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The 2002 Hunting Season

The 2002 hunting season will begin with a first for me: predator hunting.

The coyote population in our area is getting out of control, and we're ready to do something about it.  We'll occasionally hunt for them, along with foxes and bobcats, from January until March.

After that, we'll have the April turkey season, then spend the summer working and scouting on the Briarpatch Hunt Club lease. 

In September, we'll bring in the dove season with our traditional hunt in the Uwharries, then finally enjoy another deer season to close the year. 

Hunting this year in the Briarpatch club will be myself, longtime partner Ted Leonhardt, and friends Doug Beaver and Ken Harris. I also hope to get in some hunting with my old friend Arnold Kirk on his land adjacent to our club lease.

Finally, we'll visit Cedar Tree Plantation for a quail and pheasant hunt.   I've been after Ted to go quail hunting for several years, and this year we'll finally make it happen.

2002 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 3 1
Whitetail Doe 12 2
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 0 0
Turkey (Hen) 2 -
Coyote 1 0
Fox 0 0
Bobcat 0 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 0
Quail - 9
Crows 1
Pheasant 0 2
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
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January 13, 2003 A Look Back  
It's finally hitting me... another deer season has come and gone.   For many years, I've suffered through what I have come to call post-season depression; a disorder that causes me to mope around the house, constantly sighing and looking pitiful.  For four months, I've lived a life of late suppers, early breakfasts, earlier mornings, and later nights.   I've crawled through muddy fields, slogged through streams, and jumped across gulleys.  I've carried a rifle on my shoulder for endless miles.  I've ridden my four wheeler until I can't even sit in a chair without looking for the throttle.  I've held my binoculars in front of my eyes for so many hours that now I feel lost when they aren't hanging around my neck within easy reach. 

And now it's over.  The calendar shows me an endless future of Saturdays spent mowing the grass, getting the oil changed, cleaning the garage.  Oh, I know, predator season is still open, but my weekends for the foreseeable future are already taken.  Turkey season doesn't open until April.  April.   That's two and a months away.  Two and a half months without a gun at my shoulder, without woods to walk in, without seeing the sun rise through the trees.


January 1, 2003 Final Deer Hunt of the Season  

Well, this was it, the last hunt of the season.  We again did a little bit of videotaping, both hunting up in Stand #2, but although the wind was perfect, the deer didn't cooperate. 


December 30, 2002 Hunting at Briarpatch  

Today was pretty much a repeat of the 28th.   We video taped a couple of predator hunts, again with no animals responding to the caller.  We then went on up to the cutover and did a ground hunt for deer, but again were skunked.  We did hear two shots towards the end of the day, which we later found out was club member Ken shooting at a bobcat.  Interestingly, the bobcat showed up in the location that we were predator calling not two hours earlier.  I have to wonder if this cat was curious about our calling.  I have heard that bobcats will come in very slowly... but two hours? 


December 28, 2002 Hunting at Briarpatch  
Wingshooters.net recently acquired a video camera, so Ted and I decided to start making a hunting video today.  We began the day with a couple of predator hunts, which, though unsuccessful, were quite fun.  We set up in about three locations, doing a 30 minute calling series at each station.  We are still learning how to work the caller, so after we get some experience with it we ought to bring in a fox or a coyote.  

We ended the day with a deer hunt where Ted killed his doe back on the 21st, but nothing showed up today.  The camera batteries died right as we were beginning the deer hunt, so unfortunately we didn't get any of that on video.


December 21, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  
I decided, perhaps foolishly, to hunt Stand #3 again, the one the looks out over our cutover.  I probably should have gone somewhere else, but I really think that the deer are still using that area.  Regardless, they weren't using it tonight, because I didn't see a thing.

Around 5:00pm, I did hear Ted take two shots.  I waited for him to radio me to let me know what had happened, but I never heard from him.   He was trying to get me, but maybe we were a little bit too far apart tonight for the radios to work.  Ted was hunting down by the main entrance to the lease, an area that is rarely hunted.  He ended up shooting a nice doe.


December 19, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  
Ted and I got in the woods a little early today, so we decided to do a little two man drive.  We went up to the cutover and made our plans.  Ted would walk out on the road that winds through the clear cut, moving around a gulley that the paper company left timbered.  It was my thoughts that surely there would be some deer bedded in there.  Ted would take up a position downwind from the gulley, then, after a few minutes had elapsed, I would sneak down into the draw, allowing my scent to drift out along my intended trail, hoping to push a deer toward Ted.

I started down into the gulley, and almost immediately two bedded does jumped up and ran off.  I hollered "DEER!" as loud as I could so that Ted would be alerted that they might be headed his way.  Unfortunately, I think I probably entered the woods at the wrong angle, because the deer ran off in a direction away from both Ted and myself.  Had I made a deeper starting run, I believe they would have run straight to him.  A lesson learned for next time.

I finished my walk through the draw, met up with Ted, and then reversed roles.  I would move slowly ahead and take up a position near where the deer might have gone, while Ted would walk the gulley line and try to push them out in the open.  I found a decent spot where I had a good view of the trail they had to take, but I never saw a thing.

After we did our drive, we took up our stands.  Ted went to #2, while I went way down into the woods to Stand 8, which is a ladder stand at the far corner of our property.   It's in a very deery looking area; the same place where we found that orange slime earlier this year on a turkey hunt.   To get to this stand you have to cross a very shaky bridge made out of rotting pallets, then walk a good ways along the creek.  Once you're finally in the stand, it's a great view, but again, this isn't a stand you want to hunt when you'll be out there alone.

