Too Close To A Whitetail!

Too Close To A Whitetail!

J.D. Danielson

J.D. Danielson, an Illinois native, has shared his writing talents with Bowhunter readers since 1971.

Getting close to wary game is every bowhunter’s goal. But there’s such a thing as getting too close. Just ask whitetail hunter Judy Kovar.

IT WAS EARLY DECEMBER of ’98. Illinois bowhunter Judy Kovar — who on November 8 had tagged what promised to he her seventh record hook whitetail since 1987 — was persistently looking for yet another wall-hanger, hoping to fill a second 1998 Prairie State tag. But thus far her late season luck had been less than good.

Not that she was complaining, mind you. After all, that November buck had a Pope and Young green score of 128+ inches. And as many Bowhunter readers already know, Judy already has arrowed six trophy class whitetails, all taken while hunting on small farms near her Illinois home. While that sort of success with record hook bucks is a pretty remarkable record for any bow and arrow deer hunter living anywhere in North America, tagging six P&Y whitetail trophies — perhaps seven — is an even more unlikely feat for a lady who disdains treestands and hunts only from the ground, and especially a lady who had never even picked up a hunting bow until 1985. Yet, with Judy’s Northern Cheyenne heritage, having spent her early years learning her ancestors’ secrets of the forest and its wild creatures, she was a natural. And Judy Kovar soon established a stellar reputation as a serious whitetail hunter.

Regardless, her search for a big buck during the late 1998 Illinois season had proved frustrating. As. Judy herself explained: “The whitetails seemed to know my every move. It didn’t matter how scent-free I was or the position of my blind. The bucks seemed to sense I was there. A change in hunting tactics and equipment seemed appropriate.”

Consequently, Judy contacted Keith Beam at Double Bull Archery to see if he could provide her with a new ground blind specially made out of Scent-Lok material. Her request was quickly honored and when the new blind arrived, Judy promptly headed for a favorite deer woods 28 miles away from home. She set up the blind near a picked cornfield only 20 to 30 yards from where her first blind was situated.

“That afternoon I had a dozen does, yearlings, and young bucks feed past me” Judy said. “Each deer paused to check out the empty blind but completely ignored my new Double Bull blind. I knew the Scent-Lok material was doing its job. Later on in the evening I finally spotted a big nontypical buck moving my way down a timbered ridge. Keeping my Martin Bobcat with its nocked A/C/C arrow handy, I shifted around in my chair and readied my camcorder, hoping to capture this buck — and perhaps my shot — on videotape. I knew even if I couldn’t arrow the approaching deer, I could get some good footage of the buck as he moved past.

“With the camera on pause, I was just centering on the whitetail when I heard a crash somewhere nearby. Immediately, brush started breaking. I quickly glanced out of the blind’s right window and caught sight of a large doe bounding directly my way. In less time than it takes to tell, she smashed headlong into my new blind. The camcorder went one way and I went the other, landing on my com pound with the thrashing doe and the suddenly collapsed blind on top of me.

“I can remember that the doe was bawling as she thumped me with her flailing hooves. Then everything went black. The next thing I knew she was gone and I was crawling out of the flattened blind, my face numb and my body aching. What really scared me was not being able to see out of my left eye.

“Gingerly raising a gloved hand, I assessed the facial damage. Despite an absence of blood, I sensed my swollen eye and cheekbone were badly injured. And as if this weren’t enough, my ribs and legs felt as if someone had whacked them with a baseball bat. A sudden wave of nausea swept over me, and I had to cling to a small hickory to keep from passing out. Standing there, dizzy and a little disoriented, my biggest fear was that something was terribly wrong with my left eye.

“Could I make it back to my car? Could I make the 28-mile drive home, using only one eye, without passing out from the pain? How bad was I really hurt? These thoughts kept racing through my mind as I staggered back to where I’d parked. And how would I be able to convince my husband, Herman, and others that I’d accidentally been run over by a whitetail doe? At the moment I looked a lot more like a mugging victim than a deer hunter. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!”

Judy eventually made the drive home without incident, but, “The look on Herman’s face told me just how bad I looked.” The medical report listed a fracture to Judy’s left eye socket, which resulted in immediate swelling and bruising, along with assorted contusions to her ribs, arms, and legs. In mere seconds that big doe had unintentionally but effectively delivered as many head and body blows as a talented middleweight prizefighter — and won the match by a TKO, promptly ending Judy’s hunting for the year.

The good news is that her bruises and soreness disappeared within weeks and she suffered no permanent damage to her vision. The bad news is after her recovery Judy had to endure more than a little good-natured ribbing from her family and friends.

“Yeah,” Judy admits, “they kidded me about newspaper headlines such as ‘Indian Gets Run Over by a Raindeer’ and ‘Deer Blindsides Bowhunter’ and all sorts of cute quips. I had to smile, even though it hurt.”

Judy later managed to poke a little fun at herself, reporting to Aubrey Gale at Scent-Lok that the scent containment material had worked a little too well in getting her much too close to a whitetail. “Being undetected almost got me killed!” she said. Also, Judy joked with Keith Beam that her experience had given new meaning to the Double Bull company motto, “Now go out and blindside something!”

So, has the unfortunate up close and personal experience with the whitetail doe changed Judy’s mind about hunting deer from the ground? No way! She vows to be back in the woods with her portable blinds this season, looking for yet another chance at a Pope and Young-class buck.

“It’s not the bucks I’m worried about” Judy says with a smile. “It’s those dog-gone does you’ve got to look out or!”

COPYRIGHT 1999 PRIMEDIA Special Interest Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group