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
There are a few fruitful ways you can hunt bears using dogs. Having a very much prepared pack of well-trained hunting dogs is certainly necessary. A large portion of local people who hunt here utilize Tree Plotts, Walkers, Black and Tans, and Red Bones and cross breeds between these sorts of pooches.
Preparing for the bear season, regardless of the possibility that you have a later opening date, is not under any condition. It is a basic stride in enhancing the chances that your season will be a decent one. While you still have sufficient time for planning and executing a decent technique, there's no opportunity to squander. Let us take a look at some hunting strategies that can assist in your bear hunting.
Study the Area
Try as much as possible to study your hunting territory. You can cross reference the particular territories with wildlife maps of the local division. This will assist you in determining the possible units you can hunt. There is a custom map showing an outline of hunting units in every state.
Scout for Bear Sign
The key is to scout for is a sign of the bear in the territory. Incorporated into this are zones where there are various rubs and possibly what are usually referred to as territory markings or line scratches. Taking a closer look and properly monitoring the signs gives you the assurance that the bears have a particular mission around that areas. Likewise, essentially searching for colossal tracks is a decent thing to do.
Follow the Food Source
Locate the bears by following the food sources. Bears are often capable of eating several food varieties including large calorie sources for gaining summer fat. Grizzly bears live in the higher country. You can find these on rock faces amid the summer months. They have the ability to peel rocks. They often do this when looking for insects and protein rich moths.
Black bears are cunning and often make use of a variety of food sources. They hunt game, forage for insects and plants, and also target human trash. Brown bears inhabit low elevations. They hunt forage or moose until salmon arrives. With these food sources, you should have an idea of where you can find your bear.
Hunt with a Companion
You can come with a buddy in your truck. Most of these trucks usually contain space for one or two more people, in case you will like a companion to come along during the hunt. One of the hunters can keep on tracking the most part tracks the bear race while the others attempt to take off the bear before it crosses another street in the region. It is not strange for people to have their own particular brilliant "mystery code" to transfer to their mates where the bear is going in order to deflect some other people in the range from turning on their bear.
Use hounds or hunting Dogs coupled with excellent driving skills
One technique which numerous hunters favor requires a decent, well-trained hunting dog and truck which is fixed with a platform in which the dog is able to ride upon. The strike pooch rides on the outside of the truck on a platform and the hunter drives here and there the hunting territory until the hunting dog begins yelping showing that it has scented the bear or hunt. The hunter can then discharge the dog and its pack to take the trail.
It requires seeing and listening to which way the pack is going and attempting to drive to the territory that the bear may cross and block it. This frequently requires a considerable amount of quick paced driving here and there across the hunting territory, or until the hunting dogs have been able to tree the bear.
Driving your truck on backwoods, rugged country roads requires magnificent driver abilities. As you keep on driving, try as much as possible to pay special attention to other dogs or vehicles on the road. You may have to drive fast and carefully, but not roughly. In case you admire a ton of excitement, this is a good bear hunting strategy for you.
In the event that you don't have a decent hunting dog, you can likewise drive all over the hunting area hoping to see where a bear has descended or moved up a bank. A talented hunter can differentiate between new sign and a track which is old. However, the mutts will alarm you to a new track.
Furthermore, time and travel length often vary on a decent bear race. The bear will attempt to make tracks in an opposite direction from the canines and will attempt to look for a decent cover territory. The bear will attempt to put however much distance between itself and the hunting dogs as could be expected. Yet, in the event that they're excessively hot on his trail, he may attempt to move up a tree or go down against a fallen log. The bear may also rock bluff challenging the dogs to a fight.
Equip your dogs with radar tracking collars
Many canines are outfitted with radar tracking collars and can be followed to see which way they are going in the event that they go far away from the hearing range. A few collars even come with a "tree switch" which fills the hunter in as to whether they are simply running or they are treed.
Another technique is driving a few decent trail mutts into a range where a bear has been located, goes to sleep or feeds and turning them towards a new track. This requires getting out and strolling in the forested areas in bumpy landscape and requires direct physical condition and stamina on the part of the hunter.
A large portion of the hunter often makes use of no less than 4 or 5 pooches to a pack. However, the chase is started with about two or three great lead mutts. A good hunting dog will promptly fill you in as to whether it's a crisp track and whatever is left of the pack can be turned free on the bear. The blood pumping, adrenalin hurrying race is then on and it's a matter of attempting to stay aware of the pack of hunting dogs until they either stop or tree the bear.