Neither of us saw any deer this evening.  On the way out of the woods, I felt the bridge breaking under my feet, so I doubt that anyone will hunt that stand again this year unless we do some repair work!


December 17, 2007 First Hunt in over Two Weeks  

For some reason I just wasn't in the mood for deer today.  I guess I was probably a little depressed about not seeing many deer this year.  I decided to take my electronic caller and go down to the creek and try to get a fox or coyote to come out.  I made myself a decent little blind on a hill overlooking the creek, then started using the caller.  I tried a cottontail distress tape, as well as a coyote pack howling, but nothing I tried brought a response.   I am looking forward to giving the predators a serious attempt once deer season ends.


December 2, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  
This afternoon I got to hunt with Arnold on his lease.  He's in a club that leases 5,000 acres over on the river, and they have been taking some monster bucks in there this year.  Out of about 30 members in the club, Arnold and I were the only ones hunting today.  We took his truck waaaayy back into the woods before he finally let me out at my stand.  I was in a small tower overlooking a small creek and power line right-of-way.

As the sun started to set, I really heard the coyotes begin to call.  It was an incredibly eerie sound; one that birthed a great sense of loneliness in me.  Definitely not a sound that you want to hear when you're alone in the woods.   Still, I was hoping that one would come by my stand and give me a shot opportunity.

Just before dark, I heard something walking in the woods across the creek from my stand.  I raised my binoculars, but couldn't see anything.  Finally, after scanning the woods for some time, I saw the outline of a deer as it crossed a shooting lane.  I was unable to make out any details on the deer, so I didn't take the shot.   Then, almost immediately, I realized that something was walking around just below my stand.  I strained and strained trying to figure out how big this deer was, but it was just too dark, so I gave up and waited for the deer to leave before coming down from my stand.


November 30, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  

Today we were just going to be doing an afternoon hunt.  Ted hunted in Stand 2, while I chose Stand 3.  It was a pretty quiet afternoon; neither of us saw a thing.  Still, it was good just to get in the woods again after our exciting bird hunt. 


November 23, 2002 Quail and Pheasant Hunt Cedartree Plantation
I've read a good bit over the years about quail hunting.  I suppose that I was first introduced to Bob White in the opening chapter of Robert Ruark's The Old Man and the Boy.  The Old Man talks about Mr. White as a gentleman, and as such, he is a bird that must be approached as a gentleman.  Other writers such as Gene Hill, Havilah Babcock, and Dave Henderson furthered my interest in the subject.   Lacking dogs and a place to hunt, I figured that a true quail hunt was forever out of my reach.

I'm not sure where I first heard about Cedartree Plantation.  It was probably in the pages of Sporting Classics magazine or at a local hunting show.  When I found out that they were located only about an hour away from my home, I started pestering Ted about taking a trip down there and giving the quail a try.  We'd been on a horrible pig hunt a few years ago, but the lingering bad taste from that hunt had finally subsided, and we agreed that this Cedartree place might be worth a shot. 

Cedartree Plantation is owned and operated by the Smythe family.  I'd met Gwen, the clan mother, briefly once before at a hunting show.  I called her early in October and lined up a hunt for the beginning of November.  As the days passed, my excitement began to grow.  I told everyone I talked to about the trip that I was planning.  Five days before the hunt, Ted called me and told me that the forecast was calling for heavy rain.  Not wanting to believe it, I shrugged it off and insisted that the weather would be clear. 

On the morning of the hunt, I awoke to the sound of thunder and pouring rain.  I got up and checked the radar on the internet, and all I saw for miles and miles were heavy storm clouds.  As I sat staring out my window, Gwen called and told me that we would have to postpone the hunt.  It wasn't a surprise, but it was devastating nonetheless.   The next open slot was an eternity away... a Saturday morning, two weeks down the road.

The day of the rescheduled hunt finally arrived, and this time the weather was just as clear as it could be.  I bounced around the house getting all of my gear together and getting the truck loaded.  Ted arrived right on time, and after a hunter's breakfast at Cracker Barrel we were ready to roll. 

When we arrived at the plantation, Xan Smythe greeted us enthusiastically.  He told us that his brother Jason would be guiding us today, while he himself would be taking out two other hunters.  We wandered around the Cedartree house admiring the many trophies while we waited for Jason to arrive. 

Jason Smythe seemed to be really excited about taking us out on our hunt.  He was justly proud of the operation that his family runs, and was an all around pleasure to hunt with.  He didn't give up on birds that we missed.   Instead, he worked the dogs beautifully to find the lost singles, giving us shot after shot at them.

Although the main hunt was for quail, Ted and I had each bought the right to shoot two pheasants apiece.  We found the first pheasant pretty early.  As we approached the dog to flush the bird, I saw a hen pheasant go streaking off to the right, to my side!   I fired, and the bird came down in a crash of feathers.  I looked over at Ted and saw that he was grinning wider than I was.  What's he smiling about, I thought.  I'm the one that shot the bird.  Ted's grin got even bigger as he said "I got my male!!".   What in the world is going on?   That was a hen, and I KNOW that I shot it  Heck, Ted didn't even fire his gun!  I was absolutely positive that I had gotten the bird, but, being a sportsman, I decided to let Ted take the credit.  There would be three more pheasants to find later in the day. 

I was shocked when Ted started walking away from where the bird had fallen.   I watched in amazement as he retrieved a beautiful male from the dog's mouth.   Apparently there had been two birds, and we had both fired at exactly the same moment.  I had never even heard Ted's gun go off.

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Here's Ted with his pheasant...

