Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew
As I drove down an old farm road the other day I was immediately reminded that deer season is just around the corner. Velvet antlers caught my eye as a young buck stopped at the sight of the four wheeler. As the buck slipped into the thicket I sat there for a few minutes and soaked in the silence. It was then I decided to make a detour and head down to one of my favorite spots in the woods.
I entered the old oak hollow and followed a trail that lead to a spot that my Dad and I discovered some twenty years earlier. On top of a little knoll we found the perfect funnel area for deer to travel between the two adjacent crop fields. It didn't take long for Dad and I to nickname the spot "The Acorn Stand". I can still picture the first time I eased through those woods by myself when I was twelve years old. Not much has changed about the spot over the years except for that stand that Dad and I put up. It has started to look like a retired prize fighter over the past several years. Standing only a meager eight feet tall in its prime the stand seems to have shrunk and it now stands with a distinct sway to one side. I was hesitant about climbing it that day but as I reached the top it was as if I had just sat there for the first time all over again. Mother nature and time have put a beating on this stand but the stand still had that feel that made it my favorite spot from the first time I hunted it.
My detour that day to my favorite hunting spot was not only to reminisce but also in anticipation of the upcoming season. This season only a couple hundred yards away from where I made my first memories in the deer woods another young hunter will climb into a stand with the hopes of a successful hunt. The young hunter is my cousin JD. JD will be twelve this coming season and after taking him last year on a hunt I could tell that the passion that caught fire when I sat in "The Acorn Stand" twenty years ago was there for him as well.
I'm not exactly sure how the season will go but as I sat in my favorite spot that day I thought about how fun it was going to be to walk with JD on this journey of his first deer season. JD has been helping me get ready for the season and I know he's pumped. My goal is to help guide him through the ups and downs that a young hunter goes through and also to teach him as much as I can about the things I've learned over the years. Another goal is to try to capture as much of his season on video so one day JD can watch it unfold over and over again. So with all that being said wish JD luck and say a few prayers for the cameraman. I think this season will be a special one.
This season has been full of ?first? birds. I have taken 4 new hunters with me and some have taken their first spring gobblers. Going on these hunts is really enjoyable anytime someone gets their ?first? of any wild game.
Since we?re in the low-country of SC, turkey seasoned opened March 15th for our club. The night before the season opener a good friend of mine named Sam ("The coon hunting guy") and I decided to stay the night at the club house in order to get a good spot the next morning. We arrived at the club house around 10:30 to the sight of a large fire burning and three guys sitting around it trying to stay warm. We got out of the truck and Sam Introduced me to the other members of the club. By the end of the night it felt like I had known them my entire life. We all sat around the fire telling stories of different hunts that we have partaken in; everything from ducks to deer to turkey hunts. After an hour or two we took our gear into the bunk room and got setup for bed. We set the alarms for 4:00am. The next morning everyone sleeping in the house woke up at 4:00 o?clock to the sounds of five different alarms going off simultaneously. After a quick breakfast snack we arrived in a spot we had roosted two gobblers a few days before. When day light broke the horizon I hit the owl call, but didn?t get an answer back. This happened for about 15 minutes. Sam and I were stunned that the birds would not answer. We decided to just sit down and do a little bit of calling. Just after putting out a hen decoy and sitting down at the base of a tree, I started to call softly with my slate call. Sam turned and asked if I heard a gobble in the distance. I responded "No I was calling and couldn?t hear anything." Sam was sure that he heard a bird so we got up and started to make our way in that direction. After walking about 300 yards we heard a hen yelping right on top of us. Before we knew it we had to drop to the ground in the middle of the road because we had a bird right on top of us. A jake came out to the edge of the road and I told Sam to take a shot. Sam shot one time and missed and finished the bird with a second round as it was running down the road. I don?t think that the jake we shot was the bird that gobbled earlier that morning. Even though the hunt didn?t turn out the way we planned, with us setup to film the bird coming in Sam still got his first bird on the ground. If everything happened according to plan they wouldn?t call it hunting. ###
