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The 2007 Hunting Season

Africa!  At long last, this is the year that I take my first safari to Africa.  This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me, and something that I've been actively planning since January 2006. 

Of course, the safari will take place in mid-July, so there should be plenty of hunting action taking place before that.  We've got duck season that runs through the end of January, then we're going to really try to do some serious predator hunting in February.

We might get some more coyote hunting in during March, and may even try the squirrels a time or two.  And of course April means turkeys here in South Carolina.

After that comes the long awaited safari, then we'll suffer through August and it'll finally be time to get back in the deer woods.

We've got a line on where some hogs might be holed up, so we may sneak in a wild boar hunt sometime this year too.  It's shaping up to be another great hunting season, so settle in and let's see what's in store for us!


2007 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 14 1
Whitetail Doe 46 6
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 5 0
Turkey (Hen) 1 -
Wild Boar 0 0
Coyote 0 0
Fox 1 0
Bobcat 0 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 0
Crows - 4
Ducks / Geese 0 0
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
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January 1, 2008 33° Low / 52° High - Clear and Windy 0 Animals Viewed

It was the last day of deer season today.  With seven deer in the bag for the year, I decided to sleep in this morning, and it was a little bit before noon when I left the house today.  When I got to the sign-in board I saw club member Jimmy's vehicle parked beside a pickup truck I didn't recognize.  One of the doors on Jimmy's truck was wide open, and there was no one to be seen.  I looked around for Jimmy and Matt, wondering where they might be.  When no sign of them was to be found, I drove over to the first lease road to see how the loggers were doing.

They have apparently finished work up on the first road and are now working out on the main road up near the top of the lease.  The roads were still a mess, so I didn't spend much time back up in there.  Turning around, I drove back to the board where I found Jimmy, his son Matt, and a guest of theirs sitting on the tailgate of the truck that I had seen.  They had been still hunting, they told me, but had not seen anything.

We talked for a bit, then I went out on to the lease to do some predator hunting before the afternoon deer hunt.  I made a beautiful setup on the road between stands 9 and 10, but it was just too windy for anything to be moving.  I made another setup below stand 12, but again the wind was my enemy.  I finally gave up and got in stand 15 for the evening hunt.

I had been shivering in the stand for about 20 minutes when I finally decided I needed more clothes to keep warm.  I got down and walked back to my truck, got a heavier coat, the returned to the stand.  I sat quietly until it was almost dark, seeing nothing.  Just at sunset, a deer came up behind my stand, but she caught my scent, blew a couple of times, then took off.  From the sound of it, she had been a really small deer anyway, so it was just as well.

When full darkness came, I got down and walked back to the truck.  At the sign in board, Jimmy and I waited for Matt and their guest to come out of the woods.  When they arrived, we said our goodbyes for the season, then headed for home.


December 29, 2007 42° Low / 54° High - Overcast 0 Animals Viewed

Pete and I hunted together for the last time in the season today.  I started out the morning in stand 15 while Pete went to number 9.    I saw nothing all morning; Pete reported that he got a quick look at a fox but was unable to get in position for a shot before the fox disappeared into the woods.

We drove into Heath Springs for a quick lunch at the chicken place, then returned to the lease.  I wanted to get a look at what the loggers had done so far, so we drove up the first road on the property.  The road was a muddy mess, but we made it to the top.  The woods behind and to the left of stand 3 had been cut.  There was not much else to see, so we turned around and went to the sign in board to choose our stands for the evening.

Pete elected to hunt in the salt lick stand, which is where he killed his first deer last year.   I decided to give stand 35 one last try for the year.  Neither of us saw anything all evening.


December 27, 2007 44° Low / 60° High - Overcast 0 Animals Viewed

Micki and I took our Chihuahua, Wilbur, down to the lease last night to put some corn out for today.  We tried to go up the back road, but it was way too muddy, so we ended up just putting corn at 1, 9, and 15.  We went ahead and tagged me and Pete in for 1 and 9 while we were there. 

Dropping Pete off at his stand, I turned the truck around and headed back down the road to go to my stand.  As soon as I started driving, a big coyote jumped across the road in front of me.  Excited, I watched him go, then continued on to my stand.  I sat there in the tree until about 9:00am.  Seeing nothing, I walked back up the road to my truck and got out my predator caller and a new decoy that my parents gave me for Christmas.  I gave that a try for another hour or so, but still got no responses from any coyotes.

At 10:15, I saw a truck coming up the road towards me.  They stopped beside my stand, and I got down to see who it was.  Turns out the logging company was ready to come in and start thinning part of our lease.  They needed a key for our gate, so I gave them a spare from my truck.  We talked a little bit about what they were going to do, and they said they would open us up some nice shooting lanes and fix the roads for us too.

I called Pete to tell him what was up.  I was going to move, but by the time I got everything packed up it was almost lunch time, so I headed into town and got some sandwiches for us, then we went and sat in a couple of stands on the first road for awhile.  Our hope was that the loggers would push some deer out toward us, but they never did get started cutting, so we finally headed back over to the second road.

Pete got in 9 again, and I went up to 15.  It was a slow evening, and neither of us saw anything at all.


December 22, 2007 42° Low / 54° High - Overcast and Windy 0 Animals Viewed

Micki and I took our Chihuahua, Wilbur, down to the lease last night to put some corn out for today.  We tried to go up the back road, but it was way too muddy, so we ended up just putting corn at 1, 9, and 15.  We went ahead and tagged me and Pete in for 1 and 9 while we were there. 

Dropping Pete off at his stand, I turned the truck around and headed back down the road to go to my stand.  As soon as I started driving, a big coyote jumped across the road in front of me.  Excited, I watched him go, then continued on to my stand.  I sat there in the tree until about 9:00am.  Seeing nothing, I walked back up the road to my truck and got out my predator caller and a new decoy that my parents gave me for Christmas.  I gave that a try for another hour or so, but still got no responses from any coyotes.

At 10:15, I saw a truck coming up the road towards me.  They stopped beside my stand, and I got down to see who it was.  Turns out the logging company was ready to come in and start thinning part of our lease.  They needed a key for our gate, so I gave them a spare from my truck.  We talked a little bit about what they were going to do, and they said they would open us up some nice shooting lanes and fix the roads for us too.

I called Pete to tell him what was up.  I was going to move, but by the time I got everything packed up it was almost lunch time, so I headed into town and got some sandwiches for us, then we went and sat in a couple of stands on the first road for awhile.  Our hope was that the loggers would push some deer out toward us, but they never did get started cutting, so we finally headed back over to the second road.

Pete got in 9 again, and I went up to 15.  It was a slow evening, and neither of us saw anything at all.


December 20, 2007 33° Low / 54° High - Overcast 1 Deer Viewed

All of the books and magazines say the same thing.  If you're pushing a wounded deer, or if you can't find it, leave it alone overnight and come back and resume the search the next day.  Last night's temperature dropped into the low 30s, so I knew that the deer wouldn't spoil over night. 

Pete was with me this morning, and we decided to do a short hunt until the sun was bright enough to help us look for my deer.  I got in stand 1, while Pete hung his climber over near stand 8 on the second road.

At dawn, I saw a nice doe come out of the woods and cross the logging road in front of me.  I resisted the temptation to shoot; I already had one deer to look for this morning, and the only thing I would shoot between now and then would be a big buck.  Unfortunately, one didn't show up.

At 9:00am, I got down from the stand and walked down the road to where I had been hunting last night.  I started into the woods and soon came upon the spot that the deer had been standing in when I made the shot.  There were white hairs everywhere, and I found a leg bone fragment on the ground.  Normally a leg bone is a bad sign; a leg broke deer can go a long way.  However, I knew from the shot angle that this was probably a fragment from the opposite side of the body that I had hit, meaning that the shot had been true and had simply exited low, striking the leg on the way out.

From there, I followed the tape trail from last night until I came to the last spot that I had marked.  As I arrived at that spot, Pete radioed me to say that he was on the way into the woods to help me with the search.  Rather than immediately look for blood, I began a wide arc, hoping to simply find the deer laying dead on the ground.  When that yielded nothing, I returned to the last blood spot just as Pete walked up.

We both began to search for the next blood, but had no luck with that.  Fanning out in different directions, we still could not find any sign of the deer.  Returning to the blood, I got down on my hands and knees and looked at things from the deer's perspective.  I kept thinking that she would have made a right turn at the last spot and headed down hill, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not find any sign in that direction.  Pete, also on his hands and knees, also found nothing.

Finally I looked back behind me at the trail of tape leading off into the woods.  It was heading fairly straight, and although the trail was a little thick in front of me I decided that maybe the deer had not turned after all and had simply continued straight up the hill.  Walking in that direction, I soon found another blood spot, then another and another. 

Pete stayed behind me, always stopping at the last blood and waiting there while I looked around.  As I looked, he said that he had seen a vulture fly down from a tree off to my left.  I headed in that direction.

The further along the trail I got, the more I dreaded what I was going to find ahead of me.  Deer hair was now showing up on the trail, the blood was more and more evident, and the pine needles were scattered as if a massive struggle had occurred.  As I crested a small hill, I couldn't believe what I saw.  There was the spine, rib cage, back legs, and backskin of my deer.

