Deer hunting can be miserable business in inclement weather, but most hunters have to hunt when they have time and can’t be choosy. One thing to keep in mind in cold, windy or even rainy/snowy weather is that deer don’t enjoy it any more than you do.
In windy, cold weather, hunt sheltered hollows, the back side of ridges away from wind, and hemlock, pine and spruce stands. You’ll probably see more deer; and even if you don’t, at least you’ll be more comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, look for wind-blocking clothing to extend your time on stand. Most waterproof clothing is also windproof, but there are less expensive wind-blocking garments available as well.
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I have been thinking about this subject lately. Pick up any deer hunting magazine, and what you will find is picture after picture of monster bucks. And then you will find story after story about how to kill a trophy buck. The problem is, most of us don’t really get to hunt those monster bucks! I, for one, don’t have the thousands of dollars that it takes to be able to pay for a deer like that. That is what it typically turns out to be. A hunt on either a high fence ranch, or a piece of property that is so secured it might as well have a high fence. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have about 5,000 acres all to myself on which to grow and manage trophy deer. Given the opportunity, I would do it in a heartbeat. But, that is just not a reality for most of us (unless I am really out of touch with reality!)
For most of us, “trophy” is not in the size of the antlers, but rather in the hunt itself. For example, let me share this picture of a small buck I killed a couple of years ago. Obviously, this was not a “trophy” buck…just a little spike horn. However, this was the first year my son (just about 1 1/2) was old enough to really know what was going on in deer camp. Look at that smile on his face. In my book, that is a trophy! He has, from that day on, been hooked on deer hunting. Every time I come in from hunting, he wants to know what I got. If I didn’t get something, he wants to know what I saw. He is always facinated by the different animals that I see, or hear while on the deer stand. I knew, when I pulled the trigger on this little buck, that my little hunting buddy would be thrilled to see it in the back of my truck.
In our little corner of WV, we don’t have a lot of big bucks. And, the idea of letting little ones walk is appealing in a lot of ways, but the problem is if we let one walk, then it will just go over the hill and someone else will shoot him. Such is the problem when you only own a few acres.
Someday, I may have the opportunity to take Jacob somewhere where to hunt for a big buck. Until then, I want to instill in him the joy of the hunt. That can’t be tied to the size of antlers. There is nothing like sitting in a stand and watching the sun rise…watching a buck walk right under your stand…squeezing the trigger and knowing you made a good, ethical, humane shot. Folks, that buck is a trophy in the eyes of my little guy, and that is good enough for me. He is now 3, and the desires for hunting have only grown. He will be spending a couple of days this year in a hunting blind. If I see a deer, I will shoot it, no matter how small. I want him to get the experience of taking one of these beautiful creatures, and learning to take care of the game so that it is preserved for our freezer. He has a great desire to learn all about it, and I look forward to teaching him!
This week, I was fortunate enough to find myself in a tree stand once again. About 9 AM, I saw a deer walking toward my stand. The small spike horn turned and went up over the hill, as I enjoyed watching him eat. A few minutes later, another small buck came over the hill, and fed right toward my stand. I debated over whether I wanted to take this small buck or not. Some of what I have written about in this post was going through my mind. Finally, when the deer was about 7 yards from me, I decided to go ahead and take him. I made what I thought was a perfect shot, but the deer ran like crazy. I ended up tracking him for 400 yards or more. Unfortunately, he didn’t drop a lot of blood, so it took me a long time to find him. Upon examination, I found that I had indeed made a very good shot on this deer. The problem appeared to be that my mechanical broadhead did not open up as it should have. It seemed as if only one of the 3 blades opened up, and cut the right way. I was very disappointed in this. I will be trying the broadheads again, but if I continue to have problems like this, I will definitely go to another brand. After another test of this broadhead, maybe I will review it here. The first 2 shots with it were quite effective, one penetrating the spine, the second a pass through in the lung area. But, this shot was through one lung, and evidently due to the severe angle, under the second lung. there was no exit hole, as the arrow didn’t penetrate enough. I will have to report back on this later!
Notice the smile on my son’s face! He, again, was thrilled to see this deer. And he didn’t care a bit that the antlers on this deer were much smaller than the one from last week. I hope he keeps that good attitude!