My father?s good buddy Danny also got to harvest his first turkey on the opening weekend of turkey season. It was early Sunday morning and we made our way to a different piece of property. We all got out of the truck and walked down a little dirt road. By the time we got to the half way there was enough light to hit the owl call. We had three different birds answer us! We rushed down the remainder of the curved road and got to a little hard wood bottom where we expected the turkeys to come to. Well once again it didn?t happen as I had planned. As soon as we got set up we heard hens start yelping in the same area where the gobbles came from. I thought to myself these birds are probably already ?henned up? and wouldn?t leave the hens. After about an hour of listening to the birds gobble on that cool spring morning, they finally shut up. They wouldn?t gobble to any type of call we tried. I didn?t have time to stay there and hunt. I headed out to worship service back in Charleston. About 11:00 am I got a picture message from my dad of a bird. I called him and he explained that they setup of a food plot that was still growing from deer season. After an hour and a half of sitting patiently the birds emerged from the bottom making their way to the food source. Three gobblers came strutting into the decoys. Danny slowly rose up his gun and set his sights on one of the gobblers. He took one shot and it was a solid hit! Danny had never been in a turkey hunt before. He told us that "it was the most exciting hunt he has ever been on." Danny said it was a big adrenaline rush watching the gobblers strut 25 yards in front of them, and he couldn?t wait for the bird he wanted to clear the decoys for a shot. The bird weighed 19 pounds had 1 inch spurs and a 10.75 inch beard. The key to that successful hunt was patience because If they would have tried to get closer to the birds after they stopped gobbling, the turkeys may of spooked and the hunt would of been over. Instead they knew the turkeys? patterns and cut them off while they were going to feed. ###
This past Saturday Kyle Dyson and I had the opportunity to take Ryan Parson hunting with us. Ryan has never killed a turkey and was excited to give it a shot! Friday night Kyle and Ryan stayed the night at my house in order to get an early start the next morning. Not being able to decide where to hunt, we flipped a coin between the Wee Tee reserve and the ?Hell Hole?, both of which are government associated. The coin landed heads so the next morning we took our Wildlife Energy Shots and headed out to Wee Tee. At only 2 Fl ounces the energy shots blow the competition out of the water, they kept us wide awake and alert all morning! I had only been to the area we hunted once before during this past deer season. Because we were unfamiliar with the area, we left earlier than normal to get there on time. When we arrived at the gate there were two guys that were riding into the darkness on bikes. We all chuckled at the sight of the two guys riding bikes to hunt, but we soon found out they were smarter than we were. We started walking down the road at 5:00 am and didn?t stop until 6:15. Part of the reason it took us so long was because the property had changed so much from deer season. Everything was green and there was water everywhere we walked. We had to weave our way through the dry patches of the swamp to find areas we could walk across without getting wet. While we were walking the three of us crunched leaves and sticks with every step, we kept spooking birds out of there roost. We scared at least 10 different birds out of the trees on the way in. I knew that wasn?t a good thing but at least we knew that there were turkeys nearby. When we finally stopped walking we hit the owl call and heard 2 gobblers within 200 yards (at least we thought it was about 200 yards) from us. We walked a little further and hit the call. It sounded like they were across the flooded part of the swamp. We all decided to get closer in hopes of having the gobblers fly down on our side on the water. By this time the sunlight shining through the trees was good and revealed the beautiful bottom we were standing in. Kyle and Ryan sat down on trees adjacent to each other. I went to put out a decoy about 25 yards in front of our setup. As soon as I pulled the decoy out of my vest, we heard a loud Swoosh! The bird spotted me and flew away. It turns out the bird wasn?t 200 yards across the water. It was more like 100 yards and he was on our side of the flooded area. I felt terrible for ruining the hunt especially after walking as far as we did to get to the spot. We didn?t hear another bird that morning.
