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The 2010 Hunting Season

In 2009, I saw more deer in a single season than I ever have before.  I counted 75 deer, a record that I hope to top this year given the large number of fawns that were born last spring.  I'm anticipating that we'll still have the Liberty Hill lease, and I hear that we might add a couple of new hunters to the group this year.

My biggest goal for the season is to take a 9-point buck or better.  I've gotten a lot of 8 pointers over the years, but have never gotten a whitetail bigger than that.  I'd love to change that this season.

As always, we'll start the year off hunting predators and crows from January through early March.  We'll do some shed hunting, we'll build new stands and feeders, and will start looking for new areas to hunt.

We'll try for the turkeys in April, work the land over the summer, and be ready to go back at it hard in September when deer season comes back around.

Thanks for following along with me in my hunting journals.

2010 Game Record
Animal Seen Killed
Whitetail Buck 4 2
Whitetail Doe 2
Turkey (Gobbler/Jake) 5 2
Turkey (Hen) -
Wild Boar 0 0
Coyote 0 0
Fox 0 0
Bobcat 0 0
Squirrel - 0
Dove - 0
Crows - 1
Ducks / Geese 8 2
Notes: Clicking on any picture will show you a full size image of that picture.
 Click here for a "cast of characters" for my hunting journals, or here for a map of the lease
January 1, 2011 Final Hunt No Deer Seen

Although I had not originally planned to hunt today, I couldn't help but take one last opportunity to get into the woods for the closing day of deer season.  I decided to hunt from a stand that I had not yet used this year, so I chose a ladder stand that sits on one of the little side roads that border Singleton Creek road as you approach our lease.

This particular stand looks out over a hilly field surrounded by recently-thinned pines.  The view is beautiful, and the surroundings look as if they would more likely hold elk than whitetail deer.   Today, however, they held nothing but squirrels and doves, as that was all I saw during the time that I was in the stand.  It was raining fairly heavily when I left the tree and went back to get my truck, but I didn't mind.  The walk back to the truck was a sad one, as it always is when deer season comes to a close.

Back at the sign-in board, I saw that a lot of guys were still in the woods.  Needing to get home to Micki and Paul, however, I did not wait around to say goodbye this time.  Instead, I took my tag off of the board, returned to the Jeep, and made the long drive home in a reflective silence.

December 22, 2010 Final Hunt (?) No Deer Seen

Micki suggested that since I had a few days off around Christmas I should use one of them to go hunting again.  I took her up on the offer and headed back down to the lease this afternoon.  I thought long and hard about where I might hunt, and finally decided to go to the big field that we used to call the "staging area".  It's surrounded by pines, and since the wind was heavy today I thought that the deer might be using the pines to protect themselves from it.

The day was grey and overcast, cool but not cold, and was a great day to sit in the stand.  Although I again saw nothing, it was great to be in the woods again.  This may be my last hunt of the year, as I am out of days off from work.  I may try to get in a short afternoon hunt on New Year's Day, but I'll wait a bit to see how things are looking before I make that decision.

December 18, 2010 Afternoon Hunt No Deer Seen

A couple of years ago I spent my Tuesday evenings hanging out with other Christian men at a place in Indian Land, South Carolina named "The Barn".  Although I really enjoyed my time there, the weekly hour-long drive got to be a little too much for me, so I had to take a little break from going there.  Recently, the head guy from The Barn, Kevin Casner, responded to one of my Facebook hunting posts to say that he had been spending some time in the woods this year too, but had not gotten a deer yet.  I invited him to come down to the lease with me, and we made arrangements to meet this afternoon for a short hunt.

It was raining pretty hard, but I told Kevin to count on me going hunting regardless of the weather.  He was there waiting for me at the little mall in Lancaster, SC when I arrived at 1:30pm, and after putting his gear into my truck, we headed on down the road to the lease.  We spent a good bit of time catching up with each other on the ride.  Kevin mentioned that he had not gotten a deer yet at all, so I was really hoping that we'd get him his first one today.

Upon arriving at the lease, I saw that we pretty much had our choice of stands, so I elected to put Kevin in #19#, where I shot my 11 pointer on opening day of this season.  I walked down past him to #20#.  We stayed in our stand until dark, but saw no deer at all.  I did check my cameras and find that two nice bucks were frequenting the area.  One of them has a really wide rack, but is still quite young, and will become a monster in the coming years.

Although neither of us saw anything today, I'm pleased to report that Kevin went hunting again on the following day at another piece of property that he has access to, and he got not one but two deer that morning.

December 6, 2010 Back in the Woods No Deer Seen

William Paul Jeffries, our first child, was born on November 26th, 2010.  He was almost three weeks past his due date, but he was born a healthy, happy baby. 

After taking a break from hunting to get ready for his birth, I got back in the woods this afternoon for a half-day hunt.  I chose the same blind where I shot my last doe, and found many tracks in the road on the way to the stand.   It was a beautiful afternoon for hunting, but unfortunately I saw no deer at all.  I left the stand at dark and headed home to Micki and Paul.

November 6, 2010 Afternoon Hunt 1 Deer Seen

Although our child was due today, Micki told me that he wasn't coming yet and that she needed some time alone at the house to get some work done.  That being my clue to go hunting, I left the house around mid-afternoon and got down to the lease by about 4:00pm.  Jimmy and Matt were sitting at the sign-in board when I got there.  The woods, they told me, were full of hunters and they were trying to decide where to go.

The spot that I wanted - old Stand #1 - was available, so I tagged in for it and passed a few minutes with the fellows.  Joey, another club member, was on the way down with his family, and most of them would be hunting on the same road that my stand was on.  Jimmy suggested that I wait for them, then park my Jeep at the head of the road and get a ride up to my stand with them.  That sounded like a good idea to me, and it wasn't long before the Culps showed up and we were on our way into the woods.

I haven't hunted Stand 1 yet this year, but it's always been a favorite of mine.  It's a tall box blind/ladder stand that overlooks a large section of thinned pines, and I've killed many deer from it over the years.  Today as I climbed into the stand I noticed that the ladder didn't feel as solid as it usually did.  Climbing into the box, I saw that the top lag bolt had pulled away from the tree, and only the bottom bolt was holding it in place.  I tied one of my ropes around the tree and the back of the stand, giving the stand an added measure of security until someone can get in there and really fix it.

The first two hours were quiet, but just as darkness started to arrive I saw a spike buck come out about 30 yards in front of the stand.  He made a wide circle around the tripod feeder that sits about 60 yards from the stand, then stayed there eating until full dark.  When darkness finally did arrive, I had to grunt at him several times with my Buck Roar caller to get him to leave. 

Coming out of the woods, a good many hunters were at the sign-in board.  Most of the guy saw deer tonight, but no one got one.

November 2, 2010 Afternoon Hunt 1 Deer Seen

Today was my last planned hunt before the birth of our child.  After this, it's not likely that I'll get back into the woods until sometime after he arrives.   I decided to go for a half-day only today, choosing to spend the morning running a few errands and taking care of some things around the house.

Randy Jordan, my taxidermist, had called me yesterday saying that he had two deer heads ready for me, so I stopped at his shop on the way to my lease to pick them up.  He was just putting the final touches on both heads when I arrived, and I spent a half hour or so watching him work on the mounts.  Both of them came out very nicely.


From there I drove on down to the lease and was not surprised to see that no one else was around.  I had my pick of stands, and after giving it careful consideration I decided to go back to Stand 43 one more time.  I tagged in and headed over that way, arriving at the place where I wanted to park my Jeep at around 3:00pm.  I walked slowly down from there to the stand, taking note of the many deer tracks that I passed on my way in.

I sat quietly in the stand for several hours.  At around 5:30, the sun began to become a problem, as it often does with this stand.  This spot is better in the mornings from that standpoint, and I spent an uncomfortable half hour or so waiting for it to move behind the trees.  I occasionally snuck glances at the field, and at 6:10 I saw the unmistakable white ears of a deer standing just outside of the woodline.

I looked through my binoculars, and though the sun was still an issue I could see that it was a nice sized doe.  I slowly raised my rifle, but could see nothing through the scope.  I prayed that the deer would stay around for 5 more minutes, as that should have been all that I needed before the sun stopped being a problem. 

