By BO PETERSEN - The (Charleston) Post and Courier
In the Lowcountry, after God, country and family, there's deer.
Young and old spend the entire year primed for fall season to open. They scout stand sites, set up motion-detecting cameras, run the dogs and watch the ground for telltale hoofprints.
A freezer of venison makes a winter; a rack on the wall is a story to tell. Hundreds of acres of corn, oats and rye are planted, and bags of corn are dispersed to lure big bucks out of the bottoms.
But sometimes they just don't come. Three-quarters of a million deer are estimated to live in South Carolina. A quarter-million bucks and does were reported harvested last year.
This fall, hunters find themselves sitting over food plots alone.
"They're not seeing the deer," said Trey Hoffman of Palmetto Deer Processing in Moncks Corner.
"The deer just aren't coming out to the fields," said Kyle Jones, manager of Echaw Creek Plantation in Berkeley County.
"It's not that the deer aren't there. There's plenty of deer track. There's plenty of deer moving," said Jacob Casa, of Ravenwood Hunt Club in Ravenel.
What it is, is the acorn. Maybe the best nut crop in 10 years is raining out of the oaks into the bottoms. That's like Haagen-Dazs to the deer, said Michael Cordray of Cordray's Venison Processing in Ravenel. And when there's ice cream lying right at your hoof, you're not going to go looking for corn.
The summer rains that brought the acorns also brought honeysuckle, greenbriar and other browse, or gazing food, that deer prefer. All that and warm weather has deer staying in the bottoms to feast and lying low until the late-night chill. It's one of those natural cycles. The better years for growing deer food usually turn out to be better years for acorns.
Some hunters are bagging deer. On Friday morning, more than 30 harvests already had been brought into Cordray's processing plant a few hours after opening. Two club hunters who brought in five deer said 20 more were spotted.
But a lot of the success has been among hunters who take on the sludge into the deep woods to stake out an acorn-rich oak tree.
So the season's a bust? Not so fast. Hunters said deer were moving when the night turned cold Thursday. The cold is thought to get them moving.
"The frost will kill the browse and sour the acorns. I think the hunting will be a lot better," Jones said.
"It ought to be pretty positive for the rest of the season," Casa said. "The bottom line is, you're not going to be able to harvest any deer sitting in your house."
I went duck hunting with Marty Smith & his son Josh Smith this past weekend. I showed up with only myself and a gun and Marty outfitted me with some waiters (which had a hole in them) and some bullets to shoot. I was a little unprepared I guess you could say, but I did have both of my stamps! Marty?s property backs into a swamp which is a creek that is dammed up by some beavers. It?s been there forever and I used to hunt there with Marty a lot when I was in middle school and high school. Since college and going back and forth to Europe I hadn?t been able to go in a while, but now I?m back in the game so to speak. I arrived to the shed a little early and took some pictures of Marty?s duck hunting home base. You scan see them below. It?s an old shed that is just what you would imagine it is and is just right for duck hunting. I like the feel of that shed...maybe because it throws me back to days when I was kid going hunting with the older guys or maybe because of the antique feel to it. I've heard many stories told in this shed as we would get ready to go hunting and then talk about how we missed ducks after the hunts. I assure you that no exaggerations have ever been made in this shed before!
Soon Marty and Josh arrived and we got our gear on and headed down to the swamp. We got out there before daylight and crossed a few dams. We had to get out a time or two and pull the boat over and then get back in. Eventually we paddled up into some cattails and wedged the boat in there real tight. He?s got some old burlap type of material in the boat that we use camouflage by draping it all over the boat. We also bent the cattails over the edges of the boat too. This really helped blend us into the swamp environment which is necessary because ducks eyes are so sharp that it?s critical to be well camouflaged. The day before Marty and Josh had shot a mallard, a wood duck, and a teal. I was hopeful that we would get some similar, good action, but in the end there were only 2 ? 4 ducks that flew in that we could see, but yet they were too far away to get a good shot. So I think I?m the ultimate jinx or something. Maybe they'll be better luck next time. Even though we didn?t get a good shot on a duck, it felt good to be out there in the swamp and to see some ducks fly again. I?m sure in time we?ll have a blog entry with some ducks on it. There is just something that is unique about being out their watching steam come off the water and hearing the distant call of a wood duck or a mallard. It?s a different feel for hunting than you get in a deer stand. One of those different feelings is the feeling of a wet sock when your waiters have a hole in them! Having a wet feet in a swamp doesn?t help you stay warm! Oh the joy, but it was a good experience and a good change of pace from sitting in a tree!