There was not a scrap of meat left on the bones.  A pack of coyotes had found the animal and had absolutely skeletonized it in a matter of hours.  Pete was walking up the trail behind me now, asking me if I found the deer.  I kept quiet, wanting to see his reaction to what he would find.  We both could not believe what we were seeing. 

There was nothing left do to.  We had played this one by the book, and had done everything right.  Although it's hard to lose a deer, it's not as tough when it plays out this way as it is when you don't find the animal at all.  There was nothing we could have done.  Every book and magazine would have told me to leave the deer overnight, and 99% of the time it would have worked out ok.  This time nature beat us. 

We took a short cut back out to the road, talking about what we had seen.  We've apparently got a bigger pack of coyotes to deal with than we thought, and I looked forward to January when we'd be hunting them with a vengeance.

We did stay and hunt that evening, but neither of us saw anything from our stands.


December 19, 2007 33° Low / 59° High - Clear 3 Deer Viewed

As soon as I got off of work today I drove down to the lease to spend an hour in the woods.  I wanted to hunt the climbing stand that Pete and I had moved last week, and as I made my approach to the stand a big doe jumped up and ran.  Encouraged, I got into the stand as quietly as I could and climbed the pine tree as high as I could go.

It wasn't long before I heard soft footsteps in the leaves down to my right.  Looking carefully through the tangle of trees and vines, I saw a deer making its way through the woods towards our corn pile.  It started feeding, and soon a second deer of equal size joined it.  With the current angle I had, it was difficult to judge the size of the deer, so I sat still and watched them eat.

After about 10 minutes, the second deer started heading up the hill toward me.  I saw that she was a good sized doe, and decided to take the shot if the opportunity arose.  She soon caught sight of me in the tree, but I sat still and avoided making eye contact.  Through my peripheral vision I watched her try to figure out what I was.  She bobbed her head and stomped her foot, but I didn't move an inch.

Deciding I was nothing of interest, the deer began to eat some of the bushes in front of me, and the other deer slowly made its way up the hill, glancing at me occasionally but not showing the interest that the first deer did.  They were both 10 feet in front of me, and I had no way to raise my rifle without being detected. 

As I sat watching them, I heard something moving quickly through the woods to my right.  I turned my head that way as slowly as I could, but couldn't find the source of the sound.  Finally I saw the black tip of a thick tail; a fox or a coyote.  The deer, alerted by the sound, both jumped and began to run.  This was my chance.  "Wahhhhhhh," I said loudly, imitating the bleat of a deer.

The both stopped for an instant, and I raised my rifle and took a quartering-away shot at the biggest of the two.  I held the crosshairs back behind the shoulder, finding the proper angle for such a shot.  The deer leapt six feet in the air at my shot, then crashed into the bushes.  My heart was pounding as I climbed down from my tree and walked over to the spot of the shot and marked the start of the blood trail with a piece of orange tape.

You should never go in the woods immediately after a deer that has run, so to give it time I walked back down the road to my truck.  I drove it up to the site of the shot, then spent some time organizing my gear for a solo tracking job in the dark.  As a concealed weapons permit holder, I'm able to keep a pistol in my backpack, so the first thing I did was get that out and belt it on.  Don't want to be alone deep in the woods without personal protection of some kind.

Next I got my flashlight and a half-dozen spare batteries.  Again, you don't want to be alone in the woods and have your flashlight die on you.  Some more trail marking tape, my cell phone, and my GPS unit completed the kit.  I also took Pete's "Dead Sled" with me, which is a device to help you drag a deer out of the woods.  I've also got temporary custody of Ted's homemade deer buggy, but I didn't bring it with me today since I left home in such a hurry this afternoon.

Kit organized, I turned on the hazard lights of my Jeep, then locked the doors.  When I'm trailing a deer a night, I always park my truck near where I go in the woods, then turn on my flashers.  This can help lead you back out of the woods close to the spot where you parked.  With all of the essentials being taken care of, I made my way into the woods and soon found the blood trail.

At each place I found blood, I tied a piece of marking tape on a tree or branch.  I occasionally lost the trail, but usually picked it back up within a few minutes.  At one point I lost it completely, but in making a wide arc I found a small drop of blood on an ant hill.  Once I found a big puddle of blood where the deer had laid down for a few minutes.

Whenever I could not find blood, but had an intuition about which way the deer had gone, I simply laid a piece of tape across a branch without tying it in place.  This helped me to differentiate known blood spots from suspected ones.  Once, while shining my light around looking for the white belly of the deer, I saw a pair of eyes looking at me from 40 yards away.  A fox, I thought, or a coyote.  Standing still, I could hear soft footfalls in the leaves in the distance.  Animals were moving tonight.

Finally, I came to the last blood spot that I could find.  It was a puddle six inches in diameter; a good sized pool of blood, but I could find nothing else anywhere around it.  I looked around for quite awhile, but it was getting quite late, and I knew I would have to leave the deer and come back in the morning. 


December 15, 2007 35° Low / 50° High - Windy and Overcast 0 Animals Viewed

A couple of days ago I had marked a tree for Pete to hunt in near stand 1, and as we entered the lease I dropped him off there.  Then I headed on up to the climbing stand that I had hung, hopeful to see the big buck this morning.

I sat in the stand for a couple of hours without seeing anything.  When a light rain started to fall, I decided to climb down from the tree and get in the covered blind 100 yards back down the logging road so that I wouldn't get wet.  I've had a bit of a cold, and I didn't want to make it worse by sitting in the tree in wet clothes all morning.

I stayed in the blind another couple of hours, but saw nothing.  At 11:00am, I got in my truck and drove it up on the hill to make a quick phone call to check in on my grandmother, and as I talked to her I saw Pete walking up the road towards where I had been hunting.  I honked the horn at him, finished my phone call, then drove down to meet Pete.

He had seen a doe and a heavy 8-pointer down at his stand.  I was tired of stand 3 anyway, having hunted there for two solid weeks, so I made a snap decision to move my climber down there, put some more corn out, and give that a shot next week.  We did that, going so far as to take some empty corn bags and scrape up the corn I had put out at my previous stand and move it to the new location.  Pete was a big help in this effort, and I really appreciated that. 

After we had completed the move, we had a quick lunch, then went back to where we had jumped the does the other day.  This time we made a really fun two man "walk and wait" drive, but unfortunately saw nothing but turkeys.  We walked a long ways, making the decision to cut through a thicket and come out at stand stand 8, then walk back up the hill to the truck. 

I found some really nice bedding areas, and even found the shoulder blade, vertebrae, and femur of a good sized deer.  Pete found a shed antler too; half of a four point buck in great shape. 

I again had plans at home that evening, so after our walk through the woods we packed it up and headed out.


December 12, 2007 59° Low / 80° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

I've been thinking about that big buck at stand 3 a good bit.  He's really been tearing the woods up, making a lot of rubs on the trees in that area.  I decided to get off the logging road and into the woods near where he usually comes out, so after work today I rushed down to the lease and dropped 200 pounds of corn off in the woods.  Then I hung a climbing stand in there to hunt on Saturday.

I still had some light left, so I went ahead and got in the stand to hunt until dark.  I had made a lot of noise putting the corn out, so obviously nothing showed up, but it was still a fun hunt. 


December 8, 2007 36° Low / 75° High - Clear 1 Deer Viewed

I'm still hunting that big buck that Pete saw.  Pete and I hit the woods today and of course I went back to stand 3 to give it another go.  Pete went to stand 6 since there was still corn there from where Ted and I had put it out a couple of days earlier.  The morning was a slow one, and neither of us saw anything from our stands.

After lunch at the grille, we decided to do a bit of predator hunting.  We made a 30 minute stand at one location, but got no response whatsoever.  Deciding to move, we went down one of the less-often traveled roads on the lease to give it another go.  As we drove deeper and deeper into the woods, we suddenly jumped a pair of does that were bedded near the side of the trail.

We jumped out of the truck, and I saw another deer way off through the thicket to our left.  We grabbed our rifles, and the deer just stood there.  The only thing visible was his rear end and back legs, and I kept moving slowly to my left to try to see the rest of him.  Just as I got a good look at him, he snorted and ran off.  It was a small spike buck, so we wouldn't have shot it anyway, but it sure was fun to see him like that.

We walked around the area a bit more to see if any more deer were bedded, but none were.  I did ease up on a flock of gobblers, so that was kind of fun.  After meeting back at the truck, we decided to call it a day since Micki and I had our Sunday School class Christmas party that evening.


December 6, 2007 30° Low / 44° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

Ted was back in the woods with me today.  He'd already gotten one deer earlier this year, and I was really hoping to get him another one before the season ended.  Having seen a lot of tracks at stand 2 the other day, I suggested that he hunt there.  I went back to stand 3, anxious to get a look at the buck that Pete had seen on our previous hunt.  

We stayed in our stands until mid-morning, but neither of us saw anything.  There was not much corn at any of the stands, so we decided to drive into Camden to try to find some after a quick lunch at the grille.  Wal-Mart was out of corn, but we found a good bit of it at the Tractor Supply store next door, so we picked up 300 pounds of it then headed back to the lease.