I kept watching the deer, and kept trying to see her in the scope.  I was finally able to lean way back, pulling most of my rifle inside the blind, until I could just see the deer in my scope.  She was in a good position for the shot, so I slipped off the safety and fired.  It took a good 30 seconds for me to recover from the shot due to the sunlight and the smoke from my cartridge; and there was no deer in sight when I could finally see into the field.

Still, I felt good about the shot, and so left the blind and walked back up to my truck.  Driving down to the field, I stopped at the blind to pick up my gear, and then parked down where the deer had been standing.  I could see bright red tissue from 20 yards away, so I knew that the hit had been good.  There was plenty of blood where the bullet hit the deer, but it took me several minutes to actually figure out which direction she ran in.

I found a few blood spots on the edge of the woods, and then found two places where the pine needles were badly scuffed from where she had fallen.  Within minutes, I found the deer.  She was about 40 yards from where I had shot her, and after a short drag and some pictures, we were on our way to the processor.

October 30, 2010 Saturday Hunt 4 Deer Seen

I went back to Stand 43 this morning.  After making a quiet approach under the moonlight, I got settled into the stand and began my wait for deer.  The morning was largely quiet, but at 8:45 I saw movement way down in the corner of the field that I was watching.  An eight point buck stepped into view, spent a few minutes in the field, and then moved back toward the woodline.  He looked my way a couple of times, and though I was well hidden, he soon bolted from the field.

I saw no other deer that morning, and leaving the stand at around 11:15 I went over to the sign-in board and sat in my truck while eating lunch.  After that, I drove out to the cutover and walked down to Stand 50, which is a tripod way out in the middle of the open area.  It was still a bit thick, so I decided not to hunt there that, but go find somewhere else instead.  Back at the sign-in board, I spent a few moments trying to decide where to go.

After giving it some thought, I tagged in for Stand 13 (old #2), on the first road, thinking that I would drive up there and if there was a lot of sign I would stay, otherwise I'd find somewhere else to go.

I parked my Jeep by the little field that this box blind overlooks, and was excited to see a great many tracks in the area.  That settled the question of where I would hunt, so I hid the truck way up on the old logging road, then walked back down and got into the stand.  I saw nothing all afternoon, but as evening approached there came an identifiable moment when the "feel" of things changed.

I'm about to see a deer, I thought, and almost immediately a yearling doe stepped into view down in the field.  She was soon joined by a larger doe, which I decided that I would take given a shot opportunity.  I watched them for a few minutes before the old grey doe turned broadside.  I threw my rifle into position and took the shot, but did not feel like it had been a good one. 

The yearling stayed in the field as the grey doe left, and soon another deer came into the area.  This one was another yearling.  I watched the two young deer feed for a few minutes, but as it was starting to get dark I yipped like a coyote to try to scare them away.  They ignored me, so I barked loudly, like a dog that had seen them.  They still ignored me, so I finally got out of the stand and stood up.  They barely looked at me, but when I stepped out into the logging road they finally got the idea and took off running.

I got my truck and went down to the field, but failed to find any blood.  I spent the next hour looking around the woods and briars, but found not a single sign that the deer had been hit, which ultimately confirmed my initial feeling that the shot had been bad.  Back at the sign-in board, I found a whole crew of guys waiting for me.

Phil had shot a small eight pointer - a young deer that we normally would not take, but this one had a broken shoulder and was in bad shape.  In talking to Jimmy, he said that he had seen the big grey doe that I had shot at the day before, and that it had a big tumor on it's face.  I had not seen that, but the deer never did give me a look at its head.  He said that I wouldn't have eaten her anyway, had I gotten her, which made me feel better about the miss.

On the way home, as I was coming down Woods Road, which is just down from our house, a doe crossed in front of me with a big-bodied eight pointer following closely behind, nose down.  The rut is on.

October 28, 2010 Quick Afternoon Hunt No Deer Seen

Micki had some errands that she wanted to run this afternoon, so I took the opportunity to go down to the lease as soon as I got off of work.  I got to the sign-in board at around 5:15pm and was surprised to see that no one else was hunting.  I had been thinking about going out to the cutover, but did not want to have to track a deer down in that thick stuff without help, so I went back to my stand from last night.

Although I made a very quiet approach to the stand, there must not have been any deer in the area.  I did not see a thing all afternoon.

October 26, 2010 All Day Hunt No Deer Seen

I started this morning off at Stand #20 (old #7), on the far end of the first lease road.  On the way to the lease, even though it was still very dark I couldn't help but notice how much the leaves along SC-97 have turned.  The colors were beautiful even in the dim light, and with a bit of rain in the area I was looking forward to spending the morning in the stand.

I sat quietly until 11:30, but saw nothing at all.  I decided to go to Little Al's in Heath Springs for lunch, and after making the short drive there and back I parked at the sign-in board to eat.  Jimmy, Matt, and Billy all showed up while I was eating lunch.  After we chatted a bit, we all split up and headed for our stands.   I decided on the "blue top tower", which is an old cedar stand on one of the back roads of the lease. 

I put a bag of corn out, separating it into two piles 50 and 75 yards from the stand, then, after dropping my gear off at the tower, I drove a couple of hundred yards down the road and parked my truck.  Walking back to the tower I passed several sets of deer tracks, including one set from a really heavy buck.

Once in the stand, I noticed a few wasps flying around, so I climbed down, walked back to the Jeep, and got a can of wasp spray.  Once I was back in the stand, I spent the next half-hour fighting wasps, trying to spray them as they flew in and out of the blind.  I finally located the nest, which was up under the roof of the stand (outside of the box itself), hidden in a flap of the blue tarp that covers the roof.  I gave it a good soaking, using up the rest of my spray.

Even after doing that, the wasps continued to pester me, so I finally climbed down, leaving my gear in the stand.  I drove a couple of miles over to the Riverdeck store and bought a couple more bottles of wasp spray.  Returning to the stand, I saw that the heavy buck had crossed the road while I was gone; a fresh set of his tracks was on top of my tire tracks.

When I got back to the stand, from the ground I could see dozens of wasps swarming around and in it.  I climbed halfway up the ladder and tried to spray them, but it was a losing battle.  The dilemma was that all of my stuff - rifle, backpack, binoculars, iPad, etc were all up in the stand.  I made a mad rush up the ladder, grabbed everything as quickly as I could, and got back down without getting stung.

From there it was back to the sign-in board where I picked a new stand, going this time to a box just up the road from the blue top tower.  On the way to that stand, I stopped and picked up all of the corn that I had put out, moving it to a field near my new stand.  Unfortunately, after all of that work nothing showed up.

October 23, 2010 Afternoon Hunt 2 Deer Seen

After seeing nothing at my second Family Stand hunt, I decided to move a couple of hundred yards up the road today and go to a tower stand that is in between there and the Salt Lick Stand.  The work that the loggers did over the summer really opened up the view from this stand, and you can now look out over about 20 acres of thinned woods.

Just at dark I saw two does come in toward the stand from directly in front of me.  They were very aware of the blind, and were staring at it carefully.  I finally lost sight of them in the brush, but saw them again as they moved off to my left.  I raised my rifle to try to get a shot at the biggest doe, but she saw the movement and they both took off back into the woods.

It was good to see deer, even if only for a moment.

October 16, 2010 Saturday Hunt No Deer Seen

I'm trying to get as much rest as possible in preparation for the birth of our child, so I'm sleeping in most Saturday mornings and am only doing afternoon hunts. 

When I pulled off of the interstate onto SC-97, the first thing that I saw was a thick cloud of black smoke coming from the vicinity of the gas station that we often stop at to get a drink before driving the last half-hour on out to the lease.  It turned out to be a pickup truck on fire in the parking lot of the station.  I watched it burn for a few minutes, finally getting back on the road after the fire department arrived and put out the fire.

Today I went back to the Family Stand, but saw not a single deer.  Think it's time to move to another stand.  When I got out of the woods I saw that most of the club was hunting today.  Several of the guys had seen deer, but no one shot anything.

October 14, 2010 All Day Hunt 2 Deer Seen

The busiest part of my season is winding down, as we are now three weeks away from the due date for our baby.  Although I'll do a bit more hunting after he arrives, this may be my last all-day hunt for the season. 

