Friday, November 24, 2017

November 28th, 2017

The search continued today. I finally cut a bear track but without snow, I couldn’t do to much to catch up to it. I did find a place where the bear fed for a while, so I’ll go with the assumption that the bear might return there in the next few days for a tasty treat. Since I know absolutely nothing about bear hunting as compared to deer hunting, I’ll continue trying to play chess with the black beasts.

Today was really slow for everyone. I saw a doe and fawn right before dark. Dad didn’t see a deer today, and Brian passed up another small buck this morning. He seems to have found himself a good spot. Josh didn’t see any deer today.

From what we have witnessed, the deer just aren’t moving too much right now. It blows my mind considering the time period, but it’s a fact of life. Sometimes the movement slows to a crawl, and that is what has happened in the area we are hunting.

We will see what tomorrow brings. Today in history, I shot one of my most memorable bucks.

 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 28th, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving Day. It seems earlier this year than normal. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It was 19 degrees when we headed into the woods this morning. I headed back to the area where I saw a nice bear the first weekend of rifle season in hopes of seeing it again.

When I walked through the area yesterday, I noticed that deer had been feeding on beechnuts in the area, so I figured bears might be searching for some good eats, too. The morning passed too quickly, and I was far from ready to come out of the woods when we left.

Neither Dad nor I saw any type of animal today. It didn’t seem like the deer were moving. Brian passed up a nice little 4-pointer at 9:00. He said it passed by him at 20 yards and never knew he was there. That’s always a cool experience.

Although we’ve killed many great deer on Thanksgiving Day, including the Brow Tine Buck and the Blizzard Buck, which I wrote about in my first book, we didn’t have the opportunity to repeat some of those fantastic memories of my father taking down some great bucks.

Deer movement seems minimal right now, and I still haven’t located the bear sign I’m looking for. I won’t give up because things can change in a few seconds, and I know bears are still out and about.

Some Thanksgiving Day bucks from our collection.

    

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 28th, 2017

Well, my two days back to work flew by. I was glad to be back in the woods today. I hunted with Dad and began pursuing black bears. I’m hoping to get onto one in the next week and a half so I can fill both of my big game tags. I’ll miss the deer hunting, but I can’t complain about a filled tag.

Since I wasn’t too concerned about anything other than finding bear scat or where one has been feeding, I rammed through the woods today. I did check a few cameras that I had set out, but nothing much appeared on either of them. I guess I’m thankful for that.

The weather forecast called for zero percent chance of precipitation. I got soaked from a wet snow which turned into heavy rain. It wasn’t good. I wasn’t prepared for the bad weather, but I stuck it out and gave it a go. My dad still has a buck tag, and he had no intentions of coming out of the woods.

We were in the woods from sunup until sundown, reaching the truck an hour after darkness consumed the woods. People wonder why we put so much into it, especially after a successful trip to the Midwest, but we love being together in the big woods. It’s where our bread has been buttered as hunters. It’s where we learned how to play the game and be successful. It’s something that’s  a part of us and always will be.

Dad saw a handful of deer today. I didn’t see much of anything. We will be back at it for a few hours in the morning before heading to my nephew’s place of Thanksgiving dinner. I hate having to come out of the woods, but I guess family obligations are way more important than hunting. Has anyone told you I love hunting?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 28th, 2017

You might call me possessed, but after sitting in a truck for two days, I rushed into the woods when I got home. I wanted to check my local trail cameras to see if the deer I’ve been trying to save survived the entire time I was gone. I wanted to think he survived but didn’t get my hopes up.

When I rushed into the woods, I had no idea what to expect. Opening the trail camera, I wanted to see the deer and knew I would be disappointed if i didn’t see him. It didn’t take me long to find him. His picture was front and center when the card engaged in the reader.

As I scrolled through the pictures, I couldn’t believe that he had been there every morning and evening in the daylight for the last week. He would be extremely easy to kill if I had a tag. I went home and told Dad about it, and he told me that he might go try to kill him during the week.

I was disappointed and suggested that he leave the deer alone so it can survive the hunting season. The deer has super potential and could turn into a legitimate giant in another year. Since I can’t see the actual pictures I’m posting, I’m just hoping that the deer is in one of them. I’m having computer issues.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

November 19th, 2017

Today was our final day of hunting. The weather wasn’t nearly as bad as it was supposed to be. It never got very cold, but the winds took their toll by the end of the day. Brian and I hunted the pine tree stands one last time. We both went in with hopes of seeing the deer we call Lucky, but it never panned out.

