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The 2009 Hunting Season

2008 was another great season.  My buddies Ted and Pete each got a deer, and I was able to kill seven, including one buck that will be mounted.   My sightings of deer were down a bit, but that could be attributed to the logging that went on over the summer.

2009 will start with a predator hunt, then a week later Ted and I will return to Chestnut Hunting Lodge for a day of wild boar hunting.  We're both looking forward to that.

Last year we shot one hunt on high definition video, and I hope to do a lot more of that in 2009.  Videos will be available to watch right here in my journal, and we really hope that you enjoy them.

We're all talking about doing a lot more work than ever on the lease over the summer, and I have high hopes for what the end result of that will be.  We're also looking at the possibility of adding 2,200 more acres to our club than we currently have, giving us almost 4,000 acres of prime deer habitat to hunt.

As always, I'm looking for another fantastic season in the woods, and thank you for following along here in my journal.

2009 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 18 2
Whitetail Doe 57 3
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 2 0
Turkey (Hen) 1 -
Wild Boar many 1
Coyote 0 0
Fox 4 0
Bobcat 0 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 0
Crows - 0
Ducks / Geese 0 0
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
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January 1, 2010 Looking Back 75 Deer Viewed

Well, another season is over.  I saw 75 deer this year, which makes it my best year ever for seeing deer in the woods.  The funny part of that is that after the first weekend in December, I never saw a deer.  Had I continued seeing them in December as I have in previous years, I could have made it to 100 deer. 

I saw more fawns in the woods this year than I ever have in my life.  We should have plenty of deer next season.  The turkey hunting wasn't very good this year, but I've got some ideas as to where to go for the gobblers come April, so hopefully we'll score in 2010.  I got my second wild boar this year, a beautiful blonde hog that is already hanging on my office wall.  I think we've got a couple packs of meat left from that one too... have to cook that up soon!

Pete wasn't able to hunt with me as much this year; I looked back over my entries and saw that he hasn't made it into the woods with me since October, back when we jumped that big ol' monster buck.   On the up side, Ted got to hunt more frequently this year than he's been able to do in the last few seasons.

I'm already looking forward to predator hunting, which I'll start as early as next weekend.   There are feeders to build, stands to move, and hopefully we'll get a few guys together to shoot some crows here before January ends. 

January 1, 2010 Final Hunt 24 Turkeys Viewed 

There were good things about today, and things that weren't so good.   The best part of the day was that Ted's daughter Taylor came along with us on her first ever deer hunt.  In my 2004 Hunting Journal, there's a picture of Ted and Taylor on the day she was born.  She's often asked to go hunting with us, and today things worked out to allow that to happen.

We had planned to put the two of them in the "Family Stand", which is easily big enough for two people, but when we got to the lease most of the good stands, including that one, were already taken.  We ended up putting them in #22#, which is also pretty big.  I tagged in for the Salt Lick stand. 

The bad part about today was that my Jeep, which has been in the shop all week, was not ready in time for today's hunt, so we had to take Ted's, which isn't four wheel drive.  It rained most of the night, and it was a bit of a struggle getting up the road in his vehicle, but we made it.  

When we got to #22#, we found that one of the chairs had been removed from it, so Ted and Taylor had to make do with just one chair between the two of them.  They managed to do it, and although they didn't see any deer, Taylor really enjoyed her first hunt.

Hunting at the Salt Lick, I saw no deer, but did see 24 turkeys.  At once.  A huge flock of hens came in and fed out in front of me at 9:30am.  I checked my trail camera after the hunt and saw that a tall-racked 8 pointer had been in the field not 30 minutes before I arrived. 

December 26, 2009 Where are the deer? 0 Deer Viewed

December has been a tough month for me as far as seeing deer goes.  I've seen nine deer this month, and most of them were in my back yard.  That doesn't stop me from hunting though, and on this, the day after Christmas, I headed back down to the lease for an afternoon hunt.  I was a little worried about driving down to the lease; my truck has been acting up pretty badly.  I've got a failing EGR valve which is causing the "check engine" light to come on every few days, and my torque converter is also about to go.

Nevertheless, I made it down to the lease with no problem and signed in for #9#.   As I pulled onto the main logging road, my Jeep stalled on me.  I started it back up, and it seemed ok so I went ahead and parked at the stand and hunted all afternoon.  I saw nothing, and left the stand at dark.  On the way out of the lease the truck stalled again. 

I took all of the back roads heading home, wanting to avoid stalling on the interstate.  I made it home ok, and the Jeep is now in the shop being repaired.  I only hope that it's ready in time for the closing day hunt on Friday.

December 23, 2009 Cold Weather Hunt 2 Foxes, 10 Turkeys Viewed

I think this morning was the coldest one we've had yet when I've gone hunting.  I bundled up in my warmest gear and headed to the salt lick stand to start the morning.  I stayed in the stand until 10:30am, but saw nothing at all.   This has been a crazy stand to hunt.  My camera shows me that five does are alternating times hitting that site.  They'll come at 8:30am one day, then at 5:30pm the next, then back to 8:30am the next.  I just can't seem to time it right, and I think that'll do it for me for this stand for the year.

After I left the salt lick, I drove over to the cutover and parked on the edge.  Leaving my pack in the truck, I set out on foot and began to glass various areas of the cutover.  I ended up walking from one edge to the other, but saw no deer.  While I was hunting that area, I gave some thought as to where I  might hunt in the evening, and I decided on #9#.

I drove over to #9# to see if there were any fresh tracks to be found, and I ran into Jimmy, who was there at the stand working on the feeder that is there.  After we talked a bit, I got in the stand and settled in for a long afternoon hunt.  The only thing I saw were two foxes and ten turkeys.  I put the crosshair right on the head of one of the foxes, and even slipped off the safety, but decided that this stand is a pretty easy one to get a fox from, so I held off on making the shot.

The second fox that came out was much bigger than the first, and I did decide to take him, but couldn't get in position for the shot.  I decided that I might go back on Saturday for an afternoon-only hunt and just take the .223 and go fox hunting.


December 19, 2009 Back Yard Deer 5 Deer Viewed

Our house backs up to several hundred acres of woods that, unfortunately, I don't have access to even bowhunt in.  However, that doesn't stop me from trying to lure deer into my back yard so that I can watch them.  Earlier this year I built a feeder that I put at the very back of the yard, about 120 feet from the back deck.

Deer come in just about every night, and if we're lucky, we catch them there every so often during the day.  I was standing upstairs this morning talking to Micki when I happened to look out our upstairs window and saw five does standing around the feeder.  I grabbed the video camera and went out the front door, peering around the corner of the house and managed to get a pretty good shot of them.


December 15, 2009 Hunting with Ted 0 Deer Viewed

Ted and I got to hunt together today, and although we were hopeful that one of us would get a deer, neither of us saw anything all day.  Ted hunted over at my orange gate tower stand in the morning, and I went back up to the cliff.  Nothing was moving at either place. 

We checked my trail cameras at midday and were seeing a good bit of deer activity at both the salt lick stand and at #6#.   We had already planned that Ted would hunt the salt lick that evening, so we thought that it worked out well that there were deer showing up every day just after 5:00pm.  I wanted to get back in #22# to try for that black eared doe.

We stayed in our stands until dark, but they just weren't moving tonight.