I wanted to move to a different part of the lease for this hunt, since I've been focusing on the first road for most of the year without seeing many deer.  I went to #9# for the morning hunt (which is now #23#, I believe).  The only thing that I saw all morning was a beautiful red fox, but unfortunately it's not fox season yet.  This stand is very productive for both fox and coyotes, so as soon as fox opens I'm going to come back and try to bag that red.  He'd make a great mount.

After the morning hunt, I checked the board and saw that Lee, one of our new members, had shot an eight point buck this morning.  From the measurements that he had written down, it looked like his antlers were similar in size to the 11 pointer that I shot on opening day. 

Next, I went back out on the lease and drove around a bit, wanting to get an idea as to where I should hunt in the evening.  The salt lick road looked really productive, with a lot of new grass coming up and plenty of deer tracks.  Looking at each of the four stands that are on that road, I decided that the "family stand" looked like it would be the most productive.

When my scouting was done, I went over to the first road to change my camera cards.   The loggers had pulled out for good, so I went and checked the swamp road, which turns off of the first road.  It is now quite a smooth drive all the way to the bottom of the hill, which will really open this area back up for hunting.  The ruts in the road were previously almost two feet deep in places, making it difficult to access that part of the lease.

Checking my camera cards, on one of them I was quite surprised to find a picture of a deer with an orange collar around its neck.  Curious as to what that was about, I sent an email to my game warden friend Todd, and also called the DNR office to see if they were doing any studies in our area.  The guy from the DNR asked me if I could send the picture to him, which I quickly did.  He sent it on to Charles Ruth, who is in charge of deer management in South Carolina.  Before long he had emailed me back saying that it looked like it was probably someone's pet deer that had either escaped or had been turned loose.  Todd also replied to my note, making a similar guess.

After driving to Heath Springs to get a piece of chicken for lunch, I headed back to the lease and got in the family stand.  The wind was quite heavy, with gusts that had my tree rocking back and forth, but it felt quite good.  Most of the afternoon was quiet, but at about 6:45pm I saw a deer emerge way up at the top of the hill, about 250 yards away or more.  Before long, another emerged.  They both looked like does, but as the distance was quite far I decided to pass on the shot.  However, when one of the does turned I saw that she had some unique coloration on her ears.  My first thought was that I was seeing my black-eared doe from last year. 

I was pretty sure it was her, so I grabbed my rifle, reestimated the distance to be around 250 yards, then quickly took the shot.  It was quite a long shot, but the doe dropped in her tracks, dead from a neck shot.  Pleased with myself for making that long shot in moderate wind, I climbed down, got the Jeep, and went and retrieved my deer.  Turns out that it was not my doe from last year, but I believe it was her offspring.  The ears were not quite as dark as the one that I was watching last season, but were very similarly colored.  It was a 1.5 year old doe, weighing in at 82 pounds.  Not a monster, but exactly the kind of doe the biologists told us to start shooting. 

October 9, 2010 Afternoon Hunt No Deer Seen

Today was another long afternoon in the stand without a deer sighting.  I went to #20# again, since Arnold had put some corn there for me the night before.   I did have one deer blow at me from very close to the blind; it came quietly up behind me and snorted from within 20 yards of the stand.  I turned, but never got a look at the deer.

I stayed there until full dark, but nothing moved at all.  Although I've already gotten two great bucks, this certainly isn't my year to be seeing deer.

October 2, 2010 Afternoon Hunt No Deer Seen

After shooting the big buck last night, I left the cape and skull with Kyle at Hickory Hills Deer Processing.  As a side note, let me put in a little plug for Kyle here.  I've used a good many different processors in the Lancaster area, and Hickory Hills is easily the best of the lot.  You can order beef products for them online, but their deer processing is where they really shine. 

Getting back to the hunt, after getting a bit of rest this morning I headed down to Kyle's to pick up my head and hide so that I could take them down to Randy Jordan's taxidermy shop.  I noticed that Kyle has a new product this year - venison hot dogs.  I've gotten them made previously at Mungo's down in Heath Springs and they have been wonderful, but after sampling one of Kyle's, I am hooked.  He changed my order for me, adding some hot dogs into my list of items to get made from last night's deer.

Anyway, I went from Hickory Hills down to Fort Lawn to drop off the deer at Randy's.  We chatted a bit, and then it was off to the woods.  Today I wanted to sit in a stand that was in a nice shady spot so that I wouldn't have to deal with any heat.  I chose #20#, which sits at the end of the first lease road.  After parking my Jeep and lugging my gear to the stand, I found that there was no chair in it.  I debated leaving my backpack at the stand while going back to our weighing area to get a chair, but decided that with a nice pair of binoculars and an iPad in there, it wasn't worth the risk. 

So, back to the Jeep I went.  I picked up a collapsible chair from the weigh-in area, then went back to the stand.  It was pretty early in the day still, and I didn't expect anything to be moving, so I settled in and watched "Iron Man 2" on the iPad, enjoying the relaxation time in the blind with a cool breeze in my face.  When the movie was over, it was getting on into the afternoon, so I sat up and began to do some serious scanning of the woods with my binoculars. 

Although I saw no deer, I was glad to have had a very restful day in the stand.  Several other guys were at the sign-in board when I left the woods, including Arnold, Joey, and another new member nicknamed "Bear".  No one had had any luck today, but we all agreed that it had been a good day to be afield.

October 1, 2010 All Day Hunt 1 Buck Seen

October!  The morning was quite cool, and when I got to the sign in board club member Joey was there with a guest, a fellow named James.  We greeted each other, and then I headed back to #6#.  I had decided that this would be my last hunt in that stand.  Although there are good bucks in the area, I've given up hope that they will show up in broad daylight. 

I again saw a bunch of turkeys, but no deer.  Heading back to the sign in board, I ran into Joey and his friend.  They hadn't had any luck either this morning.  I had a few hours to kill before getting back into the stand, so I drove over to Heath Springs to get some chicken at Little Al's for lunch, then went back to the lease.  This time I decided to hunt in #3#, which is on the same road as #6# but presents a different scenario.

The woods are tighter here, with the view being a 100 yard long section of logging road.  It was also a little cooler in this stand, but I still had to take my shirt off and hang it in the window behind me to prevent the sun from burning me.  I sat quietly in the stand all afternoon, dozing occasionally, but seeing no deer.

As darkness started to fall, I saw a deer step out of the woods about 35 yards in front of the stand.  I saw antlers, but at first thought it was a young buck because the light was getting bad.  Looking through my binoculars, I was astonished to see a really tall rack and a big bodied deer.  I grabbed my rifle, wincing as the stand creaked beneath me.  The deer didn't flinch, and I got the rifle in position, adjusted the zoom on the scope, and took the shot.

The deer leapt into the air and then crashed into the woods.  I quickly gathered my gear and climbed down to the ground.  Once there, I got my flashlight and my marking tape and walked over to where the deer had been.  I was shocked at the size of the tracks in the road where he had been standing.  Truly this was a big deer.  I found blood, which I marked with a piece of reflective tape.

Considering my situation, I decided to race down to the sign in board and leave a note saying that I may need help with the tracking.  I figured it was best to get folks in the woods with me in case I needed them.  James and Joey were there; James had killed his first deer, an 80 pound doe.  Together we went back up to the stand and got on the trail of the buck.

We spread out, and within minutes James yelled that he had found the deer.  It was a massive 8 pointer, with a really tall rack and very heavy antlers.  He was big bodied, weighing in at 160 pounds.  We dragged him to the truck, and I thanked the fellows for their help.  This is my most massive whitetail to date.


September 28, 2010 Morning Hunt 1 Doe Seen

With the day off from work today, I went down to the lease for a morning hunt.  Today is my grandmother's 98th birthday, and we'll be celebrating with her tonight so I'll only be hunting for a half day.  We've had a lot of rain lately, and the road to my stand is very muddy, so I parked my Jeep a little closer to the stand than I normally would; I was parked about 200 yards away from the stand at the bottom of the hill that the stand sits on. 

I made my way quietly to #6#, as usual, and got settled in for the long wait.  The morning was extremely quiet, with no deer at all showing up down toward the corn.  At 10:00, I looked to my left, back toward my Jeep, just in time to see a big doe emerge from the woods.  She looked down the road, saw my Jeep, and froze.

