The one thing a hunter hates more than missing a good shot is maiming an animal with a bad shot. That said, one Wisconsin hunter experienced just that, taking to the woods on the first day of WI’s hunting season. Miraculously though, in an expected turn of events, the hunter eventually located the buck he maimed after it was struck by a car hours later.
According to Outdoor Life, Prescott, WI hunter Jake Dahlke headed out to his ground blind on Friday, September 23rd. At the time, he solely intended to take part in an observation sit. Getting situated in the bean field, it was around dusk when Dahlke saw movement.
At first, he spotted a doe, noting her location. A little while later, shortly before the light faded, another deer, a buck, made its way into the field.
A Hunter’s Worst Fear Come True
“It was dark enough that I couldn’t make out exactly what he was,” the hunter explained about the encounter. “But then he finally got away from the wood line and I got him skylined. I didn’t get a super good look, but good enough to know it was a deer I wanted to shoot.”
Given the light and distance, he admitted that as soon as he let the arrow fly, he questioned the shot.
He continued, “instantly, it was like ‘off, I don’t know.’ It didn’t give that pumpkin thwack kind of noise, and when he took off into the woods he was running just fine.”
Tracking the maimed buck through the woods and field, he spent 30 minutes hunting for his arrow. Finally, his brother talked him into leaving it for the night and coming back the next day with a tracking dog. But on his way home, things changed.
How a Trophy Buck Became a Roadkill Tag
Before heading home for the night, Dahlke’s brother encouraged him to speak with his neighbor, who owned the property next to where the hunter had hit the buck. Kindly, the man told Dahlke he was happy to let him search the property. He even offered to help butcher it if found. Afterward, he began the drive back home. But before he could arrive there, he came across another vehicle parked on the side of the road. And on the opposite side was a dead deer.
Dalke assured the driver of the parked vehicle, a distressed teenage girl, was alright before checking out the dead animal. Noting a deep slice in the back of its neck, the hunter began to wonder if this was the buck he’d shot a while earlier.
“It looked like a broadhead had sliced the top of his neck, and at this point I was about half a mile from where I shot at him. And that’s when I was like, ‘huh, this could be the deer I shot,'” Dalke recalled.
Given the buck had been struck by a car, things didn’t pan out the way the WI hunter had hoped. His options were to either turn it over to the DNR or to claim a roadkill tag. Choosing the latter option, the animal’s meat was soon donated and Dahlke was able to keep the impressive buck’s rack.