Anyway, I did shoot 2 videos that are up on our YouTube Channel and I have embedded them below.
360 View of our duck blind setup
Marty Smith calling in some mallards
Some pics from the morning
This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend which represents many things for me. Thanksgiving represents time spent with family and friends, upper state championship football games, The Turkey Bowl, & a lot of hunting. This past weekend encompassed all of that and then some. I was able to hunt on Wednesday afternoon and I went out to my climbing stand on the ridge, but I did not see anything. On the way in I noticed that a buck made a scrape right beside a scrape and both were fresh. I?m not sure if it would be the same deer doing this or some other deer making a scrape beside another just to talk a little junk to the other deer! Lol! Either way it was a good sign to me. I sat out on the ridge and just passed time wondering about all kinds of stuff. One of the things I wondered about was how to integrate more imagery into my blog postings. I recently upgraded my phone to an IPhone 3Gs and it has video capabilities which are awesome. I shot my first video using the phone and instantly loaded it to YouTube from the deer stand. When it was over I shared the link with my mom and she was sitting in the den at our house and saw what I just shot minutes earlier from my stand. Pretty nerdy yet neat stuff. So, to give you a visual idea of what I see when I?m sitting on this ridge I have embedded the video below. The depth of the hill in the video doesn?t do it justice?and no, I don?t get real high in a climbing stand. I?m scared of heights!
So Wednesday?s hunt was nothing to talk about really other than figuring out a good use for my new IPhone. I?ll most likely try to include as many videos as possible when I can because I think it will be more interesting for any of you out here reading this stuff. Thursday morning I went to a different stand
Somewhere out there around the state there are some duck hunters getting prepared for this weekend! Yeah that?s right, you all know who you are. Make sure your waiters aren?t leaking and the reeds in your duck calls aren?t broken because the clock is ticking!
While I?m no pro at duck hunting, I do enjoy getting out in a swamp and watching the ducks fly in. There?s just something neat about it, just like there is something neat about watching deer come through the woods? you just have to have more licenses/stamps to hunt them legally, thus incurring more expenses!
It has been a while since I?ve gone duck hunting, but I?m excited to get back out there. When I was growing up we would go duck hunting in the morning before school. There were days when we would go hunting with our English teacher and at 6:45 we were chasing ducks for him and then at 8:45 we were taking his tests! It was quite the contrast and Justin Brooks and I have been known to get a truck ?stuck? in a swamp and show up late to school. Those were the good ole? days though.
So if you are a duck hunter, then speak it up on the site, message board, & post your images to the ?Post Your Visuals? page. I/we are interested to see what you?ve got going on and any bands that you collect. We are also thinking about having a duck calling competition on the site. If you think that is a good idea, let us know. If you are the ?Duck Commander? of South Carolina then prove it to us.
This coming weekend I will be guided by the self-proclaimed legendary duck hunter Marty Smith along with his son Josh. Marty has informed me that we may even get into some geese. Hopefully we?ll get some decent images to show you. We shall see and my future blog posts will tell the truth of what goes on!
This past weekend was a good weekend to be in the woods. A cold front with some rain came through, a lot of the leaves are off the trees, and the bucks were out chasing does in our neck of the woods. I don?t know about everyone else, but cold weather, good visibility, a little rain, and the rut gets me excited to hunt!