After we worked out what had happened, I told Ted to be very careful about the next pheasant.  We both wanted a male to mount, and now that Ted had his I wanted to be sure to get the shot at the other male.  It all worked out beautifully and I walked up to a pointing dog and had the other male flush right in front of me.  He wasn't more than five yards off of the end of my barrel when I brought him down, and then Ted and I were both grinning ear to ear, thrilled to have pheasants to mount.

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...and here's me with mine.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by as we shot quail after quail.   The final tally for the day was two pheasants and nine quail apiece.  The Smythe brothers cleaned and packaged our birds for us as we relaxed in the plantation house after the hunt.  Ted and I both had an absolutely outstanding time on our hunt, and we agreed that we would try to hunt at Cedartree at least once a year from here on out. 

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Two of the bird dogs on point.


November 22, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  
While talking to Arnold yesterday, he told me that the deer had been in his fields eating the wheat.  Knowing this, I decided to hunt in one of the fields on our lease, Stand #2, also known as the "little loading dock".  Ted decided to hunt in Stand #3, overlooking the cutover.

Shortly before dark, a doe materialized 40 yards in front of my stand.  I had a clear shot from high in a pine tree, so I fired.   I was confident that it was a hit, and as I watched the deer ran off into the woods to my left.  I called Ted on the radio to tell him that I was going to go ahead and get down and get on the blood trail before it got dark.  As I started to gather my belongings, I saw another deer enter the field.  I called Ted back and told him about the new deer.   He urged me to shoot it too, but I declined.  As the deer began to feed, I called Ted again and told him that he ought to run from his stand over to my area and try to shoot this one.

I waited for what seemed to be hours before Ted called saying he was behind me.  I told him where the deer was, and he crept into position.  I saw the deer jerk to attention, obviously having seen or heard Ted.  Ted stayed still, and the deer presently went back to feeding.  He made the shot, and had his second deer of the year.

We ended up having to track my deer a good ways through the woods, but in the end we found it, and the day had a happy ending.



November 21, 2002 Afternoon Hunt at Briarpatch  
My first day back in the woods in 12 days.  Man, I hate to take long breaks during the hunting season.  I decided to hunt in Stand #3 today, a pine tree overlooking our new cutover.  I got in the tree at about 3:00pm and settled back and enjoyed the slight breeze that was blowing.  I heard a good many shots, telling me that the deer are probably getting active again. 

At about 5:00pm, I saw a doe come running at full speed down the road, about 150 yards in front of me.  She paused for a second, then dashed into some thick cover and disappeared from view.  I'm not sure what had her running all out like that.  As the sun set, I got out of my tree and drove down to where the deer came from to look for tracks, but I never saw any evidence of why she might be running.


November 11, 2002 Quail and Pheasant Hunt Cedartree Plantation

Rained out...


November 9, 2002 Deer Hunting at Briarpatch  
I decided to sleep in an extra half hour this morning and hunt out on Arnold's power lines.  I got there right at 6:00am, and climbed up in the tower, hoping that something would cross within a half hour or so.  I stayed in the stand until about 10:00, but nothing happened.  Ted was hunting on the other side of the power lines hill, but he also saw nothing.

After we got down our of our stands, I went over to Arnold's house, picked up a saw, then went out on the lease to meet Ted.  We wanted to trim a couple of trees up to improve a couple of our stand locations.    We fixed up two of them, and decided that we would each hunt in these stands this afternoon.

My afternoon stand was the same one that Ted had seen a couple of foxes from the other day, so I went up there mainly hoping to bag one of them.  I'd really love to have a fox mount...  Ted hunted up at the new cutover, which is absolutely full of deer tracks.  At about 5:00pm, I heard Ted shoot.  I tried to call him on the radio a couple of times, but got no immediate response.  I settled back down and started waiting for something to show up.

I shortly decided to call Ted again, and he answered this time, saying that he had shot a nice doe about 85 yards out.  I told him that I wanted to get a picture of it, and asked that he not load it on the four wheeler yet, and I'd be right over after dark.   When darkness finally fell, I had seen nothing, so I went on over to check out Ted's deer.

Ted's first deer of the year, and his 10th overall


November 8, 2002 Hunting at Briarpatch The Rut

I wasn't intending on hunting today, but it's beautiful weather outside, and cutting yesterday short made me really want to go.  I decided to go to the lease in the afternoon and give it a try.  I really wanted to just get in the woods today more than anything... I mean, really get in the woods... not hunt a road or a field or anything, so I chose the old ladder stand on Arnold's ridge, where I killed my first deer so many years ago.  It's a beautiful stand to hunt from, and I usually get in at least one hunt a year on that stand.  I had hunted there earlier this year and had seen two does, but tonight I didn't see a thing.


November 7, 2002 Hunting at Briarpatch The Rut
This was originally going to be an all day hunt, but it turns out that there's a deacon's meeting at church tonight, so I had to cut the day short and only hunt the morning.  I had it in my mind all yesterday to hunt Stand #10 on Walker Road this morning, even though no one has seen a deer out of that stand all year.  On the way down to the lease, I started thinking about hunting on the power lines.   I probably should have given in to that desire, because I saw nothing at all in Stand 10.

Ted hunted in Stand #9, just a short distance away from me on the main lease road.   Although he saw no deer from the stand, he got down and went still hunting at around 10:00am and did jump two deer from their beds.

I called Ted this evening to see how he did for the afternoon hunt.  He hunted up in Stand #2, which is a wheat field on the top half of our property, and although he didn't see any deer, he did see a couple of foxes.  I still desperately want to shoot a fox; they make beautiful mounts.  Maybe I'll have to get in Stand #2 soon just for the purpose of getting one...


