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The 2001 Hunting Season

The 2001 hunting season should be a fine one.  I will be hunting again as a member of the Briarpatch Hunt Club in South Carolina. 

This year, my long time partner and buddy Ted Leonhardt has joined the club, taking over the space left open when my great friend and uncle-in-law Arnold Kirk left the club. 

Ted and I have hunted together since the early 90's, and to date we have spent most of our time together hunting on game lands.  This year will be the first that we have been able to seriously share hunting on private land. 

I also hope to get some more time in hunting with Arnold, who has also been a great companion over this last decade.


2001 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 4 0
Whitetail Doe 27 4
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 0 0
Turkey (Hen) 4 -
Coyote 1 0
Fox 1 0
Bobcat 0 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 2
Quail - 0
Crows 0
Ducks / Geese 0 0
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
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January 1, 2002 Closing the Year  
Thirty-one deer hunting trips this years.  3,720 miles worth of driving between my home and our lease.  179.9 miles of riding on my ATV.   Thirty-one deer seen, an average of one per trip, although in reality I rarely saw deer this year.  Fifteen deer killed on our lease: four by me, five by Ted, and three each by Doug and Ken.  Countless memories, and a few disappointments.

It hasn't hit me yet.  It will though... by Thursday or Friday of this week, the depression will set in when I realize the fact that it will be nine more months before I can deer hunt again.   I get that way every year when the season is over.  I mope around the house, being careful not to trip over my lower lip... 

There were many good things about this season.  Ted and I being able to hunt together on private land was the best part about it.  I got in a lot of hunting days.  I don't think I went hunting thirty-one times in a season back when I was in college!   Folks trespassing on our land was probably the biggest disappointment of the year, along with losing that one deer and missing a shot at a big buck.

...And the fact that it snowed 8 inches the day after the season closed... I really would have liked to get in some hunting in the snow!

But it really was a great season.  I'm sorry it's over, but now it's time to think about all of the work that we need to do to get ready for turkey season.  And maybe we'll get in a few squirrel or predator hunts before then!


December 29, 2001 A Successful Hunt at Briarpatch  

I didn't have a lot of confidence going in to today's hunt.  It's so late in the year, there is a full moon, and I haven't seen a deer in over two weeks.   All last night I though about where I would hunt this morning, and I finally decided on stand #18, Arnold's tower stand on the power lines. 

Click on the picture for a full-sized view
The tower on the power lines

I sat quietly in the tower without seeing anything until about 8:30am.   I was getting restless, so I decided that at 9:10 I would get out of the stand, then go for a short walk down an old county road near this stand and maybe try to jump a deer.  When 9:10 arrived, I stood up in the stand and got ready to get down.   Immediately I noticed some movement down below me in a deep gully that I couldn't see while seated.  I carefully glassed the gully trying to pinpoint the movement when suddenly I saw the head and ears of a big doe.  Looking even closer, I saw three more does standing in thick canebrakes nearby. 

I raised my rifle, sighted in on what looked to be the biggest deer, then carefully squeezed the trigger.  I couldn't tell if the deer dropped or not, so I jacked another shell in the chamber and got ready to shoot again.  I couldn't see any of the deer anymore, so I switched to my binoculars and started looking carefully around for them.  I kept seeing something twitch down there in the cane, but I just couldn't pinpoint what it was.  Finally I made out the head of a doe, but I didn't know if it was the one that I had shot at or not.  I raised my rifle again, when suddenly that deer and four others burst from the cane and ran from left to right across the power lines.  I aimed at one of them, fired, and was happy to see the deer crash to the ground as the others bounded off into the woods.

I was shaking hard when I called Ted on the radio to tell him that I had one definite kill and another probable one.  I asked him to meet me at the top of the power lines, but to not drive down to where I shot the deer until I got there.  There is an impassable creek between the tower stand and where I shot the deer, so I would have to drive more than a mile around the lease to end up 30 yards from where I was hunting.

I hopped on my four wheeler and high tailed it around to the top of the power lines, and Ted and I drove down to where the second deer lay dead.  It turned out to be a nice doe, in the one hundred pound range.  We started looking down into the gully for the first deer, when suddenly Ted hollered, "There she is!".   The deer was still alive, and had gotten up and started walking into the woods.   Ted could tell that it was wounded, so I started loading my rifle to take a finishing shot.  As I scrambled to get the rifle loaded, Ted yelled that the deer had crossed back over the power lines in front of us and gone into the woods.  He said that it was pretty bloody, and was obviously hit hard.

Click on the picture for a full-sized view
A picture of me with both of the deer that I took this morning.

We walked up to where it crossed and immediately found the blood trail.   It was simple to follow, and we soon found the deer laying forty or fifty yards into the woods.  We loaded both deer on the four wheelers, and I had my first double on deer!  A great way to finish the season...


December 27, 2001 Afternoon Hunt  
It was again quite cold today as Ted and I headed down to Lancaster for an afternoon deer hunt.  After putting new deer baskets on our four wheelers, we headed out into the woods.  I went to stand #4, while Ted chose stand #2.  Neither of us saw anything.  It's really tough to even see deer where we hunt this time of year.  The hunting pressure has them nocturnal, and the full moon is really making things worse for us.

I'm planning on making two more deer hunts before the season closes, and if I'm lucky I'll get a third in.  I think we're going to have to do some deer drives to try to push the deer off of their beds...


December 22, 2001 Cold Weather Hunting  
When Ted and I pulled in to Arnold's driveway this morning at 6:15, the first thing we saw were seven or eight deer eating his new grass.  Certainly an exciting way to start this hunt.  The temperature was hovering between 27 and 29 degrees, so I took a blanket with me to wrap up in while in my stand.  I chose stand #10, and Ted went to stand #3.  Nothing was moving, and I didn't even hear any shots fired.

For the afternoon hunt, I went up into one of Arnold's fields.  We had planted this field with rye grass a few weeks back, and it was starting to attract the deer.  This is the same field where I shot my biggest whitetail 5 years ago, but nothing showed up tonight.  Ted hunted out on the power lines in stand #4.  He also saw nothing...


December 20, 2001 Sighting In Again ...and an Afternoon Deer Hunt

Since I hit the doe that I killed on December 15th a little far back, I decided to once again head down to the Leeds Rifle Range and check the sights on my rifle.   This time I think I found the problem.  There was a loose screw on the pedestal of the scope mount.  I tightened this up and took a couple of shots, then made the necessary adjustments.  I should be fine now.

The target
The two shots on the left were after tightening the scope mount screws.  The bullseye is at 100 yards, after I got the rifle sighted back in correctly.

On the way down to the rifle range, at 10:15 in the morning, a nice 8 point buck jumped out in front of my truck.  I stopped on the side of the road and watched him for a few minutes as he stood in the woods.  I need to start remembering to keep my camera handy when I am on the road...

After lunch, Ted and I hit the woods.  I hunted on Arnold's pond road, while Ted went back to his old standby, stand #3.   Neither of us saw any deer.  I did get to watch a large covey of quail running around in the woods below my stand.


December 19, 2001 Afternoon Hunt  

Ted and I hunted at Briarpatch this afternoon.  We're starting to think that we might be in a secondary rut.  Scrapes that had been full of leaves are showing up clean, and the does are once again on the move.  I hunted in stand #2 tonight with my muzzleloader.  Since my rifle appears to be shooting to the left, I didn't want to take a chance on wounding a deer.  Ted hunted at stand #7.   Neither of us saw anything.


December 15, 2001 Hunting at Briarpatch  

I intended to hunt all day with Ted today, but major problems at work had me up late last night and working into this morning.  I called Ted and told him to go on without me for the morning hunt, and that I'd meet him for lunch at Gus's in Lancaster.