Friday I was able to get a climbing stand out on the ridge top that I?ve frequently written about on this blog. Saturday morning I trekked it up to the ridge and got in the climber (and yes I fell on the way up the hill). It was a good cold and crisp morning and I had left earlier than normal in order to drive the truck out, unload the 4-wheeler, drive to the section of the woods where I park, get off, trek up the ridge, then climb up a tree in the climber. This whole process took me about 25 minutes. I left earlier to factor in time for all of these necessary routines. Though, reading what I just typed does sound like a good bit of work, but it didn?t seem like it to me. I guess that?s because I was excited at all the sign that I?ve seen on the specific ridge.
By nature, I?m not a climbing stand kind of hunter. Those things make me nervous and I?m never going to get really high up in a tree. However, I think climbing the tree in the morning darkness kind of impaired my awareness of how high up the tree I was. When it started getting light, I started realizing how high I was and then started not to like it too much! I just don?t see how some of you guys can climb 25 feet up a tree and enjoy it. I wish I could do that, but I?m just flat out too chicken to do it. Anyway, I?m up a tree in a climbing stand big enough to hold a fatty like myself and about 20 minutes after daylight I heard some movement coming down the ridge across the way. I saw brown heading down and in about 10 minutes a doe and her 2 fawns (the spots were gone) came strolling through. The doe wasn?t big enough to satisfy me and by satisfy me I mean that I don?t want to drag a doe through that stiff terrain back to the 4-wheeler unless it?s a good one. If I?m going to pull the trigger in there, it?s got to be a good one. Yes, I?ve got some lazy tendencies Also, I?m not a big fan of pulling the trigger on a doe when she?s still got fawns with her.
She walked around for a few minutes when she saw me hanging off the side of the tree. She stared and stomped and stomped. It was funny. She knew I wasn?t supposed to be there, but she couldn?t exactly figure it out. It was almost like she was doing the ?Cha Cha Slide? because she would stomp with her right foot, then stomp with her left foot. She also did the same repeated head-up/head-down movement seeing if I was going to move. Here again I wasn?t going to shoot, but I was going to try to get some video of them. I watched the fawns for a while when the mama was stomping just to see how they react to that. They definitely knew it meant something was wrong because they locked down and were frozen until about 2 minutes later when the mama bounded off waving her white flag at me. They followed her out so I was not able to get any video of them. When she got behind me the fawns were off to my side and I think she saw me move to turn the camera on.
I was texting Adam and Will inquiring as to whether they were seeing deer or not and Adam had some action going on at his place. So with us in two different cities and the Solunar Forecast saying it was a good day to hunt, we definitely felt like the deer were moving. Over the course of the morning hunt I heard several gun shots in the surrounding area. The more and more I pay attention to it, the more I think there is a little something to the Solunar Calendar. The only exception that I think it may have is if there is a storm or some weather that comes in that would alter a deer?s natural instinct to move on a certain day/time. Thus, the Solunar Calendar can?t predict the weather and the deer?s reaction to the weather, but more so will give you times when they would move given normal conditions. Though, this may be obvious to you.
An hour and a half later I hear more movement across the ridge again. I looked over and all I saw was a lot of deer legs moving down the ridge. 4 ? 5 good sized does where in a group heading down the hill. They went down and I was hoping they would come up on the side where I was, but in the end they exited out another side. About 5 minutes later is when something happened that I?ve always wanted to see/hear happen in the woods. I heard more movement on the ridge again. This time there was a small buck coming through with his head down and he was grunting as he ran. I?d never heard one grunt out in the woods before and so it was neat to hear and see. He was definitely trailing the does and he went down the same path they did and exited without me seeing him as well. So Saturday morning was a good one to experience and I got to see a lot of deer. Still no shot, but I enjoyed just being out there and seeing all that happen in nature. I?ll remember that morning for some time to come.
