What if the deer would've come out 10 yards further down the plot? What if I would've just had my gun already propped on the shooting rail? What if the deer would've kept walking toward the decoy? What if my gun barrel didn't get caught in the burlap? These were the questions running through my mind moments after blowing a perfect chance to harvest a nice 9 pt. Let's rewind?
This past weekend, I had the privilege to sit in the deer stand a few times. Saturday morning didn't offer any luck even though I felt like I was in the perfect setup. I called Clint to see if he wanted to film me hunting over the Tecomate Seed Food Plot on the power line Saturday afternoon. We decided were going to setup a buck decoy and use a rut smoking stick by Tink's. I placed the decoy and smoke stick about 60 yards down the plot. About halfway between the decoy and the stand, there was a fresh scrape on the edge of the food plot. The wind was blowing in our face at an angle, which was good considering the deer should be coming out in front of us. The deer we have been seeing have been coming out close to the scrape or at the very bottom of the plot. It was around 3:30 pm when we finally got situated in the tower stand. Clint and I were whispering what we hoped would happen and just texting people on our phones, trying to kill time until the ?golden hour? arrived.
Since there hasn?t been much rain, the squirrels were making a ridiculous amount of noise in the leaves to our left and right. Around 4:40 pm, the sporadic scampering from the squirrels had ceased and a rhythmic pattern of steps started resonating from the hardwoods to our right. I instantly looked at Clint and said ?That?s a deer!? Adrenaline suddenly rushed through my body and heightened my senses. I could hear every twig snap and every leaf crackle as the deer approached. He was walking right towards our stand! As the deer approached the food plot, he was so close that we couldn?t even see him. At this point, Clint and I were so excited that we literally felt like puking. Finally, Clint saw some antlers moving below us. Since I was in the right corner of the stand, I didn?t see the deer until he was a step away from entering the food plot. First thing I spotted was antlers. So I started taping Clint on the leg for him to let me know if it was a shooter. Clint gave me a thumbs up!!! It was game time! The deer was so close we had to be extremely quiet in our movements. I gently sat my binoculars on the floor and started to get my gun raised. By this time, the deer had spotted the decoy and had taken a few steps toward it. Perfect! I was thinking the deer was going to head straight for the decoy and Clint was going to capture the magic. The deer suddenly got spooked. He paused, turning his ears in every direction trying to pick up the slightest noise. I was frozen! I still hadn?t gotten my gun raised. The deer started walking toward the woods instead of the decoy. It?s was now or never! I quietly, but frantically tried to get my gun positioned on the shooting rail. The deer was just a few steps from disappearing into the woods when my gun barrel got tangled in the burlap on the top railing. As I untangled the barrel and clicked the safety off, the deer darted for the woods. BANG!!! ?Did you get him!?!? Clint whispers. My heart sank. I just had the greatest opportunity to take a nice buck and failed. I?m pretty sure in my rushed state of mind; I shot over the deer?s back at 15yds! We sat until dark and then got down to make sure I didn?t hit the deer. We didn?t find any sign of the deer being hit. This was the greatest hunt, with the worst outcome, in my life.
The image of the buck spotting the decoy & getting all stiff-legged
Even though I missed the deer, I had to show my family this awesome hunt. So when I got home, I played the footage for my dad, mom, sisters, and brother-in-law. As soon as the buck came into the screen, my sister was like I can?t believe you missed that nice buck. Great! Here we go, time for the clowning to commence. Then my dad chimes in, ?That deer about licked your barrel!? Now I?m trying to defend myself by describing what is happening behind the camera. My dad said he was going to get in that same stand in the morning. I said that was cool because I could just film him. He said that I wouldn?t have to worry about that deer again if he came out on him because he would ?put him to sleep?. So Sunday morning we headed back out to the tower stand. After getting in the stand, my dad couldn?t be still. His back was bothering him and he was on a bucket seat that didn?t have any back support. He kept squirming around and occasionally stood up. By this point I thought there was no way we are going to see a deer. So I just started playing on my phone and started texting people. Suddenly dad whispered ?Don?t move! A doe just stepped out.? By the time I get the camera turned on and zoomed down the plot, two more does stepped out. None of these does where on high alert like a buck was with them, so I immediately tell dad to pick one out and shoot. Before he can put the binoculars down and grab his gun, there were six does in the food plot. Three of these does are at least 120 lbs. Dad got his gun on the shooting rail and we pick out which doe he is going to shoot. ?Ready?? he whispered. BANG!!! ?Haha? I chuckled. The deer bounded off. Dad asks ?Did I hit her?? Then you hear me kind of laugh and say ?I don?t know?. I started picking on him because that is the first deer I?ve ever seen or heard of my dad missing. For some reason, he placed the cross hairs on top of the does back and shot over the top of her. I was like why would you do that, she was only 140 yards out. Then I realized that was the first deer my dad had ever attempted to shoot with a rifle. We decided to get down and check for blood just to make sure. As I waited for my turn to climb down the stand, I glanced back down the food plot and another deer had just walked out after all the commotion. I started whispering to dad to hand me the gun, but obviously he didn?t hear me. By the time he finally handed me the gun, the deer had run off. Now it was time for dad to get clowned by the family. Luckily for him, it was only mom there. So all he got was, ?I can?t believe ya?ll missed those deer.?
