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The 2006 Hunting Season

2006, the seventh straight year that I've kept an online hunting journal.  The format hasn't changed much this year, but I have given up on tracking the moon phase on my hunting days.  I saw game last year no matter what the phase.

As always, we'll go for the turkeys in April, and coming into this year Ted and I have each killed two turkeys in our hunting careers.

I'm not sure what the lease situation for deer will look like this year.  After thinking long and hard about it, I believe it's finally time to let the Briarpatch lease go.  Briarpatch was the first hunting club that I was a part of, but I only hunted it once this past year, and the Liberty Hill lease is just too good to pass up. 

I've also decided that it's time to finally take my safari to Africa.  I've chosen an outfitter, booked the hunt, and am in the process of planning the trip.  The hunt will take place in July of 2007. 

I look forward to another great year of hunting, and, as always, invite you to follow along by keeping up with our hunting journal.


2006 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 18 2
Whitetail Doe 13 3
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 3 1
Turkey (Hen) 4 -
Wild Boar 0 0
Coyote 0 0
Fox 1 0
Bobcat 1 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 0
Crows - 0
Ducks / Geese 12 0
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
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Looking Back Year's End 2006
Once again, I am satisfied.  2006 was a great season for me, and it will join 1996 and 2005 as being among the best hunting years of my life.  I hunted 31 days this year.  That's a full month spent in the woods, and that's quite enough to keep me happy.  Although I didn't see as many deer this year as I did last year, I did manage to get five, including two nice bucks.  I killed my biggest turkey ever, and for the first time I called in a predator, even if I did miss the shot at him.

A new friend, Pete Tschantz, joined me in the woods this year.  It was great for me to watch a new hunter develop.  Pete had never been turkey hunting and had only been deer hunting a few times prior to this year.  Although he didn't get his turkey, I watched with great excitement as he started seeing deer and ultimately killed his first buck. 

The was some sadness too, as Ted and I only got to hunt together a few times yet again this year.  In the past couple of years we haven't got to hunt together nearly as often as we used to, but I really hope that will change in the future.  I was glad though to see Ted get a nice doe on his final deer hunt of the season.  This kept him from going skunked this year, and put some extra meat in his freezer.

I also didn't get to hunt with Arnold at all this season, and I greatly missed that.  In fact, I only hunted his land once this year, and when I did that I had no idea that it would be my last time ever hunting his property.  I've hunted there every year since 1991 and although for the last 5 years or so my access to hunting lands has expanded, I've always loved hunting in his beautiful woods.  If you're wondering what I'm talking about here, the short of it is this:  Arnold is selling his land and moving away.  More on this another time.

Indeed, 2006 was somewhat of a transitional year for me, and it's amazing to see how God has worked things out for me and my hunting.  For many years, the only private land I had access to hunt was Arnold's.  Then, several years ago, Arnold and I and two other friends leased the 500 acres adjacent to his property, and my hunting focus slowly shifted from his property to those.  We still base camped out of Arnold's workshop, but 75% or more of my hunting was on club lands. 

After that I joined a larger hunt club with many more acres of land and I started thinking about getting out of the club that I had previously been in.  Ted didn't have access to my new club except on a guest basis, so I continued to largely base camp with him at Arnold's house, but as we saw the quality of hunting fade on the old club we shifted our focus to the new one.  And just as I finally did leave the old club and started hunting entirely on the new one, Arnold is selling his land. 

Ironically, I can foresee how we might be able to do more hunting together in the future because of this.  I hope that works out.

2007 promises to be another good year of hunting, although I'm always a bit nervous about my deer hunting until after the lease fees have been paid.  Until then, there's always the chance that the club will fold or we'll lose the lease for one reason or another, and I won't be really comfortable until that bill is paid.  And of course, next year there's Africa...


January 1, 2007 46° Low / 68° High - Rain l Duck Viewed
Pete and I went to Gerald's again this morning.  The rain was pouring down as we drove to the pond, but it had lightened up by the time we got there.  We got the decoys put out and were all set up in the blind when it began again.  It rained on and off all morning, and the only duck we saw was one that flew quickly over our heads and was gone before we could react.

We were drenched by mid-morning when we decided to pack it in and head over to Liberty Hill to go deer hunting.  Pete ended up going to stand #9, and I went back to #23.  Although we got to the lease pretty early, I napped in my truck until almost 4:30, getting in the stand just long enough to spend an hour in it before it was time to come down.


December 30, 2006 48° Low / 55° High - Overcast 5 Ducks Viewed
I had no intention of going hunting today.  Since Micki and I had plans tonight, I thought I would use the morning to sleep in and rest, but I had so much fun yesterday that I just had to go try the ducks again today.  I thought I'd go it alone, but it turned out that the plans that Pete had for this morning fell through, so he called me to tell me that he'd be able to go with me.

The morning started out just like it did with Ted.  We put out the decoys and got in the blind, then waited for legal shooting.  When it was time, one duck came whizzing in over our heads from in front of us, but it went by so fast that we didn't have time to react.  Four more flew overhead, far out of range of our shotguns.

Again, no ducks landed on the pond.


December 29, 2006 31° Low / 65° High - Clear 6 Ducks Viewed
Ted and I met up this morning and headed over to my father-in-law Gerald's house for some duck hunting.  I've got a two-man blind built on Gerald's 12 acre pond.  It's back up in a shallow timbered section of the pond, and that section of the lake looks like it would be full of ducks.

We put out about a half dozen decoys or so, then hid the boat under some camouflage burlap that I carry with me.  The blind was leaning a bit when we got to it, so we cut down a sapling and used it to wedge the structure back to level. 

As daylight approached, three pairs of wood ducks flew high overhead.  Excited, we waited for them to circle back or for more to arrive on the pond.  Time passed and nothing happened.  By 9:00am we knew there wouldn't be any ducks landing on the pond this morning, but we stayed in the blind until after 10:00, just enjoying being there.  I did notice that the reason the blind was leaning was that a beaver had eaten through one of the supporting posts.


December 26, 2006 33° Low / 52° High - Cloudy 0 Animals Viewed
Today was Ted's final deer hunt of the season, and although we had intended to make it a full day hunt, I didn't make it to bed as early as I needed to last night, so I called Ted and asked him to meet me at my house at about 10:00am instead.

I was still getting my gear together when he got to my house, but before long we were underway, stopping in Lancaster for a bit of lunch before heading into the woods.  As we arrived at the lease I suggested that Ted go to the salt lick, and I would predator hunt up at #15.  We decided to sign in for those stands, but then take a look around and see if anything looked better.

The salt lick stand at first looked barren of deer sign, but upon closer inspection we found that someone had put a corn pile out a little closer to the stand than normal, and there were quite a few fresh tracks in that area.  Ted confirmed that this looked like the place for him to hunt.

It was still pretty early in the afternoon, so we went over to the big tower stand at #23 and did a little bit of predator calling.  Having no success, we went for a little hike down a hardwood ridge looking for squirrels.  Again we had no luck, but interestingly we found a brand new deer rub with the sap still oozing from the trunk of the tree. 

It was a little after 3:00pm when we got back to the truck, so I drove Ted back over to the salt lick stand and dropped him off about 200 yards away from where he would hunt, then I headed over to my stand.  I did quite a bit of predator calling, but never had anything appear in my shooting lane.

