photo credit: http://www.cottonmesawhitetail.com
Do you remember the show about a hundred years ago with Red Skelton, Kids Say the Darnedest Things? As a long time whitetail enthusiast I have also come to realize that deer do the darnedest things as well. If you go into the woods after a couple days of snow cover on the ground you realize that deer do just what most hunters will tell you. That is, deer usually take the easiest path when walking through the forest. Deer have well worn paths through thick brush and even through my neighbor’s yards. Deer seem to have a pretty predictable pattern of travel. The trick is to know when they will actually be at a particular place at a particular time. I have spent the last couple years hunting on a section of land that most hunters wouldn’t walk as far to get to. Because of the distance I travel to get to my stand, I have left it up on the tree. No one has bothered it and I have only seen one other hunter in the woods in the last two years. So much for public land being crowded! Anyway, because I have this regular stand location, I have been able to pattern the deer pretty well. I did have a trail camera out for a while but didn’t get much in the way of bucks so I moved it.
I was in my stand one evening a few weeks ago and it was about 45 minutes from quitting time when I saw a deer moving off to my left. I have seen a lot of deer in this area that leads out of a brushy field and the deer usually take one of two trails when they hit this spot. The deer will either move directly parallel to me which is about 130 yards to far away or the deer will come strait through the brush and onto an open lane that runs past my stand. If they come to the open lane near my stand they again have the choice of going away from my stand following the trail to the west or coming directly past my stand heading east. On this occasion the deer came down through the brush and onto the open lane near my stand. As it turned out, this deer was a respectable buck. He stepped onto the open lane and grazed on some grass for awhile and then started to head west. I was a bit disappointed and decided I had nothing to lose so I made a bleat call with my mouth. He stopped a looked around for a moment and then turned and started down the lane toward my stand. Now the old heart was beginning to pound as I contemplated him walking right passed me. It was pretty open so I had to wait until the buck was behind a tree so I could draw my bow. As the buck got within 30 yards and about 5 yards from the tree I needed him to get behind he just turned directly into the brush and was walking directly at me. What the heck? Deer are supposed to take the easy path not the thicket. This buck was now about 12 yards away from me in thick cover and walking slowly broadside. There was another opening ahead of him but it was to my right and for a right handed shooter not a good spot. As he passed the last bit of cover between him and I before he stepped into the opening I drew my bow and tried to turn as far to the right as I could so that I could actually get a shot.
Busted, the movement 16′ up was all he needed to realize he wasn’t alone in the woods. Turning sharply and quickly, the nicest buck I have seen all season bounded off into the brush. Deer do the darnedest things! 5 more steps down the open lane and he would have been an easy target but no, he decided it was better to have twigs smacking him in the face than walk where a dozen other deer walked in the last 24 hours.
That’s why they call it hunting. I was not happy with myself for blowing the shot opportunity but I thanked my Creator for allowing me to see such a magnificent animal. It is almost the end of January and archery season is almost gone for another year. I will try and make it out a few more times before season ends and I would sure like to have another crack at Mr. Unpredictable!
Photo Credit: http://www.shippranch.com
Ok! Its nearing the end of December and there is about 6” of snow on the ground. The leaves are long gone from the tree canopy and the branches are barren. The branches are barren but, they are still grey, brown and black. The trees still have dark bark on them so there is plenty of cover in the woods that isn’t white but, the bulk of the landscape is stark, bright, crystal white. The sky is clear and the sun is shining. What an incredible afternoon to be setting in a tree contemplating life and how fast things can change.
We just buried one of our closest friends that fought pancreatic cancer for the last 7 months and finally lost the battle. He is certainly in a better place but, gosh we really miss him. So I’m 16’ off the ground thinking about Joe and life and also the fact that I have yet to see a shooter buck all season. Continue reading
My deer season was put on hold for a little while. My mother-in-law went into the hospital Oct. 26th and was there until Nov. 21st, when she passed away. I missed my first opening day of gun season, sitting in a hospital room. The night she passed, my wife and sister-in-law told me I should go hunting Thanksgiving morning with my friend. He was taking his two sons and one was going to sit with me. Continue reading
Photo credit: http://minnesota.publicradio.org
What is it that draws a man into the woods, to climb up into a tree 16 feet or more and sit through wind, rain, sleet and snow? Most men that work outside wouldn’t work in the weather that many hunters will spend hours in the field enduring. What is it that transforms men that spend hours enjoying their creature comforts into stealth experts and marksman bent on taking a creature out of its comfort zone? Is it what is known as the thrill of the hunt? Absolutely and so much more!
Just like being a Christian and meeting a fellow Christian that you don’t know, there is a mutual bond. It’s the same way for hunters. Although there are a lot more secrets and competition in the hunting community, the bond is strong. This group of sportsman love to share their adventures into the wilderness and when it comes to deer hunting, the sight of a large buck with respectable mass on its head is enough to make any CEO start to shake. The heart starts pounding and the breath quickens. You think to yourself, there is no way in heck this deer will come into shooting range because my heart is beating so hard that he is bond to hear it a spoke. Continue reading
Photo credit: http://lindamphotos.wordpress.com
Now that the weather outside is starting to cool off, many people are going out with their friends and family members to hunt. Hunting is a hobby enjoyed by many, but it can also be a problem when it concerns your hearing. It is not uncommon to lose your hearing simply because you hunt every season. There are a few reasons why hearing loss happens to many hunters and there are also ways that you can protect yourself and the group that you are with. Protecting your hearing is something that you will be thankful for later on in life.