Even though pops and I were 0 for 2, those were two of the best hunts I?ve experienced in my life. I have to give special thanks to Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag, Atsko Scent Elimination Products, True Timber Camo and Tecomate Seed. Without the Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag and Atsko?s Scent elimination products, I don?t think Clint and I would?ve ever been able to get that close to the 9 pt. To be in a stand that is about 12 feet high and get within 5 yards of a buck like that speaks volumes for these two products. True Timber has great camo patterns for our area and the material is quiet. I will be purchasing more from them soon! Tecomate Seed just keeps bringing these deer in. We haven?t hunted that stand much, but now we have seen 3 or 4 bucks on it and a lot of does. So I highly recommend you guys try these products.
Below is the video of my first hunt
Below is the video of my dad?s hunt
These are 2 hunts I'll never forget!
A while back someone on twitter saw a link to our site and checked it out. Their response tweet was that they liked the design of the site and that it fired them up and made them "want to go kill something?" Obviously this individual doesn''t have a clear understanding of what hunting is all about as his words were a window into his personal view of hunting ...or should I say his trouble distinguishing the difference between hunting and killing.
I often meet people who are non-hunters and sometimes over the course of conversation we end up talking about hunting. Inevitably the conversation trends towards the hunting vs. killing debate. It usually surfaces in the form of "How can you shoot those helpless little creatures?" or "You try to kill Bambi?" This statement is typically a strong indicator that the person asking the question has never hunted.
I'd like to take a look into the hunting vs. killing debate from a hunter's perspective. Let's use a critical lens to analyze and deconstruct the meaning of hunting and also killing. What are the differences between hunting and killing? Where do the differences lie? What are the signs of both a "hunter" and a "killer"? Let's start the investigation by looking at hunters.
Hunters, first and foremost, have totally different motivations, thought processes, and core values than a "killer" does. The fundamental values of a hunter affect the way he/she views the sport. A hunter's beliefs and values prompt actions that are direct indicators that the individual is a true hunter. Over time these fundamental differences are outwardly manifested in the activities in which hunters engage. For this reason, you will find hunters involved in activities in which you will never see "killers" involved. These belief-motivated actions can be noticed both in-season as well as during the off-season.
In the off-season a hunter still enjoys many aspects of hunting. This is because being a hunter doesn't come for a season and then leave, its not seasonal, it's a way of life. Some examples of these off-season activities are those such as "shed" hunting where finding a deer's shed antlers is the goal, or with training any hunting dogs that a hunter may have, doing off-season scouting, competing in target shooting competitions and/or calling competitions, attending trade shows, moving deer stands, building duck blinds, practicing calling techniques, researching, planting and maintaining food plots to help with the health and nutritional diet of the deer, turkeys, ducks or other game in the hunter's area, or even watching hunting TV shows.