The bigger, more established bears tend to stroll along and battle the canines on the ground, though a more youthful, littler bear will climb a tree to get away from the mutts. Pursuing a pack of canines in lush rocky territory unquestionably requires wearing exceptionally agreeable boots. This is additionally an extremely effective approach to hunting the bears.
Still hunting, often referred to as spot and stalk hunting is another technique you can use for hunting bears in South Carolina. However, this usually proves to be quite difficult as a result of the range habits of the bears. The region is thickly lush, rugged and may have areas which have been clear cut in earlier years. Since hunting bear with bait is not allowed, the hunter is often required to get out into a region where bears are probably going to be found and begin glancing around for signs of fresh bear tracks.
Take a precise shot
Once you are sure of the target, place the shot directly behind the bear’s front shoulder. This location makes it possible for your bullet to penetrate through the skin, into the delicate organs. It is with this you can quickly kill the bear. You can hunt using a rifle, handgun, bow, or shotgun. Rifle scopes may not be required. You can take your shots from 40 – 50 yards.
Knowing more about bears, habits, the hunting territory, what they eat, and lots more is an essential to an effective bear hunt. Pre-scouting a region to search for the bear sign is additionally essential. Perfect natural surroundings comprise of old woods with hardwoods containing an assortment of bushes and trees. Bears require broad, tough territories with thick bushes, for example, rhododendron, mountain shrub, and rock outcroppings. Bears also like swampy areas having lots of space to widely travel.
Bears are omnivorous. Their eating routine essentially comprises of insects, hard and delicate mast, animal waste, as well as succulent plants. The quantity and types of food bears eat usually differ from season to season. It is often determined by the availability of food and seasonal activities. It is not bizarre to see bears move to territories of lower elevations in search of food when the quantity of food or crops available in the region of higher elevation is not adequate enough.
This past weekend I did a lot of work in the woods and it felt good. I’m just now getting around to doing the work that I wished I could have done in the summer so yes I’m a little behind. After making a lot of noise in the woods I hunt in and spreading my scent everywhere I figured it wouldn't be a good idea to hunt there and since Derrick & JD Outen helped me do the work I told JD that I’d come video him hunting in the evening. JD’s still after his first buck of the season for this year so we hoped to get one on camera. We had a good time sitting it the stand, but luck just wasn't in our favor tonight. Though, while we were sitting in the stand we heard a loud boom not too far away. This meant that JD’s dad, Derrick had made a shot. Derrick took a shot right at dark and he text messaged us and said he was on the way. And so it began.
Derrick picked us up and told us that he shot a deer at about 235 yards out in one of his shooting lanes. We went to the lane and starting walking. You have to kind of know Derrick to be able to fully appreciate the mode he gets in during situations like this. This was serious business and Derrick was like a CSI detective on a crime scene. Derrick showed us the spot where he said the deer was standing when he shot. I know Derrick is getting old and his eyes probably weren't working up to par right at dark so I went beyond where the said he shot the deer. Derrick, JD, & I searched for blood for nearly 15-20 minutes. I kept telling him that he missed to his response of “Outen’s don’t miss”. I was just about at the point of telling him that we should give up when I looked down and low and behold I saw a drop of blood. I was nearly 30 yards ahead of where Derrick & JD were by then. I yelled out “I've got blood” and I could tell Derrick’s hairs on the back of his neck were starting to stand up. The CSI deer detective had upped the tracker mode one notch because he knew there was a challenge at hand. From that point on Derrick was methodical in how he proceeded.
The drop of blood I found was in the shooting lane and we were trying to figure out which way the deer took off in, but the problem was that we couldn't find any more blood. Derrick told us to not be straying off into the brush because if a deer had traveled down a specific path we needed to be able to see it and if we went into the brush we would create a path and make it more difficult to keep up with. I told the guys that I was going to drop my hat on top of the blood so we would know where our origination marker was. We searched and searched through the edge of the lane on both sides and couldn't find anything. We even got desperate enough to start walking through the brush looking for anything that would give us hope. We had strayed the course and broken our own rules. We were about 30 minutes in at this point and yes my sweat was attracting mosquitoes which made it “fun”.
Derrick pulled us back to the drop of blood and said “Let’s get side by side and walk down this lane one more time” and to my surprise JD found another drop of blood about 20 yards from the first one. This small drop of blood was a glimmer of hope that reignited the troops. We moved the hat to mark the new, most recent drop of blood. And we continued stalking, crouching, slow-walking down the lane looking for more sign. I think Derrick may have put a new dip in to denote the new level of seriousness now that drop of blood number two had been found.