Saturday evening I went hunting near my house and overlooked another valley, but this time I sat on the ground at the base of an oak tree. I went in early because it was a really nice looking day to be out in the woods. I sat in there for 3 hours and didn?t see a thing except a lot of squirrels, but I did enjoy being out there again. The stillness and quiet of the woods gives me time to ponder things?but I still don?t have them figured out yet so I?ll just continue to ponder. On the way out I tripped over another log and fell again. That made 2 falls in 2 days. Talk about a goof troop! The previous morning fall was a just fall because of the steepness of the hill and slickness of the leaves. Though, this fall was unwarranted. I think I had too many layers of pants on which prevented how high I could get my leg up. My brain calculated that I could make it, but the actual cankle didn?t make it over. Fall #2. Fail.
Saturday evening Adam and I went and visited Evans Deer Processing (it?s in Pageland) to check it out. Todd has a nice place down there so if you are looking for a processor in Pageland around the state line, consider Evan?s Deer Processing. After this visit we went over to Wilbur?s house to get some Thermacells & Wildlife Energy Drinks. Why am I writing about this to you?because you should know that Thermacell & Wildlife Energy Drink are sponsoring every competition on the site & they sent us their products which will be given to the competition winners. So we have branded the competitions on the site with their logos & noted that the winner now gets more prizes! It?s getting better all the time!
Sunday morning my dad and I went hunting in a different section of the hunting land. On the way in we saw some new scrapes and here again we sat for 2 hours and didn?t see anything. I think the temperature dropped throughout the morning because it seemed way colder when we left than it didn?t when we arrived. Though, this could simply be my interpretation or misinterpretation because I was warm when I arrived and maybe it took me that long to get cold again, but I do know that it was cold when we left.
Sunday afternoon I went back behind the house again and sat down at the base of a different tree. I was in some very thick woods this time. I had seen some good fresh rubs and wanted to just check them out one time. I always like sitting in a different part of the woods every now and then to get different scenery. The change in scenery can come back to get you though if you try to walk out in the night! It?s easy to get turned around, but if you have an IPhone, the GPS feature can really come in handy There was a light drizzle going on during the second part of the day and I thought it would be a good day to hunt! I sat there for a long time and didn?t see anything. Then right when it was getting dark I had a small doe slip through the edge on me. I only saw her for two steps and with a flicker of her tail she was gone. The darkness came and I headed out and went to the house. To top off the weekend hunts, when I pulled out into the road to head home there were 2 deer standing in the field in complete darkness in the pouring rain. Go figure!
Overall the weekend was a good one. I saw a lot of deer, had some good relaxing time in the woods, and we secured some sponsors for the competitions. Oh and the Eagles won again against Strom Thurmond so now it?s back to our 4th round foe Abbeville who we seem to always meet deep in the playoffs. Man this post got long on me.
This past weekend was pretty exciting in the woods. The deer were definitely moving and the bucks are marking their ground with every corner I turn. More and more leaves keep falling increasing visibility in the woods which is a good thing! Though, still not many deer are going to the corn in the places where we?ve got it out. Acorns still seem to be the food of choice?or at least that?s my perception. The recent rains made crossing the creek more fun and made for some wet areas in the woods. I guess the make 4-wheel-drive for a reason though! (As the truck sits at the house with mud all down the back)
On the way in Saturday morning we saw a really neat scene. As we were crossing the small creek in the truck, there was a big owl just sitting perched up on a branch that overhangs the creek. I stopped the truck and we looked at him for a little bit. He stared us down and then when we moved again he flew off. It was a neat start to the hunting trip. When I arrived to the stand it was early and still really dark. I sat in complete darkness for longer than usual before it got light. There was a lot of movement going on behind me which I thought to be deer, but given the complete darkness, I wasn?t sure what to make of it. Not knowing what is behind you or its proximity to you can work on your nerves a little bit. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later I heard a blow and what sounded like about 3 deer to take off running the leaves. This all happened before daylight.
This past weekend we were in the woods a lot. We hunted, scouted some new land, and moved two stands. The Solunar calendar forecasted this weekend to ?Average?, but I think the fact that we?ve had a few days of cold weather made this weekend better than ?Average?.