During the season a hunter doesn't merely look to harvest anything that walks through the woods, but rather is selective about the game that he or she does choose to harvest. A hunter won't shoot more meat than he or she needs in his freezer. Hunters also help less fortunate people by donating deer meat to them. It's common to find hunting clubs or deer processors working with local organizations supporting the needy. A hunter takes pride in being able to watch an animal mature over time and is challenged to hold the game in their area. A hunter also has a true appreciation for nature and the patterns found within nature denoting intelligent design from above. Hunters grow to appreciate the stillness of being in the middle of the woods, field, swamps, etc where one can momentarily elude the business and noise of everyday life. Sitting on the ground, in a stand, or in a blind offers one the time and place to ponder the wonders of the universe or anything else that may come to mind. The serenity hunters find out in nature can't be found in too many other locations and gives some hunters a natural high. This tranquil and peaceful place is where the hunter remains until he/she either encounters the game or the end of the hunt. Sure, a hunter wants to harvest an animal, yet he/she still enjoys the hunt whether an animal was harvested or not. When the game does arrive, whether it is a duck, boar, turkey, deer, etc hunters enjoy the instant rush that comes over us. The instant rush of adrenaline, rather than the kill, is what gets hunters hooked.
A hunter also has the discipline to watch their game for hours and never pull the trigger. When a hunter does pull the trigger, it is a calculated moment that has been in the making for some time rather than being a moment that randomly happens by chance. Harvesting an animal is the culmination of many factors some of which are: off-season scouting, scent control, successful hunting tactics, food plot, land/game management, successful calling, well trained dogs, and yes, an accurate shot. All of these factors coming together at once is not an easy feat to pull off. Therefore, when an animal is harvested it's the intersection of preparation, patience, and nature.
Hunters usually have hunting partners with whom they go hunting and spend time. Having a hunting partner is a good safety measure, it helps when any work needs to be done, and offers a chance for fellowship while participating in an activity that both individuals enjoy. It's commonplace to find fathers and sons hunting together. You see hunters also care about passing the tradition on to younger hunters. Because of the burden to share the sport and experiences in the outdoors, hunters strongly support activities which promote and educate hunting to youth. Fathers also appreciate the opportunity that hunting gives them to spend time with their children.
To see what happens when a non-hunting, father-son, duo goes hunting and realizes the rush of the hunt and the experience that they'd just had together see the below video
Hunters also get involved with organizations that support their sport and focus on the conservation of the sport so that everyone can continue to enjoy the outdoors. Organizations like Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Ducks Unlimited (DU), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are ones that you'll see true hunters get involved with. These organizations bring a wealth of research, information, and synergy to their respective sport of hunting and work for the greater good of the hunting community as a whole. Hunters get involved with these organizations because the core principles and values of the organizations align with the core principles and values of the hunter.
The last thing I'll mention is that, due to the strong differences between hunters and killers, you'll seldom find hunters associating with killers, the two just don't mesh. Sure they may bump into each other at a processing plant every now and then, but you won't see them together much other than that. The old saying goes "You are what you hang around" and because of this notion, hunters are careful about the company they keep. Take a look at the people around you who hunt and think about who they do and don't hang around to see if it holds true.
We all have different perspectives, but the above is my perception on what makes a hunter and how you can identify and distinguish a hunter from a killer. Since I've elaborated on what I believe comprises a hunter, now let's look at the other side of the fence. Let's look at characteristics that I believe make up a "killer".
A "killer" is essentially the opposite of all the characteristics mentioned above that encompass a hunter. In my opinion, killers give hunters a bad reputation. In the same way that you'll see a hunter involved in specific activities and carrying out certain behaviors, you'll see killers not taking part in certain activities and also engaging in contrasting behaviors. Most of the time a killer's behaviors are in stark contrast to those of a hunter.
In contrast to a hunter, a killer does not appreciate the hunt because the hunt is what stands between them and a kill. Killers don't genuinely appreciate the wait, the silence, and the necessary time in a stand/blind that most hunters love because a killer doesn't really enjoy the peacefulness of nature, but rather is in a hurry to pull the trigger.
Killers don't respect the land they hunt on or animals they harvest. They don't mind littering or damaging the land they hunt on because the environment and conservation is not of their concern. Killers are also what we like to call "trigger-happy" and will shoot the first deer, turkey, duck etc. that they see. In the deer hunting world killers live by the motto "If it's brown it's down" because they're not concerned with game management or limits. I remember an instance related to this topic that happened when I was a kid that still sticks out to me.
