stray orange cat.