This past weekend while the rest of the crew stayed home and was getting the job done turkey hunting, Garth Knight and I went up to Washington DC on a road trip dubbed by Garth as ?The last road trip before Clint is on lock-down?. We went up to visit a friend of mine named Andy Polk who works for Congresswoman Sue Myrick. We had a really good time and even made it to a Nationals baseball game. Their new park is really nice and I would recommend it to you if you?re ever going that way.
Our road trip to DC and the details of our trip are probably not important to you and also wouldn?t be a good fit for this blog. Though, while we were there I talked with some people who are informed about politics and they offered some insight from which I think you may benefit. I?m not big on politics and don?t hope to start some political debate on a blog entry, but rather simply hope to convey information to you.
On to the point?Recently Supreme Court Justice Stevens resigned from his position. A Supreme Court Justice?s term is usually for a lifetime and therefore they retain a lot of power. With the recent resignation, President Obama will make a selection for a replacement justice. I researched on the net to find some information that pertained to Just Steven?s resignation and found this quote from Reuters.com:
Obama is expected to choose someone who will follow the same basic judicial philosophy as Stevens and is unlikely to change the court's overall ideological balance, which has been closely divided with five conservatives and four liberals.
Stevens has supported abortion and gay rights and gun restrictions and opposed the death penalty. In recent major business cases, he wrote rulings allowing lawsuits against tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
See Full Article
I bring this to your attention to point out the notion of gun restrictions that President Obama is looking for in the next justice. I don?t believe the new justice being selected will have any immediate consequences for gun owners. Though, I do want to highlight the underlying concept of making it more difficult to own or purchase arms. Given the right scenario or, say, another justice resigning, you never know what may happen. Sometimes it?s good to be aware of what?s going on at the top so we?ll know how it may affect us. For my part, I?ll be looking to buy my guns before they start making it more difficult than it should be. Also, rest assured that the NRA will be all over anything that may come of this in the future.
Brace yourself, long winded blog ahead
Setting the Stage… Last Christmas
Last year I had been seeing a few nice bucks on camera and when Christmas day came around I figured I better sleep in and not get in trouble with the family for potentially shooting, tracking, and handling a deer on Christmas morning. I slept in and a few days later I checked the game camera and one of the biggest bucks I had been seeing came in during shooting light. The one day I didn’t hunt I missed my chance. I didn’t forget that that this year.
A Roller Coaster Season
This year I’ve hunted pretty hard. If I had a chance to go hunting, I went. Even though I’ve hunted hard it’s been a difficult season. This season has been unlike any others for me in that it’s been full of curveballs and change. I mainly hunt two tracks of land and both tracks have portions of them that have been getting logged for what seems like forever.
Logging started at the end of last season and the management continues throughout this season. By that I mean that the timber crews started cutting wood during the middle of last season and worked throughout the summer. They stopped logging a little bit before deer season and when they moved out my game-planning, strategizing, and stand relocating moved in. I was able to put out some game cams and was even getting nice bucks on a decent pattern. I looked forward to the opening of the season.
As the season approached I got word that the forestry management team was fixing to spray the new cutover to kill everything in preparation for a burn that would be followed up by re-planting. Two weeks before the season started the area where I was getting good game-cam pics went from all green to brown and dry after being sprayed. Needless to say, this affected things and the big bucks seemed to vacate the area. I had to drop back and punt with my previous strategy and adjust accordingly.
After a while big bucks slowly started appearing back on camera and the rut was approaching. I was excited to see deer back in the area and was hopeful to catch one coming through chasing does during the peak of the rut. As rut sign increased so did my anticipation… until I learned that the area that had been sprayed was going to then be burned! Burning during the rut, just my luck. Here again burning the area really changed the deer’s pattern and consequently my hunting strategy. Big bucks fled the immediate area again and adapted.
My whole season this year has been “on the move”…
Hunting a Specific Deer
I’ve hunted deer since I was 12, but I have never really hunted specific deer until this year. I told my friends that hunting deer is one thing, hunting big deer is another thing, and hunting a specific deer is a completely different ball game. To me, it is more fun because it’s more challenging and as imagined the rewards are less frequent. It’s like a chess match with nature. I realize I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here, but big bucks think, behave, act, & react differently than younger bucks and does do and that takes a little getting used to when planning. They don’t get big by being dumb. Learning how to target and go after specific deer has been my quest this season… and I don’t have it figured out and am still learning.