Ted has a new Ruger .44 revolver that he wanted to try to sight in, so we stopped at the range on our lease to give it a try.  Unfortunately, the red dot scope that he had on it could not handle the recoil of the big gun, so we had to stop after it quit working. 

We put the corn out at stands stand 3 and stand 6, then began our hunt.  Unfortunately, neither of us saw anything the rest of the afternoon. 


December 1, 2007 28° Low / 63° High - Clear 4 Deer Viewed

Went back to stand 3 today, still trying to get a look at that eight pointer that Pete saw last weekend.  Just as dawn began to break, I saw a big deer move out into the logging road 200 yards away from me.  The body language said "buck", but it was still too dark to see his antlers.  I watched him for ten or fifteen minutes, and as it grew lighter and lighter I glassed him as hard as I could to see what kind of rack he had.

One more minute, I thought.  If I had one more minute, the day would lighten enough that I'd be able to see his antlers.  The deer chose that minute to head back into the woods though, and I never could tell how good he was.  An hour or so later, a four pointer came out and fed for awhile, then at 10:00am two big does crossed the road 150 yards out from me. 

I was after a buck this morning though, so I let the does walk.  At 11:15, I decided that nothing else was going to show up, so I got in the truck and drove over to Fort Lawn to talk to Randy Jordan, my taxidermist.  My trophies from Africa are on the way home, and I wanted to discuss the next steps in the process with him.  We spent a little bit of time going over the details, then I said goodbye and headed back over to the lease.

I was just pulling into the gate when Jimmy and Matt drove up, so we spent a few minutes talking about where the deer might be.  Finishing up our conversation, I went and sat in stand 3 for a half hour trying to call up a coyote, but nothing appeared.  Giving up on that, I got back in my stand from this morning and spent the rest of the afternoon watching.  Nothing at all showed up in the evening.


November 29, 2007 41° Low / 67° High - Overcast to clear 0 Animals Viewed

As I signed in for stand 3, I looked around me in amazement.  There was a light snow falling, and a winter bite to the air.  The thermometer in my truck showed the temperature to be 41 degrees, but the snow was undeniable.  It got the tiniest bit heavier as I drove over and unlocked the gate, and it continued for the first half hour that I sat in my stand waiting for daylight.  The flakes were miniscule, and of course they were melting as soon as they hit the ground, but it was snow nonetheless.

I stayed in my stand until 11:00am, but saw nothing except a bald eagle all morning.  I packed up my gear, got some lunch, then went back and made a stand for predators for a half hour.  Getting no response, I headed back into the woods, this time choosing stand 2 for the afternoon hunt.  Although this stand is a little crowded feeling, I was quite comfortable all afternoon.  There were lots of tracks near this stand, which is why I chose it, but unfortunately I didn't see a thing from it.

As darkness fell I stood behind my truck and fired up my electronic caller, giving a coyote challenge call.  I let it run for a couple of minutes, then shut it off and listened for answering howls.  None came, so I drove down to the gate to let myself out.  As I got there, I could hear a pack of coyotes yipping somewhere near me, so the caller may have worked after all.   I think on Saturday evening, just as dusk comes, I'm going to let loose with some howls and see if I can't tag one.


November 24, 2007 28° Low / 50° High - Clear and windy 5 Deer Viewed

Pete got back in the woods with me on this cold Saturday morning.  I went back to stand 6 and Pete took stand 3.  I took my predator caller with me again to try for a coyote, but was also hoping to see a good buck this morning.

The early part of the hunt went pretty slow, but late in the morning Pete radioed me to tell me that he had just seen a nice 4 pointer.  A half hour later, at 10:30, he called again to say a big 8 pointer had just gone by.  As we talked, I looked to my right and saw a buck of my own.  At first I thought it was a four pointer, but after a good look at it I could see that it was a seven.

My deer stayed around feeding for 45 minutes, and Pete saw two more bucks and a doe during that time.  It was interesting that they were moving so late... something to keep in mind for the next few hunts.

After a quick lunch, we tried to call some crows for an hour or so, but having no luck with that we got back in our stands.  We swapped this time, but unfortunately Pete didn't see anything from his stand.  I saw a four pointer, a one pointer, and two does, but the big 8 pointer did not show up again.


November 23, 2007 33° Low / 54° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

An afternoon only hunt, I decided to shake things up a little bit.  Predator season opened yesterday, and I headed back to stand 6 to give the coyotes a go.  I chose that particular stand because it gives you 100 yard views in two different directions, enabling me to hunt for predators on one side of the hill and deer on the other.

Unfortunately though, neither predators nor deer made an appearance today.


November 17, 2007 29° Low / 59° High - Overcast and windy 5 Deer Viewed

I decided to sleep in this morning and just hunt the afternoon.  It was an absolutely beautiful day for hunting, a perfect November day.  The sky was heavy with clouds, and the fall colors were in full swing as I arrived at the lease.  As I passed our little target range I saw that Jimmy and Matt were there, so I stopped in and asked them how they had done this morning.  Neither had seen anything.

After chatting for a few minutes I went ahead and signed in for stand 6, grabbed a couple of bags of corn, then headed up to my stand.  As I rounded the corner behind stand 3, I was surprised to see that there was a deer out about 100 yards in front of the stand.  I climbed out of my truck and got my binoculars out of my backpack.  It was a nice doe, and here it was only 1:15pm.  As I watched, another big doe crossed behind the first one.

Excited, I watched them feed for several minutes until they finally saw me and fled.  I got back in my trucked and headed on up to my stand.  I had my camera with me, so I decided to film a little video of the hunt today, just for fun.  I cut a slit in the fabric of my stand that I could poke the camera lens through, then filmed a little introduction of the hunt. 

I then drove down and dumped out my corn, then got a bottle of estrus doe urine and walked down the road about 50 yards, then poured some of the foul smelling liquid onto a rag, which I proceeded to drag up the road, around the bend toward the stand, then I finally hung it in a tree hoping to attract a big buck.  I drove back up the road, parked the truck and got in the stand.

As the afternoon wore on, I saw a flock of hen turkeys come out of the woods to my left.  I got some good video of them coming up the road toward my stand.  As they passed in front of me, I glanced to the right and was surprised to see two deer down 100 yards below my stand.  I quickly shoved the camera into the hole I had cut, then grabbed my rifle.

There were two nice does down at the end of the road, and as I was about to shoot one of them I saw an even bigger doe come out of the woods to the left of the first two.  I readjusted the camera to get all three deer on video, then waited for a shot opportunity.  The three animals were bunched together, and for a minute or two there was no shot opportunity.

The deer that was blocking my shot finally moved enough for me to make a neck shot on the biggest deer, and she dropped in her tracks.  I grabbed my pistol, racked a round into the chamber, then walked down the road to get my deer.  Since it was only 4:15, I decided that I could drag her on back up the road to my stand, then hunt the rest of the day.  The pistol was for insurance, just in case the deer was still alive when I got to her.

She expired as I walked up, so I grabbed her and dragged her 100 yards back toward the stand, then took a few pictures before getting back in the blind to hunt some more.  She was a huge doe, weighing at least 120 pounds and probably more.  The best one of the year, for sure. 

Although I stayed in the stand until dark, I saw nothing else the rest of the day.  I did managed to get the entire hunt, including the shot, on video.


November 12, 2007 37° Low / 68° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

Trey was parked at the sign in board when I got to the lease this morning.  Thinking that he'd probably get in stand 9, where I had planned to hunt, I was pleased to see that he was hunting somewhere else on the lease today.  We spent a few minutes chatting, then bid each other good luck and headed to our stands. 

I stayed in my tree until 11:00am, but didn't see anything but squirrels.  Having thought ahead, though, I brought a .22 with me in the stand this morning.  When it was obvious that no deer were going to show up, I started trying to collect a few tree-rats for the pot.   I must have taken 20 shots at them at a distance of about 75 yards, but never could hit one.  I finally figured out that my scope was sighted in a little low, and I was shooting under them.  Unfortunately, they all disappeared before I could adjust my point of aim.

After lunch I tried some rattling down at the end of one of our lease roads, doing three sequences without any responses.  Having no luck, I went and sat in stand 3 for the rest of the afternoon.  I took some estrus doe urine and dragged a rag of it on the ground for about 200 yards, hoping to set up a scent trail that a buck might follow, but nothing showed up.  All together, it was an uneventful day.


November 10, 2007 37° Low / 59° High - Clear and windy 1 Deer Viewed

Pete was with me today.  We planned to hunt stands 9 and 10 this morning, but Trey, one of our members, had beaten us to the punch.  He was already in the stand I wanted to hunt, so I decided that I'd like to give stand 35 another try, even though the loggers had been walking the woods in that area recently.  Pete went to #15.  It was a very quiet morning, with neither of us seeing a deer.

We drove into town for lunch, then went back to the woods to try again.  This time we would hunt in stand 9 for me and stand 10 for Pete.  The woods were quiet all afternoon, with nothing showing up but corn-thieving squirrels. 

