2013 Deer Season Journal

FireCloud

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View to my right of the clearing around my Stand #5..



Unfortunately, Tapatalk would not post my second photo, which was a view to my left, despite successfully posting the above photo mere seconds before. I got some of the same nonsense error messages I and others have been getting. Someone needs to find out what truly is wrong and then find a way to fix it because it is a frustrating waste of time to write a post out in the field and not be able to post it via Tapatalk. I have to edit these posts later on my desktop.

Anyway, back to the hunt story. I learned a lesson today to always check my thermocell fuel level before the hunt. While I carry two extra fuel cells and extra scent pads in my Thermocell holster, that does not prevent the unit from running out of fuel on the main cartridge. When that happened this afternoon, a swarm of mosquitoes began to bite me in unison. At first I did not realize the unit was out of fuel. But after a couple of minutes fighting the pests, I checked the unit only to find it cold and empty.

That is where the problem started. With my crossbow propped up on the side of the stand, I unstrapped the holster and worked the unit out of it. Predictably, part of the holster caught and would not allow the unit to be extracted without a lot of movement and noise unsnapping fasteners. More movement and noise resulted in changing the cartridge and pressing the igniter a couple of times. You would think the geniuses who make Thermocells, which are widely used by hunters, would understand the need for a quiet igniter push button and an easy access method for changing the fuel cell and scent pads. But no, the design is NOT a good one for minimizing movement and noise in the woods.

Finally, after refilling the unit and relighting it, I needed to put it back in the holster. I was fiddling with that task when out of the corner of my left eye I caught a glimpse of a deer between some trees about 15 yards from my stand. The deer had made me and was intently staring right at me. Since I had my crossbow propped up on the stand, I had to make still more movements to get my bow and take a closer look through the 4X scope. I moved slowly but in a steady motion to raise the bow.

I barely had enough time to get the scope to my eye and see that is was a spotted fawn before said fawn decided all that movement must mean danger. The fawn snorted and bolted for cover flag up. If there was a mother doe coming behind the fawn, which is likely, I never got a chance to even see her. However, the fawn was only about 3 to 4 months old, fairly small, and well spotted so I would not have shot the mother anyway. But you never know if the mother doe and that fawn might also have last year's "sister" or a couple other does traveling in the group who did not have fawns.

Next time, I will be sure there is enough fuel in my Thermocell to make it through the entire hunt. Just my luck that the very minute my Thermocell ran out of fuel and mosquitoes began eating me for dinner, one or more deer would come down the creek bank right by my stand while I did not even have my bow in my hand.

However, it was a good sign to see the fawn as I know mother doe had to be close behind. Having my land as part of a deer's "birthplace" is very beneficial to long term herd management. Since I try to be selective in harvesting of does by only taking does who are at least 2.5 years or older, the fawns all get to live a while on the land of their birth. I feel that holds them in the area much better and, of course, if you have does in the area you will see bucks during the rut.

When you own a small tract of land like I do, it is very easy to identify specific deer and get to know their habits and patterns. At the first of September while building the stand I hunted in today, I had an encounter with a young doe who watched me travel up and down the trail bringing in building materials for the stand. She actually laid down about 15 yards off the trail and watched me walk by 3 different times without even getting up. I spoke to her the first time I went by, while she was still standing up, and she did not run off. All she did was lay down and keep watching. That doe was a 1.5 year old animal and would most likely only have had one fawn.

I think she would not leave because she did not want to leave her fawn unguarded while I was there. It's now a month later and judging from the small size of today's fawn and seeing it in this exact same area, I'm guessing it was probably the fawn of the young mother doe who repeatedly watched me walk up and down the trail. If that is so, then I would not have shot the mother doe anyway because she is not old enough for me to want to harvest. So there was no real harm done by spooking the fawn with my movements, other than to make it more cautious about me.

I am glad to at start seeing deer at least. Hunt 4 was a better hunt than the other three have been in that respect.
 

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FireCloud

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Hunt 5. Friday @ 5:10 pm. Temp is 88 degrees with light wind from the NW. The wind helps a lot and allow things to cool faster when the sun dips behind the trees. I try stand #1 again at the main food plot.

I spend the first hour reading stories Bullfrog posted of his Twin Oaks hunt. I remember how dull it was sitting in the woods before cell phones and the internet.

The final hour is here and the woods are still. I think this could be a good day to fling some arrows from my recurve.

-----------

Update: Sat til dark but nothing came to the food plot this afternoon. Hopefully the incoming cool front this weekend and night time temps dropping to 50 degrees by Monday morning will get a few deer up on their feet during the AM crepuscular period at least.
 

FireCloud

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My clock alarms at 5 am. Mija has learned that people are trained to respond whenever anything rings so she also arises and stretches. She knows feeding time is next. I put her out after she eats and she disappears into the darkness.

Two cups of coffee, some food, and a hot shower get my going and soon I am headed to my new stand.

Thursday afternoon was the only time since last weekend I have been in that area of my land so I feel it is good for a second hunt this morning. I'm at the stand and settled in by sunrise. The humidity is oppressive and I arrive from a 20 minute walk in completely wet with sweat. There should be a law against sweating before daylight.

The wind begins to blow in small gusts around 8 am making it harder to hear. The nut grabbing squirrel monkeys add a lot more rustling noises to check out. This spot has a lot of 12 inch and larger producing oaks which I am betting will attract some deer.

The sun has just topped the trees and it is a very pretty morning for a hunt. I sit back to see what will happen. I start a weeks vacation in the morning so this would be a good time to put venison in the freezer.



This is the view to my left toward the creek.
 

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FireCloud

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This morning's Hunt 6 was uneventful. Nothing except over active squirrels moved and I left the stand at 10 am.