In my case I’ve been hunting 2 specific deer all season. Sometimes I thought these deer were ghosts of my imagination that merely taunt me on game camera every so often just to keep me interested. They have been running me in circles so much it has been frustrating. My wife even once told me this season “I’ll be glad when you kill that deer because he’s driving me crazy and I don’t even hunt!” As you can see, in the moments of frustration I tried to turn the quest into a family journey in hopes of getting more input or some type of perceived edge. If showing game cam pics and pleading my case to my buddies and wife would help kill deer I’d have both of the big ones on the wall already. Unfortunately talking about it doesn’t help too much. If you’ve hunted a big deer before I’m sure you feel my pain.
The Big Boys
All season long I’ve been focusing in on these specific deer that I would randomly get on camera. When you hunt specific deer you tend to give them names. My 2 are named “Big Dook” and “Big Dook’s Brother” as we affectionately refer to them. As I closed down on their territories this season something would always happen (as mentioned above) to mess my strategy up.
As the season continued I started losing hope. Then in early December Big Dook and Big Dook’s Brother started showing back up on game camera, but in different areas. Their reappearance on game camera was most likely due to their food sources getting lower as the season progresses
I noticed that on one of my stands Big Dook’s Brother was coming in every other day or so. The frequency of his appearances was exciting, but the unexciting part was that he only showed up in the dark. For that matter, Big Dook and his brother only show up at night. However, Big Dook’s Brother was starting to show up closer and closer to shooting light. For example… if you can see around 6:45am he was coming in around 6:15 or so… and he did the same thing in the evening.
As time passed he started cutting it closer and closer to shooting light. Of course he would also be there in the middle of the night too, but the times when he did come in at dawn and dusk made it seem like he was starting to getting risky with his movements. Maybe he was hungry or maybe he hadn’t heard any guns go off all season in his area and was relaxing a bit. And to that point, I’ve let a lot of deer walk this season waiting on these 2 specific deer.
With the Big Dook’s Brother coming in frequently and starting to take risks with his timing I really was looking forward to the Christmas/New Year’s holiday time frame because I felt like I may be able to catch him slipping. I was sure to keep the stand “corned” up and made note of the timing of his movements based on game camera data.
As I mentioned above, last year on Christmas morning I slept in… and regretted it because the big buck showed up in shooting light. With this buck coming in frequently I wasn’t going to sleep in this year, I had learned my lesson. To answer the question some of you may be thinking right now… I don’t have any kids that would be getting up early to open presents and we didn’t have anything scheduled for early Christmas morning so I was free to hunt.
I climbed into the stand and sat in the dark waiting on the sun to rise. It was a little cool, but not as cold as it usually is in late December. I anticipated the direction that he would come from as well as anticipating that it would happen as soon as I could barely see. After all, that’s what the game camera footage indicated.
I sat and waited and the sun started rising. Nothing but squirrels were running around everywhere. The “prime time” as I envisioned it had passed and I could see clearly through the woods. I thought to myself that it simply wasn’t the day that it was meant to be because the big boy never showed up when once visibility was good. As it was Christmas day I was upbeat so not all was lost. Then I saw a flicker.
You know how you sit in a stand and see a flicker and it catches your eye, that’s what happened to me. Usually the flickers are leaves falling, squirrels moving, but sometimes they are the flicker of a deer’s tail. And that’s exactly what this was. However, the deer wasn’t coming in from the direction I anticipated. I was wrong on both my time and directional anticipations.
I was hunting in some oak woods that deer pass through on the way to their bedding areas. I was up on a hill overlooking a valley with a dried up creek that only fills when it rains hard. I had corn down in the valley near the dried up creek bed. When deer come through that “holler”, as they say, they usually pause at the corn pile as they are naturally funneled toward it by the lay of the land.
The flicker I saw was directly in front of me on top of the hill across the valley and it was about 90 yards out. When I saw the flicker I didn’t instantly know what it was. I raised my scope up and could tell it was a deer. Though, I only saw the deer’s body as his head was behind some brush. I continued watching. Then he stepped forward and I could tell that it was a buck because I saw antlers, but I couldn’t see exactly how many points or denote the size of the deer because he was walking and going behind several trees and tree limbs. When I saw antlers I bumped the safety off on my gun.