Friday morning I was in the woods before daylight and the moon was so bright that the trees were actually casting shadows in the forest. It was neat to see. It was crisp and cold out. The weather was perfect. I didn?t see any deer, but I did see some squirrels and a wood pecker. That woodpecker had the brightest red head I?ve seen. Our corn is still sitting out there not being eaten too much at this point. There are still tons of acorns out and about for the deer to munch on. About 3:30 on Friday afternoon I went walking in another section of woods that we hunt on and I found 2 good rubs. I bent down to take a picture of the first rub when I heard a loud blowing sound. I looked up and all I saw was white! There was a deer about 50 yards from me up the hills in the woods. I couldn?t see if it was a buck or a doe, but I do know that it was big enough to be shot! I couldn?t believe that a deer was out there walking around at this time of the day?but then again maybe it was bedded down and I jumped it. With two rubs, multiple scraps, and seeing a deer at 3:30 in the afternoon, all signs pointed to this being a good location.
Saturday morning I was back in the woods at a different stand in some thick woods on another ridge between pines and oaks. About 30 minutes after daylight I had a small bodied deer come ?sprint-jogging? through the woods. He wasn?t burning through there, but he wasn?t just trotting either. He had his nose down and was on a mission as if he was going somewhere. I believe he was trailing a doe and he didn?t care who knew it. I heard him from way out as he didn?t have his mind on being stealth or quiet. He passed through the woods very loudly crackling leaves as he went by. He came by about 40 yards out from me and never raised his head. He stopped for a split second behind a tree and then kept on trucking. I only got to see him for a few seconds, but he was so small I wouldn?t have shot him ( or better said? shot at him) if I could have. Though, it was good to see some action in the woods. I grunted a few times later on with no luck or response from other deer in the area.
Then we all met up and started working in the woods. We took 2 stands and 2 corn feeders down and moved them to new locations. We always say that we don?t do enough of this kind of stuff?scouting out areas and putting stands in new positions that is. I think it?s true too! We ought to work harder and be more persistent with it, but we just get busy with other things in life and let it slide. So as we were putting the second stand out we walked through the woods in an area that has some steep hills. This was back near the area where I jumped the deer on Friday. Though this time we walked and scouted a whole lot more area than I initially had on Friday. We crossed a creek and went up to another side of the hill when we found a nice rub on a large tree. No small buck did this. I took a picture of it and we continued scouting. We?ve got a stand not too far from that area so we are still trying to figure out what to do with that area of the woods.
Saturday afternoon we went back out in the woods on a totally different track of land where we frequently see coyotes and foxes. We had 3 people and we didn?t see anything. We did see a huge track in the sand as we walked in though. It was a bit warmer on Saturday afternoon. When it got dark we went to leave and we stopped by the game-cam to see what had been going on by the climbing stand. The climbing stand is positioned in some planted pines and there are two huge scrapes right beside it. After taking the card out of the game-cam, we now know what is making those scraps. This buck or (bucks) is working this scrap line. Will thinks that these are two different bucks, but I think the images are of the same buck. What do you think? So thanks to Bushnell, we know that there are some quality deer working the area.
Sunday afternoon I was back in Pageland on a different stand. I sat there and heard acorn after acorn fall to the ground and the squirrels were having a field day. Right as the sunlight started fading, I saw a flicker of white up the hill from me about 60 yards out. It was a deer, but I couldn?t tell if it was a buck or a doe due to the dense forest between us. I have a ?gun-cam? strapped to my gun and the first thing I did was to turn it on. The lens is strapped to the barrel of the gun and the actual recording unit is inside of my pocket. That deer stood in one spot on the hill for about 10 minutes before it moved. It was moving its head up and down, up and down, up and down. I think it was rubbing on a little tree over there. Finally, the deer started heading into the clearing where I was. This deer had a dark coat on him in comparison to the ones I had seen previously this year. It was a small 4-point buck. I knew I wasn?t going to shoot him, but hoped for at least some good video footage to put on the site. So I put my gun up and followed him through the woods. He walked 5 yards behind our pile of corn and didn?t even give it a thought. He went out of one thicket, through the clearing, into another thicket and he was gone. I filmed him for 4 minutes and 15 seconds. When I got home I looked at the footage and he was too far out for the gun-cam to get a clear shot of him. I?m going to zoom in some more on that camera and hope for a better video shoot next time.
