The deer approached him head-on, and when it got within 15 yards the buck turned its head away from Nickels, allowing him to raise his bow.
“He didn’t smell me, and I let [an arrow] go,” Nickels said. “And then the race was on.”
And it turned out to be quite a race.
Lasell Island is a small island, measuring just 148 acres, but it has plenty of forest for its sizeable deer herd. Nickels and his daughter spent the better part of four hours tracking the wounded deer, one tiny drop of blood at a time.
“We kept losing the trail and had to keep picking it back up. And of course, this was in the dark,” Nickels said.
Eventually, he and Kristen split up, conducting their own searches for just one more pinprick of blood.
Kristen found it and called out to her dad. He wasn’t particularly pleased to hear her voice coming from the west side of the island, where the terrain is rugged and cliffs and ledges fall away steeply into Penobscot Bay.
“I knew from her voice which direction she was, and I was like, ‘That ain’t good,’” Nickels said.
Then he walked to where Kristen was standing and learned how bad it actually was. There was, indeed, a small drop of blood. Four feet away, there was a cliff that dropped about 30 feet. Beyond that, the bay. And Nickels knew where the buck had gone.
John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...
More by John Holyoke