At around 10:00am, I called Ted to tell him we were still on for Gus's, but that I'd be a little later than expected.  I asked him how he'd done that morning, and it turns out that he had done a little bit of still hunting and had taken a doe from the very woods where I myself had still hunted back on the 6th. 

For the afternoon hunt, we were going to have to go without our four wheelers.   Arnold's driveway would be blocked all night, so we wouldn't be able to get them out to use them.  We decided to take Ted's Jeep and drive it up onto the lease so that we would be able to hunt in our fields.  I chose stand #4 on the power lines, while Ted went to stand #2.  

To my dismay, when I walked up to my chosen tree, I found that the climbing stand had been stolen out of there.  We've had several incidents of trespassing this year, but this is the first real problem that they have caused us.  It's war now, I'm calling the sheriff on Monday to see what we can do about this.

Fortunately though, Doug had placed another climber in the vicinity of #4, so after sitting frustrated for a half hour I decided to just hunt out of it.  This made for a much longer shot down to the field.  From the original location, it was about 150 yards from the stand to the wheat.  From Doug's stand, it was 250. 

I got in the stand and got settled.  Almost immediately, and this was at 4:00pm, I saw a large doe enter the field, followed by two smaller does.  I took aim on the big one and fired.  Click.  In my frustration, I had forgotten to chamber a round!  I quickly worked the bolt and jacked a cartridge into the hole.  By this time though, the big deer was gone, and only the two smaller ones were left.  One of them presented me with a perfect broadside opportunity, so I took aim again and fired.

Another miss.  I saw the dirt splat up behind the deer.  I had aimed a little high, since the shot was so long, but I guess I shouldn't have.  To my surprise though, the deer was still just standing there, so I took careful aim and fired once again.  This time, I saw the deer drop, and was glad that my slump was ended.  I could tell that the deer was still alive, so I took another quick shot, but missed again as the deer crawled out of view. 

I called Ted on the radio and told him I had one down.  I climbed quickly to the ground, gathered all my gear, and walked down to the field.  Although I found no blood, I almost immediately saw the deer lying dead just 15 yards from where I had shot it.  I called Ted again, and he said that he was on the way with the Jeep so that we could load it up.

Second deer of the year
The doe that I took at 4:00pm today

Once he got there and we got the deer loaded on the Jeep, I took a couple of test shots at a tin can with my rifle.  The first missed, and the second nipped the left hand side of the can.  So, I'm shooting about an inch or more left at 50 yards.  That would really be exaggerated at 250 yards, and I did hit this deer pretty far back, so it looks like I'll be headed back to the range one more time to try to figure out what is wrong with this rifle!


December 13, 2001 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  

Today is the first Thursday that Ted is unable to hunt with me.   We've both been lucky this year, able to take just about every Thursday off during the season to hunt.  It was a rainy day, so I decided I'd better get in one of our boxes so that I'd stay dry.  Predictably, I chose stand #3, and, also predictably, I didn't see anything.


December 6, 2001 All Day Hunt at Briarpatch  
I was on my own this morning, so I set out once again for stand #3.   And once again I didn't see a thing.  I stayed in the stand until about 10:00, then did some exploring down deep into the woods.  I found a nice hardwood valley, but it might be hard to hunt.  There were no real good trees to get up in.   After an hour or so, I headed back to Arnold's house, then into town to meet Ted for lunch.

For the evening hunt, I went down to the ladder at stand #7 again, while Ted went to stand #4.  As I got down toward my stand, I caught a glimpse of a turkey in the woods below me, and I soon heard the sound of several of them rushing off into the woods as they spooked.  It was good to see turkeys again anyway, because we sure didn't see any deer again today.


December 1, 2001 All Day Hunt at Briarpatch  

This morning I decided to try something different.  While working on Arnold's pond yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that it was covered in deer tracks from where they had been coming down to drink.  I took my climbing stand and got way up in a pine tree in the thick stuff back behind the pond.  I spent the morning watching a kingfisher work the pond.  Other than that, I saw no wildlife.

For the afternoon hunt, I decided to hunt on the road that leads down to the pond.  There are a couple of water oaks there that are still dropping acorns, and we have a couple of small patches of wheat planted there. 

Arnold's Pond Road
The view from the stand where I was hunting tonight.

The squirrels were really active, gathering as many of the acorns as they could.  Down the hill from me, I could hear the occasional fish jump, and once in awhile I heard the kingfisher chattering. Unfortunately, I saw no deer.  Ted hunted at stand #3 twice today, and although he got a quick look at a fox this morning, he also saw nothing tonight.  He did jump two deer out on the Walker Road on the way out.


November 30, 2001 Afternoon Hunt  

This morning Arnold and I did some work down at his pond, then I took off for stand #7, a beautiful wheat field at the very far end of our lease.  Last year I saw a couple of bucks there, as well as several does.  Today I saw absolutely nothing.  The full moon, the warm temperatures, and the hunting pressure have made our deer go nocturnal...

November 29, 2001 All Day Hunt at Briarpatch  
I went to stand #3 again this morning.  I swear, this is it.  I'm staying away from that stand for awhile.  It's a great stand, and five deer have been taken from it so far this year, but it's somewhat of a boring stand to hunt.  There is not much to look at, and the stand really needs some work.  It leans a little bit to the right, making it somewhat uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time.  Especially when you don't see any deer, like I didn't this morning.  Ted, hunting in stand #10, also saw nothing.

Ted's mount from his eight pointer was ready to be picked up, so during the lunch break we ran into town and picked it up.  It turned out quite nicely, as you'll soon see when I post a picture of it here.

After lunch, Arnold put us to work spreading straw over some newly planted grass seed, then we moved some rocks for him, then he sent us up to one of his fields with the tractor, where I plowed it while Ted planted it. 

For the afternoon hunt, I kept my promise about changing stands, and chose stand #4 on the power lines, while Ted went to stand #2.   The only thing either of us saw this afternoon was warthogs.  Four A-10 "tank killer" warthogs to be exact, which spent about two hours flying back and forth around our hunting area.  Quite a sight... they were quite low at times, and I managed to get a couple of pictures of them.


November 28, 2001 Finally Getting Back in the Woods  
After thirteen days without hunting, I'm finally able to get back in the woods.  I was oncall at work all of last week, which knocked me of hunting during Thanksgiving.  This afternoon, I headed down to Briarpatch to give it another shot.  

When I arrived, the first thing I did was check the deer kill log to see if anything had been taken during my absence.  Nothing.  I talked to Doug, who said that they had seen a few deer, but hunting was getting pretty slim.  This time of year, you really have to work hard to find the deer..

As usual, I hunted in stand #3, figuring that it had been quiet up there for a couple of weeks.  Though I sat there for several hours, I didn't see or hear a thing...


November 20, 2001 The Passing of the Explorer  
I'm not a "car person."  To me, my vehicle simply needs to serve two purposes.  First, it needs to last.  If I can get ten years out of a vehicle, then it has lived up to my expectations.  Second, it needs to be able to get me where I am going, then get me safely home. 

In 1985, I got a Toyota 4x4 pickup truck, which we now refer to as "supertruck".  From the sands of the Outer Banks to four-wheeling in the North Carolina mountains, that truck went through it all, willingly and exceedingly well.  In late 1994 I realized that it was time for a new vehicle, but I intended to keep the Toyota as well.  I set my sights on a 1995 Ford Explorer, and even went as far as ordering it from the dealership.  However, in December of 1994 supertruck blew both its radiator and head gasket.  I couldn't afford repairs and a new truck, so, regretfully, I had to trade the Toyota in on a beautiful '94 Explorer.