December 5, 2009 Trying for the Black-eared Doe 0 Deer Viewed

Although Micki and I had Christmas season plans this afternoon, and then I'd be leaving for a week in Arizona on Monday,  I went down to the lease this morning for a quick hunt hoping to get another look at that doe I saw on Thursday.  I parked well above the stand, and made a quiet stalk down the logging road in heavy fog and darkness, just barely managing to even locate the stand. 

I hunted until noon, but saw nothing at all.

December 3, 2009 Black-eared doe 4 Deer Viewed

I had the lease all to myself this morning.   Having put corn out at #11# on Sunday, I decided to give that stand another try.   The full moon lit the path from the truck to the stand, and I was soon seated high above the logging road and ready to see some deer.   I sat in that stand until 10:30 am, but saw not a single deer all morning.   On Sunday, a couple of wasps had flown into the stand, so today I had my spray with me in case they did that again.  They did, and I killed three or four of them during the course of the hunt.

I'm not real worried about the smell of the wasp spray.  The biggest whitetail I ever killed came out in front of me several years ago just as I was spraying down another bunch of wasps in the stand that I had was hunting in on that morning.    Wondering why there were so many wasps around this morning's stand, I took a peek up under the curtain on the blind and saw several dozen of them in a huge cluster.  I hit the whole lot of them with the spray, then fled the stand.  By the time I was on the ladder heading down, there were at least 20 of them dead on the stand floor.   Have to go back and sweep those out before hunting there again; in the meantime, I left a warning message about them for the rest of the members.

After the morning hunt I checked on my trail camera the #17#.  There were a dozen or so pictures on it, the best of which showed five does standing in the salt lick at around 6:30pm the previous night.

I finally got my chance to hunt #22# this afternoon.  I arrived at the stand at around 12:30pm.   This is a large box blind that overlooks a tiny field, and before getting in the stand I wanted to get a look at the ground to see if there were any fresh tracks in the area.   There was plenty of sign in the field, but nothing of any real size.  I did see Phil's camera on a tree watching over the field, so I pulled the card from it and used my digital camera to review the pictures.  They confirmed what I suspected; a few does, nothing more.

I replaced the card in the camera, then got into the stand, which turned out to be quite comfortable.  There are two chairs in the blind, and the only problem was that the blind itself is made out of industrial plastic and is in desperate need of carpeting.  Every move I made reverberated loudly from the hollow plastic.

At about 5:00pm, I saw a doe in the field.  I kept thinking that there was something wrong with her ears, then I realized that the front of them was bordered in black, while the reverse side was completely black.   I thought long and hard about shooting her for a mount, but decided that with three whitetails, a kudu, and a warthog still at the taxidermist's  I didn't need another $350 bill.  I did get some pretty good video of her.

A short while later, two more does came into the field.  One was quite young and was very wary of the blind that I was in.  She was very nervous and didn't stay around for too long.  I did see a very big deer at the far end of the field in the woods, and I kept hoping that it was a buck.  However, at one point I got a very quick look at the head and did not see any antlers.  I'll have to review the video closely to make sure of that one.

The deer were all gone by the time darkness fell.  I left the stand and headed home.


November 29, 2009 Sunday Afternoon in the Woods 0 Animals Viewed

I had decided to take Saturday off from hunting and spend some time with Micki, but on Sunday afternoon I headed down to the lease for a quick hunt.  I had been wanting to hunt #22#, which I've never been in, but club member Phil was already in that stand when I got there.  I went to #11# instead, another one I haven't hunted this year.

The stand was comfortable and the temperature was very pleasant, but I didn't see a thing all afternoon.  While I was there, I checked my trail cameras and did end up with a couple of bucks on them.  These pictures came from #6#, so it looks like I'll be back in that stand on Thursday morning.



November 21, 2009 Big Doe Down 3 Deer Viewed

I was about 15 minutes into my drive to the lease this morning when it occurred to me that I may have left my seat cushion back at the house.  I had planned to hunt #6#, but you really need a pad in that stand, so I decided that if I had indeed forgotten it, I would go to #1# instead, which has a pretty comfortable chair in it.

Fortunately, I did have my cushion, so I went right to where I wanted to be.  After I got settled in, I took a quick look around with my binoculars.  Even though it was still quite dark, I could see that there was already a deer down in the curve of the logging road to my right.  I watched that deer for 30 minutes as the sun slowly started to rise.  I looked through my binoculars, and I looked through my rifle scope, and finally I saw that it was that same big three point that I saw last week.  I sat my gun down, and he soon left the area.

For most of the morning, I could hear turkeys yelping all around me, and once I saw some through my binoculars about 500 yards down the logging road, way back toward #5#.   I saw nothing else until 9:00am.

Right at nine, a big doe came out to my right.  I got my rifle in position, saw that she was indeed a good one, and got ready to take the shot.  Just before I squeezed the trigger, an even bigger doe came out.  Oh man, I thought, that's the one.  I waited until the deer turned broadside, slipped off the safety, and fired.

As I recovered from the recoil, I saw the deer leap into the air, then dash into the woods, and I knew it was a good hit.  I started gathering up my gear, then headed back down the road a quarter mile toward where my truck was parked.  Driving back to where the deer had been, I stopped about 10 yards shy of where she had been standing. 

I got out of the truck and grabbed some marking tape and my Glenn's Deer Handle, then noticed that I had parked right on top of the start of the blood trail.  She had been slightly closer to me than I thought, and the blood was bright red in the morning sun.   The blood trail was beautifully easy to follow.  As I entered the woods though, I saw the gulley in front of me, and feared that I had a hard drag ahead of me.  I kept on the trail, and fortunately found the deer only about halfway down into the dip, laying on the ground just before it got really steep.

I dragged her out and took her to the processor.  Ted gets the meat from this one, as he wanted another doe to get him through the year.

I moved one of my cameras during the midday break, putting it over at the salt lick stand.  I've always wanted to see how many deer come into that area.  We'll find out next week.  

For the evening hunt, I went into the cutover, sitting in one of the new box blinds that we've installed there.  Although it was a great afternoon to be in the stand, I didn't see anything at all for the rest of the day.

November 14, 2009 All Day Hunt 1 Deer Viewed

Today's hunt was again at #6#.  I was on my own today, and was anxious to take a doe.  The rut is all but over, and I need another doe or two for the freezer, so I was ready to get one today.

As soon as the sun came up,  I saw a big three point buck down in the corn area.  He stayed around for a half hour, and I kept thinking that some does would come out after he left, but nothing else showed up.  I stayed in the stand until around 11:30, then walked back down to my  truck to grab my bagged lunch and something to drink.

Lunch in hand, I went back to the stand, ate my sandwich, then took a long nap in the blind. 

I hunted the same stand in the evening, but saw nothing at all.  Just before dark, a very large group of coyotes started howling just down in the woods beyond my stand, so I got my .40 pistol out for the long walk back to the truck in case they decided to show themselves.   They didn't, and I engaged the low-lock four wheel drive on my Jeep and headed down the road toward home.

November 11, 2009 Hurricane Hunt 7 Deer Viewed

With the remnants of Hurricane Ida coming through our area, I was actually pretty excited about the hunt.  I love being in the woods in rough weather, and the only thing that will keep me home is strong thunderstorms.  Since there was no thunder and lightning associated with this storm, I was quite ready to get in the woods for a half day hunt with Ted.

The roads on the lease were incredibly slippery from all of the rain, but we made it up ok.  I put Ted in #3#, and I went on to #6#.   As soon as it was light enough to see, I caught sight of a doe eating corn down to my right.  She stayed around for a full half hour, ignoring the heavy wind and rain.  She finally fled after an unusually strong gust of wind startled her.