At just before 5:00pm, I heard a WHOP-Booooooom from over in Ted's direction.  The sound implied a good hit on a deer, so I immediately started gathering my gear together.  I grabbed my radio and waited for Ted to call me, but all I got was one static burst.  We were pretty far apart and were separated by a good many hills, but the static was enough to tell me that Ted had tried to call.  He would only call so quickly if he had a deer on the ground, so I finished getting my stuff together and got underway, heading over to his stand.

When I got in radio range Ted told me that he had killed a doe, and that she had dropped in her tracks when he had fired.  I got to the stand pretty quick and found Ted there with a beautiful young doe on the ground.  We took some pictures, then loaded up and headed for home.


December 16, 2006 37° Low / 71° High - Weather 0 Animals Viewed
I'm pretty much finished chasing the deer this year.  With five deer in the freezer (or four, if you remember that I gave one of them to Ted) I really don't need any more meat.  Because his rifle was way off and when he shot his deer on Thursday, Pete is also ready to stop deer hunting for the season and not take it back up until he can get some better optics, so we decided to spend the day predator hunting.

We got to the lease early, just like we would for deer hunting, and we made calls at several different stands.  At stand #3, we believe we called in a coyote, but he came in behind us and either scented us or saw my truck, so although we heard him in the woods we never got a look at him.  The same thing happened later in the day at stand #15.

All in all, we had a great time chasing the predators even though we didn't see any, and we look forward to going after them in earnest after Christmas.


December 14, 2006 37° Low / 64° High - Weather 1 Fox Viewed
Pete and I decided to just make this a half day hunt.  I picked him up at his house at a little after 2:00pm, and we were down at the lease by 3:30.  I wanted to go back to #15, and having already killed five deer for the year I decided that I'd take my predator call and try to whack a fox or a coyote rather than mess with any more deer.   Pete went back to the salt lick stand.

Arriving at my stand, it took me a few minutes to get set up.  I put a nice looking squirrel decoy out about 40 yards from my stand, then climbed in and began to run my caller.  I did a half hour's worth of rodent in distress calls, but nothing showed up.  After that I sat quietly for about 20 more minutes, then began another series of rodent calls.  When nothing appeared, I decided to change to a grey fox pup call, which will bring in both foxes and coyotes.

Within five minutes of starting calling, a fox ran into view at the end of my shooting lane.  I raised my rifle, sighted in on him, and squeezed off a shot, but it was a clean miss.  He was gone before I could get off another round at him.  This is the first predator that I've ever called in, and let me tell you, it was exciting.

I sat there shaking with excitement for about five minutes when suddenly I heard the "crack-WHAM" of a rifle.  I knew immediately that it was Pete shooting and the sound I heard was a bullet striking bone, so I tore off my headphones and grabbed for my radio.  "I got one," was all Pete said.  "Great," I answered.  "Do me a favor, stay in the stand until I get there."  If the deer had run, I wanted to make sure Pete didn't spook it in his excitement. 

As I started to gather up my gear, I heard another shot from his direction, then another.  "What's that shooting about," I called, but did not hear anything back.   I speeded up my efforts to get all of my stuff together, taking an extra minute to find the bullet impact from where I had fired at the fox to insure that it was a clean miss.

As I pulled into the field where Pete was hunting, I saw his deer.  It was still alive, struggling from an obvious spine shot.  "I need you to finish him," Pete yelled.  "I'm out of bullets."  I grabbed my .40 pistol from my pack and approached the deer, talking to it gently to try to calm it.  When I was close enough for a shot, I took aim and fired.  The deer collapsed, trembled a bit, then expired as Pete walked up.  This was Pete's first deer, and it was a shame that he had to see his first one struggle like it did, but fortunately we dispatched it as quickly as we could. 

As a side note, I picked up the antlers from the buck I shot last Thursday.  There's a bit more of that story to tell.  When I got to the processor with my deer last week I told them to just saw the antlers off and give them to me.  A guy standing there beside me told me that he was a taxidermist, and that if I'd give him my cape, he'd take the head home and boil it for me, in essence creating a European skull mount for me for free.  I gladly took him up on the offer.  Here's how they came out:

December 9, 2006 13° Low / 50° High - Clear 3 Deer Viewed
It was the coldest morning of the year, and Pete and I were shivering as we loaded our gear into my truck.  The temperature hit 13 degrees at one point on the road to the lease, and it was 17 when we got to the sign in board.  I decided to go to stand #3, and Pete was going to take #5 this morning.

It was cold enough that I brought my little propane heater into the blind with me, and I was able to bask in the moderate warmth that it provided.  I checked in with Pete a couple of times and he was doing fine in his stand, being bundled in a heavy sleeping bag.  At one point in the morning I saw three bucks cross the road way out in front of me, but nothing else appeared that morning.  Pete saw nothing.

On the way to lunch at about 11:15, we saw two does on the side of the main road, so we hurried through our hamburgers and got back into the woods in record time.  Pete went back to the salt lick stand, and I went to my old favorite, #15.  It was a quiet afternoon, with neither of us seeing anything.


December 7, 2006 61° Low / 75° High - Overcast 2 Deer Viewed
Back in the woods alone again today, I decided to start the day in stand #3.  I sat in the blind until 11:00, but nothing showed up.  No deer, no squirrels, and no predators.  After leaving the stand, I went down to the corn trailer and loaded up my truck with five bags, which I put out at #3 and #5 in preparation for Saturday morning.  I grabbed two more bags, then went over to the main lease and put it out at #15.

After a short lunch, I headed back to the woods and went to stand #15.  After hunting there many times without seeing a deer this year, it finally paid off.   At about 5:15pm, just after sunset, I heard something walking in the woods behind me.  Grabbing my pistol, I looked over my shoulder several times, but never could figure out what it was.  It sounded like a fox or a coyote, but if it was, I didn't see it.

Once, after looking behind me, I turned back around and saw a buck standing in the road not 30 yards from the stand.  I had my pistol in my hand and my rifle propped up in the corner of the blind, so I had a bit of a problem.  I slowly lowered the pistol to the floor of the blind, then dropped it onto my fleece hood that was lying by my feet.  Even more slowly I picked up my rifle and got it in position, then looked at the buck through my binoculars.

His antlers showed that he was a shooter with eight points, and as I started to take the shot I saw movement in the woods behind him.  Another deer!  Knowing that the biggest deer will often hang back, I watched until the second deer emerged from the woods.  It turned out to be a smaller fork horn, so I returned my attention to the eight pointer. 

I knew I had to make a good shot, because the huge gullies on either side of the road would mean I would really have to struggle to get the deer out of the woods if he ran.  I centered the crosshairs in the "golden triangle" right above his front shoulder, then squeezed the trigger.  He fell to the ground, then started to try to get back up.  I jacked another round into the chamber, but the buck's thrashing quickly slowed then ceased. 

I got down out of my stand and ran down the road to get my truck, whereupon I loaded the buck up onto my basket and headed home, leaving the woods while there was still a good 15 minutes worth of shooting light.  This buck is my 35th deer ever, and this gives me five deer for the year; the most deer I've ever gotten in one season.  What a great year!


December 2, 2006 37° Low / 75° High - Overcast 0 Animals Viewed
Since I was going to be hunting alone today, I decided to sleep in this morning and just go for an afternoon hunt.  Something keeps calling me back to stand #15, so that's where I went.  The ground in front of the stand is just covered in deer tracks, and although I've never seen anything from this stand it just looks good. 