The blood drops continued about every 10 yards and were slightly leaning toward the left hand side of the lane. Derrick saw a drop of blood enter the brush and you would have thought somebody gave him $20 as pumped up as he got. He proceeded step by step through the brush finding random drops of blood smaller than a penny to trail this deer. It was indeed impressive to watch is controlled focus through the brush. We were about 40 minutes in at this point.
The deer cut across some thick brush and then into some open hard woods. Derrick commented “See if we don’t pay attention this is where we’ll lose this deer right now. Ya’ll don’t be in a hurry and look with every step you take to make sure you’re not stepping on blood”. We were getting deeper in the woods toward the creek. We got found more broken brush and some larger drops of blood which was a good sign. We were getting pumped up and gaining energy and then all of a sudden the trail completely stopped. I couldn't believe it. We searched in every direction and couldn't find anything. Derrick was even picking up on the existence of spider webs crossing trails and letting them still crossing the path denote that the deer didn't go in that direction. I got so frustrated I walked ahead another 30 yards to the trail by the creek just hoping to find a white belly somewhere, but nothing. I was swatting mosquitoes when I heard Derrick say “I don’t see any blood, but it looks like something ran through here… see how these limbs are broken.” Derrick keyed in on some brush lying over oddly and some broken twigs and kept following them. By the time he worked his way to the end of the trail he and JD were arriving to the road I was standing on. Derrick told me to look for blood and sure enough I saw a small drop about the size of a pencil eraser on a leaf. I couldn't believe it. I was standing right next to the creek and Derrick again got in the zone and proceeded toward the creek. We all stood on the edge of the creek (and it was a sizable creek) and saw blood on the edge. The deer had crossed the creek. I knew Derrick was going to tell us to go swimming when I looked to the right and saw the deer lying dead in the creek. We were about an hour in at this point.
We all couldn't believe what had just occurred. We literally went from thinking Derrick completely missed to having moments of hope to being let down to be back up then back down again to ultimately finding this deer in the creek. It was definitely a challenging process in which many would have abandoned a couple of times along the way. JD and I pulled the deer out of the creek and hauled it back up the road while Derrick went to get the truck. It was a gnarly antlered spike… what some would call a “cull buck”.
It was a hunt and night of tracking that I’ll never forget. I, like many of you, don’t like giving Derrick too much credit, but the boy can flat track a deer… I will give him that. Using a computer is a whole different ball game, but I don’t know if a blood hound would have done us much better than Derrick tonight. I guess here would be the best place to also say that if he wouldn't have gut-shot the deer all this tracking wouldn't have been necessary :-)
Ultimately the hunt was successful and from tonight’s experience I've learned some more about tracking a deer. I wanted to share some pieces of info that I've learned about tracking a deer and I welcome you to add more in the comments field.
So while sweating through briars and tracking a deer for an hour may not seem too fun, it’s definitely rewarding when you find the deer. The story doesn't always end that way, but tracking is challenging and that challenge is what makes it rewarding. What’s your toughest tracking story?
We left out early this morning and headed down to the Florence Civic Center for the 2010 Pee Dee Deer Classic. It didn?t take long for the place to get packed and it was buzzing with people both young and old. The rain held off just long enough and hunters and vendors from all across the state (and from many other states) were on hand to mix and mingle. The place was lively all day long and you could feel the energy in the air.
The floor and the walkway of the second level of the Civic Center was literally covered with vendors selling any and every product related to hunting. From knives, to guide services, to shirts, to scents, to 4-wheelers, to bows, to tractors, to food plot products, jewelry, and even fudge, you could find it all. There were even vendors there selling fishing and turkey products too! As full and busy as that place was it was almost overwhelming. That is, trying to take in the people, the information, the products, the messages, and the concepts is a lot to absorb at once. I think it wore me out after a while, but then again maybe I?m just lame.
The event was bigger than I initially anticipated and in comparison to the Sportsmen?s Classic I would say it?s a bit smaller. Though, this is just due to the fact that the event is solely targeted on deer hunting whereas the Sportsmen?s Classic features many more fishing and turkey hunting vendors and booths.
Vendors were on both the ground floor as well as the second level. The second floor is also where speakers presented on various subjects throughout the day. It was apparent that the ?Snake Master? was the biggest draw of the day as every time he spoke about snakes you couldn?t even fit around the corner due to the large audience that gathered to listen to him speak. Yes ? he did have live snakes in the building and no, I didn?t go by there messing with them?but a lot of people did.
I did miss out on one aspect of the classic though. (Fail again) I intended to see the archery competitions, but in between me not knowing the times when they started plus being busy shooting pics/videos, and talking to people I always seemed to find a way to miss them. However, it was obvious that there was a competition as you could see hunters walking around with their bow cases. I heard they were pretty good though and that the winners will be announced tomorrow.