So that was the weekend in a nutshell?oh and we did win our 1st round playoff game against Mid-Carolina. All in all I think the cold weather has the bucks out and about more now than in the past. Hopefully we can catch that big one out during the day time at some point.
This past weekend we were excited to hunt because we had our video guy down with the HD camera rig and we hoped to get some good footage to post here on the site. The Solunar Forecast said that the whole weekend would be ?average? hunting and it was about right.
On Friday morning we sat in a ground blind near a creek which is situated in a low, flat area of the woods. The creek and the valley surrounding it kind of makes a natural funnel for deer to come through. This is the location where many of the game camera pictures that we have posted on the site came from. At about 6:45 a deer either smelled us or saw us because it bolted down the hill to the right of the ground blind blowing at us from about 50 yards away. I only saw it for 1 second because the ground blind is situated behind a big tree and the tree obstructed my view. So I knew the deer were moving, but yet something alerted this deer that something was wrong and thus no camera action for this one. I believe it was a doe because I did not see any antlers.
We sat and sat and at about 8:40 we were ready to leave. As we unzipped the back corner of the ground blind a big white tail bounding away was all we could see. A doe was literally about 10 yards behind us and if we had sat in the blind for 10 ? 15 more minutes, we would have had the closest HD footage ever, but of course unzipping the blind spooked this deer. So hunt #1 was unsuccessful.
Since I?m assistant coach at the high school we were unable to hunt on Friday night. Saturday morning we went out to the soybean field and watched it as the sun rose. In this field you can literally see from as far right as you can see to as far left as you can see and it?s nothing but soybeans. The wind was blowing pretty well as a new front was coming in. The breeze was nice and those little black birds kept circling the field and making a lot of noise. After sitting for around 2 hours, we had seen nothing and headed out. Walking over and around soybeans is a good workout for your hip-flexor muscles. Since our stand is under a tree in the dead middle of the field, my hip flexors were burning by the time we made it back to the truck!
We left Pageland and headed to Columbia to watch the USC vs Kentucky game. It was a good game and USC prevailed in the end. We?ve got a former player playing there and he started so it was good to see him in the game. The game was a TV game which made it a long one and we headed out of Columbia around 4:15. The stadium traffic wasn?t too bad. We got home at 5:30, changed, and went straight into the woods. As we walked quietly through the woods we began to approach the deer stand. Three white tails bounded off the corn pile and back down into the woods. There were already 3 does eating the corn before we got there! Murphy?s Law here again. Jason took the camera rig up in the stand and I sat on the ground. Still, nothing to write home about. After the hunt I was exhausted and had to go to sleep early as I had burned the candle at both ends and was worn out! Too much fun for one day and I went to sleep.
Sunday morning Jason went with Will back to the ground blind and I went to the ?buddy stand?. Perfect weather conditions and Will said they saw 6 eating acorns in the middle of the old road on the way in. Though on the hunt we, again, saw nothing on either the buddy stand or ground blind.
Sunday afternoon came and we traveled to Kershaw County to a different plot of land over near Lynches River. There are coyotes out on this land and we hoped to see one of them as well. We had 2 different people in 2 different stands. Will was in a climbing stand in some planted pines and Jason was sitting in a tree-house stand watching over some planted peas. Weather seemed perfect and the scene was just like it ought to be, but nothing moving again. A lot of hunting without any good video footage or anything to write home about.
So all in all, the weekend was good, but we were not able to capture any good video to post to the site. We hunted in 4 ? 5 different stands in different types of terrain and either went in too late or left too early. Maybe I should change the name of the site to ?WeSpookDeerInSC.com? to give a more accurate representation of our hunting so far!