West Virginia bow season is open, and in full swing. I have only been able to go out a couple of days so far, but I have had some good luck! I was able to hunt for only a couple of hours on Saturday morning, but I saw 3 bucks. One spike, one 3 point, and one 6 point. I was hunting from the ground since I didn’t have opportunity to get my stand set up before season. Unfortunately, I never even got to scout the property that I was hunting on this year. However, since I had hunted the property before, I had a pretty good idea of where to go, and where to send my friend, Wally. It turns out I did ok…2 of the 3 bucks ended up 7 yards from me, and spooked before the decent 6 pt came down to where I could get an open shot. Two of the deer ran right around the hill to where I had sent Wally, and right under the tree stand he was using. Wally was able to get off a good shot, and the spike went down within about 100 yards. This was Wally’s first deer with a bow. I was thrilled to be hunting with him, and I was glad to see him take this animal. This was a great trophy for him!
Monday, I was able to hunt on a different property in in the middle of West Virginia. I am much more familiar with this property, and have built several permanent tree stands. I saw another 3 deer, and all 3 were bucks. I saw 2 spikes, and a seven point. The 7 point was one of the nicest deer that I have seen, and I was able to get a shot off. Since the deer was down hill from me, I miscalculated the actual distance. I hit the deer squarely in the spine, and he went down immedietely. A follow up through the lungs anchored him on the spot. Our area of WV doesn’t have any monster bucks, but I was thrilled to tke this dandy!
I also got my son in on some of the pictures. He is 3 years old, and the namesake of this blog. It is wonderful the way he loves to be outdoors, and he looks forward to every opportunity to go hunting with me, even if he only gets to go to camp, and not out to the stands. Every trip back inside is met with him asking, “How big of a buck did you get this time, dad?” He still has to work on the whole patience thing. Last year, he got to go out one time and hunt from a ground blind with me. I hope to be able to take him out at least a couple of times this year as well. I am sure his Papaw will want to take him out some too!
Ok, now I have heard everything! In New Jersey, the Audubon Society, often cited as opposing all hunting, has begun to support deer hunting in certain areas. And, in New York City, land is being opened up for deer hunting. Not only that, but they are offering incentives to hunters for hunting on their land, and lowering the hunting age to 14, with a parent present. Why would this be happening? Simple: overpopulation! That’s right, the very reason that pro-hunters have argued for the need of hunting for years. We have heard that there is no reason for hunting in this country–we can buy meat at the grocery store. And, you can find other forms of entertainment that are not so violent. Now, the truth comes out!
But, some may say, this problem is only happening in suberbia. We don’t need hunting in more rural areas where the “balance of nature” is more natural. News flash: stop hunting deer in rural America, and the exact same problem will occur. In most of America, there are no natural predators left for deer. Human hunters are the only recourse for controlling populations. The grim reality is, if we do not hunt deer to control populations, then they will become overpopulated, and end up dying slow, painful deaths from starvation. Yeah, that’s humane.
What it comes down to is that these suburbanites have decided that their $10,000+ landscaping jobs are really more important than their “moral objections” to hunting. They are against hunting until their hydrangeas are nibbled down to stubs by the resident destructive deer population. Let’s face it: either deer hunting is immoral or it’s not. It can’t be immoral most of the time, but ok if my little oak trees are getting mowed down by the not so selective browsing whitetail. I for one am tired of being blasted by these anti-hunting organizations because I enjoy hunting, only to turn around and see them being “in favor” of a hunt just to protect their own personal overpriced maple sapling!
New York is moving in the right direction. Bring in the hunters to save the day. Harvest the deer until the population is back down to where the land can support them, and then maintain that level with yearly hunts. Get ready for the animal rights nuts to decend on you! Maybe their apple orchard in the ‘burbs hasn’t been destroyed yet.
Source: The Journal News
Have you noticed how all the deer you see while scouting seem to vanish during hunting season? It’s natural to think those deer have left your area for “more safe” country.
In some cases, that’s true. Deer adjacent to posted land are smart enough to know where the pressure is less and will go there. But most often, such nearby sanctuaries are not available; and like you, whitetails don’t like to leave their home areas. So where do they go?
Remember that deer know their home ranges as well as you know your own house. They know the locations of the nastiest thickets, the most secret small hollows and the most unapproachable rises. They will head to these shelters and not come out until after dark as long as there is hunting pressure.