I sat in the stand all afternoon, but no deer appeared.  A squirrel kept running over to the corn pile and stealing ears of corn, so I finally pulled out my .40 Taurus pistol and took a few shots at him to scare him off.  It took three shots before he got the message, each bullet splatting in the mud near him closer than the last. 

At dark, I loaded up and headed home, again deerless.


November 30, 2006 37° Low / 71° High - Heavy Rain 0 Animals Viewed
Ted was back with me today.  He's moved to a new house that's a little bit closer to me than his old one, so he drove over to my house and we loaded up my ATV and headed on down to the lease together early this morning.  I wanted to retrieve the climber and move it to the big rub that Pete and I found last week, so I hunted at the climber's old location this morning.  Ted went to my current favorite stand, #15.  We hunted until about 10:30 or so, but neither of us saw anything. 

I brought the climber with me out of the woods, then we went down Rattlesnake Road to try to find that big rub again.  After searching for it for a few minutes, we found it and a good spot to hang the stand.  We did this, then marked a trail back out of the woods with some reflective tacks. 

Heading out of the woods, we went over to the corn trailer and broke out the cook stove, then grilled up some pork ribs and boiled potatoes.  Ted made a salad for us, and we sat around talking about all of the years we've hunted together.   We played around with my new Taurus .40 S&W pistol a little bit, then went back into the woods.

Ted went to a ladder stand that he liked from last year, #10, and I got on the four wheeler and headed over toward the climbing stand near the rub.  As I got to the head of Rattlesnake Road it started to rain a little bit.  Hesitating, I debated whether or not to go on down to the stand knowing that I might get pretty wet.  I decided to jump in a little covered ground blind right near where I was to wait out the storm.

After about 30-45 minutes, it looked like the rain wasn't going to stop.  I didn't like the stand I was in, so I got on the ATV and raced to stand #15.  The rain continued all afternoon, sometimes pouring down in drenching spurts, sometimes just lightly drizzling.  Needless to say, neither Ted nor I saw any deer.


November 22, 2006 48° Low / 68° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed
Pete and I hunted together again today.  After some serious discussion about where we ought to hunt this morning, Pete decided to try the salt lick stand again since he had seen a deer there the last time he was in it.  I decided to go stand #15 again.  Neither of us saw anything, so after about 10:00am we got down out of our stands and met up to do some squirrel hunting and some scouting.

We hit a hardwoods bottom over on Rattlesnake Road, splitting up by about 100 yards to try to jump some squirrels.  As we lost sight of each other, I heard a loud pop from Pete's new .17 HMR rifle, and he hollered over to tell me he had gotten a squirrel.  At the same time, I found a huge rub with a fresh scrape in front of it, so I called Pete over to show it to him.

Pete had to leave at around 4:00pm, and after he was gone I got up into stand #1.  The stand was corned in three places, but I saw nothing all afternoon.


November 18, 2006 36° Low / 57° High - Partly Cloudy 0 Animals Viewed
Pete was back with me today.  On the way down we discussed where we wanted to hunt, and we decided on #1 for me and #3 for Pete.  Surprisingly, when we got to the lease there were already a couple of hunters signed in (we're usually the first ones there), and one of them was in stand #3, so we had to change our plans.  I decided to go back to #15, while sending Pete to the salt lick stand, which is #17. 

We stayed put until about 11:00am, but nothing was happening at the tower.  When I drove down to get Pete, he reported that he had seen a young fork horn buck, but it was obviously not a shooter.  It had come into the field, then quickly ran away as if it had seen something that scared it.  Still, it was great news that he had seen one.

One of the things that Ted and I have gotten into in the last couple of years is cooking our lunches down on the lease or at Arnold's house rather than going into town for lunch.  That's one thing that we haven't done yet this year, partially because Ted hasn't been able to hunt much, and he's the one that's got the nice little grill to cook on in the woods.  However, I recently acquired a neat little Realtree cook stove, and Pete and I used it today to heat up a pot of venison chili.  It worked great, and I think we'll be cooking our lunches on the lease for most of the rest of the season.

After lunch we sat around and basked in the warmth of the sun, both of us doing a little bit of reading and relaxing.  At about 1:00, we decided we'd get back in the woods.  Pete went to the new climbing stand that we installed a few weeks ago, and I headed back to #15.  It was a little early for me, so I laid down in the truck and slept for an hour or two before getting into my stand.  I didn't see a thing all afternoon.

Pete reported that he had seen a doe, but had been unable to get a clear shot at her.  Well, we'll try again after Thanksgiving.


November 14, 2006 37° Low / 69° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed
Although it was Tuesday today, I had the day off of work, so I got up early and headed for the lease.  Feeling pretty good about stand #15, I went back there and sat for several hours, but saw nothing.  No deer, no turkeys, and certainly no more bobcats.  I finally gave up at about 10:30 and walked back to my truck.

My four wheeler has been sitting at Arnold's house for several years.  I haven't had a good place to store it at home, and I definitely have had nowhere to put my trailer.  I have, however, recently finished work on a large lean-to on the side of the workshop behind my house, so I decided that it was time to go get my ATV and take it home.  I called Arnold to make sure he would be there, then went over to his house.

We sat around catching up with each other for awhile, and he showed me his new cocker spaniel puppy, Buffy.  His previous spaniel, Misty, had died back in 2003, as was chronicled in my hunting journal for that year.  We played with the puppy for awhile, then went up to his shop to check on my four wheeler.  We tried and tried to get it started, but even a shot of ether in the carburetor did not help.  We did get it started once by hooking it to a battery charger, but it would not stay fired up.  We did manage to drive it up onto the trailer before it quit running.

I was all set to drive it on home and skip the afternoon hunt, but Arnold asked me if I wanted to hang around with him for awhile, which I was glad to do.  We sat around watching some hunting shows on TV, then we decided to both hunt his property in the afternoon.  I went out to the tower stand on his property lines, but didn't see anything.  He hunted a ladder stand in his fields, but also saw nothing.


November 12, 2006 41° Low / 61° High - Overcast 1 Bobcat Viewed
Micki and I are going to be dog sitting for some friends in the coming week, and she needed a bit of time to get the house ready for the little guy.  She asked me if I minded going hunting this afternoon so that she could clean up in peace, so I gladly obliged.  I decided to go to stand #15, a tower at the very far end of the lease.

This is a really comfortable stand, and I was quite happy to have been able to snag it for the day.  I got up in it and settled in to the chair.  It wasn't long before I saw some movement at the far end of my viewing area.  Raising my binoculars, I got a great look at a bobcat.   I couldn't remember if the season was opened, but after thinking long and hard, I thought that it was, so I raised my rifle and fired.

The bobcat took off like a scalded dog, and I quickly got down and found that I had missed by about 3 inches. That was the only animal I saw that day, but when I got home I found out that the season doesn't open for another 11 days, so it turns out to be a good thing that I missed.  I did head down to the rifle range the next day to see why I missed, and it turns out that my rifle was shooting a bit to the right.  I corrected the situation.


November 4, 2006 30° Low / 42° High - Clear 1 Deer Viewed
Because I had to spend a bit of time getting ready for a week long fishing trip to the Outer Banks, I ended up only going for an afternoon hunt today.  After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that it was time to try some bowhunting.  I took a few minutes in the back yard this morning making sure that my bow was still sighted in, then I grabbed a climbing stand and loaded it and my bow into my truck.

