After a successful first weekend of turkey season hunting with Mr. Puette I was looking forward to, and hopeful about, the next weekend I would be able to turkey hunt. The weather had been tricky a little lately, but it turned out to be a nice day on Saturday. I would be venturing out with Jason Love and Mark Turner trying to track down some gobblers. And after seeing the pic of JDHeatmag?s snake that struck at him, I went and got me some snake proof boots so I was ready to roll.
We met and headed out to the hunting land. We got there a little later than when I had arrived the week before. We parked near the entrance and headed out. We walked in along some really white looking sand which made our journey in really stealth. We were listening as we walked in hoping to hear a gobble from afar. We made it in near to the area we would be hunting and we stopped and listened for a bit. We gave the turkeys plenty of time to call if they were going to call. We held up at the edge of the woods in hopes of not spooking the birds by walking in early. The crows were calling and owls were hooting, but we hadn?t heard any turkeys. Jason made some louder calls with his crow call and still nothing responded. The initial thought was that the turkeys were deeper in the woods.
We walked further into the woods and set up. Mark put two hen decoys out while Jason put a short blind around the area where I would be sitting. We all sat at the base of 3 different pine trees. Jason was to my right and Mark was to my left. Mark had a better angle on the decoys and better vision. Both Jason and Mark brought their guns just in case the turkeys came from either direction, but Mark was the ?shooter? as he was kind of out on a point overlooking the cleared out area of the woods.
As we sat down we listened for a while and Jason randomly called. We still heard no gobbles anywhere. Even though I don?t know a lot about turkey calling, Jason?s calling was sounding really good to my ears. Our senses were on high alert as we listened for any sound and scanned the floor of the woods looking for movement. About 15 minutes after we had been sitting there all of a sudden a loud sound came from behind us and to the right. The area behind us and to our right was thicker and difficult to see through, but the sound we heard was a great sound to hear! We heard the wings of a bird flapping as the bird came out of the tree. A turkey had flown down to the ground and he was close enough for us to hear his wings, but yet we couldn?t see him and he had never gobbled. I say ?he? because I?m assuming/hoping it was a big ol? gobbler. When we heard this it got us fired up, but still we couldn?t figure out why we hadn?t heard anything. I looked at Jason?s and Mark?s faces and I could tell they were paying close attention trying to figure out what was going on. They both knew we had a bird somewhere near us that was on the ground and that wasn?t making a sound.
We continued to sit patiently and waited on anything to clue us into where the bird was. He had to have heard our calling if we were able to hear his wings fly down to the ground. After a while both Jason and Mark started calling?some overlapping each other and sometimes right after each other. It sounded really good and sounded like multiple turkeys in the woods calling out. They didn?t over do it, but made enough sound to entice any big boy to come on over.
A couple of minutes later we heard a stick pop really close behind us. At first thought this was kind of a jolt that makes you cringe because you know something is there and you really can?t move to see what it was. It didn?t take long to figure out though. We heard a dog growling! Two dogs had run through the woods and when they saw the decoys they started growling at them. Jason saw them first and when we heard the growl we all turned around to see what was happening because they sounded mad and in a hurry! When we quickly turned around and made commotion the dogs got scared and high-tailed it out of there. And that was pretty much the gist of our hunt. We left shortly thereafter.
After talking about the situation we think the dogs are in that area and are bothering the birds. This may be why the bird never gobbled? because he had been chased by a dog before! Who knows, but it was a frustrating end to a good hunt! I had some really good footage of the guys calling and the setup and I was just waiting on the turkey to get in the picture too, but it never happened.
We started walking back out to the trucks. On the way out we saw some turkey tracks in that same white sand that we had walked in on earlier. Jason even noticed a turkey track that had stepped in Mark?s boot track. This meant that a turkey had crossed the same path that we walked in on and had done it after we went in the woods. The turkeys were in the area?and so were two punk dogs!