I tried to get my rifle turned around (it was resting on the window of the blind facing the other direction), but she snorted and ran, recognizing that the Jeep was something that should not be there.  That was a shame; she was a big doe and would have been good eating. 

I saw nothing else all morning.

September 25, 2010 Another Half Day Hunt No Deer Seen

Stayed up too late again on Friday and couldn't make it for the morning hunt.  Left home at noon to spend the second half of the day in the blind at #6#.  This time I was a little smarter; I had been trying to think of some way to put some reflective material on the roof of the blind to keep it from getting so hot.  My friend Pete suggested that I use my tent cover, so I did exactly that today.

The cover kept the temperature in the blind down to the low 90s, whereas before it had been well over one hundred degrees in there.  I still hunted bare footed and shirtless, but at least in a little bit more comfort.  Once again I saw no deer.

Fortunately, it's supposed to get a lot cooler now, so hopefully this will be the last miserable hunt of the year.  I keep going back to this stand because there are still two really nice bucks coming into that area, but I'll move on after another couple of hunts there.

September 18, 2010 Half Day Hunt No Deer Seen

I stayed up too late on Friday night to get enough sleep for an early morning hunt, so I left home around noon and headed down to the lease.  It was another hot, miserable day in the blind at #6#.  I had plenty of deer on the camera, but none in the stand.  I was actually hunting in bare feet and with no shirt on, just to give you an idea of how hot it was.  We'll try again next weekend.

September 15, 2010 Rifle Season Opener 1 Deer, Several Turkeys Seen

Although I got to the lease earlier than usual, there were already four guys there at the sign-in board when I pulled up.  We said our good mornings and talked about where each of us was going to hunt, and before long we parted ways and headed into the woods.

I went to #6#, where my trail cameras are showing me that at least two shootable bucks are in the area.  I sat in the stand until 10:30 or so, seeing only turkeys, but it started to get pretty hot in the blind so I decided to get out and go check my cameras to see what was on them.  My plan was to move to #3# for the evening, but I did want to see what was on the cameras first.

I checked the camera at #6# and found over 800 pictures on it.  Most showed the same bent-horned eight pointer that I had been seeing, but I also had a deer that looked to be an 11 or 12 pointer, and another really tall eight pointer that had shown up in broad daylight yesterday.  The camera also showed that a group of does had been feeding in the area every day at around 1:00pm. 


The camera at #3# didn't have anything impressive on it, but seeing the two bucks at #6# as well as all of the does made me decide to go back there for the afternoon hunt.  Needing to get a cold drink before getting back into the woods, I drove over to the grill for a Diet Sundrop, then headed back up into the woods.  On the way in I passed club member Phil, who said that he was going to be hunting fairly close to me over at #5#.  We wished each other good luck, then I got back in the stand.

The afternoon passed slowly, and I was extremely hot and miserable.  At 5:00pm, I had really had about all I could take in my blind; it's in direct sunlight and it was way too hot to be in there, but I kept remembering the bucks on the camera and I knew that I would stay put and stick with it until the end. 

At 5:00pm, I saw a buck step out into the trail about 100 yards down from me.  Finally, I thought.  Having hunted several times already without seeing a deer, it was a huge relief to even see one at this point.  I looked at him quickly with my binoculars and thought him to be an eight pointer.  I figured that he was the bent-horned one that I had been seeing, but regardless, I could tell that he was a decent deer.  I raised my rifle, got him in the scope, and fired.  The buck stumbled, then ran into the woods at top speed.

I started hiking back to my truck, as I walked down the hill I could see Phil, way off in the distance heading my way.  I waved my hat at him and continued on to my Jeep.  We met up there, and he said that he had heard the shot and decided to see if I needed any help.  Together we went back to where the deer had been standing.  We found big tracks in the road, including heavy scuff marks and a bit of blood.  Heading into the woods, we found no more blood at all, but lots of scuff marks where the deer had run.  We split up, and Phil soon jumped the deer; he was bedded in some really thick dogfennel down in the swamp.  We headed back up the hill and decided to give him a bit of time; 45 minutes later we were back on the trail.

We found some blood pooled where he had been laying, and got on the trail.  We jumped him again a half hour and some 500 yards later, then heard him run and soon stop.  Our choices were not great at that point... It was starting to get a bit dark, and it was way too hot to leave him overnight.  Also, I have to work tomorrow and can't get out of it.  We decided to go ahead and push him, hoping to tire him out.

We jumped him three more times over the next quarter of a mile, then, as I was heading down into a creek bed to see if he had crossed it, I saw him sitting in the bed not 15 yards away, staring at me.  I finished the job with a round to the shoulder.

We were way way down in the swamp, and we dragged him as far as we could before going to get help from Arnold who had a Polaris UTV with him.  We finally got the deer out of the woods long after dark.  The first shot was in the right place on his shoulder had he been perfectly broadside, but apparently he was turned a bit more than I thought when I made the shot.  It exited in front of the opposite shoulder, breaking it but not getting the vitals.  Really glad to have been able to retrieve him!!  He weighed in at 145 pounds; not a big deer to be an eleven pointer!


September 11, 2010 Afternoon Scouting Hunt Several Turkeys Seen

I went to the lease today with no intention of actually shooting a deer. Instead, I wanted to sit in one of our blinds just to see what things might look like for the opening day of rifle deer season on Wednesday. I had over a thousand pictures on the camera at #6#, so that is where I chose to go. Unfortunately, I again saw nothing, making this a very slow start to the deer season.

September 6, 2010 Labor Day Hunt No deer seen

Early this morning I made my way down the road to where I had left my climbing stand. I got in it quietly and stayed put until almost 11:00, but saw nothing all morning. After the hunt I went and checked my camera at #3# where I found there to be a lot of deer activity. Seeing that, I moved the climber over there for the evening hunt.

Although I really liked where I had put the climber for the evening, I didn't see a thing, even though I stayed there until full dark.

September 4, 2010 Afternoon Hunt No Deer Seen

I'm going to be hunting that ten pointer pretty hard for the next couple of weeks, so this afternoon I took my climbing stand down to the lease and hung it in a tree near where I had the popup blind.  Although I'll be more exposed in the climber, it also won't be nearly as hot, so the deer will have less of a chance of winding me due to heavy sweating in the blind.

After hanging the stand I checked my trail camera.   The ten pointer hadn't shown back up, but there was an 8 pointer there last night with a bent antler.  I decided that he was worth taking if he showed up.  I drove my truck down the hill out of sight of the stand, then walked back to the tree and climbed up it. 

I was quite comfortable in the stand all afternoon, but saw no deer.  I heard one walking in the woods to my left, but it never emerged into view.  When the hunt was over, I left the stand in place, and am planning on returning to it on Monday morning.

September 1, 2010 Opening Day 4 Gobblers Seen

It's been a long summer, but opening day has finally arrived.  There have been a lot of things that have gone on since my last entry.  The members of the club all got together for a cook-out a few weeks ago, and the new members got a chance to meet those of us who have been in the club for many years.  We've also done a lot of work on the lease, including renumbering all of the stands.  That'll take some getting used to.  The loggers have also been busy, and the lease looks a lot different than it used to.

For opening day, I've been watching a really wide 8 pointer all summer at stand #16 (old #3), and I wanted to get a look at him today.  I put my pop-up blind in place a week or so ago, and by 6:30 this morning I was in the stand and ready to hunt.  The woods were quiet, but I did hear one grunt at around 7:30.  Another deer came in behind me and winded me, and two big gobblers showed up at the corn.  Nothing else happened all morning.

By around 11:00, I was ready to get out of the blind and move around a bit.  I checked my trail camera at #16, but there were only does and turkeys on it.  Moving down to stand #18 (old #6), I checked the camera there and found that a really nice ten pointer had been frequenting that area.  I promptly took down my popup blind and moved it over to that area.

My old friend Arnold is back in the club this year, and a week back we had put up a new feeder for him over in the big cutover.  He had asked me to go change the timer on it, backing it down to 5 seconds instead of 20 for spreading corn.  The deer haven't found the feeder yet, so there's no sense in wasting corn.  I took care of that, then headed over to get some lunch.

I got back in the popup blind after getting a quick lunch at the Riverdeck grill and stayed there for the rest of the day.  Several different times I got winded by deer; it was just too hot to be in the blind, and I was sweating heavily most of the day.  I left at dark without having seen any deer at all today.