Although I was very pleased with the Explorer at first, while its first trip to the Outer Banks I realized that it wasn't going to live up to the standards that the Toyota had set.  We were driving in the sand... not the soft Cape Point sand, but the hard packed Avon beach, when the Explorer bogged down and got stuck.  In ten years of Outer Banks trips, the Toyota had never even come close to getting stuck in the sand!   Subsequent Outer Banks trips in the Explorer were a nightmare of watching the temperature gauge rise close to overheating every time we got out on the beach.   Then, on our honeymoon in 1998, the Explorer not only almost got stuck in the sand, it also broke the four wheel drive system while trying to get unstuck.  I was so disgusted with it at that point that I never even bothered getting it repaired.

The next few years were downhill.  Between 1999 and 2001, the transmission in the Explorer went out seven times.  That was just completely unacceptable, especially since I have a four wheeler and a duck boat that I need to be able to tow.   So, finally, the Explorer has been traded, and I'm now driving a new vehicle.


November 15, 2001 Last Briarpatch Hunt for Two Weeks  

Well, this was it.  Today was my last shot at it for two weeks.   Work is going to keep me busy until after Thanksgiving, and plans this afternoon allow me to only hunt in the morning today.  So, Ted and I loaded up the Jeep and headed down to Briarpatch.  I went to stand #10 thinking surely that a deer would cross Walker Road today.  Ted went to stand #11 down on Cedar Creek to do a little bowhunting.   Unfortunately, neither of us saw anything.

November 12, 2001  Sighting in and Trying Again  
I had today off of work for Veteran's Day.  My plan was to go sight in my rifle in the morning, then head over to Briarpatch for the afternoon hunt.   Before I did that, I had to go to the grocery store.  My heart lifted slightly when, on the way home, at the far end of a huge field not a mile from my house, I saw three deer running across the back of the field.  I've watched that field for years hoping to see a deer, and today I finally saw three there. 

I hunted today at stand #14, "The Hole".  This is a beautiful wheat field deep in the woods, surrounded by high hills on all sides.  It's a perfect funnel for deer to come into and feed.  Unfortunately, I think there are still too many acorns on the ground, because the wheat looked untouched, and I saw no deer come into the field.   Just at dark, I did hear a deer walking through the woods behind me, but I was unable to get a look at it.

 The Hole
"The Hole", a wheat field deep in the woods, a place where you just know you are going to see a deer...


November 11, 2001 An Interaction at Church  
I was talking to a fellow hunter named Lewis at church this morning.   Lewis is Lewis Stowe, the former world champion turkey caller.  After I told him about my poor performance on the last four rifle shots that I've taken at deer.  Last year after I lost the doe, he had given me some comforting words of advice, and I expected and hoped for more of the same today.  This year, however, the interaction was slightly different:

     "What caliber are you shooting?" asked Lewis. 
     "Remington 7mm magnum," I answered.
     "What kind of scope?" Lewis continued.
     "Then you're the problem."


November 10, 2001 The Slump Continues  
For the morning hunt, once again I went to stand #3, thinking that since I had called in a deer there on Thursday morning I might be able to lure him in again today.  Unfortunately, I didn't see a thing.  Ted hunted in stand #4 on the power lines, but he was also skunked. 

In the evening, I went back to stand #2, where I had missed the buck on Thursday.  This time I took a long a board, some screws, and my cordless screwdriver.  I attached the board to the tree to try to make a rifle rest to help get a steadier shot from that stand.  After installing the rifle rest, I sat quietly until almost dark, when suddenly I saw a big doe walk quickly across the field.  I aimed, breathed out, and fired.  I saw a huge plume of dust fly up from where my bullet hit the ground, and saw no trace of the doe.  I started down, then glanced at the field just in time to see another deer run across.  At that instant, I heard a shot from Ted over on stand #3, so I figured that he had scored again.  I continued climbing down, then ran to the field to look for blood. 


Ken showed up, told me that Ted had shot and recovered his doe, and that he would help me look for mine.  We looked for quite awhile but found nothing.  Ted soon arrived, and I showed him where my bullet had hit the ground.  This is getting really frustrating.... the last four deer that I have shot at with my rifle I have either missed or wounded.  Although I checked my rifle before the season, it's time to head back to the range and make sure that it is still shooting correctly.

When we got back to Arnold's, we found him skinning out a small doe that he had shot, his first of the year.


November 8, 2001 An All Day Hunt at Briarpatch  
Another Thursday hunt at Briarpatch.  I really am glad that both Ted and I were able to take several Thursdays off of work to go hunting.  I thoroughly enjoy these midweek hunts.  This morning I again chose stand #3, hoping to catch a deer out feeding early.  Ted again went to stand #10. 

I parked my four wheeler about a hundred yards from the stand, then walked on down the road and got in the tree.  The sky was lightening off to the east, showing that the sun would soon be coming up.  After I got in the stand and got settled, I decided to try out a new deer caller that I bought yesterday.  The caller is from Primos, and is called "The Easy Estrus Bleat", or "The Can" for short.   

The caller is shaped like a snuff can, with lots of holes in the top, and one little one in the bottom. To use it, you simply invert it,  cover the bottom hole with your thumb, then slowly turn it upright.  This causes the internal mechanism to fall down and push the air out through the holes on top of the can.  The sound is amazingly lifelike.

I sounded the can once, waited a couple of seconds, then did it two more times.   Immediately I heard the sound of a deer heading my way.  As he approached, he slowed down, and I gave him one more bleat to keep him interested.  I could hear him walking around behind me, and it sounded like he was going to come out on my left.   The stand that I was in is a "condo" in a tree... an elevated box blind with shooting windows on the left, right, and in front.  I moved to the left side of the stand and got ready for him to come out.  He took a couple of more steps, then came out on the right side of the stand, opposite of where I was.  Because this stand is old and squeaky, I was unable to turn to get ready for a shot.  I decided to try it anyway, moving as slowly as possible, but before I even got started with my turn he jumped and was gone.  I never got a look at him.

If you can find one of these callers, I highly recommend it.  I've been hunting deer for 16 years, since my first deer hunt during Christmas of 1985, and in those years, counting today, deer callers have only worked twice for me.  The first time was a "fawn in distress" call that brought a doe running, then what had to be a buck responding to "the can" today. 

Unfortunately, this was the only action that I saw this morning.  Ted was out of luck down on Walker Road, since it turned out that the DOT was down there working on the road today, which of course messed him up.

For the evening hunt, I went to stand #2, hoping to see the doe that Ted has seen the last two times he hunted there.  At 5:15pm, I noticed a deer at the far end of the field.  I checked it out through my binoculars and saw that it was a very nice looking buck, probably an eight pointer.   I raised my rifle and took the safety off.  I started to fire, but was shaking too much to complete the shot.  I told myself to calm down, and I tried again, and this time I fired.  The shot was wild; I was all over the place.  By the time I recovered, the buck was gone.  We spent a half hour looking for blood or the deer, but found nothing.  I'm satisfied that this was a solid miss.  I want to hunt this stand again on Saturday, and when I do, I am going to install a good rifle rest of some kind to prevent this from happening again.


November 3, 2001 All Day Hunt at Briarpatch   
This morning I was determine to see a deer.  I decided, with Ted's permission, to try stand #3, where Ted has already killed three deer this year, and Ken has killed one.   Last year we rarely saw deer here, and this year it has been the most productive spot on the lease.  Although I sat in the stand until 10:00am today, I saw nothing.   Ted, hunting down in stand #10 on the main road, also saw nothing.

The stand I chose overlooks a small logging road that we have planted with Bio-Logic's "Full Draw".  The stand overlooks a 75 yard stretch of the road, which then turns and runs on out for another couple hundred yards to the back gate of our lease. While hunting this morning, I was sure that I had heard someone take a shot from our land, further up the road.  Since no one had signed in to hunt there, I was afraid that we might have a trespasser.  When Ted called me on the radio to say it was time to come out of the woods, I told him about what I had heard, and that I was going to take a walk up the road to see what I could find.  There is an old ground blind near there, and I thought that maybe someone had been hunting there illegally.  Ted asked me to wait for him so that he could go along.