Shortly after that, I saw a big six point buck down to my left.  I had parked my truck way down the logging road out of sight of the stand, but the buck could see it from where he was, and I watched him through my binoculars as he tried to decide what my truck was and what to do about it.  He finally simply slipped back into the woods.

An hour after he had disappeared, most of the strong winds and rain had quit, and I saw three does move along the edge of the road back down to my right.   The didn't stay long, and I again passed any shot on them.  Shortly after that, a pair of black vultures landed and began to eat the corn.  I had never seen that happen before, and as soon as they landed three more does appeared and walked toward the corn as if to chase the birds off.

Those does stayed for about 10 minutes, then left.   By 11:00am, with our departure time approaching, I decided that I would go ahead and take the next big doe that appeared, but nothing showed up for the rest of the morning.

Ted saw a big six pointer at his stand, but no does.

November 10, 2009 Afternoon Hunt 4 Deer Viewed

With my vacation coming to a close, I decided to go for an afternoon-only hunt today.  I wanted to check my trail cameras before doing anything else, so I hit those first thing.  The camera watching the scrape showed three raccoons visiting frequently, and one doe that stopped briefly by.  The excitement, though, was at the camera at #6#. 

That camera showed that a nice 8 pointer had visited the area on the previous two mornings.  That clinched my decision to hunt at #6# for the afternoon.

Getting into the stand, I set up my video camera and got settled down.  Most of the afternoon was quiet, but as dusk approached I saw a four point buck dart through the cutover in front of me.  He stopped when he got halfway across, looked right at me, then disappeared into the woods.

As is got on toward dark, I saw three does down to my right, as well as a big raccoon.  I passed on any shot, not wanting to disturb that stand for that big buck that was on the camera.

November 6, 2009 Finally Saw a Deer 1 Deer Viewed

Ted was with me today.  It was a cold morning, and we saw several deer on the way down to the lease.  I had tagged us both in for our chosen stands last night before leaving the lease, so we got right in the woods without stopping at the sign-in board.  Ted went to the Orange Gate and I went to the cliff.

As the sun began to rise, I heard two Great Horned owls hooting back and forth at each other in my vicinity.  In the pre-dawn darkness, I saw one of them fly out in front of me, then perch in a tree right beside me.  It was joined by the other one, and I scrambled for the video camera.  I got a good close-up of one of them, but could not find the second one in the dark. 

Soon after that, I heard something walking in the woods behind my stand, but before I could even get turned around to peek out the window of the blind to see what it was, it snorted at me once and left.  A deer.  Not a large one from the sound, but a deer nonetheless.

Shortly after sunrise, I saw movement in valley below me, and watched a four point buck make his way into view.  He only stayed for a minute, but I got video of him as well.  I saw nothing else all morning.

Ted saw a doe, an unidentified deer, and a five point.  He tried to get in position for a shot on the doe, but she spooked.

We messed around with the trail cameras a little bit after the hunt, moving the one from the cliff stand over to #6#, where there is another active scrape that I want to get pictures beside.


November 5, 2009 Where are the Deer? 0 Animals Viewed

Changing things up again today, I started off in #1#, feeling strongly that something would show up.  It didn't.  I sat in the stand until about 9:30am, then decided to move to cliff stand. 

I stayed there until around 1:00pm, then went over to the grill to get a sandwich.  After that, I decided to move the trail camera from the Orange Gate stand over to the scrape that I found on Monday.  While doing that, I managed to strip the head off of one of the screws that was holding it to the tree, so it took some work with a pry bar to get it off.

That, of course, bent the camera's security box, so I had to pound that back into shape so that it would close correctly, and so that the camera would fit back into the box. 

With that all done, I was about to head home since we had company coming over tonight, but Micki called me to tell me that our guests had had to postpone our evening, so I decided to stay at the lease for the rest of the day.

I went over to #6# and hunted there until dark, but yet again saw nothing.

If this is the rut, where are the deer? 


November 3, 2009 Hunting the Rut - Day 2 0 Animals Viewed

Yesterday, in all of my ramblings around the lease, I found some big deer tracks heading into the cutover.   At mid-day today I went back to the cutover with my climbing stand and found a good tree to set up in.  Then I got some doe estrus scent and made two long scent trails from the woodline out into the cutover.

I sat in the climber from about 11:30am until after dark, and saw nothing. 


November 2, 2009 Hunting the Rut - Day 1 0 Animals Viewed

My Band of Brothers was meeting at my house for "Steak Night" tonight, so I only hunted the first half of the day.  The rut should be going strong now, and I was really excited about getting into the woods.

I started the morning at the Cliff stand, but had seen nothing by about 9:30am.  The stand offers a great view, but is uncomfortable due to the fact that it angles downward, and you pretty much have to brace yourself with your feet all day.  I was getting restless, so I left the stand and headed on over to another section of the lease.

I did some rattling at #6#, but saw nothing there.

Moving on to #34#, which is a new ladder overlooking one of our biggest fields, I found an incredibly fresh scrape.  I got into the stand and did some rattling there too, but again, no luck.

After that, I moved to our big cutover and again tried to rattle up a buck.  Again, no visible response.

The wind was very high today, and I doubt that my calling sounds were carrying very far.  That, coupled with the fact that I'm not sure how much rattling actually works in South Carolina, gave me enough cause to end the day and go home.

On a side note, the steaks and fellowship were both excellent on Monday night. 


October 31, 2009 Halloween Hunt 7 Deer Viewed

After a week or so without any hunting, I've got the next 10 days off from work, so I should get plenty of time in the woods.  This morning I went to the dirt pit again.   I had made a quick run down on Tuesday evening and put a new trail camera out at the pit, and was anxious to see what was on it, but first, I had to hunt!

The morning started slowly, and again it was fairly foggy.  The dirt pit is bordered by the state road that our lease is located on, and for the first part of the day the only thing I saw was the occasional car or pickup truck going by.  At 9:15am, I saw a young doe walk up the bank on the far side of the road.  She didn't stay long, and soon disappeared into the fog.

At 9:45, I saw a doe running along the shoulder of the state road.  Thinking that a buck might be chasing her - the rut should be in full swing - I got in position to take a shot if one became available.  Another doe showed up, running behind the first one, then another.  I waited, and soon two more does came running by.  Although I kept watching, no buck ever showed up.  I think a dog must have chased them out of the cutover.

At about 10:45, I saw one more big doe down in the dirt pit, but she also did not linger.  I stayed in the stand until a little after noon, but saw nothing else.

After the hunt, I drove around the cliff into the pit and went to check the camera.  There was one picture of a couple of does; nothing else.  The number of tracks on the ground convinced me that I should have gotten more pictures than I did.  I knew the camera was pretty far back from the corn pile, but it seems that it was too far to get any good pictures, so I spent the next little while moving it to another tree.   There's really not a good spot to put the camera.  I think when the corn pile runs out, I'll put fresh corn a little closer to the original tree, ultimately moving the pile within camera range.

I checked my other camera too, and had the usual does on it.  I did drive around a little bit and take a look at the food plots.  The one at #9# is doing very well, with lab-lab beans and oats coming in very nicely.  The one at the family stand was full of tracks, and most of the lab-lab beans had been eaten.  The oats were looking good, although they too were being eaten from.  Clover and turnips are also starting to show up.