The good part was that the deer was heading directly towards me. He was walking through the valley and I believed / hoped he was heading toward the corn pile. As he made his way through the woods he would walk 5 or 10 yards then pause and look around. He wasn’t in a hurry and he was being cautious. He started getting closer to me. At 60 yards I could tell he was a good buck. At 50 yards I zoomed in the scope and saw a specific “crab claw” point on one side which indicated to me that he was indeed Big Dook’s Brother. Our showdown was upon us, the chess match was hopefully coming to an end if I could execute.
When I saw that unique point on the right side of his rack my heart started pounding. I was staring at a deer through my scope in broad daylight at 50 yards that I’d been hunting for a long time. He looked up in my direction from behind a bunch of limbs. I could see him, but taking a shot through all that brush was too risky. If he would have run off I would have beat myself up for not shooting, but I felt he would eventually head to the corn and give me a clearer shot and even though it tore my nerves up, I held off on forcing the shot.
Check out the screenshot of my heart rate from my FitBit as the deer approached
While my heart was in my throat and the knot was in my stomach I tried to take deep breaths to calm myself down. I was shaking and trying to maintain steadiness. When I took those deep breaths, they fogged up my scope. Even worse I thought the fog from my deep breaths would be visible to the deer I feared. I could easily see the cloud of fog that I just exhaled so I’m sure he could have. I thought to myself that the deer was going to see my cloud of air and run off. I stopped the deep breaths and the deer held still for what seemed like forever. I wondered if he saw me because he was moving his head around from right to left.
I was in mid-freak out when he started moving again. He jumped the dried creek bed and got into a clearer view for me. When his feet landed on this side of the creek bed I could “hear” how heavy he was. It was a deep thud when his back legs hit. I knew he was a big one. As he stepped through the brush I again saw the unique point on the right side of his rack which re-confirmed that he was the deer I was chasing.
I had him in the scope and knew I was going to shoot. He was 15 yards from the corn pile and I had another opportunity to shoot through some brush. Again, I held off hoping for an open shot. I didn’t want to force the shot while he was heading in the direction I wanted him to. It was tearing me up on the inside. He progressed ahead a few more yards and paused just 5 yards from the corn. Why would he stop before the corn? I was wigging out. When he stopped, his head was behind a big oak tree and the back end of his body was behind a smaller tree. I had a clear shot on the base of his neck and I couldn’t wait any longer. He held still observing his surroundings and I was focused on not flinching on my trigger pull, a mistake I made years back that still haunts me. I focused on making a smooth trigger pull…well as smooth as you can get with your heart racing and whole body shaking. I pulled on the trigger as steady as I could and at 7:17am on Christmas morning the hammer dropped!
When the gun went off I thought I saw the deer fall down on the spot, but in the commotion of things I wasn’t sure. Suddenly I saw a deer take off running to the right. I didn’t even put another shell in, but I raised my gun up and looked at the deer that was running. I didn’t see any antlers and all that math wasn’t adding up to me in that moment as I was somewhat flustered. I thought I saw the deer fall, but what was running away? Turns out that there was another with the deer I shot, but I was so focused in on the big boy that I didn’t even see the other deer. I wondered to myself what had happened. I was sure I saw the deer fall, but I couldn’t see him on the ground anywhere, which made me a little nervous. Then I heard the sound of a deer thrashing and when I heard that I knew that I’d made a good shot and that he had indeed fallen on the spot.
I sat in the stand shaking and tried to calm myself down at what had just taken place. I literally couldn’t believe it. I ensured my gun was on safe and got out of the stand and headed down the hill. When I got there, I could not believe I actually saw the deer and how big he was! He fell on the spot and he was definitely the shooter I’d been chasing. I started taking pics and texting everybody who would be interested. I texted my mom and told her I needed her help taking pictures. I was pumped up, excited, thankful, emotional, and still not believing that this deer came through in good shooting light on Christmas morning. It was a story too good to be true, but it happened!
The below pics are pics my mother took right before she helped me drag the deer! Yes, she loves me (and it’s not her first time dragging a deer with me either) :-)
Being able to get this deer on the ground was a great Christmas present for me! I still can’t believe it happened, how it happened, and how the hunt unfolded was just as any hunter would script a hunt. I’d put in hours and hours of scouting, moving cameras, carrying corn through woods, cutting shooting lanes, and numerous hunts sitting in the stand waiting for that very deer to come through. It was a great reward for the time and energy invested and made it all worth it. In my case it was persistence that paid off more than anything.