When Ted arrived, we headed up the road, and found that several deer had crossed our food plot sometime during the night.  Unfortunately, they didn't cross while I was in the stand!  As we arrived at the ground blind, I saw that the chair in it was full of water from last night's rain, so apparently no one had been hunting there.  We did find a few faint footprints though, showing us that someone did walk onto our road this morning.

 Stand #3
The view from Stand #3, overlooking our patch of Bio-Logic "Full Draw"

For the evening hunt, I again returned to stand #3, hoping that something would cross.  Ted chose stand #2, where he had seen the small doe last time we hunted.  As I was walking in toward the stand, I rounded the last bend on the road before reaching my tree, two raccoons came padding up the road, heading my way.  I froze and broke into a smile as I watched them come.   Suddenly they saw me, and scrambled up a small pine tree on the side of the road.   I got my camera out of my backpack and took a couple of pictures of them as they climbed the tree.

 A raccoon    Another picture of the coon
Two shots of the raccoons that I saw.  I need to learn to use my flash in low light situations...

After taking a few pictures of the coons, I put out a wick covered in Tink's 69 estrus doe scent, then climbed into the box and settled in.  Although I didn't see a deer, just a dusk I noticed movement at the end of the road.  Looking through my binoculars, I thought one of the coons had reappeared, but I quickly realized that I was looking at a fox.  I've been telling myself that I was going to shoot the next fox that I see, and I would love to have a full body fox mount for my house, but I wasn't sure if the season was open for foxes or not.  I watched him walk up the road to me, debating whether or not I should shoot.  I finally decided that my 7mm magnum would tear him up too bad, so I didn't shoot.  If anyone has any experience shooting foxes with high powered rifles, I would like to know about it.  Please email me and let me know what results you have had.  Would the 7 mag, with a 150 grain bullet at 20 yards, have torn him up too much for a good mount?

While I'm on the subject, we're starting to get a lot of coyotes on our land.  After deer season ends, I'm thinking about doing a little bit of predator hunting, trying to get rid of some of the foxes and coyotes that we have.  I was considering purchasing a .243 or similar caliber for this.  I would appreciate your thoughts on this, and also on exactly how to go about predator hunting, since I have never done it.  Emails on this subject would be welcomed!


Noivember 1, 2001 All Day Hunt at Briarpatch The Rut
This was an all day hunt down on our lease.  For the morning hunt, I chose stand #10, where Ted lost his buck a few days ago.  This was one of my favorite stands last year, and I've been hoping that this year it would be as productive as it was last season.   Ted was hunting in his favorite place, stand #3, a small road up on the top end of our lease.  At about 7:00am I heard a shot from his direction, but heard nothing from him on the radio, so I assumed that it was someone else that had fired.  Shortly after that, I noticed movement about 200 yards away from me, as a large deer was crossing the road.  I raised my rife and fired.  When I recovered from the recoil, the deer was gone, and I had no idea whether or not I had hit it. 

I waited a few minutes, then walked back to my four wheeler and drove down to where the deer had been.  I immediately found blood, hair, and a small bone fragment, but a quick look turned up no other blood.  I looked for several minutes and found nothing, when my radio clicked.  It was Ted reporting in, saying that he had shot a doe.  He wanted to know if I wanted to keep hunting while he took the deer on to the processor.   I told him that I had shot a deer, and could use his help in tracking it. 

Ted arrived, and we spent an hour and a half looking for my deer before I finally found one tiny drop of blood 30 yards away from where I had shot the deer.  We started tracking it, a very hard task, since there was almost no blood.  We finally found that it had gone down into the creek, then back up the huge bank on the other side, onto someone else's land.  We continued to track as far as we could, finally picking up a small blood trail, before we lost it altogether.  Although we ended up searching for several hours, we came up empty. 

Walking out of the woods, we ran into Donnie Shook, a game warden who had retired last year.  We talked to him for awhile, and I showed him the bone fragment that I had found.  He confirmed what I feared, I had merely broken the deer's leg with my shot.   I've felt pretty bad about that, and have had to take to heart a passage that Terry Weiland wrote in his book about Robert Ruark entitled A View From a Tall Hill.   Speaking of Ruark's book Horn of the Hunter, he says that it was

"...a frank book in which mistakes are made on occasion by all concerned.   These are reported fairly and honestly, without judgment, and there are regrets - for wounded animals that escape, for easy shots missed, for difficult shots that are attempted when they should not be and the results are hard to live with.  Anyone who professes to hunt, but who has not endured all of the above at some time or another, has not hunted very much.  Bad things happen.  What you have to do is learn to forgive yourself and then do your best to ensure that they do not happen again."                                  -- Terry Weiland

For the evening hunt, I again went to stand #4, where I saw nothing.  Ted hunted in stand #2, where he watched a small doe for quite some time, but as it was a very young deer, he decided not to shoot.  Although I was glad that Ted got a deer this morning, all in all I was saddened by this hunt, since I ended up losing a deer for the second time in my life.


October 30, 2001  Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch The Rut

An afternoon hunt at Briarpatch.  Since all signs point to the start of the rut, I decided to take the afternoon off of work and go hunting.  I hunted at stand #4, on the power lines, where I saw several deer last time, but nothing showed up at all today.  I found out that Ken had shot a very wide 8 pointer at stand #7 yesterday, which is very close to where I was hunting, so this may have been why nothing showed up today.  The full moon could have also had something to do with it...

October 27, 2001 All Day Hunting at Briarpatch The Rut
Based on what we saw today, and what we've been hearing, the rut is upon us. 

We arrived at Doug's house early to sign in.  I was planning on hunting on Arnold's land, while Ted was going to try his usual place: stand #3.   Ken was standing in the driveway when we got there, and he had already signed up for Ted's spot, so Ted instead went to stand #10 on Walker Road.  It was extremely cold this morning, and I looked forward to seeing some deer.

I hunted on "the ridge", the spot where I killed my first deer ten years ago.   Unfortunately, the only interesting thing I saw was a raccoon.  At around 8:30, I heard Ted shoot twice, so I got out my radio and waited for him to call.  He soon came on saying that he had hit a buck, probably an 8-pointer, and was going to try to track it.  I told him to call me back in a half hour and let me know if he needed help.  I waited, still hoping to see a deer of my own, and Ted finally called in saying he couldn't find it.  I decided to get down and go help him look for it.   As I arrived at my four wheeler, Ted called to say that Ken had showed up with a 6 pointer (a five actually: one brow tine was missing).  Ted and I, along with Doug and his son Clint, looked for some time, but were unable to find Ted's deer.  There was only a little bit of blood, so it looks like he didn't make a fatal shot.  We finally had to give up, hoping that the deer was only grazed, and would be ok.

For the afternoon hunt, I was in stand #4, which is a climbing stand overlooking a field 150 yards away on the power lines.  As evening approached, I saw first three, then a fourth large doe enter the field and begin to feed.  I put the crosshairs on them several times, debating whether or not to shoot, when finally I decided to wait it out to see if a buck showed up.  As I watched, the does suddenly scattered, tails high.  A buck came running into the field, trying to find a doe to mate with.   Although I only got a quick look at him, I decided not to shoot, since he looked to be only a six pointer.  He and the does were soon gone, and nothing else showed up for the rest of the evening.

 Stand #4
Stand #4, on the power lines.  This stand overlooks a wheat field 150 yards away

From what I saw, it looks like the bucks are ready for the rut, but that the does are not quite there yet.  That being the case, I'm going to try to take some extra time off this week to get a little bit more hunting in, and maybe tag a big buck.