We?ll get the HD camera back out there soon enough and maybe we?ll get lucky. Until next weekend?
Here's an I-Phone pic of the HD camera in the ground blind
A shot from the outside
A shot from the last hunt in Kershaw County
I?m almost embarrassed to write this blog posting, but if I?m going to keep it real then I must. This past Sunday evening I went hunting. WeHuntSC.com team member, Will List also went with me. I dropped him off at his ground blind and continued deeper into woods back to my stand. I went back to the same stand where I?d been seeing deer. I got in the stand about 5:30.
On the way in, Will and I both had talked about the Solunar Forecast and discussed how we hoped that it was a positive sign for the evening hunt. It was a bit cooler today, but still not cool enough to keep mosquitoes away. I sat down and put my mask on. Even though it was cool, I got warm on the way in. I was sweating a little bit and didn?t want to put the mask on, but when you don?t, your face looks like a light bulb to a deer?s eyes. So I put the mask on and having my head covered only made me hotter. It?s a battle that many hunters (especially the ones who wear snake chaps) face early in the season. When you?re hot, the mosquitoes can find you more easily. Thus, I was fighting off mosquitoes for about an hour until I cooled down. This was not fun and is an aggravating aspect to early season hunting.
Usually it's tough to hear deer when they walk, but today was different. I was sitting in my stand around 6:20 when I heard some leaves ruffling behind me to left. I turned slowly and looked and saw movement. I knew it was a deer when I saw brown move into the scene of the green leaves. Here again, the heavy cover offered by the trees made it difficult to see a good distance from my stand. 1?2?3?4?5 does were traveling together coming up the hill. They were in the oaks heading towards the pines that I was sitting in. They were muzzling their noses in the ground eating acorns and they were in no hurry at all. I could hear them as they moved slowly through the trees. One of them was headed straight for the corn pile.
When I saw all the does my heart started pounding. The crazy part is that I had time to get nervous and calm down before I actually pulled the trigger. I watched them for about 10 minutes before one got close enough to shoot. One deer was way ahead of the pack and came straight to the corn pile. The corn pile is only about 25 ? 30 yards away from my stand. As the deer was heading to me, I adjusted my position and took the safety off. It was the perfect setup and I was waiting with my gun up, looking through the scope when the leading doe got to the corn pile. I waited for the perfect shot. The deer looked up at me and froze and I pulled the trigger quickly. The deer jumped immediately and then bounded off. The shot was so loud that it jarred the other deer, but they were unsure of where the shot came from.
I figured I hit the doe and I chambered another shell and waited again. Immediately Will started texting me. The other does still moseyed around as if nothing had really happened, but I think their senses were heightened as the loudness of the shot had them on edge. Though, after 20 more minutes they were heading in the other direction. They may have headed the other way as they heard my phone vibrating every 5 minutes as Will continued to text message me.
Eventually I put my orange on and got out of my stand to go and start tracking the doe. I went to the corn pile and didn?t find any drops of blood. I knew this was not a good sign. Since I shot at the deer farily early, some day light remained and I could see pretty well. I then began fanning out and walked in circles towards the direction the deer headed. I was looking for blood or slides where a deer would ?fall-step? while running injured. I didn?t find anything but a hill that had been completely scavenged for acorns by the deer. My dad came to help us look for the deer and he picked Will up on his way. We managed all this via text message and as time went on, hope grew smaller. Dad and Will arrived and we covered more ground and still no sign of a doe. It was getting dark and after 20 more minutes of looking we called the search off.
Long story short, I missed a doe broad-sided at 25 yards. The only explanation I have to offer for how or why is that I must have flinched right as I pulled the trigger and shot under the deer. I think the images and feeling from this happening will haunt me for some time to come. And I call myself a hunter?
This week our high school football team had a Thursday night game and on the way back from the game we saw about 6 deer in various places along the road. I thought this was a good sign since the deer were moving, but I had hoped they wouldn?t move all night and thus not be out in the morning.