Also, many of you know I lost my dad this past year to Alzheimer’s disease and sitting in the woods has been somewhat of a therapy for me throughout the season. When I got my mom to help me take some pictures of the deer she was sending out text messages telling people that “Clint got a Christmas present from Frank today”. In that moment, I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective, but it did make me think. I can imagine my dad up there in heaven saying “Come on God, let’s send the boy a big deer, he’s been hunting hard this year” lol. Hey, whatever it was that caused the deer to move I am not mad about it one bit! I am thankful and praise God for it regardless! With this Christmas being somewhat of a potentially somber one being able to get this big deer did bring about an unexpected excitement for us and a lingering thought of a higher power making everything line up like it did. I think my dad would have been proud, I know that I am. It was a hunt that I will never forget
Now, we still have a few more days to hunt in this season and Big Dook is still out there and I’m hoping he will make a similar mistake like his brother did. It only takes a matter of seconds to turn your whole season around…
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.
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.
Derrick Outen is a character?and yes...a sharp-shooter. If you know him then this blog entry won?t surprise you much. I?ve been after Derrick to let me video one of his hunts for a while and we finally lined it up. This past Saturday morning, I met Derrick early in the morning and we set out on our hunt.
We ended up in a nice condo stand overlooking a field that is surrounded by woods. We made a point to be quiet and not use much light as we entered because sometimes deer bed down in the areas surrounding this stand and we didn?t want to spook any of them on the way in. It didn?t take us long to get up the stand and get situated. I also made sure I was on the side of the stand that would be filming the ?good? side of Derrick?s face just in case I had to get him on camera.
It was 43 degrees and the air had a crispness to it that felt pretty good. We sat and watched the sun rise from about 30 feet up in this spacious condo stand. It was a very picturesque scene to observe as you could see for a very long distance all the way around the stand. As the sun rose the beams of sunlight shined down onto the field for a really unique sight. As soon as the sun hit the top of the trees it was dead in our face. Derrick looked at me and said ?that?s why this is an afternoon stand? lol! We leaned back to keep the sun out of our face as much as possible. Eventually it finally got high enough not to bother us.
We sat and scanned the field for about 2 and a half hours. We had a great aerial view of everything going on around and beneath us. The only problem was that nothing was moving! Derrick had some food plot product planted in the field and some corn out around the edges?everything seemed just right. I was sure something was going to walk out at any minute. The cut-over had been cut about a year ago and so there was thick brush surrounding the field that we were overlooking. If a deer walked through the brush, as Derrick said he frequently sees them do, you would see the bushes and small trees moving as they came through. Normally one wouldn?t see this kind of stuff, but being up so high you have that visual capability due to the vantage point the stand gives you. He said if it?s a buck, sometimes you?ll just see antlers making their way through the brush in the cut-over. The thought of that scene just kept playing over and over in my mind, but no matter how hard I thought about it? it just didn?t happen.
The clock was ticking and I had to head to the beach to celebrate the one year ?engage-iversary? with the wife. We got down out of the stand and headed back to the shop. Derrick said that there was another cut-over that we needed to check on the way back in. We drove a little while and then parked the truck. We got out and started walking. I?ve never tried to just walk up on a deer before and didn?t really think anything like this would work. So as we got out of the truck I was asking myself all these questions about how we were really about to pull something like this off and if so, how was I going to get it on film. I didn?t have any answers that made sense to me.
We arrived to the edge of a cut-over and this cut-over was looking down on a really steep hillside. Derrick said that the deer were going to be on the hillside somewhere and that we needed to be as quiet as possible. He really knows the land well and we would be shooting at a down angle in a direction that didn?t pose any danger to anyone. Since we were out of the stand I was free handing the camera which equals a ?shakey? video. Also, at this location the sun was in our face again and it was bright. We took a few steps with Derrick leading and me in the back. After about 5 yards it was clear to see that ?quiet? wasn?t the word that would describe our entrance. There were just too many sticks on the ground, brush in the way, briars ripping our pants, and cuckle berries. It was thick and not fun to walk through. We got about 15 yards in and neared a tripod stand that he?s got on the hillside and he said ?there they go? and I looked up and saw 2 white tails just bounding down the brush-covered-hillside. They were getting out of there and I mean quick like. This is the scene that a hunter sometime sees, but hates to see it happen?that is, spooking a deer and watching them flee the scene. Right after he said ?they?re they go? I had started turning the camera on and he was propping up on the tripod stand. To my surprise, one of the deer got right on the edge of the woods and just stopped and turned around. I have no idea why this deer stopped, but when she did I heard Derrick say ?You ready?? Since the sun was directly in our eyes it was really hard for me to find the deer in the camera. I was bobbling the camera and mumbling?"uh, yea-noo, hold on, yeah I got her, go ahead". As soon as I said ?go ahead? Derrick pulled the trigger and the shot rang out and the deer ran to the right going out of the cutover and out of our sight.