I headed back to the woods just after 4 pm for Hunt 7. But as some hunts go, things did not work quite as planned. I was headed for Stand 3, at Rattlesnake Crossing, which I have not hunted this season. But Mija decided to go and that is not a stand where I like for her to roam about because I have seen two rattlers at that location over the years. And, after getting into the woods, I discovered I left my cell phone at the house. That was what I intended to use to follow the Ole Miss ballgame until I returned.

So I settled for altering my plans and sitting in Stand 1 at the food plot again. The plot looks much better and there are plenty of acorns, so I felt it would only be a matter of time before I was at the plot when deer arrived to eat. But nothing showed up despite being a quiet afternoon outdoors. This heat and humidity is just hurting the deer hunting a lot. But weather after lunch tomorrow when a rain and cold front passes through dropping temps is predicted to bring a much better week. I have the entire week off for vacation and am looking forward to better weather, especially for my archery draw hunt at Mahannah this week.

Mija spent her time laying on the catwalk that surrounds my stand. She dutifully watches for deer and, like me, is disappointed when nothing shows up. I am convinced that when she is unwilling to do anything except lay in the shade and catch the breeze until it gets dusk dark, that the deer and most other animals are basically doing the same thing. Right now, I think the deer are moving almost exclusively late at night due to the 90% humidity we still have at 10 o'clock at night.

Overnight we are supposed to get some rain here in Jackson so it should be some good sleeping weather and, after the rain passes in late morning, I'll be eager to get in the woods for an afternoon hunt.
 

FireCloud

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Today was the first day of my week long vacation so I slept in during the morning rain. Nothing better to sleep by than the sound of rain. The rain did not move out until the middle of the morning but I am busy getting ready for my Mahannah trip so I used most of the day to gather together gear, clothes, etc. to pack. I made a run to pick up a few last minute supplies at Bass Pro also.

Because I have not used my climber since last season, I decided to give it a "shakedown" test this afternoon and enjoy some of the beautiful fall weather. I had already checked it over before season started, replaced the two cable pins, added a thick seat cushion, and fixed one of the tree straps. It is amazing to me that equipment always needs to be constantly checked and rechecked to be sure it is in good working condition. You cannot afford any problems with a climber so I always double check everything on mine. Thus, a short afternoon sit in the climber seemed to be the best way to insure I have not missed anything before my Mahannah trip.

Speaking of climber problems, I hope everyone reads Roadranger's account of a "near miss" climber accident in the Mahannah hunt thread. One of his cable pins caught on a limb while climbing down and it pulled the pin out, releasing the cable completely, and causing the bottom half of the climber to dangle useless from the connecting strap.

The problem with a climber is that BOTH parts must function or you cannot climb down. From an engineering standpoint, that is a risky design as there are no redundant safety mechanisms built in and there should be. You would think someone would make a much more reliable climber, including one with redundant cable lock pins.

What is needed is a "double locking" system where two pins are inserted through the cable to hold it in place. Thus if one pin fails for whatever reason, such as the pin breaking or being pulled loose, the cable would still be securely held by the second pin.

Obviously, another weakness of the climber from a safety standpoint is the cable itself. The cable itself could break or the mechanism where the pin is inserted could detach from the cable. With only one cable, if those things occur, the climber breaks, falls, and cannot be used to climb down.

The simply fix, in my opinion, is to manufacture climbers with a "double cable" design where two cables wrap around the tree for each part of the climber and each cable has its own locking pin. Here's why you need two cables. It's all in the common sense words of wisdom we all need to know and accept as Laws of the Universe.

Like that famous guy "Murphy" I have created a few "Firecloud's Laws" one of which is:

"If you need one of any item, you actually need two." (Firecloud's Law #1)

That is because eventually that guy Murphy applies his law of "If it can go wrong, it will" to your first item and causes the item to be lost, stolen, or broken. At that point, if you thought you could get by with only one of the item, another proverbial phrase of wisdom kicks in and you are "SOL." But if you were wise enough to have two of the item, per Firecloud's Law #1, then you just "keep on trucking."

Given the relatively cheap cost of a few more feet of cable and a cable pin, I cannot see why any tree climbers are made without a dual cable, dual pin system, if only for the safety advantage alone.

My climber passed its trial run test this afternoon without any problems showing up. I did not see any deer and didn't really expect to for Hunt 8 because it wasn't a really serious hunt. I did set up the climber overlooking the creek just west of Food Plot #1. I haven't watched the creek any this season and sometimes that can be productive if a deer simply wants a drink of water. There is a regularly used crossing at that point where deer come from the much larger undeveloped tract west of the creek to cross the creek and enter my food plot.

It was a very pleasant afternoon however and I really enjoyed my time in the woods.
 

FireCloud

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My last post was one week ago before I left for Mahannah WMA
At Mahannah I made 4 hunts and killed one deer. Those were Hunts 9-12 and the stories are posted in my Mahannah thread.

Today I hobbled out to my Stand #1 at my main food plot. After no hunting on my land for a full week I hope the deer wont realize I am back.

Its hot, humid, and still with just a light breeze from the north. Not good conditions but I am in the stand at 4:30 for Hunt 13 of the season. Its good to hunt my own land again.

Sat til dark but nothing came into the plot. But I have a large tray of front shoulder meat from my deer killed last week ready in the oven. Can't wait for some pulled deer sandwiches!
 

FireCloud

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Skipped hunting yesterday due to work. Wont be able to hunt tomorrow due to rain so slipped out to Stand #1 at 5:30 for a short sit til dark. Its hot and sticky again with almost no wind. I'd sure like to see something today.