November 4, 2002 Hunting at Briarpatch The Rut
It's been just over a week since I hunted last.  Just my luck that my pager week at work would fall right at the beginning of the rut.  I anxiously awaited news from my lease as to whether anyone was killing bucks or not.  Turns out that while I was away Ken Harris killed two 8 pointers thirty minutes apart.  Other than that, no one has seen anything.

Ted and I arrived at Briarpatch early, earlier than necessary really.  I had seen a few tracks down near our front gate the last time I hunted, so I decided to take my climbing stand and hunt in that area.  It was raining as we got into our stands, so I put up my treestand umbrella, a fantastic invention that really helps keep you dry in your stand.  Stayed in the tree until after 10:00am, but didn't see anything.  Ted hunted up on the top of the hill looking out over our new cutover, but all he saw was a hen turkey.

In the afternoon, I hunted in Arnold's power line tower, while Ted went down to Stand #10 on Walker Road.  Again, neither of us saw anything.  Kind of a depressing start to rut hunting.  I hope we didn't miss the peak...


October 26, 2002 Rifle Hunting at Briarpatch  

Again this was an afternoon only hunt (the older I get, the harder it is to get up at 4:00am).   While riding my four wheeler around the lease on Tuesday, I had found that one of our fields was absolutely filled with deer tracks.   I figured this would be a good place to hunt on Saturday.  I hunted from about 3:00pm until dark, but nothing showed up.

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The view from Stand 7, where I hunted this afternoon.


October 22, 2002 Rifle Hunting at Briarpatch  

I was hunting alone this afternoon, and I decided to get into the woods rather than hunt along one of our roads or power lines today.  I chose Stand #14, "The Hole," which is a wheat field down in a large creek bottom.  Prior to getting into my tree, I inspected the field for deer sign, and found one huge track in the mud.  I'd love to see the deer that made that mark...  whether buck or doe, I'll never know.  Whatever it was, it was a big one.

After finding the track, I got up into my stand and began to wait.  At one point, close to dark, as I was quietly sitting there, I almost jumped out of the stand when a deer snorted loudly at me from just yards away.  It only snorted once, and I never even saw it, but it sure sounded like a good deer.  I never heard it run away, but I'm sure it got out of there quick after scenting me.

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The view of the field in "The Hole"


October 17, 2002 Rifle Hunting at Briarpatch  
I almost didn't hunt this morning.  I was tired and just wasn't sure that I felt like getting up.  But, in the end, I decided that I would go ahead and go, and just hunt out on Arnold's power lines.  Ted was only going to be able to hunt in the afternoon, so I would be hunting alone this morning.

I made it down to the land pretty early, so I went on out to the tower on the power lines and dozed for a half hour while I waited for legal shooting hours to begin.  When the sky began to lighten, I shook myself awake, got out my binoculars, and began to scan the 400 yard length of the power lines for movement. 

At 7:15am, I noticed movement about 75 yards out from my tower.  In my binoculars, I got a glimpse of a huge buck moving through the brush, heading into the woods.  I raised my rifle, but couldn't find him in the scope.  I scolded myself, knowing that I should have been ready to shoot faster.  Disappointed, I began to again scour the brushy hill with my binoculars.

Within about 15 minutes of seeing the big buck, I saw a doe cross the power lines nearly 200 yards out from me.  She was moving fast, so I knew that something had her running.  As she entered the woods on the far side of the power line, I saw a buck come running across, chasing her.  He followed her into the woods and disappeared.   I only saw him for a second, but I assumed that it was the same buck that I had seen earlier.

Soon, the doe came back out, headed away from me, and paused in the middle of the power lines.  I got my rifle ready, and sure enough I saw the buck emerge, also quartering away from me.  Knowing I didn't have much time, I went ahead and shot.  The deer vanished, but I was confident that I had made a hit.   I waited 30 minutes, shaking, wondering in what position I would mount this deer head.

After 30 minutes had passed, I got out of the tower, got on the four wheeler, and drove around to the far side of the power lines.  It's about a mile long trip around, since a gulley in front of the tower prevents you from crossing with your ATV.  I drove down to where I thought the deer was, then began to look for blood.

I found no blood trail, but after only 5 minutes of searching I happened to look over to my left, where I saw the deer laying dead.  I retrieved it, but was disappointed to find that it was only a 5 pointer, and not the trophy that I had seen earlier.

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The rack from the buck that I shot this morning.

That afternoon, I again hunted in the power line tower, while Ted hunted in a field nearby.  Neither of us saw anything.


October 14, 2002 First Rifle Hunt of the Season  
Today was the rifle season opening day; my favorite hunting day of the year.   The weather was perfect, other than the wind.  Overcast, chilly, just a great day to be in the woods.   I started off the day in Stand #10, the box blind on Walker Road.  Although I didn't see any deer this morning, I did watch a coyote cross the road just in front of my blind.  He went by too fast for me to get an opportunity to shoot, but it was a thrill to see him.   

Ted was hunting with me this morning, and he chose a stand up on the top of the power lines.   He also didn't see anything for the morning hunt.  Doug hunted down in Stand #8, but he too saw nothing.

While hunting at #10 this morning, I decided that we needed to do a little bit more trimming of some of the trees in that area; they were really blocking my view of the area that deer usually emerge from.  We did that after lunch, and then did a little bit of repair work to the box that I was in before we headed back to Arnold's shop to take a nap.

For the afternoon hunt, we decided to find some trees up near our new cutover to hunt in.  Ted hunted from the tree that used to contain Stand #3.   We both had great views of the cutover, and our thinking was that the deer might start to move shortly after the loggers left.

