“An Ode to Limpy” or “In Praise of Older Does”
Published in RACK Magazine December 2007 as:
“Limpy Returns the Favor”
The Don Ehling Buck
By Edson Waite

 
  I should start this tale by explaining Limpy. She came to us about 4 1/2 years ago, a young doe with a broken hind leg that had healed but was deformed and is essentially useless for mobility. Limpy has lived around our neighborhood now for 5 years. She has bred successfully each year and is known to most of the families in the 18 homes that comprise our community. Most of the homes

are set in a horseshoe formation around a steep depression with a creek in the bottom. Most of the properties are 5-6 acres and many share a property line along the creek bottom.

“My property consists of 6 1/4 acres and my good friend, neighbor and hunting partner
Bill’s adjacent property is 6 1/2 acres. Bill and I hunt the area when we are unable to get
farther away to hunt other properties,” says Don Ehling. “There are several farms in the
area so there is a lot of good hunting territory all around us and plenty of feed to hold the
deer close by. Bill and I and others that hunt have all agreed never to harm Limpy as she
comes into our yards daily to feed and care for her young. When food is present, she
becomes very defensive of it until she and her young have had their fill. She is, however
very friendly to us humans and is seldom spooked by our presence,” explained Don.

Move forward to January 19, 2007. Don Ehling was heading out for an evening bow
hunt just down over the bank behind the house. “It was cold and quite windy, perhaps too
windy, perhaps too cold for an evening hunt but never-the-less, I decided since it was
very close by, only a hundred yards or so to the ridge, if I got too cold it is an easy walk
back to the house,” explains the 70 year old hunter. “I like to hunt from trees with more
than one trunk rising from the ground and try to position myself at the point where they
widen out, yet still provide concealment. This particular tree has three large upright
limbs and my ladder stand allows me to get up about 22 feet where I can position myself
between the three limbs. Not only do I get concealment, I also get some protection from
the wind as I can hug one or the other of the limbs to stay out of the wind.

  It was cold this evening, about 31 degrees with a 15-20 mph wind coming at just the right angle for this tree to work out, but the wind chill was brutal. “I had been in the tree more than an hour and had seen nothing, and I was getting very cold, I hoped to hang in there till a short time after sunset when suddenly I see movement out of the corner of my
eye. It is Limpy, and she is moving along well below the ridge line and parallel to it. Her normal travel lane was much higher up and I couldn’t understand why she would be down that far. As she passed below me, I kind of tipped my hat and wished her well as she went along. However. after she had passed by my tree, she hung up at about 40 yards, turned and was staring back my way, I thought at me, and she wouldn’t move on and I
was sure she was going to bust me. Meanwhile I was getting colder and colder and I wanted to get down, but at the same time I did not want her to see me climbing down,” tells Don.
 

  He continues, “After what seemed a very long time, I decided that I would launch an
arrow into the woods beyond her and hopefully spook her so she would vacate the area. I
nocked an arrow and just as I put my fingers on the string, I caught movement behind me.
I turned to look where Limpy had been looking all along and caught sight of this buck
which I hoped was the 10 pointer I had been holding out for all season. When I turned
my head fully, I saw this buck with a double main beam and knew immediately it was a
shooter. I also knew I didn’t want to look at that rack anymore so I carefully backed up
against one of the tree limbs and made a very gentle turn to now face the oncoming buck
and be able to draw down on it as it came into range. I came to full draw on my Parker
Hunter Mag bow as the buck crossed the 15 yard mark I had planted in my mind, I
couldn’t get on the buck since the wind was moving the tree quite severely right then.

My pins were moving all over the place as I tried to pick my spot. The pins never really
settled on the chest, but as I passed over the sweet spot, I released the arrow. I saw the
arrow hit and I also saw the buck jump high in the air as if it had been hit with a high
powered rifle bullet, then it spun fully around and bolted toward the bottom of the
drainage. As he went by me I got a really good look at the antlers and that got me really
excited, this was definitely not the ten point I had hoped it was. I watched as closely as I
could as it moved away and actually nocked a second arrow and let it fly to mark the spot
where I lost sight of the fleeing buck as it disappeared into the bottom. I stayed in the tree until I was sure it was safe to get down and walked to the spot where my marker arrow stuck in the ground. I immediately found a blood trail and since I knew where it was headed, I gathered my gear and headed for the house. Limpy was gone!