Hunt 14 ended with nothing seen. This is the 10th hunt I have made on my land in the 15 days of this season. So far, the grand total of deer seen on my land is one (1) fawn. :bash:

It's hard to be patient if I am not seeing any deer or even signs of deer. But my land is only 20 acres and deer don't actually live exclusively on my land. There are times when there are absolutely no deer whatsoever on my land, sometimes for days at a time. Then there are other times when myself or others have seen as many as six or seven deer traveling together. My land is a pass through corridor between two large wooded blocks of land and so unless they are passing through, and perhaps stop to browse the food plots, there simply are no deer to hunt some days.

I've never seen so few deer in any of the past 5 years I have owned the land by this same point in time in the season. Typically I average seeing a deer every two days. So I guess I am overdue for a couple of groups of deer to pass through! The truth is however that despite my land being long and narrow, it is entirely possible for a group of deer to pass through my land even when I am in one of my stands and still not be seen by me. So there may have been some deer moving through already but I was simply not in the right place at the right time to see any of them.

Thus is hunting!
 

FireCloud

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After 15 prior hunts, Hunt 16 today was finally a decent, enjoyable hunt with plenty of deer seen. And best of all, I got an opportunity to fling an arrow at a young doe. More on that part later in the story!

I got up to hunt this morning at 5 am, but it was raining. After some breakfast and coffee, plus a check of the weather, I determined it was destined to rain for two or three hours so I went back to bed. I felt the deer would hold to their bedding areas but likely start moving after the rain and the cool front passed through

I sat in Stand #1 for about an hour or so yesterday afternoon for, if you can really call it that, Hunt 15. I didn’t see anything and was not able to hunt for the two days previous due to weather and rain. So after not hunting this morning, I was eager to get into the woods after lunch.

At 11:30 I went outside to take the garbage to the street and saw Mr. Bill just behind the deer feeder at the entrance to the north trail. He was just hanging around the trail until I stepped outside, then he move on off into the woods. At least my theory of the deer being on their feet and moving around after the rain seemed to be right on the money. And it was a good sign for my hunt to come to be seeing a buck moving around in broad daylight.

My fractured ankle is better after 10 days of recovery since the injury, and since I was headed out about 2:30 pm, I decided to just take it slow and ease my way to my new Stand #5. I last hunted this stand two weeks ago so the deer have not been pressured at this location. I did not reach the stand until 3:06 pm, but made it ok, and climbed inside. This time I brought my boat seat cushion and some snacks so I was ready for a relaxing hunt.

Having lost my crossbow, I carried my recurve today. I had intended to cut some clear shooting lanes around this stand but did not get to do so before leaving for Mahannah. After injuring my ankle, I still have not been able to cut good lanes. I have a couple of spots that are relatively clear due to my first efforts when I built the stand, but it is not a good stand for shooting a recurve because there is just too much in the way. When shooting my recurve I really have to pick my shots well. I need shots within 30 yards or less ideally and this stand does provide that because the open area is not more than 40 yards long and about 30 yards wide. My stand is roughly near the middle of the opening.

Because the area is filled with oak trees and over run with squirrels, I carried my .22 with me for an hour or so squirrel hunt before I switched to bow hunting for deer. The temperature was about 70 degrees but dropped steadily during the afternoon. The wind was high however, blowing in gusts of about 15 mph. Even with the constant wind gusts and all the leaves on the trees, I dropped a curious squirrel a few minutes after I arrived.

The wind was just too high for decent squirrel hunting so around 4 pm I stopped my squirrel hunting and began deer hunting. About 4:20 pm, I caught a glimpse of movement in a thicket near the north end of the trail. I peered closely and made out the head of a doe working in the leaves for acorns. She was about 20 yards out but the thicket prevented a clear shot. She was calm so I stayed calm too and awaited her to move into the opening.

As I watched I saw two more deer moving with her, also feeding on acorns and nearby browse. Wait! The second deer has horns! It was a yearling buck. I saw at least one of the two spikes was forked and quite possibly both were. This will be a good buck in a couple years as it has a very large frame, already being taller than its mother doe who was bringing up the rear of the group. It takes good genetics for a buck to have forked antlers for its first set so I hope this one lives for a while.

The buck and his yearling sister, followed by their mother, ambled aimlessly around in the thicket. The small yearling doe did step out into enough of a clearing to give me a shot, however she was the smallest of the deer and I wanted the mother doe. So I continued to wait hoping for a shot on the bigger doe.

The three deer headed straight east directly away from my stand. They were not in a hurry, never spooked, but just slowly browsing and wandering away. I could see them through the woods occasionally and took the occasion while they were at a distance to stand up. I don’t like shooting my recurve seated.

After a few minutes, the deer came right back to where I first saw them at the north end of the trail. Unfortunately they stayed in the thicket again. But soon the lead yearling doe walked west leading the group through the thicket, passing right to left in front of me at about 10 yards.

I had to swivel as inconspicuously as I could without being detected by 3 pair of eyes, heard by 6 deer ears, or smelled by 3 deer noses. When the deer are between 10 and 15 yards, that is NOT easy to do but somehow I managed to get around in time to have a second shot opportunity on the lead yearling doe as she paused under an oak tree to look for acorns.

The forkhorn buck walked a little further past the oak tree, then turned around and walked back toward his sister. He stopped a couple times in his travel and stood in a perfectly clear lane at a little under 10 yards. I could have thrown a spear at him and likely hit him! But he was not a legal deer so I had to hope he would get the heck out of the way so I might get a shot at his mother if she followed both of them to the oak tree. One of the problems with a group of deer is illegal deer can block shots at the deer you want to shoot!

