Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Days of the Rut

November 10, 2007

The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy. I had to travel for business and spent also spent 5 days hunting in New York State.. So I have neglected my journal but also had some great experiences. It all started one cold morning a few weeks back……

I already made up my mind to sit the thicket stand. The most difficult thing about this stand is the approach. There is no way to get to the stand without crossing a deer trail. I try my best and walk through briars and jump across one trail about 15 yards from the stand. Once in the stand, I am pretty well concealed… The morning started like the ones before, except with high hopes that some bucks would still be on the move looking for does... Shortly after first light, there is movement coming from the oaks. I have broken views through the brush but can see a set of antlers...He took a trail that was going to pass my stand at 10 yards. When I saw his leg step from behind a briar patch, I came to full draw. He emerged and I was looking at nice 6 pt. He had a high rack with about a 12 inch spread. A beautiful deer but I know there is much bigger in my area. I was about to let down when he caught my scent. The wind shifted and he was now directly down wind. He came to full attention, held his nose strait in the air and using all his senses to find the danger. He looked right at me, did the head bob and slowly back tracked while keeping an eye on my tree, not knowing exactly what was wrong...

There were plenty of deer moving around the thicket all morning including a few small spikes and a 4 pt...But Mr. Big still hasn’t made an appearance...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The "Thicket" Stand

Nov. 3, 2007

This was the day I was to kill Mr. Big..The plan was simple; sit all day in a stand that would take advantage of the rut activity. I had the perfect stand, the “thicket” stand, sitting on the edge a bedding area and at the intersection of two heavily used trails. The stand wasn’t used yet this season, I was saving it for the perfect conditions and today was that day..Except I had a problem, I called the landowner the day before and told him I would be hunting the farm and as always, asked if he needed any help. He said he could use assistance in moving a generator at 9:30..I asked if we could do it later in the morning and he said it was the only time that worked..I told him I would see him at 9:30..Now I had a dilemma, I would be leaving my stand at the Prime Time and needed to keep scent to a minimum which meant I needed to change my plan…The weather forecast was calling for possibility of early rain with high winds. Only two of my stands were set up for a NE wind, the thicket stand and my oak stand… Morning light came late with the high overcast sky..The weatherman was partially correct, it was windy but no rain.. I was sitting in the oaks again and was surprised that the canopy was still full. The oaks were holding their leaves late this year and they just started to change color. There was still enough cover to feel comfortable but the acorns were gone and the deer activity has dropped drastically from early season…Just before first light I heard loud snorts about 200 yards downwind from high on a neighboring hardwood ridge…The day started out slow and it was an hour before I saw my first deer, a spike buck moved through the oaks never stopping to feed. The entire morning I was hearing snorts from the ridge. I assumed, the deer were getting a noseful of my scent or there was another hunter in the area…I kept looking at my watch..When I had a half hour left in my morning hunt, I was disappointed in the lack of deer movement and figured the wind affected my hunt..That is when I saw movement on the far side of the gully..It was a small herd of does, about 6 in all and they trotted to within 30 yards and kept looking towards the ridge..I expected a buck to come into few but he never did..They continued to feed when I look down and it is time for me to leave but I didn’t want to give up my location so I stayed put until they finally walked off..I made double time out of the woods and was back at my truck putting my bow away when I see a big buck enter the top of the field..He had a wide rack with 5 pts on one side and just a main beam on the other. If he was a typical 10, he would score in the 130s..A shooter in my book..I tried to take a picture, but discovered my camera lense was broken..I watched him enter the woods going in the direction of the “thicket” stand….I helped the landowner and an hour later was back at the truck..There was another hunter parked next to me and he was leaving when I returned..He said he was hunting the neighboring ridge and had a nice 8 pt within range but couldn’t pull off a shot..He also had deer snorting at him all morning..As we were talking, another buck enters the top of the field, this time a shooter 8 pt..He started across, saw us and returned towards the marsh…We finished our goodbyes and I headed back in the woods and towards the “thicket” stand..While walking towards the stand, I kicked up a racked buck that didn’t want to run off and I saw why..He had a doe in the bushes along a creek..I continued and was in my favorite stand for the first time this season...I didn’t have to wait long before a doe with 2 yearlings fed through and looked like they were going to bed under my stand when a spike came in and ran them off…Not too long afterwards two button bucks fed on acorns that fell in the thick briars, about 20 yards away they decide to bed down. They bedded within clear view for 2 ½ hours and I was stuck standing at attention with my bow in hand..It got very painful trying make believe I was a tree for that long but finally they got up and left..Over the next few hours, I watched over a dozen deer walk by including a nice little 6 pt that will be a shooter next season.. A doe was entering my thicket when I saw antlers in the distance..A big 6 pt was following her..He had a wide, high rack with lots of mass..There is some weird genetics in the area that produce these big Y bucks..I was preparing for the shot and he was 2 steps away from a clear 25 yard shot when the buck jumps off the trail into a thick briar patch. I tried calling him in my direction with grunts and the Can but he saw another doe and took off after her and out of my life… I continued calling all day and had a solid response just before dark when a deer came in from downwind but must have caught my scent because he took off before he entered the thicket….There were deer around me most of the day and I saw over 2 dozen including 9 bucks and 3 shooters..A great, exciting day in the woods but I feel like my best opportunities may have passed..I have one more bowhunt before I leave for the Catskills and my annual rifle hunt..