Mark headed home and as Jason and I rode back we figured we give another area a shot. We drove down the road and saw 3 different turkeys out in random fields as we drove. The turkeys were moving and we hoped for better luck and a hunt without dogs interfering! We arrived to a new location and walked down the edge of the woods alongside a dirt road. There was a field up ahead to our left that where we believed some gobblers were out strutting. So we set up in the edge of the woods hoping to call the turkeys our way instead of going out in the open and spooking them.
Me wearing CrossOver Camo on the 2nd Hunt
We sat down in some white oaks that were really near a creek bed. Jason sat to my right again and we both leaned on two oaks that were side by side. This time we had the Jake Intimidator set up hoping to cause a reaction by showing movement simulating a tom puffing up. We had him lying beside a hen decoy. We sat there and Jason started calling. We listened and listened and never heard any gobble. We were waiting patiently to hear a turkey when out of our left we saw a flicker. The flicker ended up being the movement of a doe just across the dirt road. I instantly turned the camera on and moved it to film the deer. This doe was the first of 5 deer that were heading our way.
I knew that we would have to be extremely still because the deer were coming our way. It was nearly 9:30 in the morning and the sun was out and it was shining right in there faces. The wind was blowing across our faces which meant the deer would have a tough time smelling us because they weren?t down-wind of us. The bad part was that I had my arm extended all the way out to my camera and the deer weren?t in a hurry. These deer slowly walked across the dirt road and came up the embankment where we were. It seemed to be 3 does with 2 yearlings. They walked closer and closer as they browsed the ground for stuff to eat. When they got closer one of the does saw the decoys and she didn?t like it. She started stomping the ground and got all tensed up. If you?re a deer hunter then you?re familiar with this site. I still couldn?t believe the deer got this close to us without detecting us yet.
Jason and I were whispering to each other this whole time. He said that he was going to start calling the turkey call just to see what would happen. Surprisingly when he started calling the turkey calls it didn't instantly scare the deer off. I think it may have calmed them some, but they were still in question of the decoys, but it seemed to relax the one just a bit. This whole time I was getting some great footage of these deer?and my shoulder and arm were shaking and burning about kill me!
A few minutes later I think the deer knew something wasn?t right and they bounded off back across the road. It was difficult to keep them all focused in the camera the whole time they were there. Just looking at the video you would think it should be easy, but when you?re sitting in the woods having to look in the small screen finder that was at a terrible angle for viewing since the camera was turned hard and to the left, it kind of made it difficult. Also, I?m normally able to smoothly move the camera head around when pivoting, but the I didn?t want any extra movement so the pivots are kind of jumpy because I didn?t want to spook the deer off.
So you?ll see more deer than turkeys in the video below, but nevertheless ? it was a good time in the outdoors and that?s what it?s all about!
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.
With turkey season opening up this past week I had been looking to go turkey hunting with someone because I?d never been before. I?ve got a friend who?s big into turkey hunting in York, some friends who turkey hunt in Chesterfield, and some in Pageland, but for whatever reason I couldn?t get anything lined up. I called up fellow Central High Football Coach Craig Hatcher and told him to put feelers out with some of his hunting buddies and see if he could line anything up. Craig called me back a day later and said that he?d searched high and low and that it turned out that he could get me a turkey hunt with one of the best hunters around. Bruce Puette is a great outdoorsmen and is also a teacher in Pageland. He?s also taught in Cheraw and I?ve always heard stories about how good of an all around hunter he is. My dad has told me on several occasions that Bruce knows his stuff when it comes to hunting?and after my first turkey hunt with Bruce, I have to agree.