October 22, 2009 Back to the Cliffs 1 Deer Viewed

My week of vacation almost over, I went back to the cliff over the dirt pit one more time.  The morning was extremely foggy, and for the first couple of hours I could hardly see anything at all.  At one point it was so thick that I really couldn't see a thing, so I got out my book and started reading, looking around every couple of pages.  As the fog started to lift, I saw a deer way down at the corn pile.  I turned on the video camera, then took a good look at him through my binoculars.

I could tell that it was a buck, and when he finally turned his head I saw that he was a nice 8 pointer, but not as good as the one I got in this same spot two days ago.  I put my rifle back down and watched him for another couple of minutes before he left. 

I hunted the dirt pit for the rest of the day, leaving the stand at lunchtime to do a little bit of trimming to try to improve visibility into the cutover near the pit.  I cut down two gum trees, but a couple of pines that need to go were too much for my little portable saw, so I'll have to come back with my chain saw next week. 


October 20, 2009 Hunting the Cliffs 3 Deer Viewed

Ted was with me today, and of course I headed back to the cliff stand, hoping to get that big monster that Pete and I saw.  I took Ted to #1# and dropped him off, then got up high on the hill.  At around 8:45am, I saw a doe trying to emerge from the cutover to my left.  She wanted to cross the road, but cars kept passing and eventually she gave up and headed back into the thick stuff. 

About 15 minutes later, another doe appeared down at the far end of my view, where I was hoping to see the buck.  She fed for about 10 minutes before hurrying off into the woods.  As soon as she vanished, I saw another deer coming up the hill toward where she had been.  At first I couldn't see what it was, then I saw the sun glinting off of antlers.  It wasn't my big buck, but it was a big buck.  I knew immediately that I was going to take the shot.  I raised my rifle, and when the deer presented me with his shoulder, I fired. 

The deer turned and loped off into the woods.  He wasn't running hard, and I was afraid that I had missed.  I jacked in another shell and tried to find him in the scope, but the last thing I saw was antlers and a white rump running into the swamp.

I called Ted and told him I had shot (at) a big buck.  He said he had heard the impact of the bullet and that the shot had been good.  Glad to hear this, I hurried back to my truck, drove around to the base of the cliff, then went to try to track the deer.  There was no blood at the corn, and no blood trail leading into the swamp.  I found his tracks once, but no indication of a hit.  I walked into the swamp and still found nothing.

I made a quick arc in the direction I thought he had gone, but still saw nothing.  I was about to go back to the corn and start over when I saw a white belly off to my left.  There he was, not 10 yards from the edge of the woods, dead.   I had gone too far right in my search.


After loading the buck up onto my truck rack, I picked up Ted and we took the deer to the processor, and then the head on to the taxidermist.

In the evening, Ted went to the Orange Gate, and I went back to the cliff.  Neither of us saw anything that time around.


October 17, 2009 Monster Buck! 1 Deer Viewed

I'll skip the boring stuff today.  Suffice to say that Pete and I hunted on the first road, him going to #1# and me going to #2#.  Pete missed a doe with his muzzleloader, and I didn't see anything at all.  Ok, the good stuff:

As we were leaving the lease to go get lunch, we passed a cutover out across from our rifle range, and Pete said "I think I just saw a buck down there."  I parked the truck at the range gate and said, "ok, let's go take a look."

We got out of the truck and I grabbed my binoculars from my pack.  I didn't take my rifle; the wind was good, and I figured we could go back for it if we needed to.  We crossed the road and eased along the edge of the woodline, trying to get a view into the cutover.  After a few minutes, Pete said "There he is!" 

I saw the deer at that time and got my binoculars up to get a better look at him.  "Oh my Lord," I said.  The deer was the biggest whitetail that I've seen this side of the Mississippi River.  He was a huge 8 pointer, with massive curled antlers that looked red in the morning light.  The buck looked at us, and we looked back.   We watched him for a minute, and were just talking about going back for the rifle when he loped off into the swamp.

We stood there shaking, and couldn't stop talking about The Buck for the rest of the day.  I can't emphasize enough what a monster deer this was.  So, now I have to hunt him.  Thinking it over (and over, and over, and over), I decided to hunt the stand up on "the cliff", which is a box blind way up high on a precipice that looks out over our rifle range, and, of course, is right across from where we saw the monster.

We went into town and got some corn, then came back to the lease and got in the woods.  Pete went to the Orange Gate, and I went high up on the hill.  Neither of us saw any deer, but I did watch two red foxes climb straight up the cliff, then come up close to my stand before winding me and leaving in a hurry.



October 13, 2009 Afternoon Hunt with Ted 3 Deer Viewed

Ted and I went down to the lease together after work today.   I put Ted in the Family Stand, which was really looking nice and green from everything we had planted, and I went back to #15#.  Once there, I did a whole lot more trim work, really opening up the view without compromising the stand.  I saw a big doe and a little fawn to my left at one point during the hunt, and a big spike buck to my right, but nothing worth shooting showed up.


October 8, 2009 All Day Hunt 0 Animals Viewed

Back in the woods after what seems like a long break, I started the day at #3#.  This is a stand that I know well, and always enjoy hunting, but I really haven't seen much of anything there this year.  The view from the stand is very narrow due to an overgrowth of the surrounding trees.  I was tired of only having a small window of open area to look at, but I stayed in the stand until about 8:00am, then finally said the heck with it and walked down to #2#.  The view is better from there; there's more to look at, and there's a new food plot for the deer to come browse in.

Nothing showed up there either though.  I left the stand at mid-day and went to get lunch at the grill.  Ted was due down for an afternoon hunt, and he arrived at around 1:30pm.  I had called him earlier in the day and asked him to pick up a pole trimmer at Lowe's, where he works, so that we could do some trimming around several of the stands.   

We did a bunch of trimming, clearing up the view at #3# and #15#, and we did a whole lot of work at #12#, which is a stand up on a hill looking down into a very small food plot.  Previously, you could only see a tiny portion of the food plot; after we finished, the whole thing was visible.

The trimming done, we went way out to the back of the lease, with me hunting #15# and Ted going just down the trail and around the corner to #16#.  Neither of us saw anything all afternoon.  I could see that #15# needed a good bit of trim work done, despite what we had already cut earlier in the day.


September 29, 2009 First Buck of the Year 5 Deer, 2 Foxes Viewed

Leaving my house this morning, I saw three deer on our neighborhood road, then two dogs and a possum on the next road.  On the lease road, I saw a red fox and a young eight pointer.  The buck was very close to my orange gate, so maybe he is starting to work that area.

It was the coldest morning of the year so far.  On Highway 97 near the lease, we pass through a low lying bottom that is usually a good bit colder than the surrounding areas.  This morning it was 43 degrees at that spot, and 49 degrees at the sign-in board.  I checked in for #10# and got in the stand.

At 7:15 am, I saw two big grey foxes chasing each other at 100 yards.  Then at 8:55, a big doe came out to my left, then went back into the woods.  She returned a couple of minutes later with another nice sized doe.  They fed for a few minutes, then went back into the woods.  Ten minutes later, I gave a couple of grunt calls and almost immediately they reemerged from the woods.  This was probably a coincidence, because they headed down the road away from my stand.

The does were feeding about 125 yards away from me when suddenly the biggest one broke into a run, heading in my direction.  As I watched, a big bodied, wide racked 4-pointer came out of the woods and chased the does away.  He fed for awhile where the does had been.  Once, he jumped and dashed away, and I thought that maybe a bigger buck had shown up.  However, nothing else came out, and the four-pointer soon returned.  When he finally left for good, another doe came out, but I think it was one of the original two, so I didn't count it as an additional deer sighting.