June 5, 2010 Lease work and Live Hunts 4 Bags of Corn

I've been trying to get down to the lease to do a bit of work for the last four weekends, but rain and household chores have knocked me out of it every Saturday.  Today I finally did get the chance to take a brief trip down.  I haven't been getting as much rest as I'd like, and I ended up sleeping until 9:45am this morning, which is extremely late for me.

I was out of the house by 10:30.  Made a quick stop at the farm supply store in Clover to get four bags of corn - three for the lease and one for my backyard feeder - then went over to Wal-Mart to get a battery for my tripod feeder.  By 11:15 I was finally on the way down to the lease itself, and by 12:30 I was parked at the sign in board. 

Things didn't look much different.  The loggers have finally pulled out, leaving us with several new roads and a bunch of thinned-out woods.  We're also supposed to be adding a half-dozen new members to the club this year, which will bring our dues down by $500.  Nice.

I drove on over to the big section of the lease first.  My plan was to put out my trail cameras -- the question, though, was where?  The immediate surprise was how much work the loggers had done.  They came all the way up to #9#, which, considering they started over near #1#, seems like a bit more than the 200 acres we were told they were going to thin.

I drove around the big lease for a good little while, stopping occasionally to trim back some trees that were starting to grow over the road, or move fallen logs out of the way.  Ultimately I could not really find a good spot to put a camera, so I decided it was time to go on over to the first road and get the feeder put out.

During turkey season (see 4/10 entry) I found an old logging road that seemed to get no foot travel, and had decided that it would be a great place to put a deer stand.  This was where I wanted to put my feeder today.

The gate at the first road was open and the tractor was gone from the trailer that we store it in.  That meant that Jimmy was probably around, so I kept my eye out for him as I headed up the road.  I soon found him bush-hogging the grass on our logging road.  I told him where I intended to put my feeder, and he and Matt were good enough to bush-hog the old road for me, giving me an easy path to get to my new stand location.  When they were done, I was able to drive my Jeep all the way back to the feeder spot, which will really help this summer as I keep the feeder filled with corn.

After we got the feeder filled, I hung a trail camera, thanked Jimmy and Matt for their help, then headed on out toward home.  I put one more camera up near #3# on the way out.  Hopefully I'll have some time to come back down in a couple of weeks and check the cameras to see if anything is showing up at the stands.

On a side note, a new feature for next season that I'm working on for Wingshooters will be "Live Hunts".  I couldn't resist picking up an iPad a month or so ago, and it turns out that I've got a solid internet connection on the lease with it.  Live Hunts will contain up-to-the-minute notes about my hunts as they happen, and will hopefully even include pictures.

April 15, 2010 Short Afternoon Hunt No Turkeys Seen

Pete and I were both able to get off from work at around 3:00pm, so, driving separately, we headed for the lease.  I stopped at Nichol's Store to pick up some pellets for my Traeger grill, and was quite disappointed with the service that I received.  After paying for my pellets, no one showed up at the warehouse in back of the store to give me my order.  I walked back to the counter, leaving my truck parked way back at the loading dock.   They paged someone again, and I headed back down to the warehouse.

Once there, the guy came out carrying a single bag of mesquite pellets.  He asked me what I had ordered, so I told him that I had bought both grapevine and mesquite.  "Grapevine?" he asked.  "They don't make grapevine.  I've been here 6 months and have never seen that."

"It's in a purplish bag," I said.  "I bought some here not more than a month ago." 

"We don't carry them."

Ok.  Grab the bag of mesquite, head back to the counter and get a refund for the grapevine.   The guy was pretty rude in his attitude, not just his words, and I think that about does it for me for Nichol's for awhile.  I can get pellets in Kings Mountain too, and they are a bit closer to my house anyway.  The whole experience, from buying  a drink to debating about the pellets was just off-putting, and they're never the friendliest folks there anyway.  And, of course, when I got home I found that they had refunded me for the cheaper hickory pellets instead of the more expensive grapevine.

Anyway, Pete and I met up at the sign in board, then both went back to the spots where we hunted on Saturday.  Neither of us saw any turkeys, though Pete did get his first look at a coyote as one crossed the road down to his left.

April 10, 2010 Hunting with Pete 1 Turkey seen

Pete joined me again today.  We started the day again on the first lease road.  Parking the truck at #3#, I hunted from there to the end of the road while Pete took the area from #1# up the road and down toward the swamp.  I walked all the way to #6#, but never heard or saw anything.  Heading back to meet up with Pete at our agreed-upon time, I did stumble across a seldom traveled road that ran atop a ridge leading down into the swamp between #5# and #6#.  I bookmarked the trail on my GPS, thinking that this would be a great place to put a blind for the next deer season.

We ended up hunting at several spots, putting out decoys and settling into brush piles.  Toward the end of the day, Pete found tracks where a gobbler had been strutting near #9#, and he decided to set up there for the last hunt of the day.  We checked the road down between there and #10# and found more gobbler tracks scattered throughout the area.

Parking the truck in between the two stands, we bid each other good luck and walked to our chosen spots.  Using my brush clippers, I made myself a very nice little blind on the edge of the logging road across from a small field.  My blind was quite comfortable and well hidden, and I knew that I would come back to hunt this spot again.

Around late afternoon, a hen emerged from the edge of the field that I was watched and began to feed.  She stayed in the field for two solid hours, but she was the only turkey I saw.  I did also see four rabbits in the field at one time.  Pete saw a hen over where he was hunting too, but no gobblers.

April 8, 2010 Hunting with Ted 3 Turkeys seen

Ted and I both had the day off today, but we also both had plans in the afternoon which limited us to a half day hunt.   Since we would be headed in different directions this afternoon, we drove separately and agreed to meet at the little gas station where I-77 and SC-97 meet.  I was running about 10 minutes late, and called Ted when I pulled onto the interstate.   Ted's usually right on time, so I was surprised to hear that he was actually just a half-mile or so behind me.  We soon caught up with each other.

I'm writing this journal a bit late, and I didn't make notes about this hunt, but if I recall, I sent Ted to the Orange Gate where I shot my birds a week ago.  He saw nothing there this morning.

I made three different stands, yelping and clucking loudly at each one, and at each stand I called in a different hen turkey.  I heard one or two gobbles, but nothing close.

We made a few hunts in different places on the lease, but never saw anything else.

April 3, 2010 Pete's Turkey 3 Turkeys, 3 Deer seen

Looking back at my journal entries, I was surprised to see just how long it's been since Pete went hunting with me.  The last time we were in the woods together was October of last year, back on the day that we saw that monster buck in the swamp.  It was good to see him get back in the woods today, and what a day it turned out to be.

I dropped Pete off at the first orange gate, where Ted had started his morning two days ago, and I went back to the field at the second gate.  I got situated in the same clump of brush that I was in on opening day, got comfortable, then sat still and listened.  The woods were quiet this morning; once, I heard a gobble in the distance, but it was quite different than last time. 

As the sun peaked through the trees, I heard a turkey fly down behind me, very close.  I made some soft yelps and was answered with a loud series of the same.  Soon a young hen walked into the field, looking left and right trying to find the other hen that she thought she had heard.  At one point she was only a yard away from my foot as she moved through the field.  Eventually she left.

I called a bit more, and, hearing nothing, decided to move around a bit.  As I started to gather my gear, I saw two turkeys come into view 200 yards down the road from me.  I dropped back into my seat, got my mask and gloves back on, and stopped moving.  They came down the road very quickly, never giving me the chance to get into a really good position.  I could tell that they were males from the way that they were moving, but couldn't see that they were Jakes until they got closer.

They strutted around the field a little bit, gobbling once or twice.  I could have taken either of them at just about any time, but they were young birds and I wanted a gobbler.  Before long they heard the hen down in the valley, and they went off after her.  When they were gone, I got up and went to get Pete.  Time to hit the big section of the lease.

We went up the first lease road to #3#, parked there, and planned to walk up to #4# and #5#, where we would sit quietly for a few hours.  When we had all our gear in hand, I did a couple of yelps just to see if anything would answer.   One did.  We got a gobble, fairly far off, in the valley across from the stand.  I yelped again and the response was a good bit closer. 

