First and foremost I would like to say that I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas! We had a good one and it?s always good to get to see family and be able to give gifts to the special people in our lives.
The beginning of J-Duck Chronicles
The sunrise over Winyah Bay
J-Duck's setup on the coast
In recent discussions with people, I?ve noticed a common thread. The common thread is that we are getting ready to have a long, hard winter. During one conversation, a wise man (as he called himself) told me that ?mother nature will take care of mother nature?. He noted that one reason for all of the acorns this year was because nature had to get the animals healthy enough to make it through a tough winter. This guy swears by it and even said ?Go write that on ?ye blog up?er on the internet?. I did investigate and found other people indicating the same thing. Here?s a link to a web site out of Boston where the writer denotes that a large acorn harvest points toward a tough winter.
This past weekend I didn?t get to hunt but twice due to the Christmas season activities? i.e. Christmas parties & a cantata. This is fine though because it was cold and wet all weekend and I enjoy seeing everyone during the Holiday season. So this blog post will be relatively shorter. The first time I went in the woods this weekend was on Sunday morning (yes we hunt on Sundays!). Sunday morning it was pretty cold. It was also very foggy and raining. I put on as many layers as I could and by the time I got to the stand I was sweating a little. It didn?t take long for me to cool down in this weather though! I went to the stand that Jason (the camera guy) and I put out last Thursday. I can tell you from the walk in that the deer are definitely back eating corn again. Man they had every cob cleaned except for one! I took a 360 view when it got light enough so you can see the setup.
It was so cold that I was literally hunched down in the stand just trying to stay warm. This is a 12 foot ladder stand hooked to an oak tree that is overlooking a small open area in the woods. The tree that the stand is on backs into a downhill slope, so directly behind me is a small valley. I had been sitting there and I wasn?t moving at all when I heard something jump, run, & gallop away very quickly. This sound came directly from behind me. I never moved and never even saw the deer, but I believe it was a buck as this deer was traveling solo and sounded heavy as it took off. That deer had to have smelled me or something because I wasn?t moving at all. He sounded to be about 20 ? 30 yards behind me coming up that small slope. I wish he would have been to his left about 50 yards because I may have had a chance at him. Anyway, that?s how it goes sometimes. They come from everywhere that you can?t see! As the deer ran off it blew 2 times. It sounded like it paused and started blowing again. So I took Adam?s advice and I blew back at the deer twice. Sure enough? the deer stopped blowing at me. Obviously this didn?t help me get a shot or anything, but at least it got that deer to be quiet. As I think about it now, this is the second time that I?ve been in there and heard deer blowing around me. If this happens one more time I may move the stand to a different location in there to see if it helps. Maybe sitting out on that hilltop allows my scent to spread more. Who knows? If you?ve got any insight on this, respond to this post! So about 2.5 hours was all I could take of the cold and wet and I went back to the house. This same morning my dad had gone down to the hunt over the soy bean field. They just started cutting the soy beans this week and so the visibility was a little better. He said he saw 4 deer in the field at about 350 ? 400 yards and he could tell that one was a good sized buck. Though, he said when he put his scope up that he couldn?t find the deer. It was so foggy that he said he thinks the scope was reflecting light or something off the mist in the air and it made it difficult for him to see anything (at that distance) in the scope. So while he could see them with his bare eyes, he couldn?t find/see them in the scope. Has this ever happened to you?
So Sunday afternoon I, like any good son, went back down to the soy bean field to see if I could see any deer! I did a 360 view of the bean field on my way in so you can see the setup.
I walked through the muddy field and ended up at the box stand underneath the tree. I like this stand because it provides a good wide area to look at, but it also makes it hard because you?re inside the box and have to move to see out of the corners. There are 3 windows in the box stand and in order to see the areas where the windows aren?t you have to move around a little. I usually like this stand early in the season because I can sit in there without getting torn up by mosquitoes! Then as the season changes and leaves fall I get into the woods more. This box stand is heavy and is constructed out of thick lumber. Getting it down under that tree was no easy task! Here?s what it looks like.
Once in the box stand I shot a video so you can feel the ?boxed in? feeling that you get from sitting in the stand.
I sat and sat and watched it rain and text messaged etc for a while. I then began to wonder if I could look through the scope and see the other end of the field with the mist & fog everywhere still. I put my scope up and I will say that it seemed cloudy inside of the scope. If you?ve ever looked through and old scope or a cheap scope you know that it isn?t clear or if it has let moisture in the scope then it looks somewhat foggy. This is the feeling I had when I tried to look long distances. I also wondered if the IPhone camera could look through the scope. I put it up and it can see through the scope, but it is hard to hold it still enough to do it.
Then right as it was starting to get dark, I saw movement of brown way down in the left corner about 350 yards (the same place my dad had seen the deer earlier that day). I put the scope up and dialed it all the way to 9. I watched the deer for a while hoping that a big buck would come out. It was getting really close to dark and it was getting more and more difficult to see the deer. I could have pulled the trigger, but it wouldn?t have been a good shot + I had to hurry to get to the Christmas Cantata at the church. If I would have shot at the deer I know I would have looked for blood for at least 30 minutes! So, even though I did have my safety off and wanted to, I didn?t force the shot. I sat there for about 15 more minutes and then left. That?s the weekend recap and next weekend will consist of both deer & duck hunting for me. Hopefully I can get some better footage next weekend.