As I was typing this journal entry on my iPod Touch, I glanced up and saw the biggest doe back in the road 30 yards away and looking my way.  But the wind was good and this ladder sits high in the tree, and she soon flicked her tail and went back to feeding.  The other doe came back out, and I almost decided to take the shot.  I chose to wait, and before long the wind swirled and I think they finally smelled me.  They left.

The rising sun shines directly on this stand, and by 10:15am I was getting pretty hot, so I climbed on down and headed back to the truck.  The phone was ringing when I got there, and it was Micki calling to tell me that Jimmy had called our house to say he had gotten a deer and needed help finding it.  I found Jimmy at the sign in board, and he told me that he had shot a 6-pointer with his bow, his first bow shot ever.

We went and looked for his deer for two and a half hours.  We followed the blood trail until it gave out, and searched for many hundred yards in all directions from the last blood, but we never found the deer.  He thinks he hit it a little high, above the lungs and other vitals, so it probably didn't kill the deer.

After a late lunch, I headed to #15#.  Jimmy told me that he had seen a shootable buck there last night, but didn't get his gun up in time.  He recommended that I make a try for him, and so I went there instead of going to #3# as I originally planned.  I got in the stand at around 3:00pm.  At 4:45pm, a spike came out 40 yards to my right and fed for 20 minutes.  As I was watching him and adding notes to my journal, my iPod slipped out of my hand once again and banged to the floor of the stand.  Fortunately, the stand was already creaking and pooping in the wind, and the deer ignored it. 

At 6:00pm, I glanced to my left in time to see the back end of a very big bodied deer as he slipped from one logging road to another.  He was gone before I even got a good look at him.  I was disgusted.  If I had been looking in the direction I knew that I should have been watching, I would have seen him.  However, I grabbed my M.A.D. grunt call from my pack and began a series of loud, fast grunts.  I put down my call and got my rifle up and looked through the scope in the direction of the deer.

Nothing.  Then I saw what I thought were two front legs, but because of a pine branch blocking most of my view, I thought no, that's just two young pine tree trunks.  As I watched, one of the "trunks" took a step, and suddenly I was seeing a front shoulder, head, and antlers.  I could tell that it was a mature buck, so without hesitating any longer I slipped off the safety and took the shot.  The deer leapt high in the air and I knew he was hit.  He vanished into the woods, and I began gathering my gear from the stand.

I jogged down to where the deer had been standing.  There was no blood on the ground, but I found a massive track in the hard earth where the buck had jumped when I shot him.  I did a slow circle 40 yards into the woods, but found no blood or sign of any kind.  My truck was parked a quarter mile down the trail, away from the stand, so I went back and got it and brought it up to the point of the shot, then got the necessary gear for tracking a deer:  marking tape, my GPS, and a flashlight with fresh batteries.  It was still light out, but it would be getting dark quickly.  I tried to call Jimmy's cell phone to ask for help, but it kept going directly to voice mail.

Pocketing my phone, I headed back into the woods, again making a large circle, but this time heading deeper in and going farther down into the valley.  I found a small spot of blood on an oak leaf, and knew that the deer was hit.  Rather than try to follow each individual blood spot, I decided to head on down to the bottom, and in doing that I saw the deer laying on the ground all the way at the bottom of the valley.

It took me over an hour and a half to get the deer out of the woods and back up the mountain.  I had to go back to the truck twice to rest, but I finally made it.


September 27, 2009 A Rare Sunday Hunt 0 Animals Viewed

I don't get in the woods very often on Sundays.  There's church in the morning, of course, and then there's football to watch.  And there's the fact that sometimes the deer processors can be hard to access on Sunday evenings.  But today, with low humidity in the air and an afternoon with nothing else to do, I headed down to the lease for a short hunt.  I signed in for #10#, and was pulling out of the sign-in area when Matt arrived with his young niece.  We chatted briefly about where we'd hunt, then went off in our separate directions.

I got settled in #10# at around 4:30pm.  About 20 minutes later, I saw a black snake cross the road near my stand.  At 5:30, seven hen turkeys came out and headed up the road to my right.  I saw nothing else all evening save for a bald eagle that flew over my stand.


September 26, 2009 Half-Day Hunt 1 Deer Viewed

Had the woods to myself today.  I got to the lease a few minutes later than normal and saw that there was no one else hunting this morning.  There was a notice tacked to the board discussing our new QDMA rules, stating that we needed to collect the jawbones from every deer we kill for aging (we've already been doing this this year), and that we need to record all kills as well as keeping track of deer and turkey sightings.

I hunted at #2# this morning.   At 8:40, I heard noises behind my stand.  I peeked slowly out the side window of the blind and saw a fully spotted fawn standing not 10 yards from me.  We stared at each other for a few minutes, and I could see her nose flaring as she tried to get wind of me.  Eventually, she flicked her tail and moved slowly away, completely unconcerned about me being there.

At 9:30, having seen nothing since the fawn came by, and because I had the whole place to myself, I took a walk up to #3#, where I sat on the ground in a clump of bushes for awhile.  The view was good, but nothing was moving, so I soon headed back to my original stand.  I stayed in place until about 11:30, then went over to the main part of the lease.  I put some corn out at #15# and #10#, and changed the camera card at the orange gate.

Although I don't normally hunt on Sundays, I'll get a chance to go tomorrow afternoon after church so that Micki can have the house to herself to do some fall cleaning and decorating.  I'm planning on going to #10# for that hunt.


September 22, 2009 My 50th Deer 6 Deer, 2 Foxes Viewed

Today was Ted's first chance to get in the woods with me this season.  Going into it, I only hoped that the day would be easier than the last one that Pete and I had in the woods.  We started the day with me going to #3#, which is a stand that I really like, and Ted going to #1#.  The morning was quiet on my end, with nothing at all showing up for most of the morning.  At 7:50am, I heard Ted shoot, so I got my radio and waited for him to call.  He soon did, reporting that he had shot a doe.

The morning was still quite cool, so we stayed in the stand for another hour and a half, giving the deer time to show up at my stand.  They never did, so at 9:30 I called Ted to tell him I was on the way down.  As I started down the ladder, two gobblers popped out of the woods to my right, so I stayed still and let them pass out of view before I exited the stand.  I went down and picked up Ted and his deer, a nice doe, and then we headed out to drop it off at the processor.

After that, we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly in Lancaster.  A few years ago at a hunting show, Ted and I found some BBQ sauce that we really liked.  A few Piggly Wigglys in South Carolina sell the stuff, but we never had found any more after we bought it at the show.  Fortunately, this store had some, so we each got two bottles of PeeDee Swamp Sauce.  We also noticed that this particular grocery store sold deer corn, so I asked the cost... and hearing $8.99 a bag, I passed.

Back at the lease, we planted three of the fields with a mixture of beans, oats, peas, and turnips.   We finally got back in the woods a little after 2:30pm.  I got in #20#, knowing that sooner or later a doe would show up there, and Ted got in #17#.  At 2:45pm, a buck fawn came out into my field.  I watched him for ten minutes, then noticed the twitch of an ear in the trees behind the buck.  I saw a doe, but for some time she would not emerge.  Finally, she did come out, and I took the shot.