I called Mr. Puette on Good Friday and we lined everything up for the hunt. I asked him when and where he wanted me to meet him. He told me to meet him at the Exxon gas station in Wallace, SC at 5:00 am! If you?re not from South Carolina or if you?re from different areas of South Carolina, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Wallace from Pageland. Wallace is right across the county line and is located in Marlboro County. The Pee Dee River (where we caught those catfish last weekend) is the county line. Once you cross the bridge you have left Chesterfield County and are in the city of Wallace. Anyway, to arrive at the Exxon station at 5:00 am, I would have to get up at 4:00 am. When I talked to Mr. Puette on the phone I was just excited about lining the trip up and wasn?t really thinking about the timing. After we hung up, I thought to myself that I would have to wake up at 4:00 am just to get there. Bruce said he liked to get out there early which meant that I wasn?t going to get much sleep. For some reason I just can?t go to sleep until late. I usually end up online doing something and can?t get free until late. I tried to go to bed early, but still couldn?t. I went to sleep around 11:45 and rolled out at 4. It wasn?t that bad initially.
I drove down to Wallace in the truck and met Mr. Puette at the Exxon station. We pulled up at the same time and got some drinks and then headed out. We drove a few miles and ended up at one of his hunting locations. I thought that it was a good sign that we saw 2 deer cross the road in front of us as we were driving to our hunting location. We dropped our trucks off not too far from the gate and then started walking. We walked in by the moonlight and Mr. Puette was telling me about his hunting land as we walked in. It was a pretty long walk to our final destination. Mr. Puette had come out the night before and watched where the turkeys went to roost and they had gone to roost behind where the ground-blind was set up.
The area we were hunting backed into a swamp and he said that the turkey?s like to roost near the water because no bobcats or anything will mess with them when they?re over the water. As I got situated in the blind, Mr. Pruette put out 2 decoys about 15 yards ahead of us to our right. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Puette came back in and we got situated in the blind. I backed my chair up into a corner of the blind. We were there really early and it was still dark outside. We just sat in the ground blind and talked for a while. Mr. Puette was telling me that he had gotten up early that morning and read Jeremiah 33:3 which reads ?Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.? We talked briefly about this verse and we talked about all kind of stuff. It seems Mr. Puette woke up at 4:00 am too and was reading the bible while I was on my way.
As the sun started to come up we could see 3 deer way out in the field. I tried to get them on camera, but the lighting was so bad that I couldn?t get them in focus + they were way out there. As we talked in the ground blind, Mr. Puette told me that patience is what kills turkeys, not turkey calling. He said ?Patience kills turkeys, not great calling?put that in your blog.? He said that you don?t have to be a great caller to get turkeys to come in; you just have to be patient. He said that his patience while hunting turkeys has made him more successful than his ability to call them in. Though, from sitting in the blind with him, I?d say that he?s not too bad of a caller either. Throughout our turkey hunt he used a slate call and a diaphragm call.
The light was starting to slowly shine through the trees and Mr. Puette started calling with the slate call. Off in the distance we could hear turkeys responding back to his calls. He would call a little, listen a little, call a little, and listen a little. I would say that about 70% of the times he called there was some kind of response. Slowly but surely, the sounds of the responding turkeys was getting closer and closer. We initially heard these turkeys responding back to us around 7:30 am. In time, the sounds got louder and closer and finally we spotted the first turkey that entered the field. It came out to our right about 50 yards down the edge of the field and was headed straight to the middle of the field. It was a hen and it seemed as if the decoys spooked it because it started a quick trot out to the field after it cleared the edge. (In the video I say it was a Jake, but I was wrong?the first turkey was a hen) We couldn?t really understand why the decoys may have spooked the turkey, but we were still hearing more turkeys behind us on both sides. Randomly we would hear gobbles coming from the right and the left.
As we were situated in the blind, we were looking out of mainly 2 windows. I had a window right beside me to my left and then there was one straight ahead of me that I could see out of. There was also a window behind me, but I was backed into the corner and couldn?t really see out of it without turning completely around. Though, Mr. Puette could see out of it easily.