I watched the deer in the screen and I told Derrick that I didn?t think he hit the deer. Derrick just stared at me and we had an awkward moment of silence and then he said ?You mean to tell me that you are doubting me?? The look on his face was reminiscent of a look that the football coaches gave us when we had just messed up and they asked a question?knowing that they knew what the answer was! I said, ?Well you could have hit it and I?m not saying that you didn?t hit it, but just from the way she ran off and the dirt I saw fly behind her? I don?t think you hit her.? Another stare down and question??Clint, you?re really going to sit here and say that you don?t think I hit that deer?? I got the camera back out and looked at the video and the video was tough to see because of the light and me moving it around so much ?Blair-witch? style, but at the end of it you could see the deer and the shot. We watched it back again and I said? ?You didn?t hit that deer. I?m telling you...you missed.? Derrick just shook his head in total disbelief that I didn?t think he hit the deer. The look on his face was one that I can?t describe accurately here in words. I think my doubting his shot may hurt our friendship a little! Lol! He said ?Alright?let?s go get the mule and see?but I?m telling you? I hit that deer.?
We headed back to get his mule (yes we?re in SC, but that?s not a real mule but a larger ATV) and on the way back I was thinking to myself that there was no way he hit the deer. I mean think about it?we just go walking through some cut-over, the deer jumps, he props up on a tri-pod, asks me if I?m ready, I give him the go ahead, and he shoots downhill at about 125 yards and he hits the deer?... all within 10 ? 15 seconds? Come on now..the odds were just too high working against us.
We got in the mule and headed out to the location of where the deer was and sure enough?we found blood at the location where the deer was standing when he pulled the trigger. When we found that first drop of blood Derrick gave me another long, awkward pause/stare basically letting me know that I was dumb for doubting him. It was again reminiscent of a look you may have seen in high school football from one of your coaches. We parked the mule and set out tracking. Derrick had also switched guns from the rifle to a shotgun in case the deer jumped again. We set out walking over this cutover again trailing this deer. The briars, cuckle berries, and everything else was sticking to us and getting in our way. Since it was early a lot of the brush was wet and so our clothes became wet after just a couple of yards tracking this doe. We walked and trailed this deer forever and we could easily see the blood trail and this deer was really moving after the shot. We only lost the blood trail momentarily and then regained it. This doe ran back up the hill, made a left, and then headed back down the hill toward the creek. We trailed this deer for about 115 yards and it took us about 20 minutes. We kept thinking we were just about to see the deer, but then there would be more blood further up. I told Derrick that we were going to have to add 5lbs to the weight of the deer because of how long the blood trail was. We were both surprised at how long the deer ran.
We finally found the deer lying down the hillside near the creek. It was a decent doe and, as bad as I hate to say it, he made a perfect shot. I mean the bullet placement was right where it?s supposed to be. When we saw where he hit the deer he kept giving me a hard time about me doubting him. We drug it to the next closest road. When we looked at the doe we noticed that the deer was really old because it only had about 4 teeth on the bottom jaw and those teeth were loose. We also noticed that this deer had been shot earlier in the season by someone. It looked like someone grazed the top of this deer?s neck with a rifle because the hair was gone and you could see the fresh scar on the back of the deer?s neck. I?d never seen one with that few teeth and that been shot before, much less that combination at the same time.
We headed back to the mule and brought it over to pick the deer up and guess what I got lectured about all the way to get the deer, all the way back to the shop, and all the way to the processor and back?that?s right??I can?t believe you doubted me? and on and on and on.
This is a good example of properly having the date in the pic
Below is the video I shot?be ready cause it?s quick and very shakey
All in all it was a good hunt and I won?t ever question Derrick?s shot again (whether he misses or not)! Lol! I will say though that he made a good shot and got it done in a situation that was probably not the best case scenario so I give him kudos for that. His shot was definitely better than my video!
Have you ever heard about Carolina Adventure World? If you haven?t, then you?re missing out?especially if you?re into ATV?s, dirt bikes, or any type of off-roading. I had previously heard of how awesome Carolina Adventure World was from some of my friends, but had never actually been to the facility. I was finally able to check it out and the place truly is awesome! After visiting the site, I now understand why my friends raved so much about it.