I saw blood pouring from the wound as she ran, and almost immediately I heard her crash to the forest floor.  I made a very quick recovery, notified Ted of my success, and then ran the deer over to Mungo's in Heath Springs.  I'll pause here to note a milestone.  I do keep count of how many deer I've killed, and although it's not about the numbers, some numbers are important.  This deer was important because it was the 50th one of my hunting career. 

I was back in the stand by 4:30pm, but this time I went to #9# instead of back to #20#.  Nine is hot in the afternoon, but I knew the sun would be behind the clouds before too long.

At 5:30pm, two small grey foxes crossed the trail about 30 yards past my stand.  They moved quickly, disappearing into the woods before I even got a good look at them.  A minute later, they dashed back across the trail.

Many of our stands are based on aluminum frames of the sort used to support agricultural water bins.  A wasp decided to nest in a hole in the frame and, being averse to being stung I went into a modified stationary panic (c.f. Pat McManus, They Shoot Canoes, Don't They?), ripping off my Walker's game ears and swatting wildly at him with my hat.  He made it into the hole, but in the battle my iPod Touch fell out of my shirt pocket, bounced off the floor of the stand and tumbled 15 feet to the ground.

Having left my wasp spray in #20, I located a roll of duct tape (don't ask) in my backpack and I used that to block all of the holes in the stand.  The wasp taken care of, I climbed down and got my iPod, which showed no sign of damage.

At 7:15pm - I saw the two foxes again, this time at 100 yards.  Almost immediately after they disappeared, I saw two fawns way down the trail at 100 yards or more.  They started galloping toward my stand, and behind them a bigger doe emerged.  Behind her, an even bigger doe showed up, and they all headed quickly my way.  They stopped about 60 yards out and began to feed.  I got my scope on the big deer, but she only presented me with a straight-on shot, which I won't take.  Finally, as dark was falling, she turned a little bit.  I aimed far forward on her shoulder, not wanting the quartering angle to end up causing a gut shot.  I fired.  When the smoke cleared, the deer were all gone.

I got down from the stand, got my marking tape from the truck, and headed quickly down to where the deer had been.  I wanted to at least find the first blood spot before it got too dark to do that.  Fortunately, as I walked down, I saw the deer laying dead not 10 yards from where I shot her.  She was indeed a big doe, and after aging the jawbone, I'll call her an easy 3.5 year old. 


September 18, 2009 A Difficult Day in the Woods 2 Deer Viewed

Pete was with me again today, and we started at the Orange Gate this morning.  The first thing we did was move the climber to a better tree, then we both got settled in our stands.  The morning was very muggy, and the deer just weren't moving much.  I saw one small fawn, a doe, at 9:20am.  She crossed in front of my stand at about 20 yards, then soon disappeared from sight.  Nothing else showed up all morning, and Pete didn't see anything from the climber.

After lunch, I got in #20# and Pete elected to hunt up the road from me in #18#.  I heard music when I parked my truck.  This is not unusual for #20#.   The stand is in a peninsula of woods across from the lake, and the guy who's house is closest to the stand can often be heard playing music or using a chainsaw.  As I closed my truck door, the music volume increased.  Shaking my head (I hate loud music), I walked down the trail to my stand. 

The music was coming in loudly and clearly by the time I settled in.  I tried to ignore it as best I could, knowing that it wouldn't likely bother the deer.  Since the music had gotten louder, though, I thought maybe the guy just didn't like us hunting there and was trying to run us off.  So, I thought maybe I could be sneaky by making an obvious show of leaving the area, but then driving back to my stand area through at different lease entrance.  I did this, but it didn't help.  When I got back to my stand, the music was still loud.

After awhile I realized that it wasn't just music playing over a stereo, it was a live outdoor party.  There were kids singing over a microphone, and a drummer and a guitarist playing in addition to the pre-recorded music.  And they played at least three of the songs three times each.   After two hours of this, I'd had enough.  I radioed Pete, and we decided to move.  I went to #2#, while Pete went to #5#.

The only thing I saw was yet another small fawn, who crossed my field sometime before dark.  I could still, even from 2 miles away, hear the music, but at least it was much more faint than it was from the family stand.  Pete saw nothing all evening.

So, although it's always great to be in the woods, I'd have to say this particular hunt was a good bit more stressful than my normal days afield.


September 15, 2009 Opening Day of Rifle Season 5 Deer Viewed

Pete was with me today as we opened up the rifle deer season in South Carolina.  I started the day at #3#, while Pete went to #1#.   My ingress to the stand was nice and quiet, but even so I saw nothing all morning.  The only interesting things that happened was that once, a dove landed on top of my blind.  Not wanting it to jump in fear at the wrong moment if I stuck my rifle out the window to shoot a deer, I pushed up on the roof of the blind to scare it off. 

At 11:30, the coyotes started howling behind me.  Rare to hear them going at it that time of day, but they were quite loud and active.  Pete heard them too.  When they quit, we met up and went to lunch at the Riverdeck.

After lunch, we went to the Orange Gate area to hunt.  I got in the new tower stand, and Pete got in the climber that I had put in place for him on Saturday.  At 5:10pm, I saw two big does and a fawn at the far end of my viewing area, 300 yards away.  I radioed Pete to tell him about the deer.  Shortly after that, I heard several deer moving all around my stand.  They would not come past the stand, so I could not see them.  I did hear one walk up in the woods to my right, and within moments saw a small spike come out.  He stared at me for a few minutes, then slowly walked back into the woods.

At 6:35pm, I heard a shot from Pete's area.  He radioed me and reported that he thought he got one.  Ten minutes later, he called back and said that he had not found any blood.  I told him that it sounded like a solid hit to me, and suggested that he keep looking while I continued my hunt.  A few minutes later he called again and said that he had found her.

At 7:15, I saw my last deer of the day as a fawn came into my field.  I watched it until dark, then came down and we got Pete's deer loaded onto the truck and off to the processor.


September 12, 2009 Final Archery Hunt 9 Deer, 1 Fox Squirrel Viewed

I went back to the Family Stand (#20#) this morning and planned to hunt there all day today.  All was quiet for the morning hunt, although I did have one deer blow at me around 8:00am.  The most interesting part of the morning hunt was this:  at around 9:00am, I saw something cat-sized and black coming my way from about 120 yards out.  At first I thought it was a skunk, but a quick look with my binoculars showed it to be a big fox squirrel.  It was the first one I've seen on the lease.  He came all the way down the road, through the field, and right to the base of my tree.  I got some great HD video of him with my camcorder, as you can see below.  He was the size of a small cat, had the huge tail that is typical of fox squirrels, and had a black body and white nose. 

After the morning hunt I put corn at #1# and #3# for Tuesday, which is the opening day of rifle season.  I also put corn at both feeders on the Orange Gate road, and installed a climber for Pete to use on the opener.  I helped Jimmy fill the feeder at #9#, and took a drive around the lease just to get a look at things.

I was drenched with sweat by the time I got back to the Family Stand.  I don't play the wind when I hunt.  I don't use cover scents, and I don't worry too much about whether the deer are going to smell me or not.  My whole theory is this:  just hunt.  You'll see them or you won't.  At the Family Stand, I poured about 20 pounds of corn on the ground, then got in the blind.

Sweaty or not, it was my afternoon to see deer.  Around 6:00, a doe and two fawns came into the field and went straight for my corn.   They were joined by 2 more does.  I again got great video of at least four of them, and they fed in front of me for at least an hour.  One of the fawns was a small button buck.  Here's a short clip from the video that I got of these deer:

After they left, I saw a big doe on the road up past the field, the sixth of the day.  At first I thought she was one of the original five, but I decided that she was much bigger than any of them.  Shortly after that another doe crossed the field quickly, not stopping to eat.  At 7:50, I saw three more does way up the road, but I decided that these were the original deer and did not add them to my count.