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Chase is On..

Oct. 27, 2007

The alarm clock went off at 4:30 am, I lifted my head off the pillow, heard the rain pounding on the roof and overflowing the gutters and went right back to sleep. The rain stopped in mid afternoon and the sun starting peeking through the clouds. I already made the decision to hunt that afternoon with hopes of increased deer activity after two days of rain and the pre rut chases starting..As I was getting ready, I look out my window and see a 6 pt buck going off on a small tree and then start chasing an unwilling doe up the ridge behind the house..As I climb into my truck for the drive to the farm, I see him 150 yards up the hill right under one of my stands…

The deer were taking full advantage of the change of weather and were on the move. I saw dozens on my short trip to my hunting area. ..I wanted to hunt my stand in the thicket but the wind was all wrong. My other options weren’t any better, the river stand was getting flooded out, my stand in the marsh also had wind problems and it was too late for a climber. So it was back to the oaks. This would probably be the last hunt from this stand, with the leaves down and the canopy open the deer tend to move around the oak flat instead of through it and I feel too exposed. I still had high hopes, with deer on the move and the last of the acorns blown of the trees, there should be some action..

I was 10 yards from my stand when I kicked up a small buck that was bedded in the thicket behind my stand. I quickly got up the tree and a few minutes later see some movement from a far side of the thicket. I tried grunting and the Can, but the deer kept moving away towards the marsh….I quickly settled in for the afternoon hunt and it wasn’t long before I see movement to my left..A button buck came trotting up the trail behind my stand, the same one I just hiked up..He stopped near my tree, munched a few acorns and moved off into the thicket, following the first deer into the marsh..

The next hour, nothing moved..Then I hear that snap of a twig behind my tree, and my heart is suddenly in my stomach as I am slooowwwly try and distort my body for a better view. I can see the brown of a deer and what seemed like forever, he came into view..Another button buck..But I see another deer following him..Could this one be my shooter..No another button buck…Then they do what I absolutely didn’t want them to do..They fed under my tree for the next 15 minutes. At one point, I had the two directly under me less than 3 yards from the tree. I wanted to shoo them away, I have been bit too many times by small bucks as Mr. Big comes in range…Once I had a huge Wall Twp 12 pt buck 15 yards from my stand only to get caught by a spike that didn’t like the look of the Huge squirrel and walked right to my tree and sniffed my step and snorted soo loud I almost fell out of the tree..Never saw that buck again…A few years ago I had a small rack buck catch movement as I was trying to get off a shot at a nice 10 pt, again a loud snort..Too many of those stories in my hunting career, I didn’t want these two around when Mr. Big showed up and that what was going through my head when a doe entered the oaks..Luckily she moved on and the small bucks followed her..

A few minutes later I hear something running and I see a doe at full speed coming from the gully in my direction..I can see a deer behind her..She climbs out of the gully and enters the oaks 20 yards from my stand and stops..Her tongue is hanging out of her mouth and she is panting hard…I am preparing for Mr. Big to come out of the gully right behind her..Instead I get a decent 8 pt, but he decides to flank her and he enters the oaks 50 yards away..As soon as she sees him, she starts running again and she ran right under my tree..He continued trying to cut her off and didn’t even look back as I tried grunting and the Can..They ran through the thicket towards my stand that I originally wanted to use today….I continued calling but didn’t attract anything but an angry tree rat…I saw a few more deer moving through the thicket but nothing in range…as I was walking out of the woods just after last light, I kicked up a dozen deer in a small grove of oaks and another 5 does were feeding on the field edge 15 yards from my truck..

The chase is on..Its time to hit the woods…My next hunt will be next Sat and I will try and do an all day sit in hopes of seeing a horny Monster..