Archive for December, 2014

Monday November 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

We hunted the same area this morning that I hunted the first night I arrived. I went on a gut feeling and set up at the base of a huge hill in a nasty willow thicket. There were too many tracks to ignore and I didn’t feel like toting all of my stuff up the hill.

Shortly after daylight I regretted my decision and something told me I should be in the other spot. I did see a few bucks, but the wind wasn’t cooperating. In the beginning it blew back and forth before it eventually settled into blowing the completely wrong direction for my set-up. Since it was early I decided to pack up and move.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do since it’s the middle of the rut, but I felt it was necessary.

I trudged up the ravine I was sitting in and climbed the front side of a pretty steep ridge to get to the tree I had set up in a few days earlier. Within minutes of climbing the tree I could see a good buck coming. He was a beautiful 9-pointer, but he wasn’t a buck I wanted to take at this point of the trip. He came directly underneath me and zig-zagged through the brush in search of a hot doe.

After he made his way past me I was brought to attention by two does running full bore along the top of the ridge to my left. I knew something was following them so I got ready in case a shot presented itself. Within minutes I had four bucks go by me in pursuit of the does. None of the bucks were very big.

Although I was having all sorts of action my dad and Brian hadn’t seen much at all. They wanted to head out, but I wanted to stay. That’s what makes it difficult when you only have one vehicle and you’re hunting on the opposite side of a river from where you’re parked. We packed up around noon and headed out even though my best judgment told me to stay put.

Since the day I decided to come to this place to hunt I’ve wanted to check out one particular place and I made sure I was going to go there today. Upon arriving there I was happy to see that no other trucks were parked in the parking area.

On our way in we had to follow an old road along a narrow strip of timber between two fields. About five minutes into the walk I heard a deer get out of his bed. After scanning from left to right I laid eyes on a really big buck. The does he was with were already running by the time he reached his feet. He didn’t waste much time vacating the area. That was definitely a good sign. Shortly after jumping him I spooked another good buck and a handful of does. With each step I felt more and more confident about my choice.

As I made my way through some really thick slash I saw a trail camera and after further review I saw a ladder stand about 30 yards from the camera. A quick survey told me it was a really good place, especially for deer to feed. I assumed it was probably good for cruising bucks, too. Brian and I discussed our plans. Being tired I hemmed and hawed on whether or not I should just sit in the stand instead of going any farther.

I chose to continue exploring. I couldn’t figure anything out if I didn’t cover as much ground as possible. After we split up I made my way through a CRP field, which was dotted with some heavy rose briars. When I got near the back of the field I found exactly what I had been looking for. Three ridges came together on the very back of the field and a creek ran along the base of the ridges. A swamp butted up to the hardwoods, the field and the stream. I couldn’t have asked for a better funnel for a cruising buck. On top of all of that I found scrapes galore. I couldn’t walk more than five yards without seeing a scrape or rub. A few of the scrapes were the size of a kitchen table and they were all active. I’ve found a lot of good spots in my hunting career, but I instantly knew that this one was money. I marked a tree on my GPS so I could find it in the pitch black the next morning. I’d have no problem getting there, but I wanted to assure myself that I was in the right tree. I punched the characters into the GPS and named it “The Killing Tree.”

After shutting it off I tried to blend into a couple of trees on the edge of the rose thicket and decided I would stay there until dark. It wasn’t long before deer started wandering by me. I saw seven does and one small buck. I jumped another buck on my way out. I met Brian at dark and we decided we are going back in there in the morning. Brian found some really good rubs as you’ll see in the photos I post at the end of this. It was 61 degrees when we headed into the woods this afternoon. When we reached the truck after dark it was 30 degrees and single digits are forecasted for tomorrow along with 40 plus mph winds. It should be a good time. It is the rut and on your vacation you can’t control the weather, so I’ll make the most of what I’m given. The video is the nice buck that came past me as soon as I climbed in the tree this morning.



Sunday November 9, 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

We got another early start. I was settled in the tree well before daylight. I chose to return to the same tree I sat in yesterday morning. There was a lot of activity and I’m still unfamiliar with everything around me. At first light I could see some deer in the CRP out in front of me. My heart raced as I waited for a big buck to appear. I identified three does. They kept looking in the direction they came from, but nothing followed and a short time later they disappeared.

Within minutes of them disappearing I heard some leaves being scuffed on the ridge above me. As I slowly turned my head I saw a nice 8-pointer cruising along a well-used runway in search of a hot doe. I could tell that he had only one thing on his mind and it gave me a gentle reminder of why big bucks get killed this time of year. Although he was a nice buck he wasn’t anything I was looking to shoot, but the sight of him filled me with optimism about the coming days.

A few minutes after things settled down a small buck chased a few does by me. He was young and stupid and they didn’t want anything to do with him. It was easy to see that he was annoying them. It’s kind of like the little brother that won’t stop flicking your ears even after mom or dad tells him to stop.

Just after he passed by me I saw the three does that had disappeared into the thick stuff come running back toward me. I grabbed my bow and got ready. I know what running does usually signifies during this time of year. I patiently waited, but nothing followed. I’m not sure if the buck took a different route or if they were just running from being spooked. I’ll never know. In the early afternoon I decided I had to explore a little bit and decided to move my stand.