At about 5:15 pm, the loggers came driving up the road, then parked their vehicles in the places that they would leave them for the night.  They piled into a pickup truck and headed toward the back gate.  As they approached it, an empty log truck came in.   I could hear the conversation between the truck driver and the workers as they debated what to do.  The driver wanted to get another load so that his boss wouldn't get mad at him for making an empty run, so the loggers got their gear together and headed back into the woods.  They stayed down there for another hour or so, which I believe ruined our hunt for the afternoon.  Neither Ted nor I saw any deer.

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 This was the view to the left and right of the tree that I was hunting in this afternoon.


October 5-12, 2002 Surf Fishing Cape Hatteras, NC
For the past fifteen years, I've tried to get in at least one week each year of fishing at North Carolina's Outer Banks.  However, due to a broken four wheel drive unit in my Ford Exploder, I have been unable to make the trip since 1998.  This year was the first time I've been back since Micki and I had our honeymoon out there.

This trip was Micki and myself, along with John and Nancy Morrison, a couple from our church that we've gotten close to.  John and I were able to get in a few days of fishing while the ladies did their shopping, and it sure was nice to be on the beach again with a surf rod in my hands.   John and I each caught a total of seven fish.  I got one ribbonfish, two pompanos, and four blues.  John got a croaker, a sea mullet, a bluefish, and four pinfish.  Here are a couple of pictures from the trip:

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October 1, 2002 Opening Day of Muzzleloader Season Briarpatch
Well, since I already have a bow kill this year, I'm again going to try for a "grand slam"... that is, getting a deer with each of the legal weapons (bow, muzzleloader, rifle).   I know, I could add more (shotgun, crossbow, pistol), but for now I'm sticking with the three that have specific seasons.

I hunted this morning at Stand #10, the box blind on Walker Road.  I was almost positive that I'd see a deer, but although I sat in the stand until after 10:0am, nothing crossed all morning.  I drove from the blind up onto the main lease, and shot a few pictures of the logging that is going on .

For the evening hunt, I chose Stand #2, which overlooks a field on the northern end of our lease.  Again I was skunked.


September 28, 2002 Afternoon Bowhunt at Arnold's The Joy of Not Shooting
Normally I would have hunted all day today, but the humidity was just so high on Thursday night that I got almost no sleep.  Decided to sleep in this morning and just hunt the afternoon.  Ted and I made arrangements to meet at Arnold's house, and when we met up we took our four wheelers out on the lease to look around.  The paper company that we lease from is clear cutting 110 out of 150 acres, so we wanted to see the damage. 

It was a shock to see stand #3, which used to be overlook a beautiful wheat-planted road, but now overlooks a huge clear cut.  We talked to the loggers, and they said that they would leave our stand alone, and also leave us some cover around it.  It'll be a good stand in the future, when the loggers have gone, but it will never be what it once was.

After lunch we took a short nap in Arnold's shop, then headed to our stands.  Ted chose the Walker Road stand, which is a ladder overlooking a wheat field on the far side of the property.   I was headed back to the field where I shot my doe two weeks ago, but on the way I met up with Arnold and Micki's second cousin Beth riding in the Mule, and Arnold mentioned that he had noticed acorns dropping all over the place.   He recommended "The Ridge", the hardwood stand where I shot my first deer back in 1991. 

Heading down the road to the ridge, I passed a fresh scrape, a sign that the bucks will soon be moving into pre-rut.  I continued on down the trail, and made my way to the ladder stand.  The mosquitoes were horrible, but I settled into the stand and began my long wait.  Just before dark, I heard something approaching through the woods.   It sounded like a deer walking, so I slowly stood up and got my bow ready.  A doe soon appeared, just 10 yards in front of my stand; an easy shot.  I thought about it for a second, then decided not to shoot.  As I watched, another doe joined the first, and they stayed in front of my stand for a good ten minutes, feeding on acorns.

Sometimes one of the best parts of hunting is not shooting.  Once in a while the shot opportunity is just too easy, and you decide to just watch the deer instead.  That's what I chose tonight.  I already had a deer in the cooler, and three more months of hunting stretching out before me, so I settled back and just watched the deer, and enjoyed not shooting at them.  By the time it was full dark, the deer had wandered away, and I walked happily out of the woods, calm and at peace, with much of the stress of a hectic work week gone. 


September 19, 2002 Afternoon Bowhunt at Arnold's  
Since I killed my deer in the "middle field" earlier this week, Ted and I decided to swap stands.  He'd take the spot where I shot mine, and I would hunt in the tripod stand in the next field up the road.  It was a pleasant day for hunting, but I didn't see a thing all afternoon.

Ted did see the same spike that I saw on Monday, but he was at the far end of the field and never came any closer.  I was really hoping that Ted would get a shot at a deer today; thought it almost a guarantee, but they just didn't cooperate.


September 16, 2002 Afternoon Bowhunt at Arnold's  

Today was really the first chance for a good hunt, since the weather was so bad on Saturday.   Ted, Arnold and I all hunted on Arn's land rather than over on the lease.  We put Ted in Arnold's tripod, thinking that would be the most likely place to get a shot.  I chose the stand in the "middle field", while Arnold went down deep into the woods.

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The view from my stand into the middle field

At about 7:15pm, two does and a spike buck entered the field to my left, about ten yards out in front of me.  When all three deer were hidden from view, I quietly stood up and made ready for a shot.  I chose the largest doe as my target, and silently prayed that she would present me with a good shot opportunity, that my arrow would fly true, and that we would make a successful retrieval. 