While you’ll never know your woods as well as Mr. Buck, you can get to know it better. Find these deer “bomb shelters” and head there before the shooting starts.
The best time to locate these areas is right after hunting season. The leaves are off the trees, the briars aren’t quite as thick, and you might even have snow to help see trails and droppings. When you find a small, secret-looking spot with concentrated droppings and with trails coming in and out, chances are you’ve located a pressure shelter. Think about the area and where the most-used hunter accesses are located.
Keeping the wind in mind, set up outside the shelter area where you expect the deer to be pushed from. Get to your stand early since the whole idea is to take advantage of the presence and movement of other hunters.
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Sadly, a man from Franksville, WI, was killed in a duck hunting accident. According to witnesses, one man was attempting to exchange guns in the blind, and an “absolute freak accident” occurred. The man reached behind him to secure the 10 gauge shot gun that he wanted to use, putting the 12 gauge he was using down in front of him. As he lowered the barrel of the 10 gauge, the man’s dog jumped over him at that moment, discharging the gun into the chest of his hunting partner. The 10 gauge blast from less than 20 feet killed the second man.
Source: The Vernon Broadcaster
I hate to read stories such as this. It is not that I don’t have sorrow for the death of this man, nor compassion for his family. But, this was not an “absolute freak accident”. This is a matter of simple gun handling safety. The 10 gauge shot gun, not in use, should not have been loaded! I would not want to have a loaded 10 gauge shotgun pointed at me in any circumstances. Realizing that the freak occurance of a dog jumping the wrong way could discharge the gun is the exact reason that the gun should not have been loaded in the first place.
Before my father would let me handle a loaded gun, I had to learn the 10 commandments of gun safety. I am sure I could not quote them verbatim now, but I know the principles and always put them into practice. If you are not going to handle guns safely, and with at least some modicum of common sense, then I will not be hunting with you! Occassionaly true accidents happen. But, if the gun is handled as it should be, then the possibility of that happening become virtually non existent!
Check out Remington’s 10 Commandments of Gun Safety. Notice particularly rule #2!
A couple in Sinking Springs, PA, had an exciting weekend. Mr. Luckenbill heard his dog barking outside and went to investigate. There he found his dog fighting with a coyote. He tried to pull the dog away from the coyote, but the coyote just continued to attack. Finally Mr. Luckenbill and his dog fled for the house, and the coyote tried to follow them right inside! Fortunately, the quick thinking Mrs. Luckenbill saw the coyote coming and slammed the door on its neck.
Mr. Luckenbill grabbed his 12 gauge shot gun went looking for the persistent coyote. He found him in the yard, and disposed of him with the shot gun. State officials tested the animal and found that it was infected with rabies. Fortunately, the Luckenbill’s dog had been vaccinated against rabies. It received a booster (along with a second dog) after the attack.
Source: The Mercury News
This story illustrates the dangers of allowing predators to go unchecked. Without hunters willing to limit the population of animals such as coyotes, this kind of story would be more and more common. Predators are a great part of our world, a great part of our environment, but they must be kept in check. There are really no natural predators of the coyote in the East. Without hunting, they will simply reproduce until they are wiped out by diseases such as rabies. Of course, the same premise is true about other animals such as deer. It is humorous to me how there are so many anti-hunting, animal rights advocates until the deer are eating their shrubs from their yard in the ‘burbs!
Books have been written on the art of tracking bucks. It’s a productive technique that requires practice, some knowledge of deer habits and a LOT of persistence. Outdoor writer Jeff Murray, who takes record-book bucks with the regularity of Old Faithful, does things a little backward. In fact, he does tracking completely backward — Jeff has mastered the art of backtracking bucks to learn where and when to ambush them.
He says, “By backtracking a buck you can tell where he spends his nights and where he spends his time during legal hunting hours. You can tell exactly what he’s feeding on after dark and what he’s eating in daylight; where he likes to cross creeks, rivers, roads and trails; how he makes his loop; and you can tell the size and shape of his home territory. Give me clues like these, and that buck’s in trouble!”
To read Jeff’s complete article, check out the December issue of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. To learn more about Jeff Murray and his hunting techniques, visit http://www.moonguide.com. And if you have the opportunity, give backtracking a buck a try.
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