I figured stand #8 was probably the best place to bowhunt, so I found a tall pine tree about 20 yards off of a spot where the deer seemed to be crossing pretty frequently.  I was a bit shaky getting back into a climbing stand, but soon remastered the art and found myself with a beautiful view of my target area.

To my surprise, I was able to sit quite comfortably for the entire 3-4 hours that I was in the stand.  With my back problems, I was thinking that this bowhunt may be a bit uncomfortable, but I was actually fine the whole time I was there.  I only saw one deer; a big doe about 100 yards up the road from where I was.  As I started to climb down when darkness approached, a whole lot of deer snorted from near my target area, then ran off.


November 2, 2006 45° Low / 66° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed
Ted was back in the woods with me today.  We met up at Nichol's Store at about 4:30, threw his gear in my truck, then headed down to the lease.  After talking about where we might each hunt, we decided that Ted would go to #9 and I would go to the climbing stand that Pete and I put in the woods last weekend.

The view from the climbing stand was great, after I adjusted my height twice trying to find the best angle to hunt from.  I was sure that the deer would be all around me, with white oak acorns falling everywhere, but I saw nothing at all.  At about 8:00am I decided to get down and do a little still hunting.  I must have walked a mile back into the woods, and I kept expecting to come out on the main road somewhere, but I never did.  When I finally realized that I was not quite where I thought I was, I decided to turn around and head back out the way I came in.

This was going to be a bit hard on me, because I had been moving steadily downhill for the better part of an hour, and I dreaded the climb back up to the top of the ridge.  My back was screaming in pain by the time I was back in familiar territory, so I sat down on a rock to rest for awhile.  When I finally felt some relief, I made the rest of the hike back to the truck in relatively short order.  Although I saw no deer, I did find some great places to put climbing stands for next year, although I'd want to ride my ATV some of the way in next time.  When I met back up with Ted, he reported that he also had seen nothing.

We spent another couple of hours riding the roads, stopping every once in awhile to look around and see if we could jump a deer.  We gave up at lunchtime and went over to the grill to get a hamburger, then came back to the lease to do a little rattling.  Again, nothing.

On the way home, we stopped by the swamp to look for the wood ducks, and this time I managed to get two pictures of them.  Here they are:



October 28, 2006 54° Low / 75° High - Windy and Clear 4 Deer Viewed
After a day of heavy rains, I was confident that the deer would really be moving this morning.  When Pete arrived at my house at about 4:30am, I told him that I was confident that we'd get one today.  On the way out we stopped at a convenience store to get something quick for breakfast, then made our way down to the lease.  As usual we were the first ones there and got our pick of stands.  I chose #1 and Pete went to #3.  Amazingly, neither of us saw anything on the morning hunt.  I was just sure that the deer would be moving this morning, but apparently they were still holed up.

At about 10:00am we met up and drove over to the biggest part of the lease.  I wanted to put a climbing stand in the woods on a hardwood ridge, so we got that taken care of, and I spent a few minutes showing Pete how to use a climbing stand.  He got the hang of it right away.  Wanting to mark a trail to the stand, I found that I had left my reflective tacks in another backpack, so we went in to town to Wal-Mart and bought a box of them, as well as a bag of buck grub, some snacks, and a couple of Louis L'amour paperbacks. 

We had a quick lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Lancaster, then went over to Randy Jordan's taxidermy shop so that Pete could put down a deposit on the fox that he shot a couple of weeks ago.  While there, Randy showed me the almost-finished wood duck mount that he had for me that I had shot back on December 21st of last year.  The mount is beautiful, and Randy told me I could pick it up next Saturday.

After all of that, we went back to the lease and drove back to the hardwood ridge where we marked the trail to the new stand.  We then went over to stand #8, where Pete would hunt for the evening.  Now, stand #8 is a lock-on that is high up in a pine tree.  I don't like the climb into that stand, and nor did Pete, so we set him up in a climbing stand one tree over from the lock-on.  While we were looking around in this area, Pete exclaimed "Look at that!"  I looked up and saw a nice sized buck as he ran across the road not 50 yards from us.  He had apparently been bedded right on the edge of the logging road, and we finally scared him out of his refuge.  Neither of us had a gun ready, and his rack, though wide, lacked mass.  It was fun just seeing him, though.

Anyway, we got Pete settled in his tree, then I went back over to stand #1.  I had a good feeling about it, and I was also pretty sure that Pete would see some deer in #8.  Once I had climbed up into my stand, I called Pete on the radio just to confirm that we were within range of each other, then, having plenty of time to kill, I stretched out on the bench seat of the stand and took a nice two hour nap.  I woke up at about 4:30, organized my gear for a minute or two, then settled in for the hunt.

It was quiet most of the afternoon, but about 20 minutes before dusk I saw a deer emerge about 150 yards down from my stand.  I saw it was a doe, and as I watched it in my binoculars two more appeared.  They were headed my way.  I swapped my binoculars for my rifle, and as I watched them one of them cut off into the woods and did not show herself again.  The other two continued walking toward me, and I watched the bigger of the two through my scope, waiting for a shot opportunity.

The smaller deer finally turned broadside to me, and after an agonizing wait the larger of the two deer did likewise.  Their body language told me that they were not going to stick around, so I snicked the safety off of my rifle, took a breath, let it out and fired.  I heard the whop of the bullet striking the deer, and as she ran it looked like she was definitely hit.

With darkness falling, I quickly lowered my gear to the ground, climbed down the ladder, and raced for my truck.  Getting it started, I drove down to about where I thought the deer had been and I immediately found scuff marks in the road where she had run into the woods.  I also found a small bit of half-chewed cud, but found no blood.  I spent 10 minutes looking around, walking about 10 yards into the woods, before finally deciding to go pick up Pete.  This would give my deer time to die, if necessary, and two sets of eyes are better than one.

It was pitch black when we got back to the place in the logging road where I had shot at the deer.  I told Pete that we probably wouldn't find any blood and that our best bet was just to look around for the deer itself.  We searched the area for about 20 minutes before Pete hollered to me that he had found her.  She was laying dead not 40 yards from the truck, but due to the angle of the shot she left no blood trail.  The bullet exited the stomach; always a tough tracking job.  Knowing about the situation with my back, Pete offered to drag the deer for me, which I gratefully accepted.  We paused for pictures, then loaded her up on the truck and headed for the processor.  Oh!  Pete did get to see a nice seven pointer over at stand #8, but no does.  Still, it was great knowing that he had finally seen a deer in the woods on our lease.


October 26, 2006 42° Low / 64° High - Clouds 1 Deer Viewed
I didn't sleep well last night, so I decided to stay in bed this morning and just make an afternoon hunt out of it today.  This worked out fine because Pete was unable to make it today.  I got down to the lease at about noon, then drove around to look for deer sign.  Stands 1, 3, 8, and 20 all looked like they were getting a lot of activity.  I put corn at all of them, then decided to hunt in #20.

Having made my choice, I drove to the stand, then parked and napped in the truck for a few hours, getting up at about 3:30pm to get into the stand.  It was pretty quiet all afternoon, but right at about sunset I heard a deer walking in the woods to my left.  As I strained to hear him better, a boat out on the lake behind me went by, drowning out the sound of the footsteps for several agonizing minutes.   Thankfully, when the boat disappeared I could still hear the deer moving around.

Before long, a small spike buck walked out into the field.  I watched him until dark, and although I could hear other deer walking in the woods around me, none of them made themselves visible.  Turns out that I had left my doe tags at home accidentally, so it's a good thing I didn't get a shot at a deer today.

With heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, I think Saturday will be a great day to hunt.  The deer ought to be moving really well all morning.  I can't wait.


October 19, 2006 64° Low / 70° High - Foggy and Overcast 2 Deer Viewed
Pete and I got back into the woods today, and this time we thought we'd shake things up a bit.  Rather than hunt the first road on the lease this morning like we usually do, we decided to go back to where we hunted last time we were together.  Turns out that this wasn't the best idea in the world, because neither of us saw anything that morning.

After we left our morning stands we decided to get deep into the woods to see how things were looking.  We found a beautiful hardwood ridge, but it was still a bit too thick to hunt.  When more leaves come off, this ought to be a good place to hunt.  After looking around, we headed over to the grill for lunch.

Although it was supposed to be quite hot today, I think we got lucky with the clouds and the fog.  The temperature barely got out of the sixties all day, and it turned out to be a beautiful day to be in the woods.  When we got back from lunch, we decided to get in stands #2 and #3 for about two hours and sit there before choosing our stands to hunt in for the rest of the afternoon.  Again, neither of us saw anything, and at around 3:00pm we met back up and took a bit of time looking around the lease to try to find some places that the deer might be working pretty heavily.

Stands #1, #8, and #20 all looked good.  I told Pete that I wanted to hunt in #1, and that I recommended to him that he go to #20.  Then I told him that he'd been hunting long enough now to make his own choice, and he decided that #8 would be a good spot.  Now, the stand at #8 is a lock on that is way up in a tree; I won't use it myself, and after looking at it carefully Pete decided that he didn't want to get in it either.   Instead, he sat back in a little clump of pine trees on the edge of the woods.  I left him there and went over to #1.

At about 5:00pm, I glanced down into the valley to my left and saw a nice sized buck moving in the woods below me.  I tried to get the video camera on him before he disappeared, but he was gone before I could find him in the viewfinder.  Before long, I heard something behind me and I turned around in the stand and saw him standing in the road not 10 yards behind me.   This time I got a good video of him; he was an 8 pointer that had a legal rack, but an undesirable one.  I decided to let him go thinking that next year his antlers might do better.

He soon sensed something was wrong and turned and fled.  About an hour later, as darkness was starting to fall, I saw another deer come out of the woods and head to the corn pile about 100 yards from the stand.  My binoculars showed it to be a young six pointer, so I had to leave him alone.  I saw nothing else for the rest of the hunt, and Pete saw nothing.


October 14, 2006 33° Low / 69° High - Clear 1 Deer Viewed
Pete was back in the woods with me today, a week after he killed his fox.  Having heard that there were a lot of deer seen at stands #5 and 6 last week, I decided that we should try these this morning.  The woods were quiet today, and though I saw some turkeys, the sun was getting high in the sky before I saw a deer.  A doe came running across the logging road at the end of my shooting lane, tail high in the air.  I wondered why she was so alerted, then to my disgust saw two dogs chasing after her.

Although I hoped that the dogs would stay away from Pete's stand, it wasn't long before he radioed me to tell me that he had seen them.  I knew our hunt was pretty much blown for the morning, but we stuck it out until about 10:15am.  We finally gave up, then drove over to Mungo's Deer Processing to pick up the rest of the meat off of my buck, then we drove around a bit to take some pictures of the fall colors.

After lunch, we headed back to the lease and chose our stands for the evening.  Pete would go to #14, which is a ground blind on the lease's second logging road, while I'd go back to #15 at the end of the road.  As we drove to the stands, we stopped at #13 and saw that it was torn up with tracks.  #14 was in a similar condition, and there wasn't much happening at 15.  After a brief conversation, we decided to change the plans a bit.

Pete would now go to #13 and I would go to #14.  We went back to the sign-in board and changed positions, then went back onto the lease to do a bit more filming for Wingshooters.net Outdoors.  After having fun with that for a bit, it was time to get in the stands.   We had another long sit, but again nothing showed up.

I think next Thursday we'll try to switch up a bit and go to the second road in the morning, then maybe back to the first road for the evening.


October 12, 2006 51° Low / 75° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed
I had originally planned to hunt with Ted today, but he was unable to get the time off from work.  I also ended up staying up a little bit later than I wanted to on Wednesday night, so I decided to just sleep in this morning and then head down to the lease at about 10:00am.  When I got there, I looked the sign-in board over and decided to try somewhere new tonight.

I ended up choosing stand #15, which is a tower stand way at the back of the lease.  Before getting into the stand I shot some video for the next episode of Wingshooters.net Outdoors.  Finishing that up, I climbed into the stand and found it to be incredibly comfortable; easily the most comfortable stand on the lease.  I was able to sit in that stand for six hours this afternoon, and though I never saw a deer, I did get a couple of good pictures of some turkeys that came through.

After the hunt, I drove over to Mungo's Deer Processing to pick up the meat from the buck that I shot last week.  Mungo's does specialty cuts in addition to the usual fare.  All of my meat was ready except for the venison hot dogs that I had asked for, so they told me to come back on Saturday to get them.


October 9, 2006 57° Low / 78° High - Clouds 0 Animals Viewed
Although I had not planned to go hunting today, I had the day off from work for Columbus Day.  Micki wanted to spend some time cleaning our house, and as the Old Man said, when the women go to cleaning, it's time to get away.  I headed down to the lease shortly after lunch and decided to hunt in stand #3.

Not much was happening today, and it marked the first hunt of the year where I did not see a deer.


October 5, 2006 62° Low / 90° High - Clear and hot 2 Deer Viewed
Another Thursday hunt, and this time around my long-time partner Ted was hunting with me.  We met at Nichol's Store and rode together from there to the lease in my Jeep.  I keep feeling drawn to Stand #3 in the mornings, so I went back there again with Ted going to Stand #1.  We put out some corn for Ted as I dropped him off at his stand, then I drove on to mine, dropped another bag of corn, then parked and got in my stand.

As daylight began to approach, I saw that there was already a doe out in front of my stand.  I watched her for a good while, making the decision early not to shoot her.  As the loggers started up their work in the distance, the doe raised her head, looked around, then quickly left the area.  I settled in to wait to see if another one would show up.

Within about 15 minutes, I saw another deer emerge from the woods a good ways past where the doe had been.  Another doe, I thought.  I raised my binoculars to be sure, and was shocked to see a pretty massive set of antlers on this deer.  I quickly grabbed my rifle, found the deer in the scope and fired.  As I recovered from the recoil, I was pretty sure I saw the deer stumble, but I couldn't be absolutely certain.  I did see it run off into the woods to the left.

In a great state of excitement, I called Ted on the radio to tell him I had just shot at a big buck.  I had visions of this being another scenario like last year, where I got a shot at a nice one but ended up missing.  I told Ted that I was going to go ahead and look for him while he kept hunting.  Ted said that he had a spike at his stand and would stay in place for now, but to call him if I needed help.  I got out of the stand, grabbed some marking tape, and walked down to where the deer had been.

I made two fairly quick passes at the area where the deer may have stumbled, but I saw no blood or tracks.  I moved over to the edge of the woods where he would have run in, then began to slowly search for signs that I had hit him.  Within a few minutes, I found a very small scuff mark in the dirt, then found a single tiny spot of blood on a stalk of grass.  I radioed Ted again to tell him I had blood.