Back at the lease we tried some rattling and bleating high on a ridge, but got no responses.

Finally, right at dusk, I saw a buck come out of the woods about 80 yards to my right.  I got a good look at him through my binoculars.  I was able to see that he was a really nice six pointer; obviously not a shooter, but with great potential in the next couple of years to really gain some size.  I tried using my doe bleat call to see how he would react.  He ignored it completely.

As he began to walk off, I used a grunt call a couple of times.  He stopped and looked back, stared for a minute or two, then twitched his tail and walked away.

Pete didn't see anything in his stand.


November 8, 2007 28° Low / 55° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

I got the chance to get back in the woods with Ted today, just the second time that we've been able to hunt together this year.  Ted recently had an addition to his family with the birth of his son Tyler, and this was his first opportunity to go hunting in some time.  

Arriving at the lease, I put Ted in stand 9 thinking that he would be very likely to see a deer there.   I went back to stand 35, where I've spent most of my time in the last few hunts.  The morning was quite cold, and once settled in my stand I was glad that I had brought my heavy coat along with me.  I was nice and toasty; comfortable and ready to see some deer.

By 9:00am I had heard several shots in the distance, but hadn't seen any activity at all in my area.  Then suddenly I heard a truck coming my way down the logging road that I was watching.  Being licensed in South Carolina to carry concealed weapons, I quickly reached into my backpack, got out my Taurus .40 pistol and shoved it into my pocket, then climbed down from my stand.   I wasn't expecting trouble, but you do have to be prepared for it when dealing with trespassers.   I was certain that whoever was coming down the road wasn't a club member.  A member would have checked our sign-in board and avoided my area.

When the truck appeared, I raised my hand indicating that I wanted them to stop.  I asked the driver who he was and what he was doing, and he told me he was with the logging company that owned the land and that he needed to go mark some areas that would be cut early next year.  We chatted for a few minutes about the plans for the land, then he drove on his way.  Glad that it hadn't been a trespasser, I was still disappointed that my hunt was over for the morning, at least for this area.

I gathered my gear and walked back to the truck, then drove down toward the sign in board to pick a new spot to spend a couple more hours.  On the way down, I called Ted on the radio to tell him I was moving.  He reported that he had one doe on the ground and thought he had missed another one, so I cancelled my plans to hunt and went to meet him at his stand.   After taking pictures of his big doe, we loaded her up on the Jeep and began to look for any sign of a hit on the other deer.

We immediately found where the bullet had hit the ground, and even recovered a couple of bullet fragments.  We inspected them carefully, and they showed no sign of blood or tissue, so we headed on to the processor, assured that he had made a clean miss on the other deer.

After we got back to the lease, we sat down and ate some sandwiches, then decided to try some rattling on a hardwood ridge where I had seen lots of buck sign the previous year.  We gave it about an hour, but nothing came in to our calls.  I'm pretty confident that rattling doesn't work real well in this area, but it's always fun to give it a try.

We got in our stands for the evening, this time we me going to stand 9 and Ted heading to stand 10.  I saw nothing for the rest of the day; Ted did see one four pointer, but no shootable deer. 


October 30, 2007 36° Low / 68° High - Clear 4 Deer Viewed

Micki wanted to do some housecleaning today, so I decided to clear out and go hunting.  I got to the lease at about 4:30pm and realized that this would most likely be the last time that I'd be able to get to the lease before dark after work.  With daylight savings time ending this weekend, it'll be getting dark by 5:30 next week.

I headed right back to stand 35 when I got there.  I really like this stand and am planning on hunting it pretty hard for the rest of the season... or at least until I get a good buck from it.  Once I was settled in the stand I waited for a bit, then did some rattling and doe-in-rut bleating.  No deer came in to my calling, so I put my lures away and sat back to just quietly watch the woods.

As evening approached, I saw a big doe flash by about 75 yards to my right, just where I had shot the doe on Saturday evening.  Knowing there would likely be more, I kept watching and soon another doe ran by.  Neither stopped or offered any kind of shot opportunities.

Shortly after sunset, I saw two more deer come out into the hole in front of me.  One was a good sized doe, the other was somewhat younger.  I decided not to take either of them, hoping instead that a buck might come along.  No luck... none did.  I did try my bleat call a few times while watching the deer.  I wanted to see how they would react to it.  They completely ignored it.

When it was time to come down from the stand, one of the two deer was still in the hole in front of me, so I snorted loudly a few times, mimicking the sound of a deer alert call.  I wanted to scare the doe off without letting her know that there was a human in the area.  When she was gone, I climbed down the stand and hiked back up the road to my truck.

On the way home, on the main road that our lease is on I saw a very young spotted fawn.  Interesting to see a deer so young this late in the year.  I turned the truck around to go try to get pictures, but the fawn was gone by the time I got back to the spot that I had seen it at.


October 28, 2007 48° Low / 60° High - Rain/Fog to Clear 11 Deer Viewed

It was very foggy this morning when I got in stand 35, and a light rain was falling all around me.  I was in the woods pretty early, so I turned on my red headlamp and settled in to read for a half hour or so.  As dawn began to approach, I used my binoculars to peer down into the hole in front of me.  I could just make out the shape of a deer moving through, but it only stayed for a minute.

As it got lighter, another deer, a big doe, came into sight.  I watched her for awhile but decided against the shot because it was so early and I was hoping a buck might show up.  Soon, one did:  a big bodied three point with dark amber antlers.  I watched him pass, and soon a pair of yearlings came in to feed. 

This kind of activity went on throughout the morning, with deer almost always in sight.  Down the road from our lease, a new group of hunters has started using the land adjoining ours, and once I heard a fast pair of shots from the land behind me.  Two big does crossed to my right, probably pushed out by those other guys.

As the morning wore on, I heard something walking in the woods behind me.  It was making a good bit of noise, so I figured it for a flock of turkeys.  As I watched, however, I saw a buttonhead buck shuffle out of the treeline to my left.  He was moving funny, like something was wrong with him, and I soon saw that he had a broken leg.  Although I hate to shoot a young deer, as I watched this one I could see that he would probably not make it through the winter.  Figuring that it was going to be the cold, the coyotes, or me, I decided on the latter and ended his pain with a quick spine shot.

He dropped and expired instantly.  I got down from my tree and dragged the young deer into a clump of bushes, hiding him from the sight of any other deer that might come through.  I climbed back into the stand and hunted for another hour or two before calling it a morning.  I loaded up the deer and took him to Hobbs Deer Processing, basically getting the whole thing cut into ground meat, asking them to save what they could of the backstraps.

I headed back to the lease and got back in stand 35, figuring to hunt the whole afternoon from there.  It was about 12:45 when I climbed back in.  I tried to read a bit, but sleep overtook me.  I cleared off the bench in the stand, then made myself as comfortable as I could.  Some hours later, I heard the mad bark of a squirrel near me.  I jolted instantly awake, knowing that squirrels can occasionally bark at deer.  This wasn't the case today though; I watched a pair of males fight it out on a limb in a tree near me.  Squirrel mating season must be getting near.

The clock showed me that it was almost 4:00pm, so I stretched, laid all of my gear back out beside me on the bench, and got back to hunting.  The nap had felt good, but I slept a lot longer than I had intended.  I sat for awhile watching the woods around me.  Suddenly I became aware of movement to my right.  I saw a doe crossing the logging road.  "That's a good one," I whispered to myself. 

The deer wasn't in a hurry, but it was also obvious that she wasn't going to stop.  As she started to step back into the woods and out of view I said "wahhhhh" in a loud voice, imitating the bleat of a deer.  She stopped and looked my way.  I moved my rifle into position, found the deer, and squeezed the trigger.  I watched the deer fall backwards into the logging road, dead. 

I glanced at the clock and saw that it was 4:45pm.  I decided that two deer in one day was plenty.  Gathering my gear, I headed back to my truck, then drove up to the doe.  She was a nice one, and after taking pictures I decided to try out a new method that I had devised for loading deer onto my truck basket when I'm hunting alone.

It can be a real struggle getting a deer into a basket by yourself.  I had noticed, however, that there are hooks in the roof in the back of my Jeep.  I'm not quite sure what they are for, but I knew of a way to put them to good use.  I grabbed a couple of pieces of rope and tied the back legs of the deer together, then did the same with the front legs.  Using a pair of ATV tie down straps, I attached one end to the hooks in the Jeep and the other to the ropes. 

I was then able to lift the deer into the basket with almost no effort.  Here's a picture of the process halfway through, with the deer suspended about a foot off of the ground.


October 25, 2007 57° Low / 64° High - Rain 1 Deer Viewed

I took a half day off of work today in order to get some hunting in this afternoon.   Got down to the lease at about 2:30, grabbed some corn, and headed to stand 35.  I dumped the corn way down in the hole in front of the stand, then poured a bag of Acorn Rage out to go with it.  Parking the truck, I walked back down the road to the stand and settled in for the afternoon.

The afternoon passed slowly, with nothing moving anywhere.  I had thought that with the rain I'd see a lot of animals, since deer seem to gain confidence when they have rain to cover their movements. 