In the process of turning about 120 degrees to follow the first two deer, mother doe trailing the group spotted me. She began a slow but very cautious walk toward my stand, stopping directly facing me. I wouldn’t try that shot, but after I passed it up, I wished I had tried. At the 8 or 9 yard range of the mother doe, I could possibly place the arrow through the base of her neck, which I have done before on another deer and it was a great killing shot. But I waited, hoping she would just follow the other two over to the oak tree.

She finally did just that, but by that time the young buck had moved into a position of blocking a shot at mother doe. However, the young yearling doe was standing perfectly for a decent shot AGAIN and I decided things were not going to work out for me to take the mother doe. So I began my draw for a shot at the yearling doe which I had passed up twice already. I barely began the draw before mother doe, already watching me intently, whirled and busted off through the woods, leading all the deer away. Drat!

I had watched the three deer wander all around my stand for a total of about 13 minutes. I could have shot the yearling buck readily. And I passed two shots at the yearling doe the first opportunities she gave me. I never got a clear shot at mother doe, my preferred target. And in the end, when I finally decided to take a shot before they all left the area, I never got a chance to get my bow drawn. It was 4:33 pm when the deer left the area. Those deer never returned, although I thought perhaps they might later in the afternoon.

Things got dull after that for about an hour and a half. The squirrels were tearing the oak trees up robbing acorns from the trees. I stood up a little before 6 pm to stretch my legs and get a better look at a squirrel that ran to a nest a short distance away from me. I spent a few minutes leaning against a roof support of the stand and watching the squirrels. My eyes were focused on the treetops and I never heard the next deer that showed up.

But when I finally looked down and moved from leaning against the roof support, I was stunned to see a young doe standing about 5 yards directly in front of my stand and watching me with great curiosity. Because I was “taking a break” I had my bow leaning against the side of the stand. I had to turn, stoop over, and pick up my bow. I expected the doe to run off. She didn’t move but just stood there watching me while I made all those moves.

I brought the bow up into shooting position and that motivated her to slowly begin walking. I had a perfect, totally clear shot at 5 yards out as she was walking by but I didn’t want to try a shot at a walking deer. She moved away to a position about 10 yards before she stopped again. As before, she turned to directly face me.

She was a 1.5 year old and I think she was the deer who, back in September, laid down just off the trail and watched me ferry materials down the trail, passing by her 3 times, as I built the stand. That is why she appeared to be completely unafraid of me, I think. I have thus not seen her any time with a fawn so I decided to attempt a shot at her.

This was the same facing shot I passed on taking earlier this afternoon on the mother doe. But I had regretted not taking that shot so when this doe presented me the same shot, I drew and fired.

Shooting a recurve at a live deer is always a challenge. Everything has to go just right and there is a lot that has to be perfect. When shooting instinctively, the anchor point has to be the same on each shot. The finger position for drawing the string has to be the same on each shot. The release cannot “roll” off your fingers. It has to be crisp. You have no sights, so you have to estimate everything…range, position to hold the bow, compensation for stand height, wind, and all other factors. The deer can react, twigs you don’t see can be touched by the arrow in flight, and many more things can occur. Your adrenalin has to be kept under control so you don’t rush the shot or “over draw” the bow. Any and all those things can prevent you from hitting the target. Usually, if you miss, you may never really know “what happened.”

I took practice shots at my target before I set out on the hunt. I did fine with those shots. But for whatever reason, in the heat of the moment, I shot high over the deer and had to settle for watching to see where my arrow landed. The doe, merely flagged and trotted off, heading out the exit and going on down the trail.

I sat for a while to see if the doe or any other deer might come down the trail but none did. So I retrieved my arrow and began the slow, but happy, walk home. As I passed by my deer feeder, two raccoons jumped out and headed to the woods. Mr. Bill is not going to get anything out of the feeder tonight as the coons cleaned it completely out. I made a vow to kill both of those coons as soon as possible.

Mija met me at the edge of the last field and was overjoyed to play with the dead squirrel. It was a good day, with five deer seen during the day, two bucks and three does. The change in the weather has indeed gotten the deer moving a little. After so many hunts in miserably hot weathe it was nice to not even have to use my Thermocell. I had shot opportunities several times and got to fling one arrow. I’ll take a hunt like that every day!
 

FireCloud

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What a great afternoon for a hunt!" Sunny 68 degrees And the woods are very quiet. A faint breeze is blowing toward me from the NW.

The food plot looks good so I climb into Stand #1 at 3:30 and sit back in my high back swivel chair to watch the plot for a while. Today would be a perfect day to shoot something.
 

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FireCloud

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Am watching Mr. Bill live from the stand. Taking video now. He is a yearling spike.
 

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FireCloud

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Mr. Bill browsed the shooting lane east of my stand for 24 minutes then eased into the woods. He never entered the food plot. Deer love the natural browse in the shooting lane more than they do the planted seeds.

I sat til end of shooting time but no other deer showed up. But did see a total of 6 deer this weekend (two yearling bucks, four does) on my land so things are definitely looking up.
 

FireCloud

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After a good weekend of hunting for Hunts 16 and 17 and seeing a total of six deer on their feet and moving around on my land during daylight I am now spoiled.

I only got a short time to go to the main food plot late Monday afternoon for Hunt 18. The neighborhood was excessively noisy until about 6:15 pm and no deer moved as a result.

Today I was able to head to the woods about 4:30 so I trekked all the way up to my new Stand #5 which I hunted 3 days ago. Someone was apparently putting on a new roof a short distance east in the subdivision so the air hammers and other construction noise continued until 6 pm. It calmed down and quieted down right before dark but none of the deer I saw Saturday returned today. Hunt 19 is now in the books.