In the mid 90's we were at one of our locals processing plants and everyone was talking about deer hunting while the guys were cleaning deer. The environment was the normal, upbeat, good-humored, environment that you've probably experienced before at a processing plant. We had been there about 20 minutes when some guys came up and bought in a very young doe. The deer was so small that it looked like it had just got rid of its spots. At the time I didn't really know what was going on because I was so young, but I distinctly remember the old man that was processing the deer's reaction to the situation. The guys drug the small deer up and immediately the whole processing plant went silent. Tension was in the air and it was thick. I vividly remember the awkwardness of the moment. The guy who shot the deer said he wanted some "tender meat" and that did not go over well at all with the processor. He gave the guy a death-stare and then shook his head in disappointment to let him know that what he had done was wrong. After that the whole place remained quiet until the individuals who brought the deer in left. Being young, I didn't exactly understand what had just taken place, but my dad explained it to me on the way home. In retrospect, I now respect the processor even more because even he didn't want to make money cleaning a deer that was so young because he respected the game and disliked doing business with a killer.
Another sign to look for that denotes a killer is what they do in the off-season. Killers rarely participate in, and do not enjoy, the off-season work that hunters love because its actual work and it doesn't involve or even come close a kill. Hunters know that working in the off-season can help their game and also keeps the hunter's flame burning year round. Killers on the other hand may do some off-season work, but from what I can tell, they don't seem to be too motivated about it.
After a killer does harvest a deer, they commonly boast about the kill as if it builds social status whether their animal was a trophy animal or not. Of course a hunter may brag about a nice deer, duck, turkey, etc they've harvested, but they won't go to the extent of self-promotion that a killer will. A true hunter doesn't need any self-promotion and doesn't thrive on his reputation because to a hunter it's not a competition, but to a killer, it is.
Killers aren't interested in taking others hunting because it only lessens their chances of making a kill. Sure everyone hunts by themselves at some point in time, but (if okay with the hunting club and/or land-owner) a hunter is always open to taking another person hunting, especially a kid because a hunter wants to share the enjoyment of the sport. A killer's viewpoint on that matter is the opposite because he/she isn't interested in sharing the sport as much.
Killers aren't concerned with adhering to the state/county regulations on game and don't mind breaking the rules because they don't respect the game, land, or sport as much as a hunter does. Due to this lack of adherence to rules & regulations killers will do things such as spotlighting deer at night, shooting before legal shooting time, hunting on land that isn't theirs, harvesting more animals than they are legally supposed to, etc. For whatever reason, a killer seems to feel above the law.
In the above paragraphs I've used a critical lens to compare, contrast, and note my view on the characteristics of both the "hunter" and the "killer". Looking deeper into the debate and deconstructing the meaning from a hunter's perspective provides unique insight with which you have the right to agree or disagree.
The term "Epistemology" refers to one's "way of knowing" and really forces one to ask the question "How do I know what I know to be truth?" Knowledge is derived from the merging of what we know to be true (truths) and what we believe (beliefs). This is demonstrated by the graph on the right.
Given an epistemological viewpoint, one can be more informed about hunters from understanding a hunter's core values and beliefs. One must know the truths about hunters and understand the sport from a hunter's perspective in order to be knowledgeable and informed in the debate. Looking at hunting from the vantage point of a hunter offers valuable insight for non-hunters and those who are critical of hunters.
Determining whether an outdoorsman is a hunter or a killer is a judgment that can only be made on an individual basis. Stereotyping hunters as blood hungry killers is unfair because many times that is simply not the case. I'm not denying that there are some killers out there. I'm just saying that you can't call us all killers until you get to know us and understand us a little.
I recently met our 2011 Montana Decoy Turkey Competition winners to give them their prizes. As you are most likely aware, our site audience voted and Mark and William emerged as our winners. After the announcement we had to schedule and coordinate a meeting place to deliver the prizes. Since Mark and William hail from areas distant from each other we had to line it up for different days and it even was raining as Mark received his prizes. Nevertheless we still got it done, but we didn?t shoot much video? just pictures. It was definitely a good day for William Babb and Mark Cody when we met and they were all smiles as I got the prizes out of my car.
Below are the pictures and videos from the winners receiving their prizes.
Below is a video of the winners receiving their prizes
Thanks again to our sponsors and to everyone for participating in our 2011 Turkey Competitions! Without our sponsors and participants none of this would have been possible!