There was another aspect of the show that I found neat. I?ve been to wrestling matches where the audience members bring their own belts to show off, but I?ve never been to a show where people walked around with their deer heads. At first I thought people were just showing off, turns out that I was wrong and they were just bringing their deer to be scored. The event featured on-site scoring of deer racks so if you wanted to know exactly what your buck scored, you simply brought it in and gave it to the guys with the tape. Cool beans! I took a pic of the guysthat were scoring the racks that you?ll see in the video below.
Going to these shows I usually see many products that I expect to see, but there are always a few products that stick out to me a little. I?m sure you may be the same way. In that regard, this expo was the same. I picked a few products to talk a little bit about that left an impression on me. If you?re a ?techy? or have similar interests as me, then you may like them too!
The McKenzie Duffle Fan Bag McKenzie Duffle Fan Bag The McKenzie Duffle Fan Bag is a really neat concept. After I saw it, I had the ?Why didn?t I think of that? moment. Essentially it?s a camo duffle bag with a fan in one end and a place to put a cover scent in on the other end. You turn the fan on and it pulls the scent through the bag scenting your gear with whatever cover scent you put on the other end. The bag can hook up to your truck?s cigarette lighter or an outlet in your house. Not only does it scent your clothes, but it also helps remove any moisture in your gear. There?s no doubt that this product works as whenever one of the bags is opened you can instantly smell dirt, dog fennels, or whatever scent was on the other end. Great idea created by a fellow hunter and fellow South Carolinian. I?m not sure, but I think the McKenzie Duffle sells for around $95. - www.mckscent.com
Mossy Oak's Video Recorder Eyewear Mossy Oak ? Video Recorder Eyewear Another memorable one for anybody who loves to video hunts. Though, you could really use this product to video anything. The gist is that it?s a pair of camo glasses that has an HD video camera located right between your eyes. If you see something coming you simply click a button right by your ear to start recording. The glasses use a very small sd card to store the video and can store 4GB of footage. I was skeptical about the quality of the footage given the small camera, but I have to tell you that I was impressed with the footage that came from this thing. The vendor had videos he had taken on display on a computer in his booth and the quality was really good. It also performed well in low light. I had a hard time not buying some of these, but the price is a little steep. They run for $269 online, so get your billfold ready if you want one of these. - Video Recorder Eyewear
E-Z Kut Pruning Sheers E-Z Kut Pruning Sheers I was really surprised at, yes, the ease of use of the E-Z Kut. I know it sounds cliché to say, but this product really is easy to use. You don?t have to have a strong grip at all to make this thing cut through limbs, twigs, or branches. The gentlemen selling this product was very nice and simply let the product do the talking. So I tried it out and I just squeezed and the clippers kind of clicked and as they clicked it seemed like it got easier and in a matter of seconds I was all the way through the limb. The E-Z Kut was relatively quiet, very smooth, and made a clean cut. If the wood was too big for your hands to grip you could just spin it in circles and as you spun it, it was cutting doing work until it got into a position that you could grip it. After gripping, a few more clicks and it was done. Seems to me like it would be something neat to carry in your hunting pouch and (after you got up the stand) you could simply, quietly, and quickly cut through anything that was in your way. Maybe a good stocking stuffer and sells for $29.95 online. - www.EZKutPrunners.com
Tag-Out Hunting Products ? Chameleon Blind Tag-Out?s Chameleon Blind is also a neat concept, especially for bow-hunters. It?s kind of a like a combination of a ground blind and a tree stand. The Chameleon Blind would definitely keep you dry in on a rainy day, but most importantly it conceals your movement. The Blind has vertical slits in the fabric to allow you to shoot out of any directions. The Tag-Out representative also told me that the blind has some weight at the bottom of the blind fabric in order to keep it from moving a lot with the wind. If you?re a bow-hunter looking to conceal your movement, this one might be worth it. Price point is $129
- Tag-Out Chameleon Blind
Havoc's Scent Sticks Havoc Scent Sticks Havoc Scent Sticks is a simple and neat concept. These scent sticks help you do two things, one of which has nothing to do with scent. The scent sticks are small, bright pipes that you place in the ground at different ranges. Since knowing your ranges can be critical you can set these up to assist you in gauging the range of your target. The pipes are tapered at one end to make for easy entry into the ground and they are hollow at the top. Once you get them into the ground you place a large cotton swab in the opening. Though, before you put it in you?re supposed to soak it in scent. The goal is simply get the deer to pause momentarily to smell the scent while you take aim. Price Point: $12. Good concept, cheap, easy to see. - Havoc Scent Sticks
The ladies behind High Maintenance Camo And for the women?High Maintenance Camo Representing a growing market share, female hunters no longer have to make due fitting into guy?s hunting gear. High Maintenance Camo has solved the diva dilemma and is making quality camo gear for ladies. They make camo to wear hunting, but they also cross over and make trendy, fashionable camo that women can wear out and about. This company is a family based company out of Florida and is run by some nice ladies. Guys, if you?re trying to sway your lady into getting into hunting, this may be the route to take?buy her some trendy camo! Ladies, if you?re tired of trying to fit your curves into men?s clothing?look no further.