Hunting land adjacent to a developed subdivision is a real challenge. Dogs bark constantly, kids and people talk loudly, construction and lawn maintenance equipment runs often, and loud vehicles pass by. It's very hard to hear deer or anything else approaching so nearly all deer have to be visually sighted. In my woods, the thickets keep visual distances down to under 40 yards so it is very easy for deer to pass by undetected.

The much colder air on the way for the rest of this week and the weekend should really help out a lot, especially for morning hunts. Most of the subdivision noise stops when it is very cold outside and that improves the deer hunting considerably. Plus it gets the deer moving about a bit more. Frankly we need a good freeze to drop some leaves from the trees and open up the woods to be more visible. I'm hoping we get one Friday night, but the weatherman is not predicting anything but frost.
 

FireCloud

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Hunt 19 Tuesday produced nothing. Could not hunt Wednesday so I am back for Hunt 20 today. In the stand at 4:45 pm with Mija hunting in the ravine. She is missing the squirrel playing in the food plot.
 

FireCloud

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Thirty four minutes after getting to Stand 1 a herd of four deer came to the north end of the food plot. The only one that stepped into the clear was a nice shooter 8 point. He never stopped walking and was only in the open for a few seconds until they all went north. He was at 35 yards but never gave me a good shot. I am hoping they will come back before dark!

I was wrong! It was a herd of seven deer! Two does and four of this seasons fawn crop came back into the plot at 6:00 pm. I kept waiting for the shooter Buck to step out but he never showed. They were 35 yards out and eventually fed up close to around 10 yards.

I got a shot at one mother doe at 9 yards dead still and broadside. I shot over her back. I rarely practice at 10 yards or less and with a recurve you have to hold way low at short distances so that is now the second extremely close deer I have missed. Gotta start bringing a concrete block up in the stand And just dropping it on them!
 

FireCloud

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Today's Hunt 21 was fun! I don't know why but I tend to kill more of my deer on Friday afternoons than any other time. I actually believe I see more deer on Friday's for some reason. And today I had plenty of hot action in the food plot. Wow! The only down side was I did not kill a deer and I certainly should have.

I recently upgraded my Tapatalk and now it does not work. I cannot actually open any of the posts or reply or post anything while in the stand unless I use my browser. Because of that, I was not able to post much about the hunt especially since the action was fast and furious until dark. So I am going to fill in the blanks now.

I was late getting to the stand today due to work, not arriving until 5:11 pm. Things were pretty quiet in the neighborhood and the wind was light. The direction was favorable being from the NW which means I can sit in the stand on the south side of the food plot with my scent blowing behind me and across the ravine which nothing can cross anyway. The cooler temperature kept the mosquitoes away and felt nice. It also had the deer on their feet and moving.

I only had to sit just over 30 minutes before the deer herd arrived. I was taken by surprise at the amount of noise the deer made coming through the woods. They were moving fairly quickly and sounded like a group of horses. That was because there were seven (7) of them traveling together. The closest one was the shooter 8 point buck at 35 yards but he was only visible at the edge of the food plot for about 30 seconds. One small fawn darted out and went back into the woods. I could see the rest of the deer milling about at 40 to 45 yards but back in the woods where it was hard to tell what they were or how many there were. I only saw four of them well enough to count them, although when they returned I realized it was seven deer.

I was seated and at the sight of the very first deer, I slowly stood up and reached for my bow while they were still 35 to 45 yards away. But likely my motion was enough for one of the deer to bust me as they all quickly left the area. However they did not flag or snort so I sat back down and waited, hoping they would just move off a little then come back. It's virtually impossible to avoid the keen eyesight, hearing, and smell of seven deer at a close distance. I simply was not ready for a whole herd of deer to quickly come up all at once.

It took them about 20 minutes or so to return but around 6 pm I heard them coming again. A herd of deer sure makes a lot of noise! This time I was standing at ready and frozen motionless as they approached the food plot. As usual, the young fawns from the spring crop bounded into the food plot first. The two mother does trailed behind but soon came on out. The deer were moving around quite a bit and it was hard to count them until they were all in the plot. Six of them came out and began feeding. I kept looking hard and waiting for the big buck to slowly follow the others into the plot but he never showed his face.

Since I wanted the buck, I just let all six of the deer eat and waited in case the buck decided to step out. After about 10 minutes or so, the six deer had fed right up to my stand, with all of them milling about crunching acorns under the large oak. They were all between 8 to 13 yards out as they wandered around.

Part of the problem with six deer feeding all clustered up is that the deer are all moving and changing positions constantly, with some of the young fawns stepping in front of their mothers and blocking shots. Usually once the deer get that close to the stand, one of them eventually busts me so I knew my time was very limited. If I wanted to kill one of these six deer, instead of waiting on Mr. Buck, I needed to get busy taking a shot. So I picked out the biggest doe, who really was not all that big because she was a younger doe, and got set for a shot.

She moved left to right across the front window of my stand and stopped dead still broadside straight in front of me at no more than 9 yards. It was a textbook perfect shot opportunity. I drew, aimed, and released, only to watch the arrow just barely pass over her back. The arrow was lined up great but only needed to be about 6 inches lower.

Most of the time the deer I kill are about 20 to 25 yards so I practice a lot at those distances. But I really don't ever practice at less than 10 yards and practice very little at less than 15 yards. I just don't get a lot of shot opportunities at extremely close ranges under 10 yards. With a recurve, the position for a 10 yard shot is with the arrow tip at about the 6 o'clock position, which is below the center of the kill zone. It's just hard for me to remember to "hold low" on a close up target. If the deer had simply been at 20 or 25 yards my arrow would have hit dead center in the kill zone.

I tend to shoot high anyway, and have to often lower my point of aim to compensate. With this doe and the one I shot at last Saturday, I shot exactly the same....just a tad over their back. Both deer were not over 10 yards out from my stand.