Knowing where the birds were roosted, we decided to go back to the same location on our next hunt. This time is was very different. We learned from our mistakes and decided to not get so close and let the birds move to us instead of us moving to the birds. When daylight broke we heard 5 different birds sounding off to the sounds of my owl call. We finally got setup and started calling. I began using the slate call and had the birds gobbling for about 30 minutes. Ryan does a vocal hen call using only his natural voice with no help of calls. We told him to give it a try to see if the birds would gobble to it. It turns out they gobbled to his vocals better than they did to the box or slate calls! I was amazed at the sounds he could produce without any calls. I set my calls aside and let him work the birds. After a few more minutes the bird came into sight. The long beard was strutting to the sound of Ryan?s call. He was about 80 yards away when we first saw him gobble. I told Ryan to use a soft cadence to try and lure the bird in and every time he did the bird would answer back with a loud gobble triggering the other 5 birds to gobble as well! It turns out the bird got hung on a flooded part of swamp bottom and wouldn?t cross the slough. Even though we didn?t kill him, it was still a great hunt!
This season I have learned to call less and listen a little more. On top of that I have learned patience is the key to hunting a smart long-beard that may be call shy or spooked easily. Another key to my success this year has been then use of the new CrossOver Camo pattern. The pattern is different from other patterns in that, compared to say mossey oak obsession, CrossOver has a variety of lighter colors. Most camo have the basic greens and browns, but cross over incorporates shades of white and different tans which helps me blend into many different backgrounds. I can stay hidden in pine trees, and swamp bottoms all with one pattern. There is not a camouflage out there that will keep you hidden if you can?t sit still. Without the help of my Thermacell to keep the bugs away I would probably scare off every bird that came into range by swatting bugs away from my face. I?m not sure I could hunt without one after being spoiled with its ability to keep my hunting area bug free.
Sams First Turkey
Ryans First Turkey
This turkey season has been a great one and I?m looking forward to a few more good hunts before the season ends.
This is a guest blog entry by Ben Sullivan
Ben Sullivan has been one of my life-long friends and in the past few hunting seasons he?s started getting into hunting. Ben hunts in the Coastal area of South Carolina down around Georgetown. Last weekend Ben got his first deer and it was a very nice buck! Since this was his first deer, a huge buck, and a good story, I asked Ben to give us some info about his hunt and I would post it here on the blog. Ben gave me a brief summary of his first hunt and how it went down.
Last week we had a large tropical storm move up the eastern seaboard and it got really wet here on the coastal region. Wednesday night my buddy Luke and I were planning on bow hunting the next morning since the tropical storm was moving up north. We thought the bucks would be up and moving after three days of heavy rain.
We hunt on roughly 2000 acres in Georgetown, SC and after the tropical storm about 1200 acres of the land was under water. We woke up on Thursday and saw that the rain had stopped and there was a nice breeze (for Georgetown) in the air. Luke texted me around 6 am and said that the weather was perfect and we needed to get in the woods. My favorite bow stand was under water so we decided to sit in the tower stand instead (one of the highest spots on the facility). This was the first time I sat in the tower stand. I had pics on 9 other stands and we didn?t expect this spot to be much of a producer; therefore we didn?t put much effort into it other than putting out corn.
We were sitting in the tower stand just looking and at exactly 9:15 a huge buck walked out. It took him about 4 seconds to get broad sided and give me a clear shot. I didn?t waste any time taking the shot and the deer fell on the spot. Luke?s inclination to go out that morning was dead on the money! We got down out of the tower stand and took the pics that you see below.
We saw 4 other decent size bucks moving that day while we put out corn at the other stands on our property. I?m excited that we have let them walk for 2 years in a row and our management practices are proving beneficial. Another interesting note is that we get a lot of game-cam pics, but the deer I shot had never been captured on camera. It appears that we will have quite a few shooters this year.
Congratulations to Ben on his first deer...a very nice buck! I don?t know if I?ve ever seen on that big in the woods before, but I hope to!
I hope you enjoyed the videos because I know I had a good time making them. I look forward to sharing more hunts and videos with you in the upcoming year.