We kept hearing calls and then 3 more turkeys entered the field from the same direction as the first one had. This group was a group of Jakes (young males). They did the same thing as the first turkey did?they kind of ran out to the middle of the field. This was puzzling us. Soon thereafter another Jake darted into the field following the first three. We had 4 turkeys out in front of us and then we saw 2 more coming from way out down the left side of the field as well. The sun was up by now and we could see well. The mixed group of hens and jakes was out in the middle of the field, but no big gobblers had come yet. At first glance we thought some of those Jakes were big ones, but after seeing them out in the open we could tell that they weren?t mature birds. Mr. Pruette even had his gun up on one of them, but then took it back down when he saw the bird wasn?t big enough. They were close enough to shoot, but that wasn?t what we were looking for.
We sat there and whispered to each other about the locations of the turkeys. Mr. Puette had been saying that the big boys won?t be too long behind the hens and Jakes. The group of turkeys had been out in the field for about 20 minutes now and Mr. Puette told me that this was the time-frame when most turkey hunters mess up. He said that there was always this time in between when the hens get out and when the big gobblers arrive. He told me that most people don?t see any big beards on the males and so they ?overcall? or start calling too much. This is where his lesson on patience was tying back in to our actual hunt. So we sat and watched the turkeys out in the field for a while.
The majority of the turkeys that were in the group out in the field entered from our right side. So we kept looking out the right window just waiting on a big gobbler to arrive from the same direction. Well, we never saw or heard any more turkeys from our right. Matter of fact, we hadn?t heard anything gobble for some time now. I was beginning to think that we wouldn?t see a good turkey. It had been a good while since we heard any kind of turkey sound at this point. Then Mr. Pruette leaned over in the ground blind to grab something. I don?t know if he was grabbing for crackers or for a different kind of turkey call because he had a few different types of calls in his bag. As he leaned over, I heard something moving in the woods behind us. Since I had never been turkey hunting before, I didn?t have an idea of what a turkey sounded like walking through the brush. Mr.Puette leaning down gave me the space to swivel and look out of the window behind me. When I turned around all I could see was feathers about 15 yards behind us. I got excited and started tapping Mr. Pruette really hard. I didn?t want to talk because I didn?t want to scare off the birds because I knew at least one of them was big. So I was tapping him and pointing behind me while trying to be quiet. He looked out of the window and saw the bird and his eyes got real big. I grabbed the camera and turned it on. As he grabbed his gun, I stuck the camera out of the blind and was literally just pointing it behind us in hopes of getting the bird on video. I wasn?t satisfied with ?hoping? to get the shot on video so at the last second, I brought the camera back in the blind and videoed Mr. Pruette taking the shot. You?ll see it in the video below. He said ?Big Beard, Got?em?. We sat for a second and made our way out of the blind. Mr.Puette made the shot somewhere around 8:00 am.
Sure enough, Mr.Puette had dropped him in his tracks about 15 yards away from us. It was a nice turkey, but what surprised me was how this turkey got in on us and wasn?t gobbling at all. He was just walking through the woods quietly. Mr. Pruette told me that there were 3 birds in this last group and Mr. Pruette took the biggest one. We got out of the blind and the big group of turkeys was still in the field. They didn?t really scatter until we started walking out beyond the edge and then I saw how fast a turkey can really run. We walked up to the bird and took some pictures and continued rolling the video. The beard was a nice one and the spurs were about 1 inch or so. Mr.Puette said the beard was a nice one and that it was so big that it looked like a paint brush. After looking at the bird, we got the decoys up and headed back towards the trucks. As we walked back to the trucks we saw all kind of turkey and deer tracks and we even saw more turkeys down some old logging roads. We literally had birds all around us.
Let me deviate for a moment and say that had it not been for the Thermacell we had in the ground blind, I don?t know if we could have made it. I didn?t realize this until we got out to go and look at the bird. We turned it on about 10 minutes after we got there and I was glad that we did. Those things really work! I was getting eat up by bugs as soon as we got out of the blind.
I was really glad that Mr.Puette had allowed me to go turkey hunting with him. I would say that we had a pretty good time, especially for my first turkey hunt ever! I learned a lot about how to turkey hunt from Mr. Puette and it was a trip that I?ll never forget.
