Day 1: What to Know Before Deer Hunting a Flood Plain
Editor’s Note: Trying to take deer on a flood plain is a problem deer hunters who hunt around major river systems across the nation face.
The early-morning haze was beginning to lift off the swamp, and the rain had about quit as I watched a woods road for the first signs of a white-tailed deer. I was hunting the flooded areas of the Bostick Plantation near Estill, S. C. Trying to take deer on a flood plain is a problem bowhunters who hunt around major river systems across the nation face. Many of the plantations around the Bostick border the Savannah River swamp, which floods annually and provides rich river-bottom habitat for all forms of wildlife. But for the hunter not familiar with hunting a swamp, these types of regions can pose many problems. Deer trails often are hard to identify, food sources can be difficult to pinpoint, and recovering a deer when there’s no blood trail to follow can be nearly impossible. A hunter must employ different senses when the buck is hit in a swamp area for the recovery to be made. Trailing a deer 1/2- to 1 mile through water, in most cases, is impossible. Therefore, good bullet or arrow placement and a solid hit are essential to successful deer hunting in watery places.
On this day while hunting the Bostick, I had found a road that I knew if a deer crossed it, he would be within my range. About 7:30 am, a buck presented a shot. He came out of the woods and walked down the road offering nothing more than his rear as a target. But luckily, he turned broadside, started across the road and stopped. I shot and the buck dropped, kicked and got up on his feet again before sprinting out of sight. As soon as the deer regained his feet and crossed the road, he was out of my line of vision. So, my imagination kicked into overdrive. I could hear, splash, splash, splash. In my mind, I visualized the deer running through the nearby water. When I heard a big splash, I mentally watched the deer fall. Then again, splash, splash, splash, as I saw the animal regain its feet in my mind’s eye. Once more, another big splash occurred. Next, there was dead silence.
I put my mind on rewind and instantly replayed what had just happened. I could see the deer with his back to me. The buck turned broadside, I made the shot, and I hit the target. The animal went down and regained his feet, before I heard the series of splashes. I reasoned that my buck had run and fallen down about 70-yards away from the road in the flooded timber. But I waited 30 minutes before leaving my stand to make the recovery, so if the buck was mortally wounded, I wouldn’t push him further into the swamp.