In the mid-morning hours, I heard a wicked ruckus in the brush across the creek. When I turned in that direction to get a better look, I saw two bucks chasing a doe through the CRP. The noise I heard was a shooter buck’s antlers banging off from all of the saplings he was running through. It was a sight to behold. The deer looked just like the buck that Dad killed on  opening day of Ohio’s shotgun season about 10 years ago.

I thought he might make his way across the creek after he lost sight of the doe, but he turned and headed back toward the ridge on the opposite side of the CRP.

After a phone call to Dad, we decided to pull stands. He had a guy in front of him who was metal detecting. The amount of pressure we’ve  seen this year from a number of different types of people has amazed me. Everything from hunters, people playing in the creek, boaters, metal detecting and squirrel hunters have had a negative impact on the hunting. Every time I hunt here, I tell myself I will never come back. I’m not really sure why I return. The frustrations constantly build until I almost get to a breaking point.

After pulling those stands, we decided to get the few remaining cameras and pull the last few stands. I decided to sit in my culvert stand and pull it when I got out of it at dark. On my way in, I jumped six does that were bedded on the side of the ridges.

When I got close to my stand, I could feel something looking at me. Glancing to my left, I could see a deer’s body behind a tree. The deer appeared to be about 250 pounds or more. As soon as I stopped to get a better look, the deer bolted. It was a giant buck. I was really disappointed to see it run away but felt lucky to see it.

After getting into the stand, I settled in for the last three hours of my hunt. Sitting in the tree, I reflected on the trip. I hunted harder than I can remember hunting in a lot of years. I spent every day in the woods from sunup until sundown. I just never got a great shooting opportunity. Although I saw a few dandies, the timing never lined up quite right.

Just as daylight was fading, I heard a lot of racket down in front of me. Peering into the brush, I saw a shooter buck rubbing its antlers. As he thrashed the tree and pawed at the scrape, I hoped that he would walk under me after he finished his business.

Unfortunately, he walked in the opposite direction when he finished destroying the tree he was rubbing. I was sad to see him go but realized I saw some fantastic deer on this trip. Hunting is made up of a lot of luck, and I didn’t have luck on my side this year while in the Midwest.

When we got back to camp, we checked the last few cameras that we pulled. One buck stands out above all others, and the picture tells you that it’s all about timing. We had stands in every location that there were cameras. We just didn’t pick the right spots to sit on some of the day we hunted.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 19th, 2017

I really thought today was going to be the day. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. It could have happened for Dad if he had a buck tag. He saw three shooters in the spot where he missed the big buck a few years ago. It’s funny how that works. When I guy doesn’t have a buck tag, he’s the guy who sees all of the big bucks. He saw 10 does this morning and two does this evening. This morning, one of the big bucks was chasing a doe.

Brian and I hunted over in the pine tree place. Before daylight, I saw a small 4-pointer. I could see him with my binoculars, but I couldn’t see him with my bare eyes.

As soon as it got light enough to shoot, I saw an 8-pointer cruising on the runway that is halfway up the hill. I can’t imagine what the scrape looks like that all of the deer visit on that runway. I’d love to look at it, but since it’s on posted land, I’ll just have to imagine what it looks like. I know I’d be sitting on it if I had permission to be on that land. It’s a money spot. I’m sure I could find a killing tree if I had the time to explore it.

Around 10:30, I saw a fawn and button horn. They stayed and fed for a while in front of the tree stand. Eventually, they smelled me and ran up the hill. They returned around noon. This time they came from the other direction and did the same thing. Eventually, they winded me and took off.

Around 2:00 p.m., I saw a big deer cruising on the runway on the side of the hill. Once again, the deer stopped at the scrape that all of the deer stop at. When I got a look at him, I saw that he was a really good 10-pointer. He wasn’t a giant, but he was a deer I would have loved to shoot.

After working the scrape, he made his way up the hill and disappeared amongst the trees. I was disappointed to see him go, but I also thought he might make his way back to me before it got dark.

Brian had a decent day. He saw a bunch of does and three bucks, one of which was the shooter buck that went by me before it made it’s way past him.

Overall, today was a great day. The deer seemed to be cruising. We have one day left. It doesn’t look like Brian and I are going to get it done this year on this trip, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I can’t remember a time that I hunted harder than I’ve hunted on this trip. I’ve seen some great things and passed some really good deer. To kill great deer, you need to be happy with going home with an unfilled tag. In my earlier years, that would have been really difficult, but as I’ve grown older, I don’t have any problems watching deer and learning things about them.