One of my most favorite parts of working on the web site is to be able to give the competition winners their prizes! One of the winners quoted this past weekend ?Shooting the deer was good enough, now this is just the icing on the cake!? and that?s what it?s all about! Seeing the winners smile while they get their prizes makes us feel good and is rewarding for us too!
Again our winners were (See pics of the winner's deer):
The winners received some great prizes from our sponsors and each left with a handful of goodies to play with and we hope to get some ?field test? reports from them as well. I think in total we gave out just short of $2,000 worth of prizes to the winners. This is pretty good for the site just being a little over 1 year old and we hope it will get even better in years to come.
We did get some interviews from this year?s winners so check it out in the video below. Thanks again to the sponsors and to everyone who participated. Be sure to tune in early next season to see what competitions we?re hosting, what rules we?re enforcing, and what prizes you can win.
Sometimes people ask me ?What is WeHuntSC.com???so I figured I?d write a blog about it and try to give an adequate answer...
I guess the web site can be different things for different people, but it kind of depends on your perspective. Since the perception of the site can differ, I?ve tried to write from a few different lenses in case you happen to fit into one of the below vantage points.
From a Hunter?s Viewpoint WeHuntSC.com is a website geared toward the hunters of South Carolina. We are an information hub and an online location for hunters to share information, photos, videos, and stories. We are flexible and open to suggestions from our site audience and we try to adapt and accommodate as much as possible.
We promote hunting and conservation and we respect the game and land we are blessed enough to hunt. We support our governing body (SCDNR) and promote and abide by their regulations. Our site gives hunters another online area to debate and dialogue about whatever?s on our minds. Our site offers hunters in South Carolina a location to connect with other hunters who share the same interests and who are regionally close to them. By providing an avenue for information exchange, our site fosters relationships among the outdoorsmen of South Carolina and beyond.
From the metrics, it?s evident that hunters in states all over the US and from several foreign nations are also interested in seeing what we?ve got going on in SC. Hunters in other states view the pages of our site and seldom comment?they are just curious about us and what we?ve got going on. In that regard, our site is a window to the rest of the hunting world for what kind of animals we?re harvesting in South Carolina and how we go about hunting the game in our state.
Hunters come to our site to connect, to compete, and to communicate?and we try to have a good time with it!
From a Sponsor?s Viewpoint We also host various online competitions throughout the hunting seasons to give back to SC hunters. For an organization, these competitions represent opportunities to directly interface with hunters throughout the year. Organizations can donate products and sponsor competitions in exchange for publicity and marketing on our site. We monitor our site?s metrics daily and we continue to grow. If you have an organization interested in promoting via our site, just let us know and we can send you some metric reports if you?re interested in cost per impression analysis.
We also have a team of bloggers who blog about their hunts. Some organizations give us products to use/field test and blog about. This offers organizations a grass roots means to connect with hunters throughout the hunting season and the year. Our bloggers aren?t professional hunters with TV shows?we?re just normal guys who like to hunt?and write about it. We utilizemedia rich techniques of images, lightbox image galleries, and YouTube videos to document our hunts and any products that we may be field testing. When SC hunters have memorable hunts we?ll also post guest blogs that they submit. We have also done blog series when it made sense. An example of this is the Tecomate Seed Food Plot Journey where we did a year-long blog series of creating food plots.
We, our bloggers, our hunters, and fans all promote different areas of our site via social media. Organizations that partner with us receive product promotion, increased logo awareness, and greater brand recognition on our site, on YouTube, on Facebook, and Twitter. From this standpoint, we help organizations reach people in several different online locations.
From a Web Viewpoint Ah yes, the web! I am a web guy (actually a "webneck") by trade and this site offers me a place to sharpen a skill set. I keep this site up on the side with the help of a couple other individuals. Running this site helps me gain a greater knowledge about this platform, gives me a creative outlet, and helps me keep my mind turning. The challenge to innovate, keep fresh content, and keep users engaged is interesting and fun, but most importantly it forces me to learn. The push to try to be on the fringe with technology is an endless task and the struggle breeds knowledge.
I hope this entry has helped communicate what WeHuntSC.com is about from whatever perspective you find yourself. The site may change in time, well, it will have to change in order to survive, so stay tuned as we keep pushing to find ways to connect and engage online.