October 25, 2001 All Day Rifle Hunt at Briarpatch  
After two weeks of no hunting, I was really ready to get back into the woods.  Unfortunately, a cold kept me from having as much enthusiasm for the hunt as I normally would.  I decided to take it easy on the morning hunt, and just sit in stand #10, the box blind on the Walker Road.  Doug and Ken had recently rebuilt the stand, since some vandals had torn it up at the end of last year.  Ted decided to take his climbing stand and hunt on the main road up through the lease.

I stayed in the box until about 10:30, and saw nothing.   Ted had a doe come out behind him almost immediately after he had gotten up his tree, however, he was unable to get a shot at her.  We met up shortly after 10:30 and decided to do a quick still hunt up to a place where I had seen some deer bedding last year, and although we made an excellent stalk, there were no deer on the beds.

For the afternoon hunt, I decided to hunt in stand #3, where Ted has already killed two deer, and Ted went to stand #2, where I had seen several deer earlier this year.  Neither of us saw anything.  Arnold hunted down in his woods, but also saw nothing.

A look at our deer record for the year shows that a total of six deer have been taken from the lease so far.  Ken and myself each have one, while Doug and Ted have each taken two deer.  I'm still hoping to take a total of four this year, and as the rut starts to heat up, I'm hoping to start seeing deer again soon.


October 22, 2001 Mid-season Update  
It's been almost ten days since I've been in the woods.  I was oncall at work last week, a situation that occurs every six weeks, which prevents me from being more than 20-30 minutes away from my house at any given time.  Also, over the weekend, Micki and I, along with a group from our church, went to the Lifeway Baptist Conference Center in Ridgecrest, NC for the annual Fall Festival of Marriage. 

Now though, the conference is over, and I won't be oncall again for another several weeks, so it's time to get back into the woods and get ready for the rut.  We've seen a few scrapes, and the temperature is starting to drop, and it looks like we're about one to two weeks away from the peek of the rut.   Great hunting action coming up!


October 13, 2001 Afternoon Rifle Hunt at Briarpatch  

An afternoon hunt only.  Micki had gone to the "Women of Faith" conference on Friday night, and we knew she would get in late, so I decided that in order to get a little bit of rest that I would only hunt in the afternoon.   Ted decided that he needed to check the sights on his rifle, so we made plans to go down to the Leeds Rifle Range in the morning and sight it in, then go for an afternoon hunt. 

 The Leeds Rifle Range
The Leeds Rifle Range at Sumter National Forest

For the afternoon hunt, I decided to try Arnold's power lines, and Ted again chose stand #3.   I wasn't in the stand long before I saw a doe come out into a small area that Arnold and Doug had planted with Bio-logic "Full Draw".  The doe browsed for a few minutes, then quickly jumped into the bushes, as if something had scared her.   Another doe soon crossed right behind the first, but also didn't stay.  A few minutes later I heard the boom of a rifle from over in Ted's direction.  My radio "clicked", as Ted called in to report that he had shot what he thought was an 8 pointer, but that it had run.

 The view from the power lines
The view from the tower on Arnold's power lines

Ted was going to get down to check for blood, so I waited anxiously to hear from him again.  He soon called to say that he had found a blood trail.  I told him to call me quickly if he needed help, since there was still some light left.   About ten minutes later, Ted called to say that he was still on the trail, but that the deer was blowing at him, and that he needed help.  I told him to stop right there and don't push the deer, and just wait for me to get there.  Although we were actually hunting quite close together, we had a large creek between us, so I had to take the long way around, stopping off at the truck to pick up our "Starlight Blood Hound" tracking solution.  After picking that up and getting back on the trail, I ran into Doug, and recounted the situation to him.  He said that he would join in in tracking the deer.

We found Ted standing on the side of the trail, having tracked the deer as far as he could before it started blowing at him.  We went down the trail that he had marked, going to the place where he had stopped.  We couldn't hear the deer making any noise, so we started tracking again.  Immediately we found the deer at the bottom of a deep gully, not 5 yards from where Ted had stopped tracking.  Apparently it had been a different deer blowing, since Ted's was stone dead in the hole.  It turned out to be a 138 pound 8-pointer, Ted's best deer to date. 

 Ted with his 8 pointer
Ted with his mounted 8 pointer


October 11, 2001 Opening Day of Rifle Deer Season Briarpatch
A slow opening day, that's for sure.  We had six of us hunting today, four in the club, and two neighbors.  Ted, Doug, Ken, and myself all hunted on Briarpatch, while Arnold hunted on his power lines and Doug's father Baxter hunted the road.   I hunted in stand #10, the box on Walker Road, and Ted hunted in his favorite, stand #3.   No one saw a thing during the morning hunt.

For the evening hunt, I chose stand #7, which never failed to show me deer last year, while Ted hunted in stand #4, where I killed one and lost another last year.  Only Doug saw a deer, a small doe, down in "the hole", a wheat field way down in the woods.  Doug's son Clint was hunting on their property, but he didn't see anything.  Seven people, and only one deer seen.  


October 8, 2001 Final Muzzleloader Hunt  
I had today off for Columbus Day, but instead of hunting the morning I decided to drive up to Bass Pro Shops to pick up a few supplies.  After that, a quick trip home to cut the grass and gather my gear, then it was on down to Briarpatch.

I again hunted in stand #2, but didn't see anything.  The weather was nice and cool, and only slightly windy, and I was sure that I would see something in the field.  I hunted until dark, but nothing showed up.  I think it's time to give up on this stand for the next few weeks, and maybe even put some more seed out in it...


October 6, 2001 Afternoon Muzzleloader Hunt  
When I got up at 4:20 this morning, it was raining pretty hard, so I called Ted and we cancelled the morning hunt.  Normally we would go ahead and hunt in the rain, but with muzzleloaders I prefer not to.  We made plans to meet up at about 11:30 and head down to Lancaster for a BBQ lunch at the McDonnell Green Fire Department, do some final work on a treestand, then go and hunt for the rest of the afternoon.

The BBQ was decent, but was South Carolina style, which is a mustard based sauce.   Nothing like a good old North Carolina vinegar base.  We ate quickly then got down to business.  Ted had bought a nice ladder stand at Bass Pro Shops which we had put up over the summer, however, the rifle rest on it needed to be lowered, so we got on the four-wheelers and went down to fix it.  We quickly took care of the problem, then put out a couple of blocks of Deer Cane in what looked to be some pretty good spots.

For the afternoon hunt, Ted decided to try stand #3, which is an elevated box blind tied to a pine tree.  We had put a block of Deer Cane there in the summer, and had freshened it up with another one this afternoon.  Doug and Arnold had recently planted some Bio-Logic "Full Draw" in the road, but it hadn't had a chance to come up yet.  For myself, I was hunting back where I did on Monday, in stand #2, at "the little loading dock".

About halfway through the hunt it started to rain.  I knew that Ted would be ok, since he was in a box blind, but I didn't like the idea of getting my muzzleloader wet.   Then I remembered that Ted had lent me his "Porta-roof", an invention that I have since decided that I can't live without.  This is an umbrella that attaches to your tree, and man, did this thing ever do the job.  It kept me dry as could be.  Now I've got to head out to Bass Pro Shops on Monday and pick one up for myself... (...which I did before finishing this entry!)

About the time the rain started, I heard one shot away down on the Walker Road, so I figured that Ken had gotten a whack at a deer.  Shortly after that, I heard a very close shot from Ted's area, so I got my radio out and waited for him to call.  Sure enough, I heard the click of the mic button, which proved to be Ted calling in to report that he'd shot a doe.  I decided to stay in the stand another 15-20 minutes, just in case something came out where I was watching, but when nothing showed up, I headed over to Ted's area to check out his deer.  Turned out to be a pretty doe, about 65-70 pounds, almost a piebald. 

 Ted with his muzzleloader doe
Ted with his muzzleloader doe

Checking the deer-log back at Douglas's house showed us that Ken had taken a 115 pound doe from the box blind on the Walker Road.