Returning to the house, Don told his wife the story while she gathered her gear to go
out and help with the recovery. They were back in the woods with flashlights about an
hour later and began the tracking well after darkness fell. Don stated, “I was following a
good blood trail in the darkness and occasionally shining the light around in hopes of
spotting the deer and cutting the tracking time. At one point, I saw some tree limbs
sticking up behind a blowdown but decided that is just what they were, so I continued to
follow the blood in the darkness. Suddenly there was no more blood and I wondered
what had happened, I must have passed up the animal or it had turned on me so I turned
and started back to the last blood. That is when I saw the white belly laying up against
the blowdown that I had dismissed earlier. The deer was on its side and the points were
sticking up just like broken limbs. An old hunting buddy taught me, that when you
harvested animal you get down on one knee and thank the maker for the experience. This deer was unquestionably a two knee animal with extra thank you time.”

So there it was on the ground, bigger than life even, the biggest rack he had ever seen in the woods. Don called his wife Carole over and they were both excited at the size of this trophy. “So there we were and I suddenly realized that I had left my knife back at the house. I needed to get the knife to field dress the deer, but I didn’t want to leave it for fear the coyotes would find it before we could get back. So, I did the only thing I could, I
left my wife to guard the deer while I retreived the tools from the house. On the way to the house I called my neighbor Bill to get him to help remove the deer from the bottom of the drainage. He has a four wheeler that we use to good advantage in these situations as it would be impossible for Carole and I to drag the deer out of that bottom. As it happened,
Bill and his wife had gone to the movies and they were just settling in at the theater when I called. They expected to be home by 11:00 that evening.

  I was a bit disappointed at this turn of events as we were not going to stay down in the woods in the freezing cold until help arrived. It was a dilemma for sure as there were far to many coyotes in the area to leave the animal alone for several hours,” Don spoke.

While he was dressing the deer, Don discovered that his arrow had passed cleanly
through the heart, so he had indeed made a very good shot under very poor conditions.
With the field dressing done and no way to get the deer out of the woods, Don decided
that they would cover the deer with everything at hand, and that included both their coats,
his hunting pack and some tree limbs and leaves. They figured the human scent would
keep the coyotes at bay for at least a few hours. Then they went back to the house to wait the three hours until Bill would be home.

They waited anxiously for Bill’s return. Once home they got on the ATV and went
down, loaded the deer and brought it back to Don’s garage and had it hung up by 11:30.
This hunt was finally done. Don related to me that since he is retired, he has the
opportunity to hunt almost every day, sometimes mornings and evenings, from opening
day forward. By early October, he had taken two does for freezer meat and had been on
the lookout for something bigger than the typical 8 pointers that he frequently sees on the
properties he hunts. “I had probably passed up six or eight nice 8 pointers, since I have
several of them on the wall at home, I really wanted something bigger this year and was
holding out. However after I shot the second doe, I just wasn’t seeing the deer numbers I
expected to see, and several times I almost shouted out my anxiety at not seeing any big
bucks or even the numbers of does I usually see. It was becoming very frustrating.”

Well, Don can rest easy now as he as taken his very best buck ever and in fact it was a
ten point frame, it just had five extra non typical points to add to the total. And the
double main beam on the right side added 26 4/8 inches to that total. The deer, estimated
at 6 1/2 years old, sports some very significant mass. The eight circumferences add up to
46 1/8 inches, the smallest of which is 4 6/8. Bringing it all together we have 104 4/8” on
the right side, plus 99 4/8” on the left side putting us at 204 inches BTR. Adding the 19
7/8 inch inside spread, we get a whopping total of 223 7/8 inches composite. Not bad for
an Ohio deer!

Oh, and Limpy is still hanging around the Ehling place, getting a handout each evening
to help her make it through another bad winter... They say a decoy is one of the best ways to draw in a big buck, I guess now we know that a live decoy is even better!

And one more thing Don wanted me to mention, getting older isn’t so bad, because
now he gets to hunt just about all the time, the hunt keeps him fit and the adrenaline
keeps his blood pumping strong! Yes, older is better!