As the spike and the smaller doe moved toward the center of the field, the big doe walked right where I wanted her to.  I drew back and shot, heard the smack of the arrow hitting the target, then watched carefully as she crashed into the woods back in the direction she had come from.   The spike and the young doe ran to the far side of the field and slipped into the woods across from me.

My heart was pounding as I looked at my pocket watch to begin the requisite 30 minute wait before looking for the deer.  As I waited, the spike and the small doe returned to the field.  I was able to take several pictures of them, and even a short movie of them with my digital camera before they left for good.  

When the half hour had passed, I got down from the tree and began tracking the deer.   I got about 30 yards along the blood trail when I heard Arnold's four wheeler coming up the road.  I flagged him down, and at about the same time Ted called on the radio, and I told him about the situation.

We tracked the deer for several hours before finally losing the trail for good.  I was pretty dejected as I pulled out of Arnold's driveway to head home.  It's always hard to lose a deer.  I was about 30 minutes down the road when my cell phone rang.   It was Micki, telling me excitedly that Arnold had heard his dog barking wildly, and he had gone back into the woods and found the deer.  He had to finish it with a .22, but there it was, down in the woods near his house. 

I turned my truck around and raced back to the land, barely believing that my prayer for a retrieval of the deer had been answered when all seemed lost.  Arnold was waiting for me when I arrived, and we walked way back into the thicket where the deer was laying.  We found her right where Arnold had left her, and after a long drag to the road and a phone call to the deer processor, my first deer of the year was in the bag.


September 14, 2002 Opening Day of Archery Season  
When Ted called me on Friday to say that a huge tropical storm was going to pass through our area on Saturday, I didn't let it discourage me.  I told him that I was going anyway, and go we did.  It was cloudy and breezy at 3:45am, but with no rain in sight I loaded up the truck and drove down to the lease.  I ended up passing through two storms between my house and Lancaster, but I plodded ever onward, determined to hunt. 

We got in our trees by a little before 6:00am, and did get in a couple of hours of hunting before the rain really hit us.  I hunted down on the creek bottom where I shot my opening day deer last year, while Ted hunted across the street on our little twenty acre plot.  Neither of us saw anything. 

After the morning hunt, Ted decided to head back home.  I had promised Arnold that I would work on his computer after hunting, so I drove over to his house and spent a few hours on it before coming to the conclusion that it was hopeless.  The good news was that the rain had quit around mid-afternoon, so it looked like I was on for the evening hunt.  At about 5:00pm I headed up to one of Arnold's fields, but as I got to the top of the hill, I looked to the east and saw another major storm heading my way. 

In the end, I gave up and went home, hoping that my next hunting opportunity would be a little drier.  I don't mind hunting in the rain with a rifle or muzzleloader, but it's just not worth it with a bow and arrow.


September 2, 2002 Opening Day of Dove Season  
Once again hunting season has come around before I was fully ready for it.  My bow still isn't properly sighted in, and my muzzleloader needs work.   But, here we are on opening day.   As usual, Ted and I headed up to Uwharrie to dove hunt in one of the public fields near Badin Lake.  We decided to get there extra early to ensure that we had a place to hunt.  We arrived at about 8:00am, giving us a four hour wait before the season opened. 

The time passed slowly, but finally 11:30 rolled around.  One half hour before the season opened.   So far we had seen no doves fly over the field.  But, not discouraged in the least, we walked into the field and placed our decoys, then chose spots to hunt from.  As we got settled, other trucks arrived, and we directed most of the hunters to the field beyond ours. 

Five minutes before the season technically opened, three doves flew in front of me, and to our dismay the rednecks in the back field started shooting at them.  I hollered that the season wasn't open yet, hoping they would just settle down and wait.  And it turns out that wait is all anyone did.  Including those three, a total of about six doves darkened our skies the entire afternoon.  They just weren't flying today.  

Ted and his Stoeger Me and my Citori
Here are pictures of Ted and I, each of us armed with a new shotgun for this season.   Ted sports a Stoeger Condor 12 gauge over/under, while I'm hunting with a Browning Citori 425.


April 27, 2002 Final Turkey Hunt of the Season  
Today was the last chance that Ted and I had to go turkey hunting this season.  We got out of the Jeep and immediately did a few owl calls.  For the first couple of seconds we heard nothing, and then, amazingly, we heard a turkey gobble on our lease.  This was the first turkey that we've heard on our land all season!   We quickly headed into the woods to try to locate him.

We ended up chasing the gobblers all over the land, until finally, deep in the woods, we had one heading in to us.   I would yelp, and he would respond with a double-gobble.  He kept getting closer and closer, until suddenly ... nothing.  Then, after a few minutes, we heard him gobble off in the distance.  We got up and walked over to where he was, not 50 yards away from the sound, when we found a huge gully.  Apparently the turkey had come to the gully but couldn't get across.  We found a fresh gobbler wing feather on the ground to confirm that he had been there.

We hunted around a little more, and heard several more gobbles, but we never saw anything...


April 20, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  

This turkey season is turning out to be a disappointment.  When Ted and I got to the lease at 6:00am, it was already almost 80 degrees outside.  We went to the seventeen acre tract, set up our decoys, and did a little bit of calling, but nothing answered at all.  From there, we headed over to the main lease, then walked along the creek for awhile, stopping at various places and doing a bit of calling.   Ted may have heard a couple of gobbles at one point, but I never heard a thing.   All we got today was eaten alive by ticks.