I guess all the stories I?d previously heard about Mr. Pruette being a great outdoorsman were true.
If you want to see the birds, it?s best if you watch this video in the HD format (720 p) and blow it up full screen. These controls are in the bottom of the player.... you'll probably need to give this one some time to load though.
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.
As you know, we?ve been working a lot on the Tecomate Seed Food Plot Journey over the course of the past year. Most of the time when we?re out working we are talking about deer hunting and optimistically dreaming up scenarios where huge bucks come into the food plots or into shooting lanes and how we would position ourselves, etc. I?m sure you may have had similar experiences. Many times when Adam and I have been out working and having these conversations he kept bringing up the subject of scent control. I have known your scent was important, but I?ve never really thought about it, or taken it to, the level at which Adam does. What level is that you may ask? the level of spraying down when going to check game cams, washing your clothes in odor reducing detergent, taking showers with scent free soap, looking up which direction the wind is blowing before hunting, etc. Initially to me, that was a bit much, but hey?everyone has their own style of hunting.
This season we?ve been using the McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag as well as Atsko?s products to work with our scent management. This is a regular routine for Adam, but for me it?s a whole new ball game, so I figured why not try it out and see what happens. So, as you know from previous blog entries, I?ve been using the McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle bag to fuse earth and pine scent into my hunting gear. I mean I?ve been putting everything in the bag?my clothes, m boots, my smaller bag, even my Thermacell, and this past week I also stuck my video camera?s tripod in there too! Literally everything in the bag smells like dirt now. So I?ve got my hunting gear taken care of and smelling just right.
I?ve also started testing out and using some of Atsko?s scent reduction products. Atsko has a 4-pack (the same one that someone is going to win this year) of scent reduction/UV killer products. I put the N-O-Odor soap in my shower and put the N-O-Odor spray right beside my McKenzie bag. I was eager to test all this out because in this early season heat, anything I can do to reduce my scent is beneficial since I sweat a lot and it?s been very humid.
Ok?jump back in time to one week ago?
A week ago (when we put down lime and seed) I also went out and put some corn out at an area where we?ve had an old stand forever, but that hasn?t been getting hunted out of much lately. We have a feeder out there that hasn?t been working for a while too (you?ll see it in the video). Since I had some time, I took a game camera out and tied it up on a tree and put some corn out in front of it. I didn?t know what to expect or even know if any deer were in the area, but I figured I?d try it out. I put it out and really just forgot about it.
When I came back home this past Friday, I went out to check the game camera. I put a new chip in and brought the chip that was in the game camera back to the house. Looking at the chip I could see that deer had been in there all hours of the day and night. In one week I had 268 pics on it. That answered the question as to whether there were any deer moving in that location. There were a lot of does on the camera, a small 4 point, a small 6 point, and every once in a while an 8-point came through and paused for the camera and ate some corn. I guess I had the game camera really close or something because the majority of the pics were close-ups like these:
With so much activity going on in that location, I figured I?d go and sit there the next morning to see what would happen.
I knew I was going to go sit in this stand on Saturday morning and I was thinking about my scent-game-plan. I let my McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle run all day Friday and all night Friday night while I was at the game and even while I slept. After the game (Eagles dominated Chesterfield again!) I came home and took a shower and used Atsko?s odor eliminating soap. I planned to use it that night and also in the morning. And yes, when you use it?you can?t smell anything. I sat the odor eliminating scent spray near my McKenzie bag to spray my shorts (the shorts that I wore under the camo) and socks down.
So the game plan was this?take showers using odor eliminating soap, put on regular underclothes (shorts & socks) and spray them down with the scent eliminating spray, and then wear the camo and take gear that had been getting scented all day and night with the earth/pine scent. This would hopefully reduce any human scent and/or bacteria that deer smell that may have been on me and then cover-scented my gear with a natural smell. Doing all of this really felt extreme and out-of-the-ordinary for me, but again? I?m just giving all this scent management stuff a whirl.