This situation today was a real challenge just to pick a single deer out of six deer all at about the same distance and only focus on what that one deer was doing. As the different deer move around, it is very hard to not be distracted by their actions. It honestly was a case of too many deer in front of me plus the added distraction of keeping one eye peeled in case the big buck stepped out in the background.

I only have one "good eye" that works anyway so I have a built in handicap when it comes to shooting a bow. The vision in my bad eye is 200, which is 10X worse than the 20-20 ideal vision. Everything is blurred out of my left eye. So I have a much greater problem judging the distance and movements of objects because I lack "stereo" vision capability. Consequently I miss a lot more than I should with my bow. However, a miss does not harm the deer and I can always hunt them another day so I just keep hunting and flinging arrows. I don't miss ALL my shots by any means. In fact, I typically hit extremely well on about one out of every three shots. For instinctive shooting with a traditional recurve and poor vision, that's really not too bad at all.

So, the way I figure it, I am due to hit the very next deer I shoot at since I have missed two other deer already. That's usually about the way it works for me every year so I am not disturbed by any misses. I'm quite happy to be seeing deer, having shot opportunities, and flinging arrows! There are plenty of bow hunters who are not doing that.

I was impressed with the buck today. Even at 35 yards, he was an obvious shooter without having to bother to study his rack. I'm guessing he was just a "visiting" buck using my land as a corridor, as many deer do. He likely just followed the does so as to better navigate my land as he clearly was bringing up the rear of the parade. But at least he knows where my land is now and that it has a bunch of young does on it which he can breed during the rut. I'm guessing he will be back.

This now makes 14 deer sighted on my land this season. A couple of them are the same deer, but out of the group I have seen one spike, a pronghorn, and now a good 8 point. That is encouraging for October. especially seeing all them walking around in daylight. Seeing the big buck today with this group of does and fawns makes me believe the bucks have already split up. That's a good sign also.

With the colder mornings about to produce some frost, things should start getting much better!
 

FireCloud

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Nov 2, 2009
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3,545
Hunt 22 was a Saturday afternoon hunt. I left about 3:30 to walk to my newest Stand #5. My plan was to intercept the herd of deer well upstream of the food plot if they decided to come back for another afternoon snack.

As I crossed the footbridge on the ravine just east of my main food plot, I bumped Mr. Bill who was laying on the opposite side of the shooting lane a mere 25 feet away. He blended in so well that I did not see him until he stood up, despite me knowing he likes to bed there and being on the lookout for him. I have bumped him there a couple times before so I always look for him.

I have written before how unafraid he is of me and that he absolutely knows who I am and recognizes me. Today was a stunning example of his intelligence and acceptance of me which really surprised me. The first surprise is he waited until I was on the foot bridge to even stand up. The distance between us was very close and he obviously saw and would have heard me coming. But I am convinced he knew it was me and simply was hoping I might not head his way so he just kept laying there until I made it across the footbridge.

When he stood up, he raised his tail up slightly to flag but only took about 3 steps into the wood line to get behind a clump of trees. I stopped instantly and froze with my bow up because I could not see him well enough behind the trees to look for his small spikes. He stopped behind the trees where he had an easy view of me out in the open. He stayed motionless for close to a minute until a pesky mosquito flew in my ear and I moved my hand off the bow string slightly to chase it out of my ear. That was enough for Mr. Bill to take two steps into the clear. He stopped broadside to me and just looked with his head about half down. He dropped his tail and just watched me look at him from 25 feet away.

For practice I drew and aimed at him, although I slowly eased off and let him walk. When I did, he turned and very slowly walked on down the trail with his tail down. Unfortunately, I needed to also travel down that same trail. So, after letting him get about 20 yards down the trail, I proceeded to follow him down the trail at a slow pace. I expected him to run off as soon as I got on his back trail.

But he didn't run at all. When he reached the rock crossing which I needed to use, he turned about half around to check on me following him. But he was unconcerned about me behind him and did not run off.

He crossed the rock crossing and moved further north into the woods. I proceeded to the crossing, made it across, and turned west as I entered the north end of the food plot. The trail I needed to take was about 25 yards west of where he was standing and he watched me walk along the north end of the food plot. Since I was moving away from him, all he did was just move aimlessly about while watching me walk away. I could see him in the woods the entire time because we were never more than 30 yards apart.

When I reached the north trail that led to my stand, I turned and headed north. Mr. Bill was 30 yards away and down below me. He had move forward a few feet further north and so was a little ahead of me. As I began walking parallel to him and drew along side his position, he did raise his tail to the flag mode and I thought he would run then.

However, he still did not run but walked parallel to me as I walked down the trail. He obviously felt he was a safe distance away and was wanting to find out where I was headed. He continued to pace me and walk along parallel to the trail I was on for about 30 more yards before I "pulled ahead" and he let me go on down the trail.

Altogether, from the point where I bumped him to the point where I walked off and left him behind, we traveled in the same direction without him running off or me spooking him for at least 60 yards or so. At no time did he even walk fast. I can't walk fast with a broken left ankle and all he ever did was either walk slowly ahead of me or walk parallel with me until he was satisfied I was not staying in the food plot area but going somewhere else.

My guess is Mr. Bill probably turned around and went back to lay back down in his afternoon nap spot! At one point, I actually thought he might just walk or follow me all the way to my deer stand.

He has seen me up close at least several dozen times in the past year. He has watched me come and go into my house. He has eaten in my backyard several times and pays regular visits to the deer feeder near my house. He hears me call my cat inside quite often so he knows the sound of my voice. Obviously he knows my footsteps, appearance, and scent, although today it may have puzzled him a bit because I had camo face paint on and he has not seen that before.