We hit the woods quickly and quietly, moving through the thick brush to get closer to the bird.  We made our way down the gulley into the swamp.  As we hit the bottom, I hissed "Deer!", and we quickly stopped as two young bucks came down the opposite hill.  I had thought that they had seen us, but they actually turned in our direction, coming down the hill then heading back up the gulley wall in front of us.  They stopped on top of the hill, ten feet above us and fifteen yards away.

This will be one of my most memorable moments in the woods for the rest of my life.  The deer stood there above us and we stood below.  "This is incredible," I whispered to Pete.  The deer stood there for long seconds, looking around, not knowing we were right there.  Finally they left, and we both grinned at the encounter.  Absolutely amazed, we felt like we were on Spirit of the Wild or something, where Ted often walks up on deer like that.

We gathered our senses, called, got a response, and tried to cut the distance between us and the bird.  We finally came to a good place to sit up.  We got settled 30 yards apart, and tried to bring the gobbler in.  He came about halfway to us, but ultimately left the area.  A third deer came in to my left, but Pete didn't get a look at that one, and it fled when it got wind of us in the brush.

We finally moved back up to the main road and went to sit and wait for a bird to come by.  I showed Pete where the turkeys were using the road in front of #4# very heavily, showed him where I thought he should sit, and then he put out his decoy and I walked another couple of hundred yards up the road to #5#. 

It was quiet for a long, long time, but then I heard a gobble in the woods behind me, probably answering a calling series that I had done not long before.  I called the bird again, and it gobbled again.  Sometimes near, sometimes far, I thought the bird might be moving back and forth in the road behind me.  When it gobbled from a distance again I decided that it may have seen Pete's decoy, so I quit calling and let the bird move toward him, or so I thought.

Before long, amidst a good bit of gobbling, I heard the blast of Pete's shotgun.  The funny thing was I had thought that the last gobble that I heard was close to me again, not down his way.  Regardless, I gathered my gear and hiked back down to where Pete was.   From a hundred yards away I saw his bird lying dead in the road.  He got a 17 pound gobbler with a 9 inch beard - his first turkey.  After pictures, we took the bird to Randy's to get it mounted.

After talking the situation over with Pete, I realized that there were actually two birds gobbling, not one as I had thought.  His came in from his left, not from up my way.  The one I had been calling likely had been very close to me after all. 

When we got back to the lease, we hunted in several spots, calling sometimes, sometimes sitting quietly, but we saw nothing else all afternoon.

April 1, 2010 Opening Day Double 4 Turkeys Seen

Ted and I don't get to spend many opening days in the woods together these days, but this morning he was able to join me for the first day of the South Carolina turkey season.  I hit I-77 South at about 5:00am, and when I did I gave Ted a call thinking that he'd probably already be fifteen miles ahead of me waiting to meet up.  Turns out he was about a half mile behind me, and we were soon side by side on the interstate as we headed down to the lease.

I put Ted at the first orange gate, where I had seen some tracks a couple of weeks back, then went to my own orange gate where I got the pictures shown in the March 20th journal entry.  With a full half hour before it was really time to get in the woods, I parked my Jeep, rolled down my windows, and sat quietly in the truck, waiting to enter the woods.  As I sat there, I heard two gobbles across the main road to my left.  They obviously weren't on our property, but it sure was good just to hear them! 

I got out of the Jeep, got my gear together, then began a silent walk down the road to the field pictured in the trail camera shots below.  Turkeys near and far were gobbling with such regularity that I couldn't help but be excited.  I found a thick brushpile on the edge of the field that I could just wedge my turkey seat into.  I got into position and found it to be quite a comfortable little natural blind.  The limbs of downed trees made a perfect gun rest, and I could cover most of the field with very little movement.

In the distance, to my right, I could hear Ted owl hooting and yelping, and I could hear turkeys answering him in return.  I got out my friction call and did some very soft tree calls, and was immediately rewarded with a gobble in the woods not 40 yards to my left.  I repeated the call and got the same answer.

I heard the turkey pitch out of the tree and land in the valley to my left.    I called a few more times, always answered with a gobble.  It was time to shut up, which I did.  Ted called to my right, and again I heard answering gobbles from several birds.  My birds were making quiet noises to my left, so I repositioned myself to face the direction that I thought they would appear in.

It didn't take long.  Three birds showed up on the edge of my field, headed straight for me.  I was well hidden, and they had no indication of my presence.  I slipped the safety off of my shotgun.  The next time they gobbled, I raised my gun and fired.  Two of the birds went down with one shot, and the third flew off into the safety of the woods.  I sat shaking, watching the birds flop on the ground.  One lifted his head, but a second shot anchored him to the ground.

It actually took two more finishing shots, one per bird, to dispatch them.  I should have brought my Judge revolver to do the job, but the 12-gauge Mossberg 930 did the trick.  I went and picked Ted up, telling him that since I was legally done for the day I would film his hunts on the video camera for the rest of the morning.

We hunted at a couple of places on the main road, but had no luck there.  At 10:30, we went over to get some ice for my birds, not wanting them to spoil, then headed over to the first lease road to give that a shot.  As we were driving up the road past #3#, we saw to gobblers in the road 200 yards ahead of us.  I quickly reversed gear and backed down the hill, out of sight of them.  We parked, got our gear, then snuck through the woods to close the distance between us and the birds.

We tried calling to them, but they weren't interested.  Ted belly-crawled to the road, then crossed it.  I did the same, covering him with the camera.  The birds were gone.  Thinking they might circle around, we got in the woods across from #3#, then did some calling.  Interestingly, a gobbler answered down in the opposite direction.  We called him a bit to get him worked up, then shut up.  He did too, but he never appeared.

We hunted a couple of more spots out in the orange gate area, but had no more luck. 

March 20, 2010 Strutting Turkey and Black Eared Doe No Animals Seen

My birthday is coming up in another week, and Micki gave me a Taurus "Judge" revolver as an early present.  The Judge is a unique weapon; it fires both .45 Long Colt cartridges and .410 shotgun shells.  Due to the enormous popularity of The Judge, .45s are hard to come by right now, but I did pick up a couple of boxes of .410s down in Gaffney this morning.  Shells in hand, it was time to go shoot the thing.

I had gone to Gaffney to look for a new pair of Carhartt overalls after the battery in my father-in-law's boat leaked on my old ones back when I put up the wood duck boxes and ate holes all through the legs of them.  Having found a couple of new pairs at Cherokee Outfitters, I headed across the upstate from Gaffney to my lease.  A long drive, but a beautiful one.

Once there,  I took a few shots at a Diet Sundrop bottle with the Judge, then checked my trail camera at the Orange Gate stand and found pictures of some strutting jakes and a large group of hens.  They're just jakes, but I think this is where I'll be starting my morning on opening day.  I found some larger turkey tracks in the area, showing me that the bigger gobblers were also around. 

After checking the Orange Gate, I headed over to the big main section of the lease to take a look at my camera at the Salt Lick.  On the main lease road, I found club member Phil's truck parked, so I spent a few minutes looking around trying to find him.  I finally caught up with him about a half mile down the road; he was shed hunting but had not found anything of interest.  We talked a bit, then I went on over to the Salt Lick.

There were some more jakes on camera at the Salt Lick, but the best news was that my black eared doe from last year is still around.  I got several good pictures of her, all from the rear, and you can really see the distinct markings on her ears.  I'd really like to get this doe next year; she'd make a great mount!

February 27, 2010 A Job Worth Dreading Wood Duck Boxes

Several years ago I built a pair of wood duck boxes with the intention of installing them on my father-in-law's pond in an effort to increase the duck population.  I've dreaded the job of installing them, and it turns out that it was a job well worth dreading.   My intention was to head to Lowe's this morning, get a couple of 4x4 posts and some long spikes to sink into the soft ground of the pond.   When I got in my truck to leave, all I got was the dry click of the starter.

Frustrated by that, I piddled around the house, taking care of a few chores in need of doing.  Around 1:00pm, I decided to try again, and this time I was able to get the truck started using a  jump-box that I had purchased late last year.  I drove over to Auto Zone, where they tested my battery, but it was showing that it was in good shape.  From there I went to Lowe's and got my wood, (I actually had to go to two different Lowe's stores - the first one did not have the spikes that I needed), then back to the house where I quickly attached predator guards to the 4x4s.