My father who has been hunting since I can remember often times neglected his hearing while out in the field or woods, because of this he now is severely affected by hearing loss. Although hunting is not the only cause of his hearing loss, it did play a major role in damaging his eardrums. My father still likes to get out to the range and shoot but always makes sure he has his hearing aids in and has brought the proper hearing protection with him. When you are out in the wilderness hunting game, you need to make use of high quality ear protection products so that you can hear clearly no matter how often you fire your gun. Ear protection is great when you hunt on a regular basis and want to preserve your precious hearing. Continue reading
photo credit: http://photosof.org/
So I keep getting these emails and texts from my buddies that show off the antler mass of their latest trophy. I show them to all the people I know that would appreciate the trophy but as of yet have been able to harvest their own trophy. I am living vicariously through the success of my friends and yet I find myself longing to put an arrow in something larger than the respectable 13 point on my office wall. It has been a few years since I took him and I have taken many smaller deer in the past few years. Last deer season during the rut I took down a large 6 point but three days later I had to pass on the largest buck I ever saw in the woods. I will not make that mistake again. Continue reading
photo credit: http://www.buckmanager.com
The Beatles wrote a song that had the lyric- Something in the way she moves me. If you ever have the chance to spend any amount of time quietly setting in the woods of the upper mid west in early November, feel blessed. The days are generally cool, the skies have a bit of ominousness about them and the smell of drying leaves fills the air. Apparently the smell of drying leaves is not the only thing in the air. It seems that the once elusive and quiet male deer has become a hormone infected wanderer.
Saturday, November 3rd was one of those days. The darkness held on hard because of all the cloud cover that has hung around because of hurricane Sandy but eventually gave way to the morning light. It was about 7:20 am when the first hint of color appeared in the faint morning light. It was real quite in the woods because it had been raining for the last 5 days and the normal crisp loud leaf cover on the ground was a spongy carpet that made virtually no sound. This kind of morning keeps a hunter on the alert because sight is about the only warning of approaching game. Continue reading
Photo Credit: http://www.furfishgame.com/
I got a raise! No, really, I got a raise. Last archery season I spent a great deal of time in a ladder stand that at best was maybe 10′ off the ground. It was easy to climb, afforded plenty of room to relax for the number of hours I spent perched in it but, I was busted by deer on regular basis. I did have times when deer would come in unsuspectingly but there were plenty of times that the deer knew something was up. One day during a fairly thick wet snow fall, I had 4 doe literally nibbling the buds from the shrubbery at the base of my stand. They were right below my feet and totally clueless to my presence. But, there were other times when deer would be coming down one of the trails that led past my stand and they would look right at me. I felt like I was setting eye to eye with them and that usually ended with a lot of blowing on their part and stomping off into the forest they came from. It was quit frustrating to say the least.
This year early in the summer, I put up a number of straps on stands with climbing sticks that got me up about 16 feet. What a difference a few feet make. First off, I can see a lot more territory and know sooner if any venison is heading my way. Secondly, the deer don’t usually pay attention to stuff 16 feet off the ground. Continue reading
Photo credit: www.wiredtohunt.com
Early October can be hot, rainy, windy, frosty and downright miserable or, it can be awesome. By awesome, I mean cool and clear with very little or no breeze. That is what I am looking for and today is the day but, Friday eve was a bit different. I was out Friday evening after a busy and somewhat stressful week. Even though it was sprinkling with the occasional downpour, I found myself thanking God for the opportunity to even be in the woods. I thought about a very close friend of mine that is battling pancreatic cancer and how I wish he could be in the woods with me. I thought about customers that a pleasure to work for and the few that I wish we would have never encountered. I had my phone on silent but with the vibrate option on and every now and then I would answer a text or an email. I feel a little less guilty being in a tree stand when I can at least be conducting business. I find that when the fall leaves are on the ground and the woods aren’t noisy, I can hear the deer moving from quite a way off. But that wasn’t the case today so I had to keep looking around to see if anything was coming my way. I had been bouncing texts with a new subcontractor we were using and an upcoming project they were going to be involved in. As I looked up from my last response to them I caught movement at the end of the swampy area below my stand. Continue reading
Photo Credit: http://www.hunter-ed.com/
For those of you that have been hunting for any length of time, it’s probably not new to you how gravity can affect your trajectory. For a bullet being blasted out of the muzzle of a rifle with just the right amount of twist, powder and bullet shape and weight, gravity is resisted for many, many yards. I have seen guys on the hunting channel shoot mule deer at ranges of over 700 yards. I have seen guys shoot mule deer with a bow and arrow at over 50 yards, so why did I miss a whitetail grazing 10′ away from me? Gravity! I know it sounds like I need something to blame my missed shot on but it’s true. My stand is approximately 16′ off the ground. After missing a few deer this way I decided to climb on top of my barn roof and shoot at my target. At 10′ from my perch, my arrow was almost a foot high. That is just about the distance from the top of the shoulder to the kill zone on a whitetail. If the shot is placed a little high then the arrow will soar right over the shoulder and kiss the dirt. I found that in order to hit the center of the kill zone, I need to be aiming at the bottom of the deer’s chest. It seemed unnatural at first but after dropping 3 deer in a row I am convinced. If you know how gravity works you can use it to your advantage.