I think it is incredible that a whitetail deer born in the wild would adapt to my presence so well that he won't spook or run off but instead likes to watch to see what I am up to. Many creatures are curious, but this one is especially so. It is also very interesting that he likes to bed down and stay within a few yards of where I killed his mother and his sister, both of which he witnessed me doing. I'm guessing he likely was born very close to that spot and thus it is both familiar and feels safe to him.

He's eating well, is much bigger, and looks very healthy. I'm not keen on his puny spike antlers though so if he does not grow a much better set next year, then I will put him on a "management buck" list for early removal. As easy as he would be to kill, he would make a good buck for a youth hunter to take next year. The other little pronghorn yearling I saw last Saturday had a first set of antlers at least twice better than Mr. Bill. And having seen a good 8 point in my food plot yesterday, I know there are better bucks that need to do the breeding.

I went on to the stand after that and bumped a deer out of the wildlife opening where the stand is located. I did not see this deer but heard it get up and run off. Likely it is the young doe I have seen there several times and missed with a shot last weekend.

Although I stayed on the stand until dark, no deer came by. I did watch a hawk come to a nest that is 10 yards in front of my stand. The hawk sat on the edge of the nest for a couple minutes before flying off after deciding I was much too close to her nest for comfort. When the hawk flew, one of the squirrels in the area gave the "bird alert" distress call.

I have come to understand squirrels use one type of vocal sounds for a "bird alert" and a completely different sound for a "ground animal" alert. Needless to say, the squirrels dart for cover when the bird alert is sounded although the will often just sit and scold when a ground animal alert is given. They know a hawk can and will grab them right off a limb if they sit out in the open.

If you really spend time studying animal behavior you can learn a great deal about how they communicate and to a degree, how they "think" or perhaps more accurately how they react to stimuli. Squirrels make great alarms to let you know when something is coming and if you learn the differences in their alarm sounds, you will know whether to watch the ground or the air for the intruder.

And, as with Mr. Bill today, I am convinced deer spend quite a lot of time hidden at a safe distance just watching what hunters in the woods are doing. I'm certain deer don't spook and run off nearly as often as we expect them to do. A lot of the time, I believe they just quietly walk off making very little noise and just stop in a concealed spot until the hunter passes by.
 

FireCloud

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Nov 2, 2009
Messages
3,545
For Hunt 23 I headed to Stand 1 for a midday hunt getting there at 12:52 pm. Mija came with me and began hunting along the ditch along the east side of the plot. I did not wait long because at 1:07 pm I spotted a solo deer at the far east end of the shooting lane. At 100 yards I could not tell but it is probably Mr. Bill.

He wandered off to the north as the wind picked up so I settled in to wait on more deer.

Deer #2 walked out into the plot at 1:50 pm. Horns! A basket rack Buck came from the west entrance. Not a shooter but I took his photo a few times as he browsed within 15 yards of my stand.

Can't post the pic using my android and the web browser so I will add it later. Now I just need s shooter!

Took a break for some food! Backstrap steak, corn on the cob, sliced pears, bread, and a drink. Now I am ready to go back and finish the afternoon's hunt. Here is the photo of the four point buck that visited the food plot today.



At least things are better now. I am up to 17 deer having been sighted on my land so far during these 23 hunts. That's getting close to a one per hunt average. This makes the fourth buck with a rack I have seen. all different bucks. This cooler weather has put the bucks and all the deer on their feet and moving about during daylight. Ok, headed back to finish my hunt!
 

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FireCloud

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I usually don't get to hunt on Mondays due to work but I was able to get some time out the afternoon. I got in the stand for Hunt 24 at 4:36 pm, sat til dark, but saw absolutely nothing. It was a nice afternoon, but things were noisy with a lot of barking dogs for most of the hunt. However, the leaves have started to rain down off the trees today so the visibility in the woods should get much better soon!
 

FireCloud

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Nov 2, 2009
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3,545
Hunt 25 was delayed by work again as I did not arrive until 5:10 pm. Its warm with Light wind from the NW and lots of background noise. Mosquitoes are out in full force. I will be glad to see some cold weather.

I sat until the last final shooting light faded and then stood up to get out of the stand. When I did, a deer snorted twice at the edge of the food plot. Hunting was over for today so the deer got to watch me get out of the stand and leave, a process which took a few minutes.

I have a cap with LED lights built into the brim and had it on the high beam setting as I walked toward the foot bridge. When I got to the north edge of the shooting lane I saw two eyes gleaming in the dark on a small knoll over looking the south edge of the shooting lane. It had to be Mr. Bill, because he hangs out in this area and he did not run.

Instead he stayed put merely raising his had and following my movements as I stepped into the shooting lane, turned right, walked a short distance, then turned left to head across the foot bridge. As I crossed the bridge, I could still see his eyes glowing not 10 yards away.

How do I know it was deer eyes? Because I frequently see deer in my lights at night. In fact, when I went outside to call Mija inside last night just a little before 10 pm, Mr. Bill was in the #2 food plot eating. He raised his head and walked quickly back into the woods when he heard me call the cat. I call her in every night and use a spotlight to look for her. I have learned to tell the difference in how cat eyes look versus deer eyes or even the eyes of other critters.

Deer eyes will be waist high or higher if the deer is walking or running. They will also be large in size, as big or bigger than a human eye, and they will glow bright orange when spotlighted. Cat eyes reflect the color of the cat's eye, which in Mija's case is green. Cat eyes are much smaller, very close together, and will be low to the ground when they are moving. Cat eye's bounce if the cat is moving with speed. A deer's eyes don't bounce unless they are bounding off. If walking or trotting off, a deer's eyes will stay in a relatively straight line without bouncing up and down.