It was right around 4:00pm when I was done with this job, and, looking at the position of the sun, I decided I might be able to get to Gerald's house and get the boxes up before dark.  I grabbed my .223, threw some tools in the truck, and made the 30 minute drive down to Sharon, SC.   Quickly loading Gerald's little boat with my gear, I crossed the lake, dreading the job ahead of me.

 I had chosen a little corner of the lake that offered a great location for a duck nesting box.    Wearing hip waders, I stepped in the water and began hammering the first spike into the soft mud at the bottom of the pond.  The job went quickly, and before long I had the first post installed.  Things got harder from there, as there was no anchor for the boat and no line to tie it to a tree with.

Fortunately, Gerald's boat is very stable, and I was able to stand on the platform, and get the first box in place.  It was a tough job holding the boat in place, holding the drill, and holding the box, but I got it done.  It was even almost level; close enough, anyway.

The second box was a bit harder, as the spike would not go very deep no matter where I tried to put it.  With duck boxes, you should keep them out of sight of each other, so I was limited in my choices of spots for the second box.  Ultimately I got the spike about 16 inches into the ground, but I would have preferred a bit more.  I may have to move the second box in the next year or so.   This box was made a bit differently from the first, and it was harder to get it installed, but the job was finished before dark.

Having a little bit of time left, I maneuvered the boat into a spot between some trees that are out in the pond, loaded my rifle, and began to watch for beavers.  I had to choose a location where the bank in front of me was high and safe from a shot skipping off of the water, but spots like that were plentiful.  I watched for about a half hour, but saw no beavers.

February 26, 2010 Shed Hunting with Ted 1 Shed Found

Ted and I both had the day off of work today, so we used it as a chance to get together and do some shed hunting.  I got to the lease about an hour before Ted did, so I parked at the dirt pit where he could easily find me, then I made my way down into the swamp.  I searched hard, covering ground slowly and carefully, but found nothing. 

About an hour into my walk, I found a place that was torn up with buck sign, and knowing Ted should be at the lease by now, I stopped and tried calling him on my cell phone.  I couldn't get through, so I unslung my .223 and popped off a couple of rounds into a dirt mound, letting Ted know where I was.  I did this every few minutes, but never heard an answering shot or the honk of his truck horn.

So, marking my location on my GPS, I headed back out of the swamp.  A quarter of a mile later Ted and I were in shouting distance of each other.  We met up and headed back to where I had been.  We searched the area hard, but found nothing except the leg bone of a fawn deer.

From there we moved over to #11#, cutting down into the hardwoods and making a wide loop.  There wasn't much sign at all in these woods, so we curved back to the road, got in our trucks, and moved on.   I wanted to try the big swamp where I had put my feeder a couple of years earlier, down on the edge of where the logging was done, so we parked down there and headed into the woods.

The original plan was to follow the swamp almost all the way to the road, going in on one side of the valley and returning on the other.  However, as we got in, we instead branched off to the right into an area that I had never been before.  Deep in the woods we found a beautiful slab of exposed granite with a creek trickling off of it.  Sign was plentiful, but sheds were not.

Looking at my GPS, I saw that we could make our way over to #16#, meet up with the road, then make the long hike back to where we had parked.  This was easier done on the GPS screen than it was in real life.  The land was covered with deep gulleys and ravines, the brush was thick, and we were constantly moving in an uphill direction.  I found one very old squirrel chewed shed that was in such bad shape that it wasn't worth keeping.

We continued on, eventually making it to the road near #14#.   We'd had enough for one day, and we still needed to sight in Ted's .22-250, so we went out into the cutover to try to get that accomplished.   Ted took a few shots with it, but the wind was gusting too much to continue.  The day was wearing on into evening, and Ted needed to get on back home.  We parted, and I went over to the Salt Lick stand to check my trail camera.

From there I started to head home myself, but at the last minute decided to drive over to the "staging area", our largest field, and take a quick look at it.  While standing there in the field I saw several deer trails leading into the young growth of pines that surround the field, so I took a quick walk out onto one of them.  Deer sign was everywhere, and I made a quick, wide loop making one last push to find a shed.  I found nothing, but decided that this is definitely the place to focus on next time I get down there.

February 19, 2010 Last African Trophy Warthog

Randy Jordan, my taxidermist of choice, called me on Thursday to let me know that my last African trophy was finished.  Out of all of the animals that I shot in Africa, the warthog was more of a trophy class than any other animal.  He's a once-in-a-lifetime beast, and he is finally on my office wall.

February 20, 2010 Shed Hunting 2 Sheds Found

We've had bad weather for three Saturdays in a row, so when the forecast for today was for a spring-like day I knew that I'd be heading down to the lease.  I've been waiting for a good day to do some shed hunting, and this was the first chance I've gotten in almost  a month.

I got to the lease by mid-morning, then parked the truck at #6#.  My plan was to head down into the swamp across from the stand, then make as big a loop as possible.  I took a backpack, some brush clippers, a rifle, and my GPS along with me.  The brush clippers make moving through the thick tangles of the swamp a heck of a lot easier, and I never go into the woods without a gun of some sort.  Never know what you'll encounter.

I made my way down the hill, slipping and sliding on the wet pine needles a few times.  The hill that leads down into the swamp is really tall, and it took me quite a bit of time just to get to the bottom.   As I approached the bottom of the hill, I made note of a large pine tree across from me with a splash of blue paint on it.  This would be the landmark for where I would head back up out of the swamp.

From there I began a long push through the swamp.  I found a great many spots where bucks had been rubbing their antlers on the trees, and within the first hour I had located this old nub of an antler:

I kept the little nub, even though there wasn't much left of it and it had obviously been there for quite some time.   I continued on, walking for a long long way until I came to a valley that I recognized.  I was over near #15#, at the base of the hill where I had shot last year's first 8 point buck.  I looked a the hill in awe, wondering how I  had managed to drag that buck up to the top of it by myself.

After a bit of rest and a drink of water, I headed back across the swamp, making my way to the tree that I had noticed on the way in.  When I got there some time later I paused, looked down, and saw a fresh shed lying on the ground near the base of it. I picked it up, feeling an incredible sense of accomplishment and joy.  To have looked so hard for one of these and to have finally found a nice one really made my whole day.

I searched the area very thoroughly looking for the matching antler, but it was nowhere to be seen.  After exiting the swamp, I did two more very small pushes through other thickets, but found thing of interest anywhere else on the lease.

January 29, 2010 Predator and Shed Antler Hunt No animals seen

I've been working some long hours over the last couple of weeks, and today I took the afternoon off to get some rest.  Leaving work around noon, I decided to spend the afternoon down on my lease.   The weather forecast was for snow and sleet, and I was hoping that the predators might be moving a bit before the storm hit.

I got down to the lease just a little after 1:00pm.  Starting at #1#, I walked way down into the swamp and from there worked my way up toward #2#.   I found lots of deer tracks and rubs, and even found a little bucket feeder that someone had recently filled with Deer Chow.  The was way down deep in the swamp, and when I saw a fresh boot print (probably club member Phil's), I decided that it was time to try somewhere else.   I made the long walk down the road back to the Jeep, then headed over to the main lease.

From there I headed over to the salt lick stand to check my trail camera.  It's been a month since I pulled any pictures off of this particular camera, and I was curious to see what was on there.  There were deer, fox, and a lot of raccoons, but the most interesting thing was that the only daylight pictures of deer were from 2 minutes before I actually drove into the field to check the camera.

Leaving my truck parked in the field, I walked through the thick stuff from the salt lick all the way down to #22#.   On the edge of one deep gulley I came across the spine and leg bone of a long-dead deer, and remembered that I had actually taken this same path through the woods before.   I made my way back up to the road, then hiked to the Jeep and decided to predator hunt until dark.

I had time to make two 30 minute stands, so I hunted #11# and then #9#.   Nothing responded at either stand, and with the temperature dropping and night falling I decided that it was time to head on home.

January 23, 2010 Duck Hunting 1 Mallard Seen

I was back on the water at about 6:15am this morning after picking up a freshly charged battery for the boat from Gerald's house.  I dropped off a pound of Courtney's BBQ for him, then headed out onto the lake.  Making my way across the water, I moved one of my goose decoys to a better spot, then was seated in my blind about 10 minutes before legal shooting started.