I executed all scent management steps and set out to the stand. This stand is a very small, old, wooden stand located in a thick forest area. Due to this scenario; I didn?t take the tripod, but was set to MacGyver a way to video or either get busted by a deer moving around trying to video. It was going to be so tight in the stand that I wouldn?t have room for the tripod. I knew this would hurt me in some way, but I just wasn?t sure how.
I sat for a little while and my vision was slowly getting better as the sun was starting to rise. Shortly thereafter I heard something moving behind me in the woods. If you?ve hunted before then you know the sound of a squirrel running through the leaves?they?re loud and go in spurts. This sound wasn?t like that, but rather was a slow pace and sounded like a deer rummaging through the forest floor as it walked. Due to the high activity of game cam pics, I felt sure it was a deer. This sound started out behind me?what would be 6 o?clock on the clock-face and it was extremely close. I was frozen in my stand and wasn?t budging. I knew that however many deer were back there were close and that any movement would leave me busted and hearing deer blowing at me as they ran away. My heart beat was escalating with every step that the deer took. It got closer and closer and was coming up my left side. I was looking to the left in my peripheral vision as much as possible, but didn?t see anything initially. I didn?t want to turn my head and just kept looking to the left. I looked until my eyes started hurting from straining them so much looking so hard trying to find what was making this sound. I?m sure this may have happened to you before as well.
It was still a little dark and tough to focus clearly. Then I finally saw movement and it was about 10 yards away from me! It was heading toward the corn pile. I wasn?t moving for anything as the deer walked right beside me, but my heart started pounding because I saw antlers! The trail I walked into the stand had me coming into the stand in the same path that this deer was walking toward?i.e. his path was going to intersect the path I took and he would be smelling right where I walked as he crossed my path. I knew I did all this scent stuff, but I also knew I was sweating some. I really didn?t know what to think.
As the deer passed around my left side he went behind some brush. If I was going to turn the camera on with any structure in between us, that moment was the time to do it. I reached over and cut the camera on and it started recording. Keep in mind that, due to size constraints, I didn?t bring the tripod and the camera was not secured to the stand, but rather just sitting on top of the side of a 2 x 4. I was nervous that I would knock it off, but I had to get it turned on. After I got the camera turned on I moved my gun a little, cut the safety off, and got my body in position. The deer kept walking and I could hear him getting closer to the corn as he moved. Finally he popped out at the corn pile and was broad-sided, giving me the perfect shot.
Something neat happened when the deer got over to the camera. Obviously the camera sensed movement and starting taking some pics. I was looking through my scope and also looking through the camera at the same time. I was going back and forth with my eyes again from the scope to the camera. Out of my right eye I saw a really bright light flash, but I didn?t see it out of my left. From what I could tell, the video camera picked up on the infrared flash, but my naked eye obviously was unable to and apparently the deer?s eye couldn?t pick up on it either. This may be common knowledge, but when it happened to me in the stand it kind of startled me at first because my initial reaction was that the deer would be spooked. You?ll easily see the camera flashing in the video.
As it got lighter I watched this buck eating corn for what seemed like forever. I mean I had the best case scenario from the moment that he arrived at the corn pile. I let him go for a few minutes without pulling the trigger. I wanted to make sure that this buck was not a 6 pointer because I?m trying to let the deer get to a decent size in this area. I looked and looked and finally counted 8 points, but even then I still debated not shooting this deer. I could tell he had a good sized body, but I just went back and forth in my mind about letting him walk and shooting him. Then I finally decided to shoot. (This is why you see me let him eat the corn for a while and not take the shot until late) The deer was eating corn and I had the perfect angle, but at the moment I decided to shoot he kind of gave me a quarter shot. I waited a few seconds and he raised his head up quickly and his body tensed up. I thought he sensed danger and was about to bolt?so I took the shot. When I took the shot I knew I hit the deer because his back legs jumped up in the air. The bad news was that when I pulled the trigger the camera fell off the ledge of the stand ? the good news is that it fell back in the stand rather than out of the stand! I caught it in my lap. I heard the deer go down about 20 yards away so I didn?t think it would be a tough deer to trail.