October 1, 2001 Opening Day of Muzzleloader Briarpatch
This marks my first ever muzzleloader hunt. I had not intended to get into muzzleloader hunting for several more years, but when Bass Pro Shops offered a nice CVA outfit for $100, I couldn't pass it up.

Ted arrived at my house at about 5:00am, and we were soon loaded and on the way.  For the morning hunt, I chose the box blind on Walker Road, from which I had almost always seen deer last year.  Ted was again hunting up near a persimmon tree and some muscadines that are growing near the power lines.  It wasn't a great start to a hunt for either of us. 

 Stand #10
The box blind on Walker Road

We parked back up at Arnold's back gate rather than in our normal spot across from the lease main gate, since parking there would have put the Jeep right in the area that I was hunting.  Since Arnold's gate is several hundred yards from the box blind, I went ahead and walked to the box while Ted was still unloading his four-wheeler and getting ready to go.  I got to the blind and got settled just in time to watch Ted go driving by on his ATV.  He got down to the gate, then suddenly came flying back past me; apparently he had forgotten something.  Sure enough, a few minutes later he came back through again, this time entering the gate and heading on to his spot.  

Shortly after Ted drove out of view, I began to load my muzzleloader.  I got the powder in, and got the bullet started, when suddenly I found that no matter how hard I pushed on the ramrod the bullet would not load.  I tried and tried to get it out, to no avail.  Having left most of my muzzleloader supplies back at the Jeep, I quickly made the decision to walk back up there and try to fix the gun rather than doing it in the blind.  Once back at the Jeep, I found that my new ramrod bullet loading accessory didn't quite fit properly, so I swapped to a regular cleaning jag, with which I was able to load the gun.  Once loaded, I walked back to the blind and sat back down.

I stayed in the blind until about 9:30 or so, but didn't see anything, so I got out and did a little bit of still hunting, walking first down to the creek across the road from our main lease, then over onto the main lease itself.  Unfortunately, I didn't see a thing.  Ted showed up at about 10:30, also having seen nothing.

We headed over to Arnold's and helped him do a little cleanup work in his garage, then headed into town for lunch at Gus's, which turned out to be quite good.  Once back at Arnold's, we loaded up the four-wheelers and headed out to do some repairs on an elevated box blind on our lease.

For the evening hunt, Ted chose to hunt alongside the creek down off of the Walker Road, but all he saw were a few turkeys.  I hunted up on "the little loading dock", in the climbing stand that Ted and I had put up on Saturday.  I got in the stand at around 5:00pm.  At about 5:30, a large doe and two young deer entered the field that I was watching.  I watched them feed for at least an hour.  At one point, the doe must have sensed something, because she walked to within about 30 yards of me and stared my way for 5 solid minutes without moving.  I stared back, also not moving.  She finally decided that nothing was wrong and went back to feeding.   At about 6:45pm, the three deer left the field and two good sized spike bucks came in.  I only got to see them for about 5 minutes before they left, but it was nice seeing some bucks.


September 29, 2001 Bowhunting at Briarpatch  
This was the last day that Ted and I would be archery hunting at Briarpatch.  I decided to hunt in the same place that I have hunted every morning so far this year, and Ted was going to be hunting a little bit closer to me, overlooking a small road beside Cedar Creek.  On the way in, I managed to shine my flashlight right on a deer that was standing just beside my tree. The deer ran off, and that was the only one I saw all morning.  I did hear one blowing over across the creek, down near where Ted was, so I imagine that he might have spooked that one going in. 

We met up at the jeep after the morning hunt, getting out of the woods a little earlier than usual this time.  We had a couple of treestands that we wanted to set up in preparation for muzzleloader season, so we drove over to Arnold's house to pick up my four-wheeler. We put one stand on the power lines, in the same spot where I killed one deer last year and lost another.  This stand sits about 150 yards off of a wheat field planted in the power line right of way, and this is one of my favorite stands on the lease.  The other stand we placed in a spot called the "little loading dock", where the paper companies had done some logging a couple of years ago.  This stand also overlooks a small wheat field.  This field was absolutely full of deer tracks, but I couldn't find a tree close enough to bowhunt it, so we put the stand up and left it alone.

After lunch at Jomar's (a good buffet place in Lancaster), we headed back to Arnold's and helped him do some work around his new garage. They had just poured a new driveway, so we helped shovel dirt around the edges of the new concrete.  Following Arnold's advice, I decided to hunt down on "The Ridge" that evening, while Ted would hunt in one of Arnold's wheat fields over on the Walker Road. 

"The Ridge" is the spot where I killed my first deer ten seasons ago, and is my traditional archery opening day morning stand.  It wouldn't be an archery season if I didn't hunt it at least once.  Unfortunately, the acorns weren't falling yet, and I didn't see a thing.  Ted also didn't see any deer while hunting in his field.


September 22, 2001 Bowhunting at Briarpatch  
From the moment that I stepped out my door this morning, I knew that the weather wasn't going to be very conducive to deer hunting.  When Ted arrived at 4:30, the temperature was in the high 60s, and it was quite humid. We were headed back to Briarpatch, and both of us intended to hunt in the same stands that we used last week. I sat in my stand from 6:00am until about 11:15, and the only thing I saw was a bunch of pileated wood peckers.  Ted stayed in a little later than I did, and he didn't see anything either.  It was so hot in that creek bottom that I could hardly stand it.  I really prefer hunting in cooler weather...

After we had loaded up the jeep and were ready to pull away, Ted spotted a dog coming out of the woods about a hundred yards behind us.  He asked me if I recognized it, and I did... it was Arnold's dog Lady, and behind her were his two beagles Brutus and Molly.  When I was hunting, I thought I had heard Arnold hollering for Brutus, so apparently the dogs had gotten out earlier in the day.  The dogs came running up to me when I called them, so we put them in the trailer, drove them over to Arnold's, and locked them up in their pen.   They had been running in the creek bottom that we were hunting, which is probably why we didn't see any deer this morning.

For the evening hunt, Arnold suggested that we hunt in his fields, which we did.   I hunted in the "middle field", from the stand that I have taken more deer from than anywhere else.  Ted was hunting in a tripod stand in the next field over from me, and Arnold hunted down in some woods parallel to me.  Ted watched a big doe for about 10 minutes, but she stayed out of shooting range.  Arnold didn't see anything while hunting, but did have a good many deer snort at him as he was leaving the woods.  For myself, I saw nothing, but I did hear the deer blowing at Arnold.


September 15, 2001 Opening Day of Bow Season  
Opening day of the archery deer season began with Ted arriving at my house at 4:30, ready for his first hunt as a member of the Briarpatch hunt club.  It was a windy, chilly morning as we pulled away and made the hour-long trip down to Lancaster.   My plan was to hunt in the woods bordering Walker Road, where I had watched numerous deer cross last year during rifle season.  Every morning that I hunted out of our box blind on the road last year I had seen deer, so I figured that my best bet would be to get into the woods that they emerge from and try to get one before he crossed.  Ted was hunting about a quarter mile away, in a small flat bordering Cedar Creek.

I wasn't in my stand long before, even through the gusting wind, I heard the sound of something walking in the woods behind me.  I slowly turned in my stand, and saw a doe emerge from a thick cluster of bushes not 15 yards away.  When the deer looked away, I quietly stood and got ready to take a shot if a clear opportunity arose.   As I watched the first deer, another doe appeared slightly closer to me, and I turned around in my stand, waiting for the chance to shoot.  It occurred to me that the deer was already in an excellent position for a shot, so I drew back on my bowstring, centered the sight on the deer, exhaled, and released.  With a loud WHAP! the arrow struck the deer, and it bounded off into the woods where it had come from.  I watched carefully, making sure I knew which direction it had gone in.