Carolina Adventure World is located in Winnsboro, SC so no matter where you may be in the state, it?s not a bad drive. I headed down from Rock Hill and it was a really easy drive straight down 77. It only took me about 45 minutes to get there. You take one turn off the exit and 2 miles later the next turn is into the huge gates out in front of the park. When I saw the front gate, I could easily tell that the park was a nice size operation. You know how an entrance kind of signals the scale of the development that you?re entering...it was the same way with this facility. The entrance had a big gate and 2 huge signs that can easily be seen from the road. If you?re on the right road, you don?t have to worry about missing the place because there?s no way you could ride by it with the entrance.
As we descended down the hill Jim took me to the storage and maintenance buildings where we picked up our ride for the day. While we were back there I saw a huge building where they keep a lot of their rental ATV?s, dirt bikes, helmets, shin guards, boots, and other gear. In case you?re interested, Carolina Adventure World rents Yamaha Rhino Side by Sides, Yamaha Grizzly ATVs and Honda Dirt Bikes. The building where they store their rides was a nice and clean facility.
Just next door the guys were working on a 4-wheeler that had something wrong with it. Jim mentioned to me that Carolina Adventure World offers assistance with repairs to any visitors that happen to have a problem with their ATV while they?re at the park and that CAW can also stow ATV?s should visitors desire to leave them there for a while. So, if you?d like, you can store your machines at CAW between visits and they can have it cleaned, gassed, and ready to ride and waiting on you! CAW has staff on hand that can also provide any repairs or service needed before you return to the park.
After talking with the guys at the shop for a minute we got our ride for the day, a really neat vehicle called a ?Razor?. We then headed back to the main entrance and to the Welcome Center. We stopped at the Welcome Center to check it out and it is first class. It was very clean and had anything you could possibly want if you were looking to ride, eat, or even shop for clothes! The Welcome Center serves multiple purposes to Carolina Adventure World visitors. The Welcome Center is where you get started at the park. You purchase your passes there, find information about the trails, buy anything from food, to coke, to wenches, goggles, vinyl stickers, t-shirts, to hats, and on and on. They also have large bathrooms in the back and a big kitchen. The Welcome Center has an open-aired wraparound porch feel too it where rocking chairs and ATV?s that can be rented are located.
Beside the Welcome Center is a shower room where you can go and get washed up after riding if you?d like. We weren?t riding too fast or for too long and I still got pretty muddy and was tempted to go in there, but didn?t! The wash room is definitely a good resource to have on location, but its primary use is for visitors who come to stay the whole weekend. Carolina Adventure World is RV & Camper friendly and encourages families and/or groups to come up and stay for multiple days. The park is structured so that RV?s and Campers both can have access and they provide electricity, water, and an on-site dumping station for those wishing to come and call the park home for a few days. I was pretty impressed with that. And if you don?t own an RV?Carolina Adventure World has RV Campers for rent that sleep up to eight people. If you?re interested in that, be sure to call early to make reservations as they book the RV?s early for weekends.
Across from the Welcome center is a huge parking lot where visitors park and unload their ATV?s and dirt-bikes. If you?re like me and are not good at driving a trailer you don?t have to worry because the parking lot is plenty big enough and makes it?s easy to make wide turns. The Welcome Center is also just up the hill from the main mud bog.
The mud bog is just past the Welcome Center to the left and appears to be the location of where a lot of fun takes place. Though, Jim mentioned to me that most ATVs that get in the mud bog are equipped with snorkels and gear ready to be submerged beneath the water. The mud bog has a small section of bleachers beside it and is oval-shaped with an island of land in the middle of it. The island has some lights on it so I assume you can ride through the mud at night there as well. Beside that mud bog is another mud bog on a lower level that is similar except it doesn?t have an island of land in the middle. The first mud bog leads to the next mud bog in a stair-step-like manner with regards to the lay of the land. Beside the mud bogs is the much needed wash-off area. It?s kind of like a car-wash, but for ATV?s. The area has pressurized water hoses that can give you the necessary PSI to get the mud off.
After passing all this we continued down to the dirt-drag-strip which was really neat as well. The strip is fit with the digital clock that shows accurate times and the starting line had starter lights too. We pulled right up to the track and gave it a whirl. Jim noted that the track was a little muddy due to all the recent rain, but that normally it?s pretty solid and you can get a better grip which gives more speed and better times. It?s very similar to a regular drag-strip, but is just on dirt and is smaller and shorter. I believe Jim said the track is around 300 feet long.