Just at dusk a big doe came into sight down in the hole, and after deciding that she was a shooter I raised my rifle and got in position for the shot.  She seemed to sense that something was wrong, and turned to face the stand head on.  The only shot opportunity I had was a frontal chest shot, and this is a shot situation that I hate, so I held my fire.  Snorting, she turned and trotted off into the woods, not to return that evening.


October 18, 2007 69° Low / 84° High - Approaching Front 0 Animals Viewed

With a cold front and rain moving into our area tonight, Pete and I headed back down to the lease for another two hour hunt.  We both felt really positive about our chances this afternoon.  I was ready to move off of the first road, so I said that I'd be hunting in stand 35 while Pete decided to give #10 a try.

It was extremely humid and still pretty warm when I got in my stand, but I was still pretty sure I'd see something today.  I stayed in the tree until dark, but saw nothing.. no deer, no squirrels, not even a turkey.

I guess this weather has them bogged down right now; we just aren't seeing deer like we did a couple of weeks ago.  I'll wait until it cools down a little bit before I get back in the woods again.


October 16, 2007 55° Low / 78° High - Overcast 0 Animals Viewed

Figured I'd be hunting by myself tonight after work, but Pete confirmed that he'd be able to come along after all, so we left my house at 4:00, getting to the lease with a little less than two hours of hunting time left.  We went back to stand 3 and me stand 6, and again we saw the turkeys, but no deer.  No foxes this time, either.


October 13, 2007 45° Low / 75° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

I had a hard time getting motivated to get in the woods today.  I really did want to hunt, but I just seemed to hang around the house hour after hour and not get on the road.  I was working on my Africa Journal when Pete sent me an MSN message saying that he had just gotten back from his lease and had not gotten anything this morning.  I asked him if he'd like to come along with me today, and he said it sounded like a good idea.

We left Clover at a little after 1:00, getting to the lease with plenty of daylight hours for hunting.  We set up on the first road, Pete getting in stand 3 and me taking stand 6.

The afternoon was quiet, and the only thing of interest that I saw was a group of turkeys.  Pete got a good look at a grey fox, but they are still not in season yet, so he had to let it go by without shooting it.


October 2, 2007 67° Low / 84° High - Clouds and Wind 5 Deer Viewed

I had not planned to go hunting today, but Micki reminded me that she had a ladies dinner at church tonight and would not be home until late.  That being the case, I quickly packed up my truck with my hunting gear and headed down to the lease.

I decided to go back to stand 35 tonight, hoping that the big buck would return.  On the way down, I realized that I had forgotten to put my digital camera in the truck, so I stopped at a little convenience store on the edge of Great Falls to buy a disposable camera.  I'll just keep that in the truck for the rest of the year in case I forget my digital again.

There were only a couple of guys in the woods when I got to the lease, and I chose a path to drive in on that would keep me away from their stands.  By the time I got in my ladder stand, it was 5:45 pm, and there was only about an hour and a half of hunting time left in the day.  I settled in, making myself comfortable in the stand.

I read for awhile, as always looking up after every page to see if anything was in the area.  At one point, as the sun was setting, I saw a flash of red fur to my left.  Thinking it was a fox or a coyote, I raised my binoculars and tried to peer through the thick leaves to get a glimpse of whatever it was I had seen.  I couldn't find anything, but I kept looking and within about 5 minutes I finally saw the back leg of a deer that was showing through the branches and brambles in front of me.  It hadn't been fur that I saw; deer have hair after all, not fur.

I continued to look through my binoculars, and finally I saw the grey face of a mature doe.  She was staring back at me, so I kept as still as I could.  My arms soon got tired from holding the binoculars, but she wouldn't look away.  This staring contest went on until my triceps were aching, and finally she lowered her head.  I dropped the binoculars into my lap.  The doe looked up, and again we stared at each other.

She stomped a few times, hoping to startle me into moving.  I held my place, and as I stared back I heard something walking in the woods to my right.  I cut my eyes in that direction, getting a slight headache from the effort.  Three deer had come into view thirty yards away on my right:  a good sized doe and two fawns.  I had seen that particular doe before; I recognized her deep grey coat.  The fawns were still red, but their spots were gone.

Looking back to my big doe, I saw that she was still looking at me.  I wondered if she could see my eyes move, but she held her ground, still not moving.  A very small fawn came into view behind her, coming from a different direction than she had appeared from.  The fawn ignored the doe and walked over to the other group of deer.

I looked back and forth between the big doe and the four deer on my right.  The grey doe had become alerted to my presence, and was now also staring at me and stomping occasionally.  I moved not at all.  When the grey doe put her head down, I slowly started sliding my rifle through the slit in the camouflage material in front of me.  It took me all of five minutes to get my rifle where I wanted it.

The big doe was the deer I wanted, but I decided that the grey one was a shooter too.  I would take her only at the last minute if no opportunity to take the bigger deer came.  As I thought that, I saw that the big doe had started walking towards the other deer.  I had a great broadside view of her, but my rifle was in the wrong place to even try to move it toward her.  She disappeared behind a clump of trees, and I relaxed a bit.

The four deer on my right continued to feed for quite some time, and the grey doe would occasionally glance in my direction.  After another twenty minutes of this, I heard the big doe start walking again.  She had decided that all was well, and she was going to join the bigger group of deer.  I lowered my head below the blind wall and got down on my rifle and in position for a shot.

I watched through my scope as the big doe stepped back into view.  I had a clear shot, and I waited until she paused before squeezing the trigger.  She collapsed, dead on the spot.  One of the fawns dropped to the ground, looked around, then spun around and took off running.  The rest of the deer were already gone.

I could see that the doe was not moving, so I climbed on down from my stand, tagged her, then dragged her up to the road.  I got my disposable camera out and took a few pictures after posing the deer the way that I wanted her, then struggled to load her onto the basket on the back of my Jeep.  There's got to be a better way to do that, but it sure is hard for one man to load a big deer by himself.

On the way home from the processor, I got a call from Pete.  He had gotten his second deer ever, a big 120 pound doe.  He got her with a muzzleloader on a club that I had sold him my membership to.  I was excited to hear that he had scored... he's worked hard trying to get this deer, and it's great to see him get one while on his own in the woods.  Congratulations, Pete!


September 30, 2007 53° Low / 82° High - Clear/Light Wind 1 Fox Viewed

Pete and I headed back down to the lease for a very short hunt this morning.  We both had things to do in the afternoon, so we decided to hunt until about 10:00am, then head on home for the day.

We chose to hunt on the first road today, with me taking stand 6 and Pete getting in stand 3.  It was another quiet morning.  I saw a good many turkeys, and Pete confirmed by radio that he too was seeing a flock of them.  Apparently there were no deer in the area.... or if there were, they were keeping hidden in the woods.

As I was thinking about calling it a day, I saw a large fox come out of the woods to my left.  He slinked along the ground, pausing ever few feet to peer into my stand.  I never moved, but I found myself wishing that I had my camera in the blind with me.  I could have gotten some great pictures.  Fox season, however, is not open yet, so I was unable to take a shot at him.

My Taurus .40 S&W pistol was at hand, and I would have loved to have taken him with that, but I contented myself with just watching him move back into the woods.  That was the only thing of note that I saw all day.


September 29, 2007 57° Low / 82° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

With the full moon just a couple of days past, I was not too optimistic about what Pete and I would see in the woods today.  The temperature was pleasantly cool, but the moon was still bright in the sky when we left my house this morning.  The deer were probably already out feeding, but it was still worth it to go get in the woods and give it a try.

I chose to hunt in stand 35 , where I had seen the big buck a week or so ago.  Pete went to stand 15, where I killed a doe last time we were down here.  We grabbed a bag of corn for Pete's stand on the way into the woods, dumped it out in the appropriate place, then wished each other good luck.

There was no activity for either of us all morning.  I passed the time doing some reading, looking up at the end of each page, but the only animals that I ever saw were some squirrels.

We went into town for lunch, then came back and put more corn out at the stands we wanted to hunt this afternoon.  Pete would be going to stand 35, and I was going to try stand 33, a new one that I have been corning for the past week or so. 

After a short nap in the truck, we got into our stands.  I did a little bit more reading, this time getting into a Clancy novel that Pete had loaned me.  At around 5:00pm, I heard a shot from Pete's direction.  Getting on the radio, I learned from Pete that he had taken a shot at a doe and was going to go look for blood.

I cautioned him to stay in his stand for a few minutes so as not to push the deer.  I'd be along within a half hour, so I recommended that he stay put.  I started gathering my gear, then made my way slowly to my truck.  After about 10 minutes had passed, I changed my mind and decided that we might ought to go ahead and start looking for blood now - by the time I got to the stand 15 minutes would have gone by.  I radioed Pete again and told him my thoughts.  He said he would get down and find where the deer had been standing.

When I got to his stand, Pete was in the road looking for blood.  He had not found any, but had found some scuff marks from the deer jumping in reaction to the shot.  We searched the area for about an hour, but never found any indications of a hit.  There was no blood anywhere.  We finally gave up and called it a day, heading home early without returning to our stands for nightfall.