When it was time to get down from the stand, I tossed my empty drink bottle out onto the ground, then dropped my seat cushion alongside it.  I was putting the rest of my gear up when I saw two more deer enter the field.  Strangely, the sound the bottle and pad made when they hit the ground hadn't scared them at all.  It was fairly dark, still legal shooting, so I reloaded my crossbow and got my binoculars back out.

The deer were obviously bucks; they sparred a bit, and the bigger one kept the smaller one away from the corn.  I could see a small wound on the hip of one of the deer, and, having heard about him from Jimmy, knew that he was a fair sized spike.  The other one was a small six pointer.  They fed for awhile, and when it was past shooting time I barked like a dog to scare them off so that I could get down from the stand.

On the way back to the sign in board, I saw 8 deer in the road in one spot, including a young 8-pointer.  They aren't included in my tally, since I only count deer seen while outside the vehicle when making my yearly count.  Still... a good end to the archery season, and I am greatly looking forward to the rifle opener on Tuesday.


September 5, 2009 Solo Crossbow Hunt 3 Deer Viewed

I started this Saturday morning out at #2#, but found it full of wasps.  I sprayed one nest, but that stirred up a second nest and I had to abandon my plans to hunt this stand.  I moved down the road to #1#, where I have my Moultrie feeder.  I didn't see anything all morning.

After the morning hunt I ran into Jimmy.  He was on the tractor and was plowing up some food plots for us, so I asked him to re-plow my Orange Gate field if he got time.  If not, I told him that I'd come back on the weekend and do it.

In the afternoon, I went to the Family Stand where I saw a doe and two fawns.  No bucks, so I got down from the stand and headed back to the sign in board.  Jimmy was there waiting for his son Matt, and we chatted for a bit, listening to the coyotes howl all around us.  Here's a video of one of the fawns:


September 1, 2009 Opening Day of Archery Season 8 Deer Viewed

Although I didn't write much about the off season after May, I spent a whole lot of time at the lease over the summer.  We're moving to wooden trough feeders this year like the one shown below, and I built a big one on my own, and Pete helped me build a smaller one.  Ted and I built a nice tower stand at what we call the Orange Gate, and I even got a food plot planted there.  Over the summer I got thousands of pictures of deer on my trail camera (the same group of about 10 deer, but thousands of pictures of them!), and the woods seem to be really full of deer this year.

Rumors are that a black bear crossed our lease this year.  Several of the guys got pictures of him on their trail cameras, but I never got a look at him.  Also, Jimmy did a lot of work at the sign in board and set up a nice archery range for us.  We also have a tractor available on the lease full time now, which will really help us out.  Finally, they are doing some logging on the back side of the lease, and as of now they have clear-cut about 75 acres out of our 1800 total.  Word is that they're going to do a full 100 acres.

I also decided to buy a crossbow and hunt with it this year because most of our stands are more suitable for that kind of weapon over a traditional bow. 

So, on the weekend before opening day, I went down to the lease and put my popup blind near the big feeder I built at the Orange Gate.  I brushed it in good, and on opening day I was in the stand long before sunrise.  I saw several deer that morning, and at noon when I decided to walk back to the truck for lunch I popped my head out of the blind only to see a fawn standing not 10 yards from me.  Her back was to me, so I eased back into the blind and waited for her to leave.  All in all, I saw 7 does that morning, three of which were fawns.

I hunted the same stand in the evening, and this time all I saw was one spike.  It would have been a pretty easy shot, but spikes aren't legal game on our lease, so I watched him feed for awhile.  Not a bad opening day though; in 2008 I only saw 2 deer on the first day of the season.  My count was the same in 2007 and 2006; 2 deer on each opening day.  So today I saw a total of 8, which is a great start to the year.


May 23, 2009 Checking on the Lease 0 Animals Viewed

Took a quick trip down to the lease today to check my trail camera and see if what I planted at the Orange Gate is coming up.

Some of the wheat that I planted has indeed sprung up, and a few of the lablab beans were visible.  Still need to get in there with a tractor to do it right.

Moved my trail camera from #2# to the salt block at #3#.  Drove over to the main road to see how things were looking.  Not only has the timber company bulldozed our roads to make them drivable, they have also planted grass in them, and they are looking beautiful. 

At home, I reviewed the pictures from the trail camera and had a lot of great shots of deer at #2#.  Saw two bucks showing the first bit of antler growth, including a great close-up of a buck:



May 2009 Planting... Again Turkeys Everywhere

Went back to the lease to try again on planting the Orange Gate field.  This time I took my tiller with me, and my ATV. 

The ground was too hard to till, but I gave it my best shot.  I spent about two hours trying to break up the hard packed dirt, but didn't get very far.

Ironically, I saw at least a half dozen different turkeys while I was tilling, including a nice gobbler that came within 30 yards of me.  Next year, instead of messing with slate calls, box calls, and diaphragms, I'm just going to take my tiller into the turkey woods with me.


Early May, 2009 Planting the Lease 0 Animals Viewed

In early May, I took my four wheeler, spreader, and a small pull-behind disc with me down to the lease.  I had bought some wheat, lablab beans, fertilizer, and lime to use on the "orange gate" area that I hunted heavily at the end of last year's deer season.  The little clearing that my stand watches would make a great food plot, and I spent several hours trying to get the ground busted up.

The ground, unfortunately, was just too hard to turn over with that little disc, and after a few hours of hard work I gave up on it. 

April 2009 South Carolina Spring Turkey Season 2 Gobblers, 1 Hen Viewed

I'm changing the format of my hunting journal just a little bit, starting here.  For now, I'm going to stop tracking temperature and weather in the header above the entry.  I had initially thought that this would be good information to use to help pattern the animals that I hunt, but I've found that I don't go back and look at this data, and it's also a bit of a pain to get historical weather information when I'm a few days (or weeks) behind on creating journal entries.

As for the spring turkey season, I fell behind in my journal entries.  I didn't make time to write up each hunt after I went, and before long the season was far behind us.  The season was a bust again this year.  On opening day, I called in two gobblers, got over-excited, and missed a shot that I knew was way too long to take.  Those were the only gobblers I saw all season.

Ted got to hunt with me twice this season, but his luck was like mine: bad.  Our turkeys just aren't gobbling.  It's been like that for a couple of years now, and my only theory is that the coyotes have them all messed up. 

On our last hunt, Ted and I ran across a guy on a bulldozer working on the lease roads.  Seeing that was a relief; our roads had gotten really bad over the last couple of years, and it was getting harder and harder to drive them without getting stuck.


January 16-17, 2009 1° Low, 29° High - Cloudy Many Hogs and Deer Viewed

Ted and I returned to the Chestnut Hunting Lodge this weekend for our second wild boar hunt there in the mountains of Taylorsville.  We last visited Chestnut in 2004, and the lodge is, you'll remember, owned by veteran actor Jerry Rushing.  Jerry is the original "Duke of Hazzard", the old series having been based on his life as a moonshiner.

We stopped at Harry Gant's restaurant for supper on the way, only to learn that it is now called the Brushy Mountain Steakhouse.  The food was the same, but the Harry Gant memorabilia was gone from the place.  After a quick supper, we made the 20 minute drive on up to the camp.  The lodge was empty when we got there, so I made a quick call to Jerry to tell him we were here.