I marked the start of the blood trail, then began to slowly follow it into the woods.  There was not much blood visible, and the sun wasn't high enough in the sky to give me much light.  I radioed to Ted that the trail was not heavy, then suddenly I found a big splash of blood.  I continued to follow it up and down hills until it finally started to give out.  As I looked around to see which way he might have gone from the last blood mark, I saw him laying not 10 yards from where I was. 

I again called Ted and told him that I found the deer, and that it was a good one.  He asked if I wanted help now, and knowing that we had a long drag ahead of us and I wanted to get this monster to the taxidermist, I told him that I hated to end his hunt early, but yeah, we needed to go ahead and get him out.  I followed my marking tape back to the logging road, then walked back to my stand.  From there, I gathered my gear, then walked to the truck and drove down to get Ted.

We made the drag in two or three stages, took a few pictures, then loaded the deer onto my truck.  We took him over to Arnold's house to show him off, then took him to the processor to drop the meat off and get him caped out.  From there we went to Jordan's taxidermy, where I chose to have him mounted in a semi-sneak position.  He weighed in at 175 pounds.

After lunch we took a brief nap in my truck in a shadowed pine forest, then headed to our afternoon stands.  Ted went to the salt lick stand, which is #17, and I went on down to the Family Stand, #20.  It was extremely hot, and sweat poured off of my forehead for the first two hours of the hunt.  Neither of us saw anything that afternoon.

When I got home, Micki showed me some pictures she had taken in our back yard at about 11:00am this morning.  Looking at these, I could have spared myself the 1¼ hour drive and just hunted from my back deck!



September 28, 2006 57° Low / 82° High - Afternoon Storms 2 Deer Viewed

Today promised to be a bit less humid than last Saturday, and it felt wonderful outside when I walked out to start loading my truck.  Pete was already there waiting for me, and we quickly got our gear loaded and ready to go.  As usual, we were the first ones to arrive at the lease.   I do this deliberately so that we'll get our choice of stands.  Today I chose Stand #1, one of my favorites, for Pete and I went on up the road to Stand #3.

The view from Stand 3

The woods were extremely alive this morning as sunrise approached.  To my left, I heard a coyote yip and howl.  In the gulley to my right, the turkeys began to softly tree call as they prepared to fly down from their roosts.  Behind me, I heard a deer blow as it apparently walked up on where I had parked my truck this morning. 

For a long while, nothing crossed the road in front of me, but as morning wore on I had seven turkeys appear way out at the end of the road.  Over the next half hour, they made their way down the road and right past my stand before disappearing into the woods behind me.  Shortly after they left, the six pointer that I saw last weekend made another appearance about 100 yards out from me.

From the way he kept looking into the woods, I knew there was at least one more deer present, and it soon revealed itself as another, slightly bigger six pointer.  Both deer were too small to be legal shooters for this lease.  After they left, I saw a few more turkeys from time to time, but no more deer.

At 10:30, Pete radioed me and we decided to pack it in for the morning.  Before heading down to pick him up at his stand, I quickly drove the entire length of the road with my truck, using my GPS to waypoint each of the stand locations on this road.

Pete reported that he had seen nothing but seven turkeys (probably the same seven I saw).  I was disappointed; I just knew that Stand #1 would get him a deer. 

After picking him up, Pete and I drove over onto the next lease road and spent a little time checking out stands and setting waypoints for each of them on the GPS.  We also chose our stands for the evening, with me going to Stand #9, and Pete going a little further down to #10.  With the stands chosen, it was time for lunch, then a nap.

At about 3:30, we split up to begin our hunts.  Stand #9 gets horribly hot in the afternoons and stays that way until the sun goes behind the trees, so I spent a good two hours just trying to keep cool.  At 5:30, I saw something in the woods in front of me that about 100 yards out that looked like the butt and back legs of a deer.  My binoculars confirmed what I was seeing, and soon I could tell that I was looking at a doe. 

There was too much brush to try a shot, so I continued watching the deer, hoping for an opening.  She made her way out to the logging road, pausing long enough to give me a beautiful broadside shot, which I took.  At the boom of the rifle, the deer jumped, started to run, then stopped and looked around trying to figure out where the sound had come from.  She did not look hit, so I jacked another round into the chamber and fired again.  This time I saw her fall, and I knew I had her.

I called Pete to let him know the shooting was me, but told him to keep his place in the stand and we'd continue to hunt.  I got down, found the deer in a gulley 20 yards off the road, tagged her, then dragged her back up to the roadside.  After doing this I got back in my stand and settled in to hunt a bit more.  Within an hour, a spike had appeared.  He was standing right beside the dead doe, but never even looked at her.   He caught a scent of me at some point though and turned and quickly left the area.

The wind increased, and I started to hear thunder in the distance. I called Pete to tell him we might have to bail out before long.  We agreed to stay in our stands until 7:00.  When I saw lightning a few minutes later, I called Pete again to tell him it was over.  I drove down and got him, then we came back to my stand and loaded up my deer.  It was pouring rain as we drove out of the lease.

Pete saw a nice bobcat during his evening hunt, but no deer.  I'm going to really have to think about which stand will present him with the best opportunity for a shot the next time we hunt.


September 23, 2006 70° Low / 87° High - Clear and hot 2 Deer Viewed
It was incredibly humid this morning when I went outside to start loading my gear into my truck.  Pete was waiting for me in my driveway when I walked outside, and we were soon underway.  On the way down to the lease we covered a few of the finer points of deer hunting such as how to determine whether or not a deer is shootable and what to do after taking the shot.

We were the first ones to arrive at the lease, giving us our choice of stands for the morning.   On Thursday I had put out some corn and Buck Grub at the two stands I wanted us to hunt in, and these are the stands we headed to this morning.  Both of our stands were ground blinds, and they were within 50 yards of each other, but facing in different directions.

Shortly after sunrise, I saw a six point buck come into the road that I was watching.  He stayed in the area for a good half hour, but he obviously was not a shooter.  After he finally left, a flock of turkeys came out and began to feed.  I watched them for awhile, then they disappeared into the woods.  It wasn't long before I saw another deer come out way down the road, at least 200 yards away.  I checked it out with my binoculars and determined it was a good sized doe.  I raised my rifle and took the shot, but saw the bullet splash in the road. 

A clean miss, but I walked down to the spot and searched for blood and/or the deer for a half hour.  Giving up, I called Pete and told him it was time to pack it in.  We met at the truck, then went back to my deer spot for another 15 minutes to look around before deciding that it was indeed a clean miss.

After a lunch of hamburgers at the Riverdeck, we headed back to the lease.  Stopping at the trailer for a couple of bags of corn, we headed into the main lease and drove over to the Family Stand where we would both hunt this evening.  It being only a little after noon when we got there, we took a long nap in the heat before getting ready to get in the stand.

We were both drenched in sweat by the time it was ready to climb in the blind, but the wind direction wasn't horrible, so I hoped the deer would not smell us.  Whatever the reason, we sat in the stand until dark and saw nothing.  I think it was just a bit too hot for the deer to be moving much this afternoon.


September 21, 2006 48° Low / 73° High - Clear 3 Deer Viewed
Today should be my last day hunting alone for awhile, as Pete will be joining me on Saturday.  Pete has never killed a deer, so I really wanted to get my first one for the year out of the way so that I can concentrate on helping him get one this weekend.