A mother and daughter riding through the park
After we checked that out we went riding a little further around the facility and started riding on the trails. Not too long after we were down a trail some huge bull dozers, backhoes and large machinery came into vision. Jim informed me that Carolina Adventure World crushes rock on site to help with the maintenance of the trails. They pack the rock on the trails where erosion occurs and sometimes use it to elevate trails when necessary. I was impressed with the level of commitment to the on-going maintenance of the facility.
Along the way of the miles and miles of trails we crossed a nice wooden bridge that ran over Big Wateree Creek which is like a small river. We also saw many mud holes that were primed and ready to be ridden through, and we scaled a lot of steep hills and slopes. You may think that SC is all flat, but I?m here to tell you that this place has some major hills and rugged terrain. You can literally find any kind of riding trail that you can imagine there. We rode all the way to the back and ended up at a really swampy looking pond. It was nice looking and when we rode up to it about 7 wood ducks flew off. I imagine that the duck hunters would love to have been in this swampy area.
After riding on a few of the trails and service roads some more, we headed back up to the front of the facility. By this time I had a good bit of mud on me and had taken 151 pictures and 52 videos and both cameras had mud on them as well. I was worried if the footage would make it out alive, but everything came out just fine.
Other bits of information that may be interesting to you is that Carolina Adventure World holds several competitions and events throughout the year. From mud bogging competitions, to events for hunters, and even organizational retreats and dinners, CAW is in the mix in a lot of ways.
Jim noted that Carolina Adventure World holds several Championship Mud Bog Races throughout the year. See www.ChampionshipMudRacing.com for more info on that. Along with hosting the championship races CAW has held the Brian Fisher Weekend Event several times, has rides where they?re open until midnight, bon fires, and even a poker run.
I would definitely recommend this place to anyone interested in 4-wheelers, ATV?s, dirt bikes, mud bogging, or off-roading. The scale of the operation is huge, there are tons of trails (2,500 acres to be exact), safety measures have been taken, they have on-site repairs and rentals, and everything you need is at the Welcome Center. If you?re into the outdoors and off-roading, then you won?t regret giving Carolina Adventure World a chance. While we were there we saw people from multiple states and some were there with their families enjoying the park. If you do go out and see the facility and ride, let me know what you think about it. I?m not aware of anything else like it in the area. Much like True Timber Camo, this place is a hidden gem right here in our own back yard.
Below is a video I made of the day at Carolina Adventure World
For more information you can stay tuned to CarolinaAdventureWorld.com for details of upcoming events. Should you want to be ?in the loop? all the time, CAW also sends out an E-Newsletter with details of upcoming events that you can register to receive. Still planned for the rest of this year is a Big Labor Day Weekend Ride, another Poker Run, the famous Red Neck Nationals and the year?s final Championship Mud Racings Event to determine the CMR?s End of Year $18,000 payouts! I didn?t know you could make that much money slinging mud! Maybe that can be my second career :)
Turkey season starts on April 1st in my county because I?m located in the upper part of SC. I?ve been looking forward to it and have been counting down the weekends until turkey season got here. This past weekend was the opening weekend and on Saturday morning I went turkey hunting again with Mr. Bruce Puette in Marlboro County. I had been looking forward to our trip and it turned out to be one of the most memorable turkey hunts I?ve been on.
We met really early at the entrance gate to the hunting land. Mr. Puette?s brother, sister, and nephew would also be hunting in other areas of the land as well. We all set out going our different ways and Mr. Puette and I were heading to the back of the property where a swampy area backed in to the Pee Dee River. And we went deep in the swamp. Mr. Puette said that the turkeys hadn?t been working in the fields like they normally do by this time of the year so we were going to try something different. I was interested to see how the new CrossOver Camo would do in the swampy environment of the Pee Dee River area and it blended in very nicely.
We walked in by the moonlight and as we began walking we stopped and looked at the stars and Mr. Puette pointed out the Big Dipper. He said you can always find whichever direction North is by looking at the stars from the Big Dipper. Even though we probably walked a mile until we finally got to our location it didn?t bother me much because it was a chance to get some blood flowing and warm up. It was cold early that morning?34 degrees to be exact. It was chilly and I didn?t have enough layers on and walking helped me warm up some.