On the way to an area I had previously checked out on an aerial photo I spotted a few deer in woods above me. I knelt down behind a stump, nocked an arrow and waited. Two does materialized out of the timber and then a nice buck trotted  down the runway behind them. Unfortunately one side of his rack was busted up. He would have been a good 10-pointer. I let him continue on his journey before heading on my way.

Upon reaching the area I wanted to check out I found some huge rubs, very large scrapes and pounded into the dirt runways. The sign made it a no-brainer. I quickly found the perfect tree, which is sometimes hard to do. I positioned the stand and settled into it for the evening sit. Shortly before dark five does filtered down off the ridge behind me and a nice 8-pointer followed them before cutting off toward a scrape located 30 yards behind me. He did his thing in the scrape for about 5 minutes before going on his way. As darkness crept in deer began piling out of the thick stuff in front of me. It got to the point where I couldn’t count them and keep the numbers straight. When it was all said and done I positively identified 16 different does and six different bucks including a really good 8-pointer. He was a mature deer and tempted me for a few seconds before I decided to let him walk. This was my best sit so far. Although it looks extremely dark in the video it was much lighter than it appears. I could have easily shot him. Here’s the  big 8-pointer that I let walk by. Brian and I found a dead deer on the way out tonight. He was a dandy. There was an arrow hole right on the front shoulder. It looked like he was probably hit on the other side of the river and decided to swim to safety and the hunters couldn’t pursue him. It’s really unfortunate. The picture below is the buck.






Saturday November 8, 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I headed into the woods in the pitch black. I decided to hunt with Brian today while my dad hunted another area a mile or so from where we hunted. We started into the woods at 4:30am and walked, and walked, and walked. Since I had never been in this place before I didn’t have anything to get my bearings. We were a few miles from where I hunted last night and in the dark I couldn’t tell what anything looked like at all.

Thankfully last night my dad and Brian gave me the good advice to buy some safety glasses if I valued my eyes, so I listened to them and purchased a pair. Once I began the trek I understood why I would need them. We walked through stuff so thick that I could barely move. It tugged at my clothes and repeatedly slapped me in the face, but one thing was obvious; there was an abundance of deer tracks everyplace my eyes came in contact with the ground. I was walking over more scrapes than I could imagine.

I had my lone wolf portable stand strapped to my backpack along with my climbing sticks. Since there were no suitable trees for a climbing tree stand Brian told me to bring my portable stand. An hour and twenty minutes after the journey began we reached our destination. From the outline of the land in the darkness I could see that I was setting up on the edge of a CRP field with a big hardwood ridge on my backside. In the dark it looked good, but it wasn’t an area that I would have chosen for myself.

Shortly after daylight I began seeing deer and it never stopped the entire day. We sat until dark. I always listen to people talk about how difficult it is to sit all day. I’ve never had that problem, especially when the deer are moving. I base my decision on the length of the sit after I observe what’s going on in front of me. If there’s a lot of activity or even spotty activity and it’s during the rut I will sit all day. If I have another place I can get to without wasting much time on the ground I’ll split my time between the two places. Many times I catch deer moving when I’m moving and some great opportunities can present themselves. When the day ended I had seen eight bucks and 16 does. A couple of the bucks were really nice ones, but nothing I wanted to shoot. I got some good video of a young 10-pointer who has some serious potential to become a giant if he gets some age on him.

The morning seemed to be much more active than the evening. I’m glad I sat all day, but looking at it now I probably should have done some scouting since I have limited time. In some ways I feel like I wasted a day. Although I was seeing deer I probably could have found some other places to set up for the upcoming days. I feel handcuffed since I didn’t get to come out last week with Brian and dad.

Here’s the video of the 10-pointer I passed. He milled around underneath me for about 10-15 minutes before heading off in the other direction.

Friday November 7, 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I flew into DesMoines, Iowa today to meet my dad and my buddy Brian. They’ve been out here for a week and have had a fair amount of action. I spoke with both of them on the phone last night and Brian saw a couple of good deer. He sounded pretty excited. My dad is sick and the chronic coughing is worsening by the day.

I did a lot research before choosing this place to hunt. I feel like I have a pretty good grip on it and the two of them have done a bit of exploring to ensure we’re set up in the best places possible. As with anyplace new the hunt will be an adventure and we must be willing to change in a moment’s notice.

It was 61 degrees when the plane landed and a little windy. We ran into the woods for a few hours before dark just so I could get my bearing before daylight tomorrow. From the looks of things I shouldn’t have any problem getting around. Since we all come from the big mountains of northern New York there aren’t many places that are too difficult to figure out, which saves us a lot of time compared to people who don’t come from true wilderness areas.

I had a couple of does wander by me before dark. I walked down an old fence-line along a big agriculture field that had a big chunk of CRP at the end of it. I found a nice place with a lot of scrapes and rubs. Two fences came together in a corner so that’s where I set up. I’m sure I’ll sit here a few times throughout the week. It looked really good, but appeared to me to be a morning spot. Without any past experience here it will be imperative to keep good notes of our observations. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. For some reason I’m not overly excited yet.