April 18, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  
I had a lot of work to do on the house today, so I only got to hunt for a couple of hours this morning.  I went down to the little seventeen acre plot of land where Ted had three turkeys gobbling on Saturday.  I went one better; I actually had four gobble at me, but they never would come in.  Most likely they had hens with them.  I also had a hen yelping in the woods behind me, giving me a little bit of competition with my calling.

I also saw three deer today; two on Arnold's road, and one on the Walker road as I was heading home.


April 13, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  
I actually managed to get ready to leave early for once, so when Ted hadn't arrived by 4:45am I turned all of the lights off in the house so that he would think I had overslept again.  Micki and I watched out the office window as he drove up, and I could see the glow of his phone as he raised it to his ear.  My phone rang, and in a sleep-filled voice, I said "Hello?  Hambone?".  Ted told me jokingly that I was late once again.  We hung up, and I walked out my front door fully dressed, ready to go, and laughing.

We saw five deer on Arnold's road, then pulled on to our lease with plenty of time to spare.  We split up, with Ted going into a small 17 acre section of woods on one side of the road, while I went to the main creek road.  Ted immediately got three gobblers to answer his initial calls, but they soon spooked and were heard from no more.   I didn't hear a thing. 

We walked up the main lease road, then again split up when we got to the top.  I went to one of our deer stands, while Ted went to our Imperial no-plow field, where we had seen the hen back on the 6th.  Although neither of us saw any turkeys, I did see another deer as I sat quietly in my stand.

After lunch at Gus's, we decided just to go do a little bit of exploring.  We drove around the back roads near our lease, down to Cedar Creek Landing and to Stumpy Pond.   I did see a big gobbler from the Jeep as we drove past, but that was all the wildlife that we saw.  The exploring was really fun though!


April 9, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  

I overslept this morning, causing Ted and I to get a late start heading down to the lease.  The sun was already up when we arrived, so we headed immediately for Cedar Creek, on the far boundary of our lease.  As we got down there, we got a gobbler to respond to an owl hoot, so we set up some decoys on the creek edge and tried to call him in.   Although he responded several times, he never would come near us.   We finally gave up on him and headed back toward the other side of the lease to try to get some gobbles.

We set up a couple of times in various places, but we never got anything to answer us.  We did find, during our hunt, some strange looking orange ooze on a couple of vines deep in the woods.  We have no idea of what this stuff is... if anyone does know, please send me a note!

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Strange orange slime that we found in the woods

As lunch time approached, we headed back to the truck.  The second we left the woods, a hen ran across Walker Road, from right where my truck was parked! 

We had lunch at Gus's, then headed back for a short walk in the woods, again with no luck.  We finally gave up and headed home.


April 6, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  

The morning got off to an interesting start when Ted and I walked arrived at the lease.  We parked at the back gate, and saw that one of the other members was already in the woods, and the game warden's truck was also parked there.  The wardens lease the land adjacent to ours, so apparently he had just parked at our pull-off so he could do some hunting on their lease.

As we entered the woods, we heard two gobblers, but once again they were on the wrong side of the creek.  We hunted all over the lease, but didn't get any gobbles from our side. 

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Me in my 3D camo

Heading to lunch, we saw a hen turkey on Walker road.  Then, as we got near the Wagon Wheel restaurant, we saw another hen standing in a field right beside Fishing Creek Lake.  We pulled in and took a few pictures of her, but she was far enough away that they came out a little blurry.  Finally, on the way back to the lease, a hen flew across the road in front of the Jeep.  They were everywhere this morning except where we needed them to be!

For the afternoon hunt, we went into the field that we call the "Little Loading Dock" and set up a few decoys.

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Our three turkey decoys

Ted got in the woods near the top of the field, and I went down to the far end.  We sat there for a couple of hours, when finally a hen turkey entered the field and started walking around it, clucking and purring as she went.  We both got good looks at her; she passed not three feet away from where I was sitting.  While this was very exciting, it was disappointing that it was only a hen and that we didn't get to see a gobbler.

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Ted hunting in the "Little Loading Dock"


April 4, 2002 Turkey Hunting at Briarpatch  
It was pretty cold this morning for early spring, and it was quite windy as well.  I figured that the wind would mess the turkeys up, and indeed it did.   I walked from Arnold's house to the top of our lease, owl hooting along the way, and got no responses.  Instead of cutting down the power lines today, I took the road that winds around them, but still got nothing.  When I got down to the very bottom field, I finally got a gobbler to respond one time, but then he shut up.

I decided to walk through the woods from the power lines over to Walker Road, a distance of about a half mile or so.  I found a place where it looked like turkeys had been scratching, so I put a hen decoy in the area, then went and sat down about 20 yards away.  I managed to get the gobbler across the creek to answer me about a half dozen times, but of course he didn't want to come across the water. 

After about a half hour I moved on, stopping and sitting for 20 minutes at a time in various places on the lease.  I never did hear another turkey, so I packed it up and went home after eating lunch with Arnold.


April 1, 2002 Opening Day of Turkey Season  
The seasons come and go so quickly these days.  It seems like deer season just closed, and yet here we are again ready to go turkey hunting.  After some hurried preparation last night, I got my new turkey vest all in order.  The zippers all made too much noise, so I wrapped each of them in camouflage duct tape to quiet them down. 

I left the house at 4:45, and the sun was already coming up when I got to Briarpatch an hour later.  Arnold was just walking out his back door getting ready to go, so we walked up into the woods together.  He was going to hunt his land, and I was headed out to our lease, which starts just beyond his back gate.