It was 20 degrees when we headed into the woods today, and it remained cold the entire day. The wind made it almost unbearable at times. Tomorrow morning it’s supposed to rain and be miserable. It’s a fitting way to end the trip. Hopefully, the big bucks will me on the move because they’re feeling secure. I’ve seen big bucks move many times when the weather is really bad. I’m hoping tomorrow is one of those mornings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 19th, 2017

I had a good feeling when I woke up today, and I felt like I was going to see a good buck. I had already figured out where I wanted to go, and I let my gut instinct guide me to the tree I call the 200-inch tree

.

During my 45-minute walk, I realized I had forgotten my safety harness in the truck. The sky was littered with stars, but it was still pitch black outside. I had to decide if I wanted to climb a tree or sit on the ground. I know better than to climb a tree without a harness, but I went against my intuition and climbed one anyway.

Shortly after it got light, I began hearing shots fired from a .22 in the same patch of woods that I was trying to hunt in. Within the hour, I could see a guy on the ridge behind me with a full backpack and a rifle.

After spotting me, he walked to the top of the ridge until I could no longer see him. Once there, I’m assuming he sat down. He started shooting his gun every 10 to 20 minutes. Eventually, the shooting subsided, and I figured things were going to calm down and get back on track. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and I spotted two more guys with rifles and backpacks.

I’m still trying to figure out why these people were in the woods before daylight on a Wednesday to hunt squirrels. It kind of makes me wonder about a lot of different things. I’m thinking there might have been a little bit of funny business going on, especially since the game warden told me a lot of poaching goes on in the area.

With the clowns walking all over the ridges around me, I knew the day was probably shot. A big buck had been making regular appearances in the area, and I was certain that the presence of the rifle-toting men would keep the buck away for the day.

Although I saw an 8-pointer at daylight and a few smaller bucks at 10:30 and 1:30. It appeared that the deer had been jumped by the squirrel hunters. The rest of the day kind of dragged. I saw a few small does right before dark. They never knew I was in the tree as they wandered past me.

Dad hunted the new spot this morning. A beagle and a cat chased some rabbits all over the area. Finally, Dad got sick of it and relocated to the stand I’ve hunted the last few days. He saw a really nice buck and a dandy buck. He said if he had a buck tag, he would have shot both of them. He said it appeared that a hot doe was in the vicinity. He also saw a small buck cruise through while he was sitting. All of the action occurred in the last hour of daylight.

Brian hunted the dead-end road today. He saw a doe and two small bucks this morning, but he didn’t see anything the rest of the day. It was really windy today. Tomorrow is supposed to be 20 degrees. It’s going to be tough to sit in the morning. Something in my gut tells me that we might finally get lucky. I’m hoping the feeling plays out. We should have a better idea in about 14 hours. Until then……………..I’m going to try to stay warm in my sleeping bag.

There are only three of us left in camp. Shawn left this morning. He’s going to try to get to Detroit tonight to see the Red Wings play their game. It was a pleasure to have him here. He took some fantastic photographs, and I’m hoping to use one of them for the cover of my book.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 19th, 2017

Eleven years ago today, I killed the biggest buck of my life. That buck still stands as the biggest buck I’ve killed. Today was a really slow day all the way around. Brian hunted the bottom and didn’t see a deer the entire day. Shawn, Dad and I hunted near the pine tree. I saw six does filter by the stand throughout the morning, but no bucks followed them. Shawn saw a couple of does and a small 8-pointer, which he was able to capture in a few fantastic photos. Dad didn’t see a deer.

This afternoon, we wandered around in an area around the river that we had never explored. We jumped a few does and saw a decent buck. Dad decided to bring his stand back in there tonight, so he can sit there in the morning. It looks like a great place for cruising bucks, and it’s far enough off the beaten path that very few people probably ever put pressure on it. Dad ceases to amaze me. I don’t know how he does it at is age. He never slows down and seems to have more drive and determination than people who are half his age. He doesn’t even have to be going out since his buck tag is filled, but he’s trying to find better places for us to hunt. Here’s a look at the buck he tagged before I even got to camp.

  

 

With every passing day, I’m losing confidence. The deer just don’t seem to be moving too terribly much. I guess they are in some areas, but they haven’t been moving where we’ve been hunting.