This morning I went back to Stand #1, where I had hunted on opening morning.  I stopped at the corn trailer and got a bag on the way in, dumped it out near my stand, then parked the truck and headed up the ladder.  It was quite cold this morning, and after I got settled in I had to put on a jacket to keep warm.

At about 8:15, I saw movement about 200 yards away, at the far end of the logging road I was looking down.  My binoculars confirmed that two does were headed my way.  As I watched them, they both broke into a run and they quickly cut the distance between us in half.  They stopped about 100 yards out, and I could tell that while one of the deer was slightly smaller than average, the other looked to be a nice doe. 

I traded my binoculars for my rifle, waited for a clear view, then slipped off the safety and fired.  Both deer vanished instantly, but I was confident that I had made a good shot.  Here's the important thing about shooting a deer, especially one shot at a long distance.  Use your binoculars to carefully make a note of where the deer was standing when you shot.  If you have time, it's better to do this before you actually shoot, but sometimes there is not enough time for that.

Through the lens of my binoculars I found a small gum tree growing near where the deer had been, and I chose this to be my point of reference.  I gathered my gear and stowed it all in my backpack, then climbed down from my stand.  About 10 or 15 minutes had passed from the time I shot, so I began to make my way quietly but quickly down the road to where the deer had been. 

As I approached the gum tree, I began to look for blood or scuff marks in the road.  I soon found two likely scuffs, but no blood.  Turning around, I began to walk slowly back toward the stand, and almost immediately found a huge spatter of blood in the road.  A good solid hit, for sure.  I followed the blood trail into the woods on the right, sometimes losing it, but always picking it back up.  As the blood headed into a thicket, I chose to go around the briars, and I found myself on an old abandoned road bed.  I started to look around to see if I could pick up the blood trail, but almost immediately spotted my doe laying on the ground not 15 yards away.

I dragged her out of the woods and back to the road, then went and got my truck.  I wanted to take some time to put some corn out for Pete on Saturday, so before loading the deer onto my basket I drove down to the corn trailer, grabbed a few bags, then drove to the stand that I want Pete to hunt in on Saturday morning.  After corning it and adding some Buck Grub to the mix, I headed back, loaded up my deer, and took her to the processor.

After getting the deer taken care of, I drove over to Arnold's house to have lunch and spend some time with him.  We went out to his deer lease and fixed one of his treestands, then went into Lancaster for lunch at Jomar's.  When we were done, we parted ways and I went back to my lease.

I decided to hunt Stand #9 tonight, and as I climbed into the stand I made the decision to only shoot a buck tonight.  I was a bit early in the stand, so I stretched out on the bench seat and took a 2 hour nap.  Although the temperature itself wasn't bad, the sun was shining directly into the stand, and it was incredibly hot in there.  I was covered in sweat by the time evening started to fall, and was rethinking my choice of stands when I saw a doe slip out of the woods and into the shooting lane about 100 yards from me.

Looking at her in my binoculars, I saw that she was kind of skinny and was definitely not a shooter, so I simply watched her eat.  The wind was swirling a bit, and I think she may have gotten my scent.  She stopped eating, looked my way, then trotted off into the woods.  That was the only deer I saw for the rest of the afternoon.


September 16, 2006 62° Low / 82° High - Clear 1 Deer Viewed

Another day hunting by myself.  Ted and Pete won't be able to join me for another week, and then they'll basically be alternating coming along as my guests on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Today I went to Stand #9, which is a ladder stand where I saw many deer last year.  Indeed, this morning I saw a spike buck and even took a picture of him, but no other deer showed up.  I decided that I would either come back to this stand tonight, or try the salt lick stand instead.  I would make my decision over lunch at the Riverdeck Grill.


After lunch, I headed back to the lease and decided to go to the salt lick stand.  I don't know why I keep going back to that stand; I've only seen one deer there in many hunts, and when I got out to inspect the salt lick I saw some blood where a deer had been killed there either this morning or yesterday.  I decided to hunt it anyway, knowing that blood on the ground doesn't make much difference to a deer.

A poor decision, because after a 2 hour nap in the truck I got in the stand and saw nothing all afternoon.   I take that back.  I saw a rabbit cross the field around dark.  Driving out, I met up with a club member named Trey who had hunted Stand #9 this evening, which was where I was originally going to hunt.  Trey had killed a nice 8 pointer from "my" stand.


September 15, 2006 61° Low / 82° High - Clear 2 Deer Viewed
Today was the opening day of the rifle deer season in Kershaw County, SC, where my lease is.  I'd be hunting alone today, since neither Ted nor Pete were able to get away from work.  Last night I stopped at the store and bought some Buck Grub and some C'mere Deer, and on my way into the woods this morning I stopped and poured a bit of each out on the ground at Stand #1.  I drove a ways past the stand, parked my truck and walked back to the ladder, then climbed up and took a seat.

The morning started slowly.  No deer, no birds, nothing.  I had thought that I would surely see some deer right away, but the first two didn't show themselves until 8:30, about two hours after I had gotten up in the blind.  Two does came out of the woods on the right, about 50 yards past where I had put the bait.  They didn't pay any attention to it, and a quick glance at them through my binoculars showed them to be a little too small to shoot.  They crossed the road after a quick look around, then disappeared into the woods. 

When nothing else had shown up by 11:00am, I climbed down from the stand and drove down the road to our corn trailer.  I wanted to see if there was any corn in there that I could put out at a couple of other stands.  Turns out there was some corn.  Lots of it.

I grabbed two bags, then went into town for a quick lunch.  When I got back to the lease an hour later, I decided to drive around on the main row to look and see which stands had corn on them and which didn't.  I checked out about a dozen stands, and most of them were baited nicely, and then I made my decision on where to hunt for the afternoon.   I decided to go to Stand #25, which is where I had killed one doe last year and had missed a shot at a monster buck.  I drove down on to the next road and added a bit of corn to what was already at #25, then settled in to hunt.

Almost immediately, I saw a flock of hen turkeys.  They stayed around for the entire afternoon, moving in and out of sight until almost dark.  Several times I could hear a doe bleating in the woods behind me, but she never showed herself, nor did any other deer.  Although opening day ended with no deer, I was happy to be back the woods again. 


April 15, 2006 64° Low / 94° High - Weather 0 Animals Viewed
What a hard day of hunting today turned out to be.  Pete and I were hunting together today, and we got down to the lease at just about exactly the right time.  The game plan for the morning was to drive along the two mile main lease road, stopping every tenth of a mile or so to owl hoot to try to get a turkey to gobble. 

We got a response at our second stop -- what I thought was a good double gobble from about 200 yards away.  We got back in the truck and parked it out of sight, grabbed our gear, then began to quickly walk toward where we thought the gobble came from.  Getting a gobble so early, we both thought that this would be a great day of turkey hunting. As we got down the road, I owl called a couple more times, anticipating the response from the turkey.  Nothing.

I tried a few more owl calls and still got no response.  I switched to a different hooter, but got nothing.  I've never had the turkeys shock gobble one time while on the roost and then quit, but that's what they did.  We messed around with this turkey for another 15 to 20 minutes, but he never made a sound.  We decided to go sit in the woods where I shot my gobbler on opening day rather than head back to the truck, but we had no luck there either.

We tried several more places along the main road and still got nothing.  Finally, I saw a promising looking little side road, more of a trail than anything, and suggested that we walk down it a ways.  We got about 100 yards in when I heard something rustling through the leaves.  "That's turkeys," I said.  "Hear 'em?"  Pete said he did, and soon we heard some putting coming from down in a gulley below us.  I guess we walked up on a group of hens which spooked before we saw them.