September 22, 2007 69° Low / 93° High - Overcast 5 Deer Viewed

Pete and I hunted together again today.  Our plan was to try to grab the two stands that Jimmy and Matt have been hunting, but they were already in the woods by the time we got to the lease this morning.  Indeed, a lot of the good stands were already taken.  Pete decided that he would go to stand 10 , since that was available.  I chose #15 at the back of the lease, having enjoyed hunting in that stand several times last year.

I dozed off a few times as I sat in the stand waiting for something to happen.  The morning was quiet, and for most of the early hours the only thing of interest that I saw was a pileated woodpecker.  At about 9:00am I was thinking about stretching out for a longer nap when I heard something in the woods behind me.  I twisted around in my chair, but saw nothing.

Turning back around, I saw that a nice doe had emerged from the woods and was already working on the corn pile out in front of my stand.   As I inspected her through my binoculars, I decided that she was a good sized deer and was a shooter.  I was reaching for my rifle when another deer, this one a yearling, came out and stood beside my doe. 

The yearling got in position to eat some of the corn, and as she did she made it impossible for me to get a safe shot at the bigger doe.  No matter which angle I tried, my bullet would pass through the big doe and strike the yearling as well.  I watched them eat for quite some time, always looking for a shot but never getting a chance.  Once in awhile I would put the crosshairs on the neck of the big doe, but I'm just not quite comfortable with the neck shot... and I'm not willing to risk a head shot. 

As they kept feeding, the problem was compounded as another yearling walked out and got on the other side of the big doe, this giving me the rare opportunity to take three deer with one shot.  I couldn't help but laugh at the situation.  A great doe in front of me... a chip shot, really, but no safe path for the bullet to travel.  I cranked the magnification down on my scope so I could watch for a quick shot opportunity to emerge.

Finally, finally, the second yearling moved out of the way.  The big doe and the first yearling were still side by side, but as I watched them the doe took a slight step forward.  If I was careful, I saw that I could just slide a bullet into the heart of the doe and have it emerge just in front of the yearling.  Hesitating not at all, I slipped off the safety, reconfirmed the target, and fired. 

The doe leapt into the air and the yearlings scattered.  The big doe went to the left, tail tucked and running with a definite heart shot posture.  I gathered my gear and climbed down from the stand.  I decided to walk back to where I had parked my truck so that the deer would have a few minutes to expire if she was still alive.  I got the truck and drove up to the corn pile.  There was a huge splash of blood and heart tissue on the ground, and a blood trail like a highway leading into the woods to the left.

I followed the trail, but saw immediately that I had a problem.  The road at my deer stand is bordered on two sides by gullies.  Big ones.  Deep ones.  The blood trail was headed downhill, straight into the deepest of these gullies.  I walked around the border of the gulley, but could find no better way down than the one the deer took.  Holding on to briar bushes and young pine trees, I slowly climbed down to the bottom of the ditch.  I found the deer laying under a stand of kudzu 30 feet below the surface of the road.

Wondering how in the world I was going to get the deer out of the hole, I carefully climbed back up the cliff.  I carry a 20 foot tow strap in my Jeep, but that wasn't going to be long enough.  I thought that maybe I could hook it to two ratchet straps that I also carry, so I gathered these items and started back down into the hole.  Checking myself, I decided that it would be too easy to slip and break a leg, so I decided I had better go get Pete before I went down the hill again.

I raced back to his stand, then listened to his tale of seeing ten deer that morning from the stand he was hunting.  From his stand we grabbed a long, thick rope that is there to let hunters pull their gear up into the tree with them.  Back at the gulley, we started down the hill together.  Pete managed to get down to the deer, and once there he tied the rope to the forelegs of the animal in a tight knot.  I climbed back up the hill with the rope, then hooked it to my tow strap via a loop in the end of the rope.

Once that was accomplished, it was actually quite easy to pull the deer out of the hole with the Jeep.  I did decide, however, that I would never hunt that stand alone again.  That hole is just too dangerous of a place for a hunter to have to go by himself to retrieve a deer, and the way the corn pile is positioned the deer is almost certain to go into it.

After taking pictures of the deer, we headed into Van Wyck, SC, where there is a processor who is known for making wonderful smoked products out of venison.  A buddy of mine from church has in the past given me some venison snack sticks with cheese that he said came from somewhere in Van Wyke, so I asked the processor if he was the one that made the good sticks.  He said, "Here, find out for yourself," opening a small refrigerator and giving Pete and I each a sample of his work.

These were definitely the sticks that I was looking for, so I asked the guy to give me the loins whole, but do the entire rest of the deer in snack sticks. 

Leaving the processor, I decided to go see if I could find Arnold's new house real quick, since it's just a mile or two from Van Wyke.  We found it pretty quickly, and I saw a truck in the driveway that I thought might be Arnold's.  I tried to call him on the cell phone, but got no immediate answer, so we headed on into town for lunch.  On the way to the restaurant, Arnold called me back and confirmed that it was him at the house, and we decided to stop back by and see how work was coming on the house after lunch.

We spent a few minutes talking to Arnold and seeing his house, and it's going to be a beautiful home.  It was completely framed and roofed when we saw it, with mostly just interior work left to do.  Although it'll be a big change from the log home that he was living in previously, he's going to have a wonderful house soon.

Heading back to the lease, Pete got back up in stand 10 , while I chose to hunt in stand 3 for the evening.  I sat in the stand reading quietly for most of the rest of the day.  As dusk approached, a really nice doe came out and crossed the logging road in front of me.  I looked at her carefully, but really didn't want another doe today.  I was looking for antlers. 

The doe was joined by a fawn a bit later, and they fed in my corn pile until dark.  I saw nothing else worth noting.  Pete saw nothing at his stand for the rest of the day.


September 20, 2007 66° Low / 82° High - Rainy 11 Deer Viewed

It was just one of those days where I really needed to just get out of the house for awhile.  I chatted Pete on MSN Messenger early in the day and asked him if he was up for going hunting today.  He was indeed up for going hunting.   We left the house at 4:00pm and were in the woods by 5:30. 

Having heard the numerous stories of seeing "lots of does" on new stands 34 and 35 , I decided that this was where I'd like to go.  Seeing that someone was already in #34, I suggested to Pete that he take #15, which is probably my favorite stand on the lease.   We grabbed a couple of bags of corn and headed out towards our stands.  On the way in we jumped a doe at stand 10.  Things were looking up.

We dumped some of the corn at stand 15, then I left Pete there and drove down the road and parked a couple of hundred yards away from my stand.  It was raining fairly hard, so I decided that I would carry my rifle to the stand in the soft case that I keep it in when it's not in use.  I had only gotten about 50 yards down the road from where I parked when suddenly a doe crossed the trail in front of me. 

She stopped in the woods and looked at me, daring me to take out my rifle.  So I did.  I had time to unsling the soft case from my shoulder, take out the rifle, load it, chamber a round, and get the crosshairs on the doe before she ran.  I was just deciding that she was a bit too young to shoot when she fled.  Her twin, previously unseen, joined her and I watched their tails waving goodbye at me, taunting me.

I laughed and headed on to my stand.  This was my first time in this particular stand, and I was really impressed with the stability of it.  It was one of our standard metal blinds with a Kevlar-like fabric around it.  It was perched on a wooden ladder resting against a pine tree and offered a view up the logging road to the right and across the road to a little funnel where deer were likely to appear.

One soon did.  I saw movement in front of me.  I saw antlers in front of me.  I looked through my binoculars and saw a beautiful 8 point... no, 9 point buck.  I looked long and hard at the deer, trying to make a decision on the shot.  The antlers were tall; very tall, but without much mass.  They were dark, but not really wide.  The would probably qualify as being outside the ears, and I doubted if anyone would complain if I decided to shoot the deer.  But looking at his body, I decided that he was a three year old and would be a much better deer next year. 

That deer stayed out in front of me for the rest of the evening.  Once in awhile two eight pointers would try to come in to get some corn, but the big deer kept running them off.  He finally grudgingly let them stay.  After the first hour, I was shocked to see a huge group of does and fawns come streaming into the funnel.  I tried to count the deer in front of me at one point and my best guess was that there were three bucks and six does, but I believe it was more than that.

Finding the biggest doe in the group, I tried to get the rifle on her, but the stand's shooting rail was too high.  I couldn't get the angle right, and before I had a chance to try to stand up to shoot the three bucks ran all of the does off.  I sat back down, got out my knife, and cut a shooting window through the fabric.

I watched the deer for the rest of the evening, but never got a shot opportunity.  The does did come back right at dark, but there were so many deer in the hole that I couldn't make them out very well in my scope, nor could I see if I ever had a clear shot or not.  With the deer still feeding down in the hole, I climbed down from the stand and headed back to the truck.

Pete had seen nothing at #15, and when we pulled up to the sign-in board to remove our tags we found one of the club members, Brandon, there with his son Brett.  Brandon told us that Brett had shot at and hit a doe, but that they had found no sign of the deer.  Brandon was going to come back to look for it in the morning.  I wanted to pull Pete aside and ask him if he was ok with us offering to help look for the deer, but he beat me to the punch.  When we got a second to ourselves, Pete told me that he was fine with staying late if I wanted to go look for it.