I think I stepped on and broke every stick possible on the way into the woods. I hate to make a lot of noise on the way in, but today I wasn?t too successful at the quiet entry that I hoped for. I headed back to the same stand from last week where I saw the does. I had taken some corn out there and nobody had been back since. I finally got situated in my stand and waited on the sun to rise. While waiting, I sent a few text messages to friends who were also up early. The old man gives me a hard time about texting while hunting, but it does help to pass time.
Soon it was light enough to see well in the woods. I noticed some movement over my right shoulder to the corn pile that is at my 5 o?clock. A deer? This early? Yep, that's exactly what it was. The white?ish-grey ring around this deer?s eyes really stood out to me for some reason. Maybe it was the contrast from the dark that surrounded everything in the forest with the light color around the deer?s eyes. I slowly began to turn to get into better position. As I turned I could see the deer moving its head up and down. I got to where I was in a semi-comfortable position and then I saw antlers on the deer?s head. Because of the lighting, it was difficult to see exactly how many points were on the rack, but I knew that it was a buck. The rush started to come over me as the deer continued to eat corn. Soon enough I was able to make out how many points were on the rack and it was a 6 point with an extremely high rack. It had a good body too. I?ve seen some 6 points that were measly looking characters, but this one was thick for his size. I?m guessing he would have gone around 140 lbs. Maybe he?s been eating enough corn around there to keep him healthy!
On this track of land, we are not shooting any bucks unless they meet certain criteria. This buck did not meet the criteria because it wasn?t old enough and the rack wasn't big enough. So, I knew I wasn?t going to shoot this one, but I didn?t know if he was by himself. After holding in this semi-comfortable position for a while, it started to become not-so-comfortable. I?m sure all hunters know what it?s like to be locked frozen in an awkward position and trying to hold it for a long period of time. With the deer 20 ? 30 yards away, I didn?t want to spook him even though I knew I wasn?t going to shoot him. So, I slowly started to move when he had his head down. There were also a few trees that were between him and me. I rotated and moved until I got into a relaxed position. Once I got back comfortable and just sat quietly.
The squirrels had started to move about the forrest. They say the "woods wake up" when all the birds, animals, and random sounds you hear in the woods start to come out and move. The woods was definitely awake by this point! Nearly 20 minutes had gone by and I turned slowly back around and the buck was still there! I then reached for my camera and got it out of my pocket and turned it on. ( I should mention here that I love the zipper pockets in these pants that are made for easy access once you sit down.) If I wasn?t going to shoot him, I might as well take a picture to post here on the blog. I turned and got the camera ready and he had no clue. Though, I could barely see him because of the trees. I could clearly see his hind end and legs, but his head was behind a large pine tree. I held and held with the camera up. I waited on him to take a step, but he never did. The squirrels were getting closer to me. The buck heard the squirrels and started peeping around?.up and down he went with his head...up and down...several times at random intervals. He was staring dead at me, but heard the squirrel that was in the tree beside me. The squirrels didn?t spook him though. Sidenote: I?m always amazed at how loud squirrels are in the woods in contrast to how quiet deer are. Many times I hear a noise and think it?s a deer, but it?ll turn out to be a squirrel. Deer are stealth creatures! So, I held the camera for about 5 minutes and even took a picture, but it was too blurry to post. You couldn?t really make anything out about the picture other than leaves. So the deer eventually walked back into the woods.
I sat there for about an hour after that hoping to see him again or hoping to see some does come through. Nothing happened though and that was it. There was still some corn left out there, so I?ll be back in the near future hoping to cross paths with a big one.
Also, I wanted to make note that the Solunar Forecast said that these few days were good days for deer hunting and, as you just read, I did see a deer today. I?m not sure how much stock I place in the Solunar forecast, but I?m going to watch it closely on the site this year and compare when I see deer in contrast to the phases of the moon. More to come on that later.
To give you some visuals, I took a few pictures before leaving the stand so as to help you picture what I?m seeing in the woods.
Here's my vantage point
The inverted view...that's a good looking pine tree there!
The stand in the woods