The bumper crop of acorns, all the full moons, the sun, feeding times, the weather - all reasons I?ve heard given by hunters as to why we aren?t seeing more deer this year. I went to our local processor this past weekend and he said things had been extremely slow in the past few days/weeks and from reading the article in the state paper, it seems that it?s a little slow everywhere. Don?t get me wrong, deer are being harvested, but it seems that the numbers of deer harvested are not at the level that they have been in the past. I do not take this stance from my own understanding of hunting, but rather from what I?m hearing/reading/experiencing all combined together. Does it seem slow where you are? Thursday morning I went hunting back out on the ridge again, but I did not see anything. After the hunt I decided to go walk through a different section of woods that I had not scouted yet this year. As I rode the 4-wheeler across the creek, I noticed how high the creek level was due to all the recent rains. I stopped and took a video of the 4-wheeler and creek to give you a look at the water flowing pretty quickly. This creek is usually very slow moving.
After going through the creek and riding over a bunch of muddy areas, I rode up the old logging road a ways and found a place to park that looked decent. I walked around on both sides of the old logging road for about an hour. I saw a few rubs here and there and it was really thick in some of those places. I finally walked into an area where the woods started opening up. I was about 75 yards in the woods when I heard some commotion. I looked up and 9 does where all jogging away from me through the woods. They were all good sized does too. It was weird because usually when this happens to me, the deer immediately dart away into the forest. Though, this time they went away, but it wasn?t like they were in a real big hurry. That?s how I was able to count them all. If I would have had my rifle with me (instead of lying on the 4-wheeler) I could have shot one of them, but I probably wouldn?t have. So, I obviously knew that deer were in this area of the woods and I continued walking around a little to see what I could see. I saw about 7 rubs within a 30 yard radius. On the way out from the location I also found a scrape. I pulled out the I-Phone and dropped a pin on the Google map to mark the location. I know, I know? technology and hunting meet each other and I ought to do it the old fashioned way right? I hear enough of that already. Anyway, I knew I was going to get a stand up in this location and a few hours later Jason had arrived and he helped me get the stand up. We winched it down and put out some corn. Thus, our camera man was in the building! So far the trend is that whenever the camera goes in the woods, the deer don?t move too much! (Murphy?s law at its finest). We went hunting on Friday morning and didn?t see anything, but did see a lot of squirrels. After the hunt we shot some short films on 4-wheelers & climbing stands. Hopefully you?ll see those up on the site in the weeks to come. I also got a short film of the camera guy (Jason) from my I-Phone. See it below:
Then of course we went and got some good old Bojangles and then returned to the house. We then went out to Central and started the state championship weekend. It was a good time and too much to type here, but in the end we lost the state to Dillon by 1 point? again! Man it was a tough pill to swallow and a few plays could have changed the course of the game tremendously. I will say that this season was a good example of what quality coaching can do for a team. You can see some of Jason?s pics from the game here Sunday morning we were back out in the woods at the stand that we put up on Thursday. The deer had eaten some of the corn that we put out as well. Man it was cold Sunday morning and the thoughts, images, & replays of the game the day before lingered in my mind during the hunt?we were so close! As the sun rose, the squirrels woke up and started running throughout the forest. Squirrels really have no fear of heights and don?t mind being extremely loud either. We didn?t see anything at all and about 7:45 we heard a deer blowing somewhere off in the distance. This deer blew about 9 times, which is the most I?ve ever heard a deer blow before in the woods. I don?t think it was blowing at us because the sounds were originating from far off. I hoped that something had alerted the deer in another area and that it would push them towards us, but it didn?t happen. After some engagement pictures, I went back hunting in the afternoon. My dad went with me this time and I put him in the stand that we had just put up and I went back to my climber. J.E. was hunting in the soy bean field. Right about dark-thirty I heard a shot. I got down from my climber and went back to the truck where I had dropped off my dad. He said he didn?t shoot and said he thought it was J.E. I called Mr. J.E. and he said that he shot at a nice doe, but couldn?t find it. It was so dark that he couldn?t search anymore and was going to return in the morning to see if he could find the deer. So that was a lot of hunting by me without seeing a deer. Maybe I?m doing something wrong! What about you and your area of the state? Is it slow there?
This past weekend?s weather conditions were exactly what I have been waiting on all hunting season. We finally received some cold and calm weather. I could barely sleep from the anticipation of that first morning hunt on Saturday. I chose the lock-on stand across from my house because the wind was perfect and I have been getting pictures from my trail camera all during the morning hours. Though, these pictures have not been of a buck I would like to take, there have been some nice size does. So I opted to take my bow and see if I could get my first bow kill. It rained for the most part that morning, but it was a very light rain and it tapered off around mid-morning. I just knew with the cold morning and the rain deceasing, I would see some action. I was wrong I didn?t see anything. I sat until about 11 a.m. and got down and grabbed my trail camera. My camera had some good pictures, but again, not of any bucks I would like to kill. There was one promising young six point that is going to be nice in a year or two. But the majority of the pics were between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and had several between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Even though theses deer have been coming out between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., I opted to wait until 3 p.m. to go hunting because COLLEGE FOOTBALL was on! Even though most games did not go the way I wanted them to, I still enjoyed watching them. After watching a little bit of football, I went back to the same stand in hopes to kill a big doe with my bow. Still nothing. At this point, I was getting discouraged.
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