Jerry's wife answered and said that he had just gotten back from knee surgery and was in bed resting, but that we should make ourselves at home and his daughter Darlene would be in to greet us shortly.  Ten minutes later Darlene was at the door, and we spent a few minutes talking with her about the hunt and about her dad's health.

After Darlene left, Ted and I watched the "hunting rules" video, reacquainting ourselves with the rules of the camp.  No surprises there, and when that was done we watched one of Jerry's boar hunting videos.  At around 9:00pm, we decided to hit the sack.

At around 5:30, the guides showed up at the lodge.  Ted and I had just finished a breakfast of venison steak biscuits and were getting ready for the hunt.  The guides, Brad and Jason, told us that since we were the only hunters we could pretty much hunt however we wanted today.  If we wanted to stalk we could do that, or we could stand hunt and let them put on a drive for us if we wanted to do that.

Brad told us several of his hunting stories as we waited for the sun to break.  It was 3 degrees in camp, and probably a good bit colder up on the mountain itself.  When it was time to go, I suggested that we stand hunt for an hour, then do some spot-and-stalk hunting.  Everyone was agreeable, so we piled into the pickup truck and went up the mountain.

On the way into the woods, we passed the stand where I killed my first boar five years ago, then the box blind where Ted had gotten his.  We dropped Ted off at a stand a little beyond his old blind, then the guides took me up onto a place called Goat Mountain and put me in a blind there.  They left, saying that they would be starting a drive in an hour or so.

I sat on the stand for the first part of the morning and saw nothing but squirrels.  Then, in the distance, I heard rustling in the leaves far down the mountain below me.  I saw three boar moving through a gulley, but they were too far away to judge size, so I just watched them go through my binoculars.

Twenty minutes later I heard something much closer.  Looking to my left, I saw a couple of boar top the rise above my stand.  Soon ten pigs were in view.  All of them were big and black with the exception of a beautiful rusty blonde colored pig.  I had just told Ted the night before that the only hog I'd mount would be a blonde one, since I already have a monstrous black hog on the wall at home.  This blonde one was just what I was looking for.

The group of hogs moved through the fallen timber 50 yards from my stand.  Shaking in the 1 degree weather, I raised my rifle, found the blonde hog in my scope, and fired.  It was a clean miss, and the herd stopped for a second.  I shot again, but there was no reaction from the group this time.  Shaking harder, I calmed myself down, jacked the last round into the chamber, and got a good rest on the wall of the blind. 

The blond pig turned, giving me a good broadside shot opportunity.  I dialed my scope into the highest zoom, breathed out, and fired.  This time I made a good hit, and the pig tumbled a few yards down the hill.  Several of the other boars came over and nosed the fallen hog, then they all scattered into the woods.

I called Ted on the radio to tell him I had one down, then began the long wait for the guides to come over to my stand.  One of the rules of this place is that you don't leave you stand until the guides are there, and after about 15 minutes they finally showed up.  There was a steep ravine between us and the hog, so we worked our way around it and over to the dead boar.  We took a couple of pictures there at the site of the kill, then worked our way down the mountain with the pig in tow. 

The ravine we traveled down with the dead boar was actually the same one that we rolled my monster pig down five years ago, and on the way down the mountain I saw the very rock that we propped my big boar on in this picture years ago.  Once we got him down to the road, we propped him up for a couple more pictures, then went to check on Ted.


We met back up with Ted, who had seventeen or eighteen whitetails moving around his stand when the guide picked him up.  Deciding to do a bit of stalk hunting, Ted and Brad headed off with Ted's Ruger .44 pistol.  Jason and I stayed with the truck out on one of the mountain roads waiting for a report.  Before long, Ted and Brad showed up.  Ted had missed a couple of shots at a big red boar with the pistol.

We moved around a bit more, hoping to get Ted another shot.  Finally he decided to swap his pistol for his rifle.  The guides posted me and Ted on a logging road while they moved up the mountain to try to jump some pigs.  After about 20 minutes, one of the guides signaled for Ted to come up with him on top of the hill.  A huge herd of whitetail, spooked by the guide, blasted by us and were quickly out of sight.  Ted went up the hill and I stayed behind watching the road. 

After a bit, I saw Ted's jacket lying in the road, so I went over to get it.  As I did, a big boar came down the hill, headed my way.  Without a gun, I stepped over to a tree and got still, watching as the boar passed and went on down the hill.  After that I got the jacket and went back for my rifle.  These boar have teeth!

I heard a muffled shot from above, and before long another boar came down the hill my way.  I got him on video, and a few minutes later Ted and the guides came down the hill.  Ted had hit a boar and it was on the move. 

We pushed groups of hogs around the mountains for the rest of the afternoon.  As the day wore on, Ted told me that if I saw a wounded pig, go ahead and take it.  Once, on a stand, a group of seven big hogs came by within 10 feet of me.  I looked at each of them carefully, but none of them was Ted's.  Ted and his guide did come across the hit boar once, surprising it in a wallow in one of the mountain valleys.  They didn't take the shot that time, not being completely sure that it was the right pig until it was too late for a shot.

We tried all afternoon to get that pig, but in the end it beat us.  We gave up late in the day, and went down to skin and cape my hog.  I dropped the head and hide off at Darlene's shop, and she'll do the taxidermy work for me.  We said our goodbyes and headed home, happy that I had my blonde hog, but disappointed that Ted's hunt had gone the way it did.  The guides did feel confident that they would find the pig within a couple of days, and if they do they'll skin it out for Ted and quarter the meat for him.


January 3, 2009 41° Low / 48° High - Clear No Animals Viewed

I had to go back down to the lease today to retrieve my pop-up blind and one of the climbing stands that was still hanging in the woods.  I decided to make a morning of it and took my predator caller with me.  I start the hunt right there in my pop-up blind, and called for an hour or so.  I didn't get any responses, so I decided to pack it in and do a little bit of exploring and early season shed antler hunting.

I walked down into the swamp near where I'd been deer hunting for the last half of December.  The hills dropping down to the swamp were steep, but once I got to the bottom the land opened up into a beautiful valley full of creeks and waterways.  I walked about a mile through the area, finding deer sign everywhere and noting possible stand locations for next season.  I found one pitiful little shed antler from last year off of a six point buck, but the squirrels had chewed it so thoroughly that there wasn't much left of it.  I kept it anyway.

I stayed in the swamp until about noon, then headed home to enjoy the rest of the day just hanging around the house.


January 1, 2009 21° Low / 43° High - Clear No Animals Viewed

With seven deer in the freezer and plans with Micki for New Year's Eve, I decided just to hunt this afternoon today.  I left home around 10:30, and as I drove down to the last half mile before the lease gate I had to stop in the road while a house was moved into position across the street from our lease.  I waited about 20 minutes for them to get it out of the road, then proceeded on to the sign-in board.

I had hoped to hunt the Family Stand today, since I'd have a long time in the stand and wanted to be comfortable.  Unfortunately, Jimmy had already checked in for the stand.  Several of my other favorite stands were also already taken, so I gave up on that and went back to my ground blind one last time.

I sat there all afternoon without seeing anything.  A half-mile down the road, I could hear the trucks still moving the house into place (see 2008 journal), along with the voices of the workers.  I'm not sure if this kept the deer away or not, but whatever the reason, they didn't show up today.


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