We ended up walking through fields, 4-wheeler paths, old logging roads, even jumping trees, and yes?water higher than my ankles! The wet socks countered the new warmth that I had just gained from walking. I also found a pretty deep stump hole on the way in too. My right foot ended up wetter than the left because I only found that stump hole with my right foot. Once we got back pretty deep in the woods we heard an owl hoot. We stopped and every time another owl hooted we stopped to see if any turkeys responded. At one point Mr. Puette said that he was going to do an owl call to see if we could locate any birds. I anticipated that he would dig in his pocket and get out a call, but Mr. Puette just held his hand to his mouth and yelled ?Hoo, Hoo, Ho, Hoooo? and amazingly an owl responded about 50 yards away. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with how accurate Mr. Puette?s owl call sounded. Mr. Puette fired back with a ?WOOOOOoooo? that ended with a lot of bass in the sound. The owl fired right back. It was neat that he was able to get several owls calling to each other with just his natural voice. The downside was that no turkeys gobbled back at us. We kept on walking.
We finally reached the furthest point that we could walk and we stopped again. This time Mr. Puette pulled out a crow call and it made a loud shriek as he blew it. We waited, and a couple of seconds later, a turkey, that sounded about 70 ? 100 yards away, hammered back at us. Mr. Puette pumped his fist like a golfer does after sinking a putt and we headed toward the sound looking to make a setup. We walked about 40 yards down an old logging road and Mr. Puette said we ought to set up on a tree that was about 5 yards off the path.
Mr. Puette had been carrying his gun as well as a home-made blind that he created and a small stool. He had given me a stool that I carried in too. The home-made blind was some camo, burlap-like material that wrapped around 4 wooden sticks. He told me that 4 sticks and some burlap was a lot cheaper than most blinds you find in stores! He set this up just in front of us as I started getting the video stuff set up.
I had all of the stuff I needed to video setup and had got two Thermacells out and fired them both up because deep in the swamp mosquitoes are thick and even though it was cold? I wasn?t taking any chances. I put the new Thermacell in front of us and put last year?s model Thermacell to my left. Needless to say we didn?t get bothered by any bugs or mosquitoes during this hunt.
We were finally situated and the sun was slowly starting to shine through the woods. Mr. Puette did some calling early to see if anything would respond and we had turkeys gobbling to our right, middle, and to our left. We were definitely in a good location, but we were worried that the turkeys would come off the roost and go a different direction. Randomly Mr. Puette would call and the turkeys arbitrarily responded. We had to wait and to keep our eyes peeled.
There were so many trees and brush in front of us that it was not only difficult to see the turkey, but it was even more difficult to film the turkey. In retrospect I should have turned the auto-focus mechanism off, but I wasn?t chancing any extra movements while he was that close to us. Because Mr. Puette was behind me (in the line of sight for the bird) he couldn?t see it. The bird was standing behind a big tree and was stepping to the right, puffing up, spinning, and stepping back to the left, puffing and spinning and did this on repeat. It was very odd, but he was staying in one spot. The whole time Mr. Puette couldn?t see the bird and he kept asking me ?Are you sure??, ?How far out??, and ?Where is he?? Finally the turkey stepped out far enough to where Mr. Puette could see it. At this point at least he knew I wasn?t lying about a bird being that close.
As I was taking pictures Mr. Puette said ?Did you see that tree?? and I said ?What tree?? I had seen a thousand trees that were in the way of me filming the turkey, but obviously he was referring to one in particular. He pointed and said ?Look at the ?Twisted Oak??. We walked over and saw something that was pretty rare in my opinion. Two white oak trees were side by side and one had fallen into the other and over time they had grown together. It was a unique site. I took some pics and videos of it as well. I know that I?ve never seen anything like that before?and those trees were huge.
After a couple of more pictures we headed back to base camp. It was a long walk back to the entrance and I was definitely glad I had some Wildlife Energy drink with me on this occasion. As we walked back over the path we came in on Mr. Puette was looking around every corner to see if any turkeys were strutting in the roads. He?d already told me that if we saw another one that we would be stopping and setting up again!
Below is the raw footage of the hunt if you want to see it without effects
I always enjoy going hunting with Mr. Puette because there?s usually some action involved and I also always learn something. Mr. Puette says I bring him good luck, but I don?t know about that. Most of the time whenever you take a camera in the woods it means that you?re definitely not going to see anything, but so far he and I are 2 for 2 with turkeys and videos.
I hope to get in on more hunts with Mr. Puette and next time I?ll try to get better focus on the turkey!