Scott Ledford of Ledford Outdoors Scott Ledford ? Ledford Outdoors Along with products, there are always some people who stick out to me?whether for the right or wrong reasons! Today we met Scott Ledford from Ledford Outdoors (who stuck out for the right reasons). Scott is very connected in the hunting industry and guides clients on all kinds of hunts up and down the east coast. Scott is into video and has been trained by, and shot videos, for the pros...as in Waddell and the crew. Scott is also a PlotMaster authorized dealer so he?s into all kind of stuff.
Though, Scott?s connections and video work wasn?t what stuck out to me. There are a lot of connected and talented people out there, but rather his outwardly evident passion and genuineness was what impressed me. Scott seemed very passionate about hunting, quality game management, and mostly about getting youth involved with all things outdoors. Scott is also very upbeat about getting kids into hunting and so I expect to see him involved with a lot of big things in the future?especially in the youth realm. - http://www.ledfordoutdoors.com
I?ve created the below video to give you an idea of what the environment at the event was like in case you were unable to attend.
Anticipating the upcoming hunting season, it was good to be in an energized environment full of people who all share the same passion for hunting. For me it was similar to being in a pep-rally before the big game. I?m fired up and ready to go ?now I just have to convince the wife to share the same vision!
Over the past few months I’ve been getting several bucks on camera. Most of them are small and a few of them are shooters. Mixed in with these bucks are 2 to 3 bucks that have really bad racks. By bad I mean these deer have big bodies and racks that do not reflect the age and maturity level of the deer, which to me indicates bad genetics.
Others have a decent rack on one side and a very mal-formed rack on the other side. Some hunters refer to these as “Cull bucks” indicating that they are deer that the hunter wants to “cull” out of the herd. Hunters want to remove these deer from the herd because of the bad genetics in the antlers. Hunters don’t want these deer reproducing and spawning more bucks with bad racks.
I’ve got a few deer that if I see I’m going to shoot. Yes I want them out of the herd and this past weekend one of these bucks came out right at daylight. At first I thought it was a big bodied doe, but after it got light enough I could tell that it was one of the bucks that I wanted to take out. So shortly after sun-up I eliminated the buck from the herd. This buck’s body was way bigger than his “spike” rack reflected. You can see the deer in the picture below.
However, some hunters are not of the same opinion about culling bucks out of the herd. Some hunters believe that all bucks can get big and have really nice racks regardless of what their racks look like any given year and the genetics of their lineage. I’m not mad about it and am not trying to start a ruckus, but rather am just interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts on the subject. So what do you think about it? Do you cull bucks? Do you think it’s a good practice or is it a bad practice? I’m interested in everyone’s game management tactics as it relates to cull bucks.
The below entry is a guest blog from a friend of mine from Nova Scotia, Mr. Gifford Watkins
When I was a seminary student at Southwestern Baptist Theological School (Fort Worth) I took at job as an intern at Park Cities Baptist Church. After working there a few weeks I got to know the mailman, who said due to his recent divorce he had extra room in his house. I thought since most of my life was in North Dallas it would be a good idea so I moved in. My fiance at the time thought it would be ideal for us to spend Thanksgiving at their ranch in South Texas. As I packed a weekend bag, I heard the door slam and the footfalls of my new housemate. I really didn't know that much about him at the time, but after I mentioned heading to a ranch for the weekend, he asked if I was going hunting. I said I was not planning to, I didn't have a gun, or bullets, or a license to hunt in Texas, to which he said, "Puh, you don't need a license, do you want to borrow a gun?" I asked what sort of gun and that was when the fun began. His name was Troy. Troy led me to a wall in the living room where he pushed and out came a door; the door to his cache. A huge steel cabinet with decals I cannot describe (Death from Above might ring a bell with some) was unlocked and inside, was well, the inside. I chose a Smith and Wesson .41 caliber hand cannon with a scope and 6 bullets; three hollow points and three full metal jackets. I loaded these into a stainless steel carrying case and headed out the door.
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.