Shaking, I sat back down on my stand and nocked another arrow.  Instinct makes you want to get right down and go look for the deer, but when bowhunting, it's best to wait at least a half hour after a shot before coming down.  So, I waited for what felt like 30 minutes, then I pulled out my copy of The Silmarillion and read the first fifteen pages, willing more time to pass.  As I read, another deer approached slowly, then suddenly snorted and ran off into the woods.  I guessed that she had scented the blood from the deer I had shot. 

Finally, the time came for me to get down.  I debated calling Ted on the radio and telling him that I had one hit, but I decided to track it a little ways myself first.   If I could find it, I would just take it to the processor myself, without disturbing Ted's hunt.  I knelt to the ground and asked a prayer that I would recover this deer, then walked to the tree that the deer had been standing beside when I shot it, and immediately found my arrow stuck in the ground.  A single glance told me that I had made a pass-through shot, and that the deer was definitely hit.  I made a quick, wide sweep of the area to see if the deer was laying there, and when it wasn't I returned to the arrow and began to look for blood.  I soon found the first drop, and immediately marked the spot.  Soon I was able to establish a direction by finding more spots, and eventually the blood trail became pretty heavy.  The blood was bright red, so I felt pretty good about the shot. 

I tracked the deer for about 30 minutes, sometimes losing the trail, always finding it again. Suddenly, as I thought I was getting close, a deer jumped up from in front of me and ran off into the woods.  I stopped, squatted, and watched where it ran.  At that point I decided to call Ted, since it was possible that this was my deer.  I radioed him and told him I needed his help.  Ted answered that he was on the way, so I stood quietly and waited for him to arrive.  As I stood there, I saw a deer cross the trail about 30 yards away, go over to the creek, then cross back to where it had come from. 

About 20 minutes later, Ted drove up on his four-wheeler, and I told him the situation.   I pointed out the last blood spot that I had found, told him to wait there, and I would walk over to where the deer had jumped up from and see if there was a pool of blood there.  I found blood immediately, and we began to track the deer, trying again to establish a direction.  We lost the trail right away, so I decided that we had better give the deer a little more time so that we wouldn't push it.  I suggested that we go back and get my bow, which I had left laying in the woods, and Ted said that maybe we could put all of our gear in the jeep.  We did this, then returned to the spot where we had left off tracking. 

Although we searched for quite awhile, we only found two more tiny drops of blood.   We had no luck finding the deer.  Ted began to go upward on the hill, not looking for blood now, hoping to find a trail that the deer may have taken.  I walked back down to the trail where I had seen a deer cross, hoping to find some tracks there.   As I was beginning to lose hope, Ted radioed that he had found the deer.  I dashed up the mountain toward him, and there it was, a big doe, lying dead on the ground.  

 First deer of the season
My first deer of the 2001 season

For the evening hunt, Ted took a stand around a persimmon tree, but unfortunately jumped two deer on the way in, and he saw nothing else that day.  I hunted on the edge of a field, but our seeds hadn't really sprouted yet, and all I saw were a couple of turkeys.

All told, this was a great start to the season for me.  As you may notice, the topic for this day is shown with a green text color. Green will be used to indicated days that Ted or I got a deer.  Red indicates that a deer was lost or missed (hopefully you won't see any red headings), and yellow is a day when we did not take a deer.


September 3, 2001 Labor Day Dove Hunt Uwharries
Ted and I originally planned on going down to the lease today to do some work on some of our treestands.  However, at church on Sunday a friend and I got to talking about dove hunting, so I called up Ted on Sunday evening and asked him if he would mind going hunting instead of doing any work.  Ted was agreeable, so our plans were made:  we would take my friends, Jonathan, Phil, and Craig Collier dove hunting up at Uwharrie.

It was raining really hard on Monday morning, and Ted called up asking if we were still on.  I was disappointed with the weather, but decided to go anyway.  Ted said he would go too, and I was pleased when the Colliers showed up ready to hunt. 

Our chosen field, the same one Ted and I hunted in on Saturday, was taken, so we picked a field adjacent to it, separated by a large hedgerow.  The weather was rainy, cool, and windy, a beautiful day for hunting, but the doves weren't flying nearly as well as they were on Saturday.  We got several shots off, but I never managed to bring anything down.  Jonathan got one, and Ted tagged and lost two, and the rest we missed.

The downside of the day was the fact that five of the sorriest excuses for hunters I've ever seen were hunting... no, I won't call it that... were using the field next to us.  These guys were loud, cussing, yelling, shooting at tweet-birds, and were even shooting at birds that were obviously over our field.  These guys had no courtesy, had no idea of the limits of their weapons, and had no actual knowledge of hunting at all.  I guess that's what you get when you hunt public lands...


September 1, 2001 Opening Day of Dove Season Uwharries
Today was a great day, a perfect start to the 2001 hunting season.  Ted showed up at my house at about 6:30, and we headed up to our usual opening day location.  Although dove season opened at noon, we needed to sight in a couple of guns at the range in preparation for deer season, so we got an early start to ensure that we would get a spot on the range. 

We made it to the range by about 8:30, and there were plenty of shooting benches available.  We grabbed one and began to sight in our weapons.  First, I had to try out my new CVA Magbolt 150 muzzleloader.  Although I've stated for years that muzzleloading doesn't really interest me, when Bass Pro Shops offered this gun for less than $100, I couldn't resist.   And now, I'm very glad that I didn't.  It turns out that muzzleloading really is fun.  It took about 12-15 rounds to sight my gun in.  We had used Ted's boresight to try to get it "on the paper," but that didn't work, and we couldn't tell where the first several shots went.  Finally, I removed the breech plug, put the gun on the rest, then looked through the barrel and lined it up on the target that way. Then we just dialed in the scope, and the next shot was on the paper.  A few more shots and we had it in.  For Ted's muzzleloader, we started by manually boresighting, and were able to zero it in less than a half-dozen shots.  After that, a single dead-center bullseye shot from my 7mm mag told me that it was fine and to put it away.   Finally, we had to zero in Ted's new seven-mag.  The first shot was about 8 inches high and 6 to the left.  I started fiddling with the sights, cranking it to approximately where I thought it should be. While I was doing this, Ted went over to help someone out with a Contender pistol, and he told me I could go ahead and shoot his gun to get it closer in.  My first shot after fiddling with it was another dead-center bullseye, so after Ted tweaked it to his eye with a couple of minor adjustments we were ready to go.

It was about 11:15 when we left the range, 45 minutes before dove season officially opened.  Since the fields have never been crowded, and since it was raining a little bit, we decided to go ahead and get lunch at Troutman's BBQ, then just get into the fields a little before 1:00.  When we got back to our favorite field after lunch, to our surprise and disappointment it was absolutely packed with people.  Discouraged, we drove down the road to another field, which also turned out to be quite crowded.   Finally, we drove another half mile down the road, where we discovered a beautiful (and empty) field, where we were able to set up quite nicely.  The doves were flying fairly well.  Ted took the first one.  The second one was questionable; I think we both got it.  Ted hit it first, but it kept flying, and I'm pretty sure my shot finished it.  We ended up taking 5 birds home, with two lost.  Oh, and we heard a rumor that the sheriff had run everyone out of the first field, since it was too close to a horse farm, so we got lucky there!

 Two dove breasts
Two grilled dove breasts, an ear of corn, and some baked rosemary red potatoes


August 31, 2001 The Day Before the Opener  
In a chapter of The Old Man's Boy Grows Older entitled "Hang Your Stocking in August", Robert Ruark wrote about the agonies of August in the life of a young boy, how the month dragged on and on, and never seemed to end.   "Where are you, September," he wrote.  August was an unending torment for the Boy, and that clear morning of September the first never seemed to dawn.  And yet, he said, August was just possibly the best month of all, because of all of the potential that it held.  The sky might be full of doves on opening day, the quail might be everywhere you look for them, and the ducks might always show up right on time.  None of the woes of the season have occurred yet, there have been no doveless days.  Looking back, the anticipation itself may have been the best part of the whole hunting experience.