We made the offer, which Brandon quickly accepted.  We drove back up to stand 3 where six-year old Brett had taken the shot, and Brandon showed us where he thought the deer had been standing.  The four of us began to look around for blood, and I soon saw that based on what Brandon had said, the deer could not have been as far down from the stand as he first thought.  Moving closer to the stand, I walked slowly along the edge of the forest and almost immediately found a drop of blood.

"I've got blood," I said.  The guys crowded around me and confirmed the find.  We began to move slowly through the woods, and soon found more and more blood.  We pressed on, following the trail for several hundred yards.  Occasionally we would lose the trail, but we always picked it up again.

After almost an hour, Pete and I were off the left of Brandon and his son following yet another trail of blood when Pete suddenly said, "I think I see her.... yep, it's her."  I swung my light around, and sure enough there lay the deer.  It was a nice doe, and the light in young Brett's eyes made the sweat, the thorns, and the hard work all worthwhile.  There's a new deer hunter out there in the South Carolina woods, and he's six years old.  I hope this will hook him for life.

September 17, 2007 55° Low / 80° High - Clear and windy 1 Deer Viewed

Ted and I took off this afternoon for our first hunt of the year together.  With my truck stuck in the shop with a busted transmission, we'd be using Ted's Jeep today. 

We left Clover at about 4:00pm, and were down at the lease and ready to hunt by a little after 5:00.  I had gone back and forth about where I wanted to hunt.  I was pretty much waffling between hunting at stand #9 again or going over to #1 for the evening.  I finally decided to give #9 another try, while sending Ted to the salt lick stand a quarter mile down the road.

It was a pleasant enough evening, with temperatures staying quite comfortable and breezy.  I kept thinking all afternoon that a deer would show up, but as the sun fell from the sky I had still seen nothing.  Darkness was coming on quickly, so I finally decided that it was time to come on down from the stand.  I picked up my radio to call Ted when I happened to notice movement off to my right.

I looked up and saw a deer standing in the logging road, looking toward my corn.  I got my binoculars up and focused on the animal, but it was so dark that even at less than 50 yards away I couldn't really tell from the head whether or not it was a doe.  I watched carefully, trying to read the animal's body language.  As it crossed the road and headed into the corn, I could tell from the way it was acting that it was indeed a doe: just what I was after.

The body size looked good, and I decided I would shoot if an opportunity arose.  I traded my binoculars for my rifle and got in position to make the shot.  It was really getting dark now, and it took me a minute to find the deer in the scope.  When I found her, her tail was toward me.  I watched and waited, but she rarely stood still and never gave me a broadside look at her.  Finally, with her rump still facing my way, she turned slightly and offered me a quartering-away shot.  I squeezed the trigger. 

When I recovered from the recoil, the deer was gone.  I quickly stuffed all of my gear into my backpack and lowered it to the ground.  Climbing quickly down from the tree, I picked up my pack and jogged over to where the deer had been standing when I took the shot.  Using a flashlight I had borrowed from Ted, I immediately found good red blood in the corn.  I tried to call Ted on the radio to tell him that I was on a blood trail, but received only static in response. 

I leaned my rifle against a tree and got my trail marking tape out of my pack.  I also grabbed my pistol and attached the holster to my belt, in case the deer was still alive when I found it.  The trail was fairly easy to follow, at least at first.  I got about 40 yards into the woods and had momentarily lost the trail when Ted showed up.  After he had walked down to where I was I picked up the trail again and showed him where it headed.

Ted raised his light, then said "oh, there's the deer."  It was laying at the bottom of the hill, stone dead.  Ted walked back up to the truck to get his deer drag, and together we pulled the animal up the hill.  "We're getting too old for this," I told Ted as we struggled our way up the slope.  "Next time we shoot a deer, let's make sure he doesn't go down hill."

After taking a short break for pictures, we loaded the deer up and headed out of the lease.  Back at the sign in board we met Jimmy White and his son Matt.  Jimmy was grinning, having killed a monster eleven pointer.  We congratulated him on his kill, took a few pictures for him, then headed on to the deer processor. 

September 15, 2007 61° Low / 86° High - Clearing 2 Deer Viewed

The South Carolina rifle deer season opened in Kershaw County today, and Pete and I were there to see it in.  We had driven down to my lease on Thursday night to put out some corn at several of our stands. That gave us lots of choices of where to hunt this morning.  Pete had a new climbing stand that he wanted to try out, so I took him over onto the main lease road and dropped him off near one of our corn piles.  I headed back over to the first road and got in stand #3

As the sky began to lighten, I could see that there was already something in the corn out in front of my stand.  I guessed it to be a raccoon, and as the sun crept into the sky I saw that I was right.  I watched him eat for about a half hour, then he finally left.  Although I sat in my stand until almost 11:00am, that was the only animal I saw all morning.

Driving back over to get Pete, I stopped at our sign-in board to say hello to a couple of the other guys in the club.  One of them had killed a pretty coyote, and another had missed a shot at a doe with his bow, but no one had gotten a deer.  After spending a few minutes chatting with them, I headed on over to Pete's stand and picked him up.  He had seen 2 does, a fawn, a four point buck, and two foxes... an excellent morning for him.

After Pete had loaded his gear back into the truck, we decided to drive around and look at the rest of the corn piles that we had put out to see if they were getting any activity.  The salt lick stand showed signs of a few small deer, and my favorite stand, #15 , showed lots of activity.  The most active stand, however, was #9.  Now, I really like #9, but on summer afternoons that stand gets really hot.  The setting sun shines directly into the stand, warming it to the point that it really gets uncomfortable.

I decided to hunt there regardless of that fact, due to all of the activity in the area.  So, after lunch in Liberty Hill, we grabbed a couple more bags of corn out of the corn trailer and freshened up both of our stands.  After pausing in the shade to relax for a half hour or so, we got into our stands.

I carried a rain coat up into my stand and hung it up in one of the windows to block the sunlight.  This did a really nice job, and the stand was much cooler than usual.  Being a bit tired, I stretched out on the bench and took a two hour nap, then began to get serious about hunting.  It was just after sunset before I saw my first deer.   It was a small spike buck, and he was walking up the road directly toward my stand.  He stayed in view for about 10 minutes before slipping quietly into the woods.

Twenty minutes later another deer appeared.  This one had a bigger body, and at first I thought he was a three-pointer.  As I looked at him carefully, I saw two more smaller points, giving him a total of five.  He stuck around until dark, feeding in the corn to the right of my stand.  I never saw anything else, and when it became too dark to see I gave Pete a call on the radio and told him I was on the way down.  Pete reported that he had seen one fawn and had had another deer blow at him, but nothing shootable had come into view.

We headed home without a deer, but content at least that the season was here and we had already seen deer.  The only downside was the fact that the transmission in my Jeep gave out on the way home.  We lost everything but first gear and had to limp it home.


July 15, 2007 - July 23, 2007 African Safari South Africa

Africa was an incredible hunt.  It is reported on in detail here, so I won't spend any time discussing it in this journal.  Here are a few pictures to enjoy:

April 14, 2007 52° Low / 75° High - Overcast 0 Animals Viewed

Pete and I hunted again today.  Even though April is only halfway though, this was one of the last chances I'll get to get in the woods.  If I'm lucky, I'll get two more hunts in before the season is done, but more than likely I'll only get one more half day in the woods.  We really needed to make today count.

We decided to hunt the first road on the lease today.  Parking the truck about halfway up the road, Pete headed one way and I went the other.  As the sun began to rise, I began to hear gobbles in many various directions.  Best I could tell, I had at least three turkeys to choose from.  I headed for the closest one.

I got set up in the woods and did a short series of calls.  The gobbler responded, then went silent.  Thinking that he was on his way in, I sat quietly for quite awhile, but he never showed up. 

For the next few hours I worked my way down the road, stopping often to listen and occasionally to call.  Although I heard a few more gobbles and even chased after them, I never got a look at a turkey.  At one point I heard a gobbler up on a hill above me, so I snuck up the road to look for him, but he was gone by the time I got there.  I found his tracks... he looked to be a nice one.

Pete had similar experiences.  Turkeys gobbling all around, but not coming in.  I think they had hens close to them and never had a need to come see what we were yelping about.  We've got a very high hen population on the lease, so we'll probably have to wait until they are nesting to get a good chance at a gobbler.

April 13, 2007 43° Low / 73° High - Clouds 0 Animals Viewed

Pete and I headed down after work today for a short hunt.  We split up again, but neither of us saw any birds.  Pete heard some hens off in the brush behind him at one point, but he never got a look at the turkeys.   A quiet afternoon, and a short journal entry.


April 4, 2007 55° Low / 82° High - Clear 0 Animals Viewed

Although it was supposed to be just Ted and I hunting together today, I decided to invite Pete along with us.  My hope was that the three of us would get a day in the woods together.  Ted and Pete have never hunted together, but at the last minute Ted had an emergency come up and he had to cancel the hunt.