After parting with Arnold, I walked out to the highest point on the lease and stood and listened.  I heard some crows in the distance, but no gobbles.  The hoot of an owl can often cause a turkey to gobble (known as a "shock gobble"), so I got out my owl call and sung the "who cooks for you" song of the barred owl.   I didn't get any responses, so I moved down the power lines to one of our clover fields, and I called again.  Still nothing, so I continued down the road toward the furthest field on the lease.

As I moved down the road, I stopped occasionally to call.  Finally, as I approached the creek that borders our property, I got an answering gobble.  I waited a few seconds, then called again with the hooter, and again the turkey gobbled.  I started running down the road to get closer to him.  Each time I would stop and call, he would answer.  When I got to the creek itself, to my disappointment I found that the turkey was somewhere in the woods on the far side.  Turkeys will rarely cross water to come to a call, but I sat down and started yelping to him anyway.  Although he responded several times, he never would come even close to the creek.

I hunted a good deal more, covering at least 5 miles in total walking, and although I got a few more gobbles, I never saw a turkey.  As I was driving down the Walker Road to get lunch, I did see a hen standing in a field, which I took this picture of:

Hen turkey
Hen turkey in a field off Walker Road.


March 9, 2002 Work Day at the Lease  
Ted and I bought a bunch more Imperial Whitetail Clover, as well as some "No Plow" seed mix from Bass Pro Shops, and today was the day to get it in the ground.  We planted all except one of our fields today... the one we missed was just too wet to mess with.  It'll have to wait until fall, when we'll maybe put some more wheat or peas in there. 

We also patterned our shotguns today.  I found out why I missed a turkey twice with my ten gauge two years ago... the gun is throwing the shot 10 inches high at 30 yards.  I'm using the "extra full turkey" choke that came with the gun, and although the pattern is tight, it's way above the sight bead.   I'll have to try another choke in this gun to try to bring the center of impact down some. 


February 22-23, 2002 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention Charlotte, NC
This weekend was the NWTF convention in Charlotte. Although Ted and I had planned to go together on Saturday, I found out that Jim Casada was going to be there on Friday, and I wanted to spend a few minutes talking to him.  Dr. Casada and I had corresponded a time or two in the past concerning Robert Ruark, and I had hoped to get some time to meet Casada in person.  I was able to do this, and we had a good talk about Ruark.  I also got Jim to sign a book for me that he had recently edited.

On Saturday, Ted and I spent a good part of the day at the convention.  The highlight for me was watching the world championship turkey calling competition.  There were some excellent callers present, and Jim Pollard walked away the overall winner.  Although these competitions can seem repetitive, since each contestant is required to do the same series of calls, I find them to be a great way to learn what I'm doing wrong in my own turkey calling.


February 16, 2002 Crow Hunting and Work Day  
I ordered some clover from The Whitetail Institute, and since it arrived in the mail this week, I decided to go down to the lease and plant it.  Ted agreed to go along, so we decided to do a little crow hunting while we were at it.  I rode up to Bass Pro Shops and picked up an electronic caller from Johnny Stewart to try to help us out in attracting crows.

When we got to the lease, we drove up to the power lines and set up for crows.  Almost immediately upon starting up the caller, six or seven crows headed toward us.  I dropped one with my first shot, then delivered a killing shot moments later.  We got a couple more shots off at another crow, but other than that first wave we really didn't get many to come in.   There were some other guys hunting crows down the power lines from us, and they had started earlier than we did, so I think most of the birds were already spooked.

We did manage to plant the road up by Stand #3 in several varieties of clover, and we plan to go back in the next couple of weeks to plant the rest of our fields.


January 26, 2002 Predator and Crow Hunting  
Ted and I decided to do some predator hunting this morning, to be followed by a little bit of crow shooting.  We got down to Briarpatch a little late; the sun was already peeking over the horizon when we got to our staging area.  We walked down through the woods toward the creek bottom, then set up and did some cottontail distress calls.  We immediately attracted three hawks and a deer, but no coyotes, foxes, or bobcats showed up.

We moved to a second location a few hundred yards away, but again no predators responded.  I think we're going to need to get an electronic caller to really do this right. 

After the second set-up, we decided to go give the crows a try, so we traded our rifles for our shotguns and hit the fields.  We got one crow to come in right away, but we were unable to get a shot off at him.  Another one soon came to our calls, which we fired at a total of four times, but he got away clean.

We called crows up and down the power lines, but didn't get anything else to respond, so we finally decided to head to town for lunch.  After that, we took Arnold's skeet thrower and a couple of boxes of clay pigeons out to the power lines, where we had a great time shooting trap.  We both did pretty well, hitting a good deal many more than we missed.


January 21, 2002 Crow Hunting  
I had the day off from work, and since my ATV has a recall outstanding on it, I figured that I'd go down to Arnold's house to get it and bring it back home to have it serviced.  I figured it would also be fun to walk out on the lease and try to pop a few crows.  Arnold was home, and I was glad to have him come along crow hunting with me. 

We started out on the power lines, and although we could hear several of them cawing in the distance, they never came to my calls.  We decided to go back down to the house to pick up one of Arnold's callers so that we could call together and make a little noise.  Loading up in the Mule, we started out in one of Arnold's fields.   After a few minutes of calling, a crow responded and came straight in to me.   I got off three shots with my Remington Model 11 20 gauge, but missed him all three times.  Another crow came in soon after, and I passed him to Arnold, who decided it was too high for a shot.

After that we walked around on both Arnold's land and the lease, and ended up getting a couple more shots each, but no kills.  But man, what fun.  Although I've been looking forward to predator hunting, I think I could really get into this crow shooting.   It's fun because they call back on the way in, so you know they are coming, and man are they smart! 


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