A pair of beavers splashed the water in the creek above me, and then all went silent.  Shortly after sunrise, I heard a mallard quacking on the far end of the lake, so I let loose with a hail call.  I heard no response, and all was quiet again for quite some time.  A half hour later, I heard excited quacking, then heard the mallard come off the water. 

Looking above me, I saw the duck coming overhead, and my first shot was made from a horrible angle and was a clean miss.  I spun around, got a better shot window, and squeezed off another shell.  I saw the duck twist in the air, but wasn't sure if it was a good hit or not.  A few seconds later, way up in the thicket behind me, I thought I heard something crash through the brush, followed by the sound of my shot pellets landing on the hill behind me.

I left the blind and went up into the thicket, doing a big sweep of the thick brush trying to find any sign of the duck.  I spent a half hour looking, but found nothing.  Knowing I'd try once more before leaving for the day, I went back down to the blind and hunted for another hour.   A couple of times I swore I could hear wood ducks way on the far end of the pond, so I grabbed my chair out of the blind and walked along the shore for about 50 yards, finally setting the chair in a brush pile on the edge of the lake where I could get a better look at the big water.

I sat there for a half hour, but saw and heard nothing.  I decided to go back to the blind, cutting up across the hill and into the thicket again in hopes of finding the duck I had shot at earlier.  Amazingly, I walked straight up the hill and found her immediately, a beautiful hen mallard to go with the drake from last night.

I hunted for another half hour or so, but finally gave up and headed over to Randy Jordan's taxidermy shop to drop off my birds.  Since these are my first mallards and were both in great shape I decided to mount them.  Randy promised to extract the meat for me and save it in his freezer, and we choose a really nice position to mount the birds in.

Before I left, Randy showed me my warthog, the last of my African trophies.  It's about halfway done, and he thinks he'll finish it up within the next week or so.

January 22, 2010 Duck Hunting 3 Geese, 2 Mallards Seen

Knowing that I'd be going duck hunting tomorrow morning, I decided I could make it easier on myself if I went down to Gerald's house and put my decoy out tonight rather than in the morning.  With that in mind, I went over to the Carolina Sportsman store and picked up a couple of Canada goose decoys, then drove on down to Gerald's.

There were already three geese and a pair of mallards on the pond when I got there, so once I got in the boat I skirted the edge of the pond, trying my best not to flush the birds that were on the water.  The mallards did spook, but they flew in the direction of my blind, landing somewhere back up on the creek way above it. 

I got the decoys placed the way I wanted them, then settled into the blind to hunt for a bit.  The geese did come in to my calling, but I decided not to shoot, preferring to get a wood duck or a mallard tonight.   At one point I saw Todd, the game warden, drive by in his truck.  I waved at him from the blind, which is just visible from the road, then went back to hunting.

Duck hunting ends at sunset, which was 5:43pm tonight.  At about 5:30, I caught motion in the water back up on the creek above the blind.  Looking through my binoculars, I could see the two mallards were splashing about up that way.  With only a few minutes of legal shooting left, I grabbed a handful of shells and exited the blind, creeping up into the thicket behind me.

I made my way along the edge of the lake, keeping out of sight of the ducks.  When I thought I was close enough, I moved in and saw the birds at the same moment that they saw me.  They flushed, flying high into the sky.  My first shot was at the hen and was a clean miss.  Preferring to have a male to mount, I switched over to the drake and hauled him down with a 3" magnum load of #2 steel shot.   I turned back to the hen, now heading out across the pond, and tried a last shot, but the distance was too great.

I checked the time and saw that I had done all of this with 5 minutes of legal shooting time to spare.  Knowing the hunt was over, I packed up the boat, retrieved the drake, and headed back across the lake.  The battery in the boat died just as I started head back across the pond, so I had a bit of paddling to do to get back to the landing.

January 18, 2010 Duck Hunting 2 Beavers and 2 Geese Seen

It's duck season, and my father-in-law has a beautiful place to hunt them just 20 minutes or so from my house.  I arrived at his land just before sunrise, got my gear loaded in the boat, and headed across the lake to my duck blind.  On the way across, I saw the v-shaped wake of a large beaver swimming in front of me, so I grabbed my shotgun and got some shells into it. 

I fired at the beaver, but he saw me just before I squeezed the trigger, and my shot hit the water where he had been seconds before.  I saw another one just after I got my decoys out and got into my blind, but it was the same situation.  He disappeared right before I shot.

I hunted ducks most of the morning without seeing anything.  At around 8:30am, however, I heard a couple of canada geese hit the water way across the lake from me.  I started calling them, and they called back.  We called back and forth to each other for more than an hour, but they were content to stay on their side of the pond.

Eventually, after a particularly plaintive series of calls from me, they flew up off of the pond and headed my way.  I stood up and got ready for the shot.  They rose quickly into the sky above me, and my #2s pierced the air behind them as I pulled off three clean misses.  They were soon out of sight, and I saw nothing else for the rest of the day.

January 16, 2010 Predator and Crow Hunt Many Crows Called

Went back down to the lease this morning for a predator hunt after picking up my kudu mount at Randy Jordan's place last night.  I started off in #1#, but after a good hour of calling had seen nothing.  I moved over to the cliff area to hunt, where I know that there is a red fox den, but again nothing came in to the call. 

As I was hunting the cliffs, I saw Jimmy drive by in his truck, so I packed up my gear and headed over to the sign in board where I found him waiting for me.  He said that Phil, another member of the club, was supposed to come down today too.  I suggested that we go try to call up a coyote in the cutover while we waited to hear from him.  Jimmy was agreeable, so we drove down into the lease.

I put out the decoy and caller, but as I sat hunting I was sure that I could hear someone else calling over on the other side of the cutover.  I looked carefully around with my binoculars and eventually saw a truck parked way down on the far side of the valley from where Jimmy and I were.  Looking closely, we decided that it was Mike Sistare's truck, so we called him up to see if he was having any luck. 

Mike came over to where Jimmy and I were hunting and we all decided to give the crows a go.  Mike and I both started playing crow sounds on our callers, and before long we had a group of big ones come in.  I pulled down the lead bird, and the other guys missed their birds.  We chased the crows all over the lease for most of the rest of the afternoon.  Everybody eventually got at least one bird.

January 9, 2010 Predator Hunt No Animals Seen

Since there was too much ice to hunt ducks, I went down to Liberty Hill at around lunchtime today to do some predator hunting.  I stopped at Nichol's Store on the way down and looked at their Traeger grills.  I think I'm gonna have to pick one of those up this spring.

Once I got to the lease, I started out at by doing a little bit of crow hunting at #2#, then #34# and #17#.  The only crow that came in to my calling was at #2#, and I missed him three times.

After that I did some predator hunting at several stands, but nothing came in to those calls either.

The most interesting thing was seeing that Jimmy has already started working on moving stands around.  Stand #9, one of the most popular stands on the lease, has been moved 50 yards down the road and out of a tree that had previously been struck by lightning.   The new location is not quite as good as it used to be, but the tree it was in was in such bad shape that we couldn't leave it where it was.

January 8, 2010 Getting Ready for Duck Season --

I haven't hunted ducks in a few years, but this year I'm planning on getting back into it.   To that end, I went down to my father-in-law Gerald's land today to see what shape my duck blind is in.  I made a long hike around the lake from his house to the blind, put some new burlap on it, brushed it in with some cedar trees, and got it back into a semblance of readiness.

I had hoped to hunt ducks tomorrow morning, but the pond has too much ice on it to get the boat out, so I gave up on that idea and decided to go predator hunting at Liberty Hill instead. 

I was also supposed to meet the game warden this afternoon to get a beaver permit; those fellows are tearing up the woods around Gerald's pond, but we missed each other.  I'll try again on that soon.

January 1, 2010 Looking Forward --

Well, another season is ahead of us.   My deer rifle is clean and locked away in my safe.  It's time to break out the .223 and try to down a few foxes and coyotes, and, if I'm really lucky, a bobcat.  We're starting to get a handle on this predator hunting stuff, and the last time I went I called in three foxes at one time. 

I know some of the areas on the lease that are holding coyotes right now, so if I can learn how to call them in we might get lucky and get one of them this season. 

We'll get back in the woods in a week or so, but now it's time to recover from the previous season and start getting ready for the next one.

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