I tried to call them back with some yelping, and I did get another hen to answer from off to the other side of the trail, so we decided to stay in the area for awhile.  We sat in some real nice looking woods, but heard nothing.  Eventually we gave up on this area and tried a couple of food plots, but still no luck.  One food plot had some fresh turkey poop in it -- fresh as in maybe an hour old -- but no turkeys. 

We were getting hot and tired by lunch time, so after some burgers at the little restaurant down the road we decided to go sit on the first lease road for about an hour, then give up and go home if nothing happened by about 2:00 or so.  We tried it, and indeed nothing happened, and indeed we gave up and went home.


April 4, 2006 42° Low / 68° High - Clear 3 Turkeys Viewed
For the first time in a long time Ted and I got to go hunting together today.  Because of his job situation, Ted didn't get to hunt much last deer season, so it was great to get back in the woods with him.  We met at Nichol's store about an hour before sunrise and Ted rode with me in my truck from there down to the lease.  Since we haven't gotten to spend much time together lately, I thought that would be a good way to catch up on some things.

Now in this next section you might think I'm being hard on ol'  Ted.  I'm not -- what happened next was hilarious, and sometimes things just don't go the way we expect them to.  I'd say our morning hunt didn't quite go as planned, as you'll soon find out.

When we got out on the lease, we stopped on the logging road on a ridge high above a hardwood valley.  We got out of the truck right before sunrise and I did an owl call, as I always do first thing in the morning on a turkey hunt.  Almost immediately, a turkey gobbled down in the hollow below us.  We quickly grabbed our gear and headed down the ravine into the valley.

When we got to the bottom, we decided to sit about 50 yards apart and hope that the gobbler would come to one of us.  After we got settled, I owl called again to make sure he was still there.  He answered on the second hoot, and from the sound of him I could tell that he was still on the roost.  We sat quietly for about 15 minutes.

I owl called one more time, and this time the answering gobble came from the ground.  Ok, I thought.  We're on.  I did a short series of yelps, to which the gobbler did not respond.  No problem, I thought.  I know what to do here... we'll just sit quietly and he'll probably come in within about 15 minutes.  He's not wanting to gobble to any hen calling this morning.

Preparing myself for the long, silent wait, my thoughts were interrupted by ol' Ted, bless his heart, who began to do some serious calling.   No, I thought.  Not yet.  It's too early, and he's not answering yelps.  Ted called.  He called again.  And again.  Finally, I whispered "shhh" as loudly as I dared.  No luck.  He kept calling.  I whispered louder, but we were so far apart that he couldn't hear me.  He kept calling.  Soon, I hissed "shut up, dangit" as loudly as I dared, and he called some more.  Bless his heart.  When he began doing some out of season calls, I got up, walked over to him, and said, "Ted, please stop calling."  He stopped.  Finally.

"Ok," I said.  "That's too much calling.  No other hens are making noise, and he's not answering.  We need to just sit here and wait for him."  At that time, Ted stiffened, and said "oh man, I see him."  Following his gaze, I saw a couple of hens coming down the hill on the opposite side of the valley, and not long after that I saw the gobbler.  He was headed our way, but he was following the hens and was not coming to any of our calling.

I watched the hens and told Ted to get ready for the shot.  The hens got a bit closer, and the gobbler kept coming.  "Ok," I said.  "Don't shoot yet -- he's way out of range.  Just be ready."  By this time, the gobbler was in full strut and was still coming down the hill.  "No shot yet," I repeated.  "Way too far."  We waited and waited, with me occasionally saying "just wait, no shot."  The boss got a little bit closer.  "Donnnnnn't shoot yet."  BLAM.  "You shot," I said, as the turkey flew off over the hill.

Ted got overexcited.  That's the long and short of it.  He's been out of the woods awhile, with heavy pressures from a new job, and he fired too quickly.  I don't think we'd have gotten the bird anyway, as he was already trailing two hens and was thus highly unlikely to leave them... and the shot was just way too far to make with any confidence.

We saw another two gobblers later in various places, but both times we were in my truck, and those don't count in my record of game seen.  Anyway, the turkeys still aren't gobbling yet, so we'll give it another try in a couple of weeks.


April 1, 2006 59° Low / 82° High - Rain to Clear 2 Turkeys Viewed
Opening day got off to a wet start.  I got up at about 3:00 and opened up the door to my back porch to feel how cold it was and was surprised to find that it was pouring down rain.  Not one to give up on a day's hunt just because it's a little wet outside, I proceeded to get ready as planned, and when I opened up my garage door my new friend Pete was outside waiting for me. 

Pete is a new addition to the folks in my hunting journal this year.  While doing some research on my upcoming African safari, I stumbled across an internet forum dedicated to African hunting.  I posted a few notes out there and was surprised to get an email from a fellow who lives right down the road from me.  He, like me, is around 40, is a computer programmer, and is thinking about his own safari in the next few years.  Today would be his first time turkey hunting. 

It was still raining when we got down to the lease at around 5:45 or so, but it was starting to taper off.  We drove on out to where I wanted to start hunting and were immediately pleased to see that the logging road I had chosen to walk was torn up from turkeys scratching.  We were further pleased when my first owl hoot was rewarded with an answering gobble from a couple hundred yards away.

We headed down the road, occasionally owl hooting, but the turkey never answered again.  As it got a little bit lighter, we tried some yelping and a fly-down call, but still no luck.  Giving up on the first logging road, we headed a little farther into the lease and got on the next trail.  My yelps here were rewarded with something that sounded like the first note of a gobble then abruptly stopped.  Again, no more sounds emerged from this area.

Next we decided to try a food plot, and as we turned down the road that leads to that particular field we spotted two turkeys about 100 yards off to our right.  We couldn't tell what they were, so we made a long stalk through the woods but when we got up to where they had been the turkeys were gone.  I'm pretty sure they were hens, so we gave up on them and went on over to the food plot.  No luck there, and I was quickly running out of ideas.

I decided to head us over to where Ted had killed his two jakes in one shot last year.  We set up about 40 yards apart, and I did a couple of yelps, a series of cutts, and then shut up completely.  We sat quietly, waiting for something to happen.  After about 15 minutes, I heard a sound in the woods to my left.  I jerked my head around and saw two red turkey heads starting to run away.  I couldn't see the beard on the first one, but on the second bird I saw a good sized one so I raised my 10 gauge and fired.  The turkey fell to the ground while his partner took to the air. 

I looked over toward Pete hoping he would get a shot, but the bird was gone before he got the chance.  We ran over to mine and put him down with a close range head shot.   Turned out to be a 19 pound gobbler with a ten inch beard and one inch spurs.  We took some pictures, then went over to the grill to get something to drink.  Debating on whether or not to go ahead and clean the bird immediately, I called Arnold to tell him about it and learned that he had killed his own turkey this morning.  That sealed the deal.  We drove over to his house, exchanged congratulations about our turkeys, cleaned mine, then went into town for lunch.

After a quick meal at Little Al's in Heath Springs, we decided to give the Briarpatch a quick look around.  We stalked down to the bottom field, which is usually full of turkeys, but today is was empty.  Giving up on this lease pretty quickly we went back over to Liberty Hill and made three or four more stands, but saw nothing the rest of the day (other than a couple of hens on the side of the road).


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