I always sit in the stand after I make a shot just to calm down some and gather myself. I want to give the deer time to die and also want to make sure that I get my safety back on my gun and that I don?t get in a hurry and leave anything or hurt myself somehow. On this specific day all my hunting buddies were not around and were out of town or were working. So I put the call in to my parent?s house and told them that I shot a deer and that I was going to start dragging. They said they would come out to help.
After a couple of minutes I got out of the stand and walked over to the corn pile and shot some post game footage. I walked a little bit and then saw the deer lying down about 20 yards away. I knew I had made a good shot. I went over and started dragging. My parents showed up not too long after I had started dragging the deer. My dad has been having some trouble with his knees lately and just walking the terrain of the land was killing him?so what does any good mother do?that?s right?my mom helped me drag the deer out of the woods! Talk about unconditional love. So to the people around Pageland reading this?if you see my mom tell her that you heard she?s dragging deer out of the woods in her slip-ons! I felt bad as one time she fell down when we were pulling the deer across a dried up creek, but she soldiered up right on through it and kept pulling. We had to stop 2 ? 3 times, but soon enough we had the deer to the edge of the woods. My mama has always told me ?They don?t make them like me anymore? and after last Saturday I have to say that I definitely believe her!
That was how the story of the hunt went. Reflecting back on the hunt, I have to tell you that I really think the measures I took of scent control played a big part in my success. The reason is because that deer started out behind me and came full circle all the way around me at a very close range and even walked across the path that I walked in on. The deer ended up in front of me and was clueless that I was even in the woods. If I would have smelled then he would have winded me a couple times over and fled the scene, but you already know how the story went. Needless to say, I?ll be covering my scent and paying more attention to it in all my upcoming hunts. Maybe the deer was dumb or couldn?t smell, but you have to "dance with the one that brung ya" right??? So I?ll keep focusing on my scent and see how the rest of the season goes. Maybe Adam?s scent management techniques aren?t too extreme after all!
After all this I got all my scent control products together and took some pics with the deer. The deer ended up being 8 points, 155lbs. He?s not a monster, but he was a decent buck.
Here?s the video of the hunt?sorry the camera fell, but we don?t have a camera-arm sponsor yet?lol! So next time I?ll take some rubber-bands or start saving my money up for a camera-arm. Also, you?ll notice that my video edits aren?t great?but I?m a web guy?not a video guru so this will have to suffice.
Be sure to bump the resolution up a little in the bottom right-hand corner of the video where it says "360p"
Something else neat occurred to me later that morning?when I was hunting the camera was flashing right? I sat there and thought to myself? that pic will have the deer in it and also have me in it (if it could see that far out). So I journeyed back out to the stand again to get the chip (that had only been out there for one day) again and see what the pic looked like. I was surprised to have over 80 pics just from the past 24 hours. Those deer were out there all night long again! That 8 point was there in the middle of the day on Friday and there were even deer at the corn pile at 5:45 am?the same time when I started walking to the stand. I probably scared them off on my way in. Anyway, I found the pic of the deer at the corn-pile right before I shot and you can see me in the background, but it?s kind of blurry. You can make out my head, the gun barrel, and the dark area where the camera is. Check out the pic
So I sweated a lot dragging the deer and even got some blood on my camo and what did I do?that?s right? I put them in the washing machine and washed them with Atsko?s odor eliminating detergent. I dried them and then stuck them right back in the McKenzie bag. I think the stars aligned just right for me on this day or something. I?ve only been in the woods hunting 2 weekends and have harvested 2 deer. This season has been a success whether or not I get any more deer this year?and I?m just fine with that, but I?ll still be out trying to videotape! If you made it this far, thanks for reading all this.