It only takes a little practice to learn how the eyes of most night critters look. A possum's eyes, for example, are small, beady looking, and orange. A raccoon's eyes are similar to a cat's but are larger and set further apart. Anyway, suffice it to say, the eyes I saw watching me walk across the footbridge and down the trail were those of a deer.

I continue to learn more and more about the habits of deer by observing animals like Mr. Bill. It's very interesting that the deer, feeling it is unseen and well hidden by its color and the darkness, was perfectly willing to allow me to walk by at a very close distance. The deer knows exactly where the trail is, what the footbridge is for (I have photos of deer walking across the foot bridge), and once it identified me, it was very content to simply let me pass down the trail.

Mija does the same thing. Once she has identified the stranger coming down the trail and believes she is not in danger, she will usually stay hidden off to the side of the trail and watch whomever or whatever passes by. Once they have gone on down the trail, she will then proceed with her own business. I am confident that as soon as Mr. Bill knew I was completely gone, then he likely went into the food plot to eat his dinner.

This makes it very hard to hunt deer when they know who you are and when they detect you in the stand. They will simply take a position where they can see what you do and wait until you leave. Deer quickly pattern humans by noting that they leave the woods after dark and don't return until the next morning. And they know that humans tend to be in the woods some or perhaps all day during hunting season.

Sound and scent carry well in the woods too so a deer can know you are within their territory even when you are two or three hundred yards away or further. Research has shown bucks can smell a doe in heat up to 1/4 mile away when the wind is right, which is 440 yards. Certain sounds can carry equally as far.

For example, I have three sets of dogs living along the east boundary of my land. One set of hunting hounds detects my footsteps crunching leaves and twigs when I walk on the trail from a distance of about 150 yards...through thick woods! The other two sets of dogs are located about 100 yards from my main stand. If I make any sort of unusual noise while in the stand, they will start barking. The stand is 10 foot off the ground on a hill so the sound easily reaches their ears. No human would ever even notice such small sounds, even if they heard them, but dogs and deer certainly can and do notice them.

So, Mr. Bill was likely the deer that snorted when I stood up merely because it surprised him. Normally I am gone from the stand a little earlier but I stayed later today simply because I was not in a hurry. He was probably coming toward the food plot when I stood up and likely heard the sound of my chair, my feet in the stand, or some other noise. When he did, he snorted then moved to a vantage spot on the hill overlooking the food plot where he could clearly see me leave the stand. It is interesting to note that Mija often waits near that same vantage spot to greet me when I am coming back down the trail at the end of the hunt and headed home. Animals have a keen sense of their terrain and know where the best spots are to stay hidden yet be able to observe what humans do.

To that extent, hunting with Mija really helps me find those vantage spots and know to look there for the deer. If you are leaving the woods after dark, do so quietly and shine your light to the side of the trail as you go. You might be very surprised to see deer eyes watching you pass by!
 

FireCloud

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Nov 2, 2009
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3,545
With the heavy rain and potential bad weather headed this way Thursday, I did not hunt this afternoon. Instead I took a few hours after work to rake the leaves out of about 1/2 of my main food plot and to rake 1/2 of Food Plot #2. Because Food Plot #1 is a woods plot surrounded by trees, there is a lot of leaves already on the ground. Raking exposes the underlying browse planted in the plot to more sunlight and makes it easier to see where there are thin spots that need supplemental planting.

The deer are hammering my food plots, mowing them down very short in most of the center sections. The only taller growth left is in out of the way spots around the edges and in drainage ditches. The plots are withstanding the browse pressure ok but the deer are slowly winning the battle as they eat faster than the plots can grow at this time of the year.

So after raking, I over seeded both plots with more of my seed mixture. I did not have time to do the entire plots before the rains but at least having half of each plot over seeded should help. The recent warm weather has the soil plenty warm and with the rains adding moisture, there should quickly be some new growth to help relieve the browse pressure from the deer on these two plots.

The weather forecasts winds to 40 mph and up to 2 inches of rain so that should drop a ton of acorns to the ground along with a lot more of the leaves on the trees. So, after the cool front passes, Friday should be a good day for the deer to be up and moving about.

With two days of me not hunting, the deer will hopefully be ready to revisit the food plots this weekend.

Once the raking was finished, the main food plot really is not all that bad. It still has enough food in it to attract the deer, although it is skimpy. We have not had much rain however for a couple of weeks so the growth has stalled.

Having seen eight different deer browse the plot last weekend, the main plot is having to handle a heavy load. It is only about 20 yards wide and 35 yards long so that many deer will eat a lot of food if they show up very often. If the deer pressure continues to be this heavy, i may add some rye grass over seeded in the plots to help fill up the deer's bellies. IN year's past while the browse pressure has been high, I have never seen this many different deer visiting the plot in such a short time interval as I did last weekend. I've worked to improve my deer habitat to attract deer and it is certainly paying off!

Once the rains soak the ground, I will be able to tell from the tracks how often the deer in are in the plot at night and other times when I am not there. If the rains put more acorns on the ground it should take some pressure off the two plots.

I need to get the other half of Plot #2 planted. I have to get it raked first and then seed it. My broken ankle stopped me from finishing my plot planting and I am just now able to walk well enough on it to resume my work.

I have a third small plot that I have not even started on yet. It has to be mowed down first and some brush in the plot needs to be burned. Then I will have to rake it too and get it planted. I also have some new areas near my house where I may throw out any left over seeds. When I get everything planted, there will be enough to take the pressure off the main plot. And, to get to the different plots it will cause the deer to move around.

Of course the best way to reduce the deer pressure is for me to put a few deer in my freezer! I'm hoping to do that this weekend. I'm eager to try out my new deer skinning rack which I built this summer.
 
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