As I grow older, I find that the seasons actually come around too quickly.  I don't have time for the anticipation anymore, and I deeply miss it.  Last night my wife and I rushed over to our rental storage unit, and I grabbed a couple of shotguns and several boxes of shells.   After work today, after I've cooked supper, talked to our realtor, updated the church webpage, after I've done my daily Bible reading, I'll inspect those guns, maybe clean them one more time, maybe run a hand lovingly down the barrel of a favorite 12 gauge.  Or maybe I'll just admire the look and feel of a fine shotgun that's been too long out of hand.

I need to charge the batteries in my radios so that my hunting buddy and I can keep in contact tomorrow while we sit somewhere in a dove field.  And where did I store my decoys after last season?  Did I put film in the camera?  In fact, where is the camera?  Did we pack it away before we put our house on the market?  Two camo t-shirts ought to be enough, right?  It'll be hot out there tomorrow, but I think two will do it.  Maybe I should have grabbed one more last night while we were at storage?  I really wanted to take that old Remington Model 11 out this year and try it on opening day.  I wish that I'd had the time to get it ready, but I guess it will still be there next year.

Here we are on the day before the opener, and I haven't even had time to sit back in my favorite reading chair and just think about the upcoming seasons.  One day, before too many more years get away from me, I'm going to slow down and just take the time to anticipate what joys the season might hold. 

Oh yeah, and try writing about Ruark's writing some time.  He did it so durn well that it's hard to write about his writing without just writing down exactly what he wrote!


April 12, 2001 Turkey Hunting McConnells, SC

Turkey hunting sure can be frustrating when they aren't making any noise.   Ted and I hunted this morning down at the McConnells game lands, but didn't see a thing.

April 10, 2001 Turkey Hunting McConnells, SC

Ted and I spent the morning hunting on the game lands at McConnells.    On the way in we only passed one other truck, so we had our pick of where we wanted to hunt.  We walked back on the road where Ted shot his 7-pointer back during deer season, but didn't hear any turkeys. As we got to the end of the road, a dog came running up the trail towards us, which explains the lack of turkeys in this section of the woods.   We walked across the main road to another section of game lands, walked another logging road, but still didn't see or hear anything. 

After lunch we decided to see if the Draper WMA was any good for turkeys.  We found some awesome dove fields, but it didn't look like there had been any turkeys around, so we decided to try another spot back on the other game lands.  On  the way back over, we saw two hen turkeys in the woods just off the road, so we circled around, parked, and walked through the woods to get to the area we had seen them at.  We sat for about an hour, but no luck.  We did find an incredible spot for deer hunting though...

April 5, 2001 Turkey Hunting Briarpatch

Morning only hunt at Briarpatch.  I didn't have as much time today as usual, since I had to be back home for work pretty early.  Parked out on Walker Road and went in the "Cedar Creek" entrance to the lease.  I followed the creek for about a mile, from the road to the power lines, trying to make the turkeys gobble. At one point, I was able to get one gobbling pretty good, but he was over on the lease owned by the game wardens, across the creek from us. He wouldn't come close enough to the creek for me to even see him.  Other than that, it was again a quiet morning.  I did find one really good scratched up area and sat there for awhile, but nothing ever came in.

April 2, 2001 Turkey Hunting Briarpatch

Another hunt at Briarpatch. Since I was planning on doing some work at our church tonight, I decided to make this a morning only hunt. Arnold was not up when I got to Briarpatch, so I went on in to the woods myself, planning on making the same 3-mile circuit that we had made on Saturday.  On the way into the lease, I scared one turkey out of its roost, but I was unable to tell what it was. I walked on down our trail toward the creek, and as I approached I was able to make one turkey gobble twice using my owl hoot call. After that he shut up and I was unable to find him. I walked the full circuit, jumping one deer on the way around, but heard and saw no other turkeys. 

When I got back to the house, Arnold and William Poole, our new game warden, were sitting on Arnold's porch. William had been hunting in the same area as me, and he had heard several turkeys gobble. We got to talking about different calls, and about how a peacock call can often make a turkey gobble when nothing else will. Arnold got his out, and we decided to take a walk around the land to see if we could get one to answer.  We did another long circuit of the land (giving me about 6 miles of walking for the day), but were unable to get anything to answer.

March 31, 2001 Opening Day of Turkey Season  

I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to hunt today... but a last minute cancellation of a project at work enabled me to get to bed early enough to go ahead and hunt.  Left out for Briarpatch at about 4:30, and when I got there I found my friend Arnold Kirk just getting ready to hunt. We did a long circle around both Arnold's land and the lease, covering a distance of three miles, but we only got a couple of turkeys to gobble. Although fun, it was a rather discouraging start to the season. That afternoon, I took the four wheeler down to the furthest field that we have on the lease, down on the power lines right beside a large creek.  I put three decoys out, then made a little blind to sit in on the edge of the field.  I saw one hen go through the woods behind me, and that was the only turkey I saw all day.

March 19, 2001 Talking to Outdoor Writers  

Got a call from Chuck Wechsler this morning, the editor of Sporting Classics magazine.  Many years ago, while doing research on Robert Ruark for a college term paper, I learned that in the late 40's or early 50's Ruark filmed a documentary about an African safari.  Called "Africa Adventure", the film was an hour long look into the truth about safari, describing what safari was really like, and putting to bed some of the myths created in the popular safari movies of the time. 

I spent the better part of 15 years trying to find a copy of that movie. Late last year I decided to go another route with it.  I sent a note to Sporting Classics telling them about the movie, and that I thought it might be profitable for them to try to find a copy of it, obtain the rights, and then release it on video for Ruark collectors all over the country.  I didn't hear back from them for quite some time. 

Then, early this year, one of their writers, Roger Pinckney, contacted me to say that he was doing an article about Ruark for an upcoming edition of SC, and he wanted to know if I had had any luck in finding the film.  At exactly that time, I did manage to locate a 16mm B&W copy of the movie, which I quickly bought.  I loaned it to Sporting Classics for them to review, then finally sold the print on eBay, since I had to way to store the film long term.   Also, if Sporting Classics were to eventually produce a version of the movie for retail, they would want an original color copy, and not my black and white print.  

Anyway, at about the same time, Jim Casada, who lives just one town away from me, contacted me to say that he was unaware that the movie existed.  Since Dr. Casada does some writing for Sporting Classics, I told him my story and pointed him back to Chuck and Roger.  During the call this morning, Chuck told me that they were very interested in distributing the movie on video tape, and they are now deep in search of the copyright owner. It has undoubtedly been quite an experience for me, hearing from all these outdoor writers, and hopefully seeing my idea come to fruition.

March 4, 2001 Of Wood Ducks and Turkey Callers  

Wood ducks! 

On the way home from church this morning, Micki and I were driving along quietly when I shouted "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!"  She didn't have any idea what was up until I started saying "wood ducks" over and over.  We had just driven over a small bridge near Lake Wylie in Belmont, NC, when glancing to my right as we crossed the water I saw a whole mess of ducks.  I turned the truck around and drove across the bridge two more times. Sure enough, there were about twenty wood ducks, mostly males, congregated in a flooded creek channel.  Quite a beautiful sight.  

Making today doubly special, while we were sitting in our pew this morning, a world champion turkey caller whom we go to church with put his hand on my shoulder and said "after the service, go out to my truck... I've got something on the front seat for you."   It was a new turkey caller, hand made by the champion himself.  Quite a nice gift!  My wife and I are lucky to be in a church full of so many good people!

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