Sean Rice drove down from his house to see us today. It was really good to see him. He shared a lot of time with us in the tent, so when he pulled out his sleeping bag and found a spot on the cot, it brought me back to a time that was a lot of fun. The aging process sucks. I hate to see my father getting older by the minute. I wish I could lasso time and keep it from moving forward. I love life. I love being able to do the things I love to do with my family and friends. That’s what makes the trips so enjoyable. Unfortunately, Father Time is undefeated, and I know the days are limited for doing these things with my father.

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 19th, 2017

November 13 has notoriously been one of my best days in the woods if you take a snapshot of my hunting career. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen today. It was slow for all of us.

  

After yesterday’s excitement, it would have been hard to experience anything that could stack up against it. We had to hunt the same area again because I had to see if I could find the arrow I shot last night.

After sitting for a while and observing a handful of does, a spike and an 8-pointer that we call G-3, I got out of the tree. When I got to where the deer was standing when I shot, I was excited to see brown and white hair. After further examination, I couldn’t find the arrow. I called Dad to come help me look for it.

Between the time I called him and the time it took him to get there, I discovered that the hair was mere coincidence. A rabbit had been killed in the same place. Looking a little beyond the hair, I saw my arrow lying harmlessly in the leaves. There was one speck of blood on the end of the broadhead and a tiny piece of white hair under one blade. It was a clean miss. Although I was disappointed, I was happy that I didn’t wound the deer.

The entire day was slow. It was23 degrees when we went into the woods and about 43 when we came out. It took a while for the fog to lift today, and I figured the deer would really move afterward. My guess was wrong. They didn’t move the rest of the day.

I can see the end in sight right now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year. Although I had two opportunities to get it done yesterday, neither opportunity was really good. I’d like to be able to get a good shot at one. That definitely makes it easier. Everything can change in a minute, but with the way the movement has been, it’s going to be really hard to get it done.

It’s supposed to be warm tonight and not get below 43 degrees. It will be the warmest day we’ve had yet. I’m thinking that’s not going to help matters.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 19th, 2017

It was raining on our way in today. I sat in the woods for an hour before daylight. When it finally got light, the rain tapered off. Right after it got light, I saw a doe come across the creek. About a half hour later, I saw a giant, but I couldn’t get a shot at him. He meandered up the hill and disappeared, but it was an awesome sight to see. It was the big buck that we have on trail camera.

Later in the day, Shawn was able to get a lot of pictures of him when he walked by the place where he and Brian were sitting.

  

Around 9 o’clock, a doe ran off from the hill in front of me. When I looked closer, I could see a giant buck following her. They both stopped at a bowl in front of me to feed. After feeding for a bit, the doe headed toward me, but the buck stayed back and continued feeding. When the doe got to the right of my stand, I saw the buck coming quickly. He was heading right toward her and grunted as he got closer.

When she saw him, she bolted toward the creek. I tried stopping him with a few loud grunts from my voice, but he never heard them. I tried following him with the pin to get a shot, but nothing was available. I finally squeezed the trigger, but the shot hit way low and back. It wasn’t a lethal hit, and the arrow only shaved some white hair of from him and got a bunch of fat on it.

When I was on the ground looking for the arrow, which I quickly found, I saw a shooter 10-pointer on the ridge above me. After confirming that the deer I shot at was okay, I got back in the stand. A few hours later, I saw another great buck in the scrape on the runway halfway up the hill. He didn’t stay very long and headed down the ridge.

The rest of the day was pretty slow until right before dark. Two fawns raced down the ridge in front of me. They didn’t have their mother in tow, so I was well aware that bucks were chasing.

A few minutes after they passed by me, I saw a doe and fawn come down the ridge. A small 4-pointer was following close behind them. They milled around in front of my stand as it was getting dark. When they finally disappeared, I got ready to get out of the stand. Right when I got ready to tie my bow, I spotted the same giant deer that I had seen in the early morning hours, and he was on the same exact runway but going in the opposite direction.

Although it was fairly dark, I decided to give it a whirl. I ranged a tree for 43 yards and the deer for 37 yards. I settled the 40-yard pin on the deer and squeezed the shot off. It sounded like it buried itself in the mud as the deer bolted and ran up the hill.

After getting out of the tree and going to the runway he was standing on, I ranged the tree stand, and it was 48 yards away. I’m assuming the arrow went well below the deer. I’m going back in the morning to see if I can find the arrow. Although I’m 95% sure I didn’t hit it, I will try to find the arrow to confirm my assumption.

We will see what tomorrow brings. I can’t imagine it being anything close to what today gave us.