Pete and I headed down after taking off early from work.  We tried the same run-and-gun strategy that Ted and I had used on Monday, but we had no luck.  No turkeys were seen or heard all afternoon.  Well, I take that back.  At one point I was driving my truck from one point on the lease to another and I jumped a small flock of hens and jakes, but animals seen from the vehicle don't count.


April 2, 2007 63° Low / 84° High - Overcast 2 Turkeys Viewed

Ted and I were hunting together today.  The plan was the same as it was for Pete and I... split up and try to find the birds.  The day turned out for the most part to work out about the same way as it had on Saturday.  A few gobbles here and there (actually a good many less than Saturday), but no real action.

Over lunch at the Riverdeck, Ted and I discussed alternative strategies.  We decided to hit some of the side roads on the lease that don't get much attention.  On the first one, we parked the truck and walked in about 100 yards.  We picked spots to sit, and once we were in place I got out my box caller and began a series of yelps and cutts. 

After about a minute of this I stopped making noise altogether, then sat quietly for about 10 minutes.  I then repeated the series, and within seconds I heard turkeys to my left.  I swung around in time to see a gobbler and a jake, both of which saw me at the same time.  They took off, and neither Ted nor I got a shot off.

After calming down from the excitement of the close call, we decided to try the same strategy in several other places around the lease.  We made another half dozen stands before calling it quits, but no more turkeys showed up.


March 31, 2007 51° Low / 79° High - Clear 3 Turkeys Viewed

Opening day!  As I got out of bed this morning I was thinking back to January of last year, right back to when I booked my African safari.  I remember thinking how far away the hunt seemed; I would have to get through two turkey seasons and one deer season before it was time to go to Africa.  It seemed so far in the future, and yet here we are on opening day of that second turkey season, and with Africa now just four months away.

I'm rambling; sorry.  Pete and I were hunting together today, and as usual he was right on time as he pulled into my driveway at 5:00am.  Hard to believe, but I've known Pete for a year now; it was just about this time last year when I took him turkey hunting for the first time.

Anyway, we headed down to the lease and decided to do things differently this year.  Since Pete has some experience under his belt now, we would be splitting up once we got to the lease; each of us heading in a different direction.  I started out down in a big hollow where Ted has missed a turkey last year.  I got a few gobbles down there, but the tom never showed up, so once he quit making noise I moved to a new spot. 

I tried a good many locations that morning, occasionally getting gobbles but usually getting no response at all.  I kept in radio contact with Pete most of the day, and his situation was about the same.  At one point he called in a jake, but I had told him that our rules stated that we had to shoot only mature gobblers.

Late in the day I called in a jake and a gobbler, but never could get a shot off.  By the end of the day we figured we'd walked five miles apiece.  We were worn out, drenched with sweat, and decided to call it a day about an hour before sunset.

February 3, 2007 25° Low / 34° High - Clear A Few Crows Viewed
Having only a half day to spend in the woods today, I was torn between crow shooting and shed antler hunting.  Pete was open for anything, so we decided to try the crows for the first hour, then see if we could find any sheds.  We started at stand #6, where we found that the metal box blind had been replaced with a beautiful wooden stand.  We called the crows from here for about 20 minutes, but getting no responses we moved on.

We headed back down the road to the top of the hill and tried calling from there.  The responses were a little better, and we did get a couple of shots off from here, but before long the crows quit coming in.  We moved on deeper into the woods down to stand #25.  From there our luck improved a little bit.  Pete killed one on a passing shot, and when I kept hearing one call from down the gulley I snuck into the woods and began to do a crow-in-distress call. 

Two crows responded, and I popped the first one but could not get a clear shot at the second.  When they finally quit flying, we decided to try the shed hunting for awhile.  I swapped my shotgun for a walking stick while Pete took his weapon in with him.  We walked down the hill into a swampy area, then split up and began to look for antlers.

We scoured the area pretty thoroughly, and in a little wet patch of grass I found a nice little antler that had come from an 8 point buck last year.  The antler was white with age but had only been squirrel chewed in one place and was in overall great shape.  I showed the antler to Pete, then suggested we split up again and keep looking in the same area.  Within 50 yards, I saw the tip of another antler sticking up out of some pine needles.

I reached down to get it, but was surprised when it wouldn't come loose.  With a little shaking, I pulled up the skull of a six point buck.  It was dirty and rotted, but I broke off the worst of the mess and ended up with a nice little set of antlers.  

With time running out, we headed over to the main lease road and tried the crow hunting again at stand #17.  We got no answering calls at all, so we made our way back to the truck by walking through a thicket and looking for a few more antlers.  We had about 45 minutes left before we needed to leave, so we decided that Pete would do a little squirrel hunting and I would poke around in one more patch of woods.  Neither of us had any luck, so we met up back at the jeep and got on the road.


January 20, 2007 32° Low / 52° High - Clear Many Crows Viewed
Pete and I decided to give up on the predators today and just give the crows a shot.  I had just picked up a new shotgun on Thursday and could not wait to give it a try. 

We made our first stand on the top of a ridge on the Liberty Hill lease, and almost immediately the crows started coming in.  The first two flights came over Pete's area, and he had two on the ground before I had even gotten a shot off.  I finally had some start coming my way, and I nailed one of them with the first shot out of my new gun. 

When the crows stopped coming in to the first stand, we moved on up the road and I collected another one.  About that time, my tape caller stopped working, so we opened up the doors on my Jeep and used its tape player to continue calling.  We didn't get anything else at this stand, but I did pick up a third bird further up the road at the next location.

We had been videoing most of today's hunt, hoping to get enough footage to make a crow hunting episode of Wingshooters.net Outdoors.  While we did get one kill on tape, by the time we left Liberty Hill there wasn't quite enough action for a complete episode.

After leaving Liberty Hill, we went back to the Chester lease that we had looked at a couple of weeks ago.  We got a few more shot opportunities at crows in, but scored no more kills.


January 15, 2007 57° Low / 71° High - Overcast Several Crows Viewed
With Arnold planning to move away from his land sometime in the coming year, I realized that I had to get down to his property and pick up all of the various pieces of gear that I've left there over the years.  Since I had today off from work, I decided to drive on down and grab a truckload of equipment. 

I didn't have quite as much stuff down there as I thought I did.  All I found was two lock-on treestands, two army cots that Ted and I used to nap on during the hunting days, spare keys to my Jeep and four wheeler, and a few miscellaneous deer hunting accessories.  It only took me a few minutes to get the truck loaded, and since Arnold was busy working around his house I decided to drive over to Liberty Hill and poke around a little bit.

Having had the foresight to bring along a shotgun and a crow caller, I tried out several spots on the lease with no luck.  Finally, at my last stand, I called in a half dozen crows but managed to miss every shot I attempted. 


January 13, 2007 46° Low / 71° High - Overcast Several Crows Viewed
After taking a couple of weekends just to rest and relax after a long and wonderful deer season, Pete and I headed back down to Liberty Hill this morning to do some predator hunting.  We took both of my electronic callers with us in hopes that we could lure in a coyote or two.  We started off hunting on the first road on the lease, with each of us taking a different deer stand to hunt from. 

Although I was sure I heard a coyote yipping one time, he never showed himself, nor did any other predator at the first stand.  We only stayed in our blinds for about 45 minutes before we moved to another location on the first road.  Again, no luck.  We decided to try the second road, and again had no success.

As I was hunting from stand #17 with a rabbit in distress call playing out of my electronic caller, a hawk appeared over the field.  He was obviously trying to find the rabbit, and it wasn't long before he was joined by a half dozen crows or more.  The crows would make swooping attacks at the caller, and I watched in fascination, wishing I had brought my shotgun.  Since all I had was a 7mm magnum rifle, I was unable to take a shot at a crow until one landed low in a tree that provided me with a safe backdrop.

I fired at him and missed by a mere inch or two, instead blowing out the side of the pine tree that he was sitting in.  I called Pete on the radio and told him about how the crows were going for the caller, and we decided that I'd come pick him up and we'd try to lure the crows in again.  By the time I got him back over to the stand, the crows had gone and would not return.

We headed into Lancaster for lunch, then decided to go look at a couple of other leases that are part of a second club that I belong to.  Pete was thinking about joining the other club, and he wanted to get some idea as to what kind of land was available to hunt.  I wasn't particularly impressed with the first tract that we looked at.  It was thick and inaccessible, and we decided not even to get out of the truck to look at it.

The second tract offered much more promise, and we talked about giving it a try during turkey season.  The third tract, however, was the jewel of the day.  Located just outside of Chester, SC, it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful piece of land.  As soon as we pulled onto the road and came upon a three acre food plot with deer tracks everywhere I started kicking myself for not having taken a look at this property earlier.  We spent the next two hours or so exploring this land, and every time we rounded a bend it got better and better looking.

I had been considering dropping out of the club that this land belongs to.  I'm extremely happy with the Liberty Hill lease, and am reluctant to take my attention away from hunting there.  This land was enough to make me rethink my decision.  I've got to do some serious thinking between now and the time the lease money comes due.


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