About me

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nearly 70 degrees in December and I have a day off from the office.  The kids will be in school until 3pm, what to do…… sit in the house, watch television?!?!?!  Nope, I’ve had buck fever since last night.   Today will probably my last time to hunt for more than say 2-3 hours at a clip.  In reality, I MIGHT get out maybe once or twice more during the Christmas break (weather permitting) and that will be it for the 2012 deer season.  Within an hour I was standing in the woods trying to decide where to hunt.  My usual spot would be the easiest to access, but I decided not to go there.  My instincts told me to take my climber and hunt a different location.  From my usual stand, I passed on many does and spikes for a mature buck.  The location was good but, I believe we are now late or early post-rut and the patterns have changed. 

I noticed that the does always came from the west, but one mature buck (and maybe a second) always came from the east.  I have long suspected they entered the corridor via a funnel bordered by a high ridge on one side, water on the other and scrub pines in the ravine.  I was certain they bedded there as well, because the wind is almost always perfect and renders the area almost unapproachable.  It was near perfect.   There is a catch; I noticed a strong cross wind.  If you were able to get close to the water on and about 50 yards from to entrance, the cross wind is consistent enough to carry your scent away from the funnel and out to the water.  So I got set up in a tree at the edge of the funnel above the cross wind and about 25 feet up to maximize the cross current scent cover.  Should those does return and approach from behind, I am good. 

About 5 minutes after I settled in, two nice mature does appeared like ghost at the entrance of the ravine where I expected the buck. I waited hoping for either the buck or a younger smaller doe (better eating) to follow them out into the clearing.  They were feeding beneath a tree I ranged at 45 yards.  I watched them for about 20-25 minutes and learned a lot about deer behavior and how sounds affect their behavior and level of alertness (the sounds of cars, horns, sirens, dogs, people talking even doors opening and closing carry much farther than I thought).  After getting caught up in observing the does, two things came to mind: this is a really good spot, they have been inside of 50 yards for almost 30 minutes and have yet to see, hear or wind me; secondly, his may be my last or one of my last outings for the season and I have not punched a single tag!!!! 

So I decided to take one of these does as it appeared there was nothing behind them.  I reached down (love the Lone Wolf platform’s bow/gun mount), grabbed my bow, flipped the seat up and slowly rose into position to stand for the shot.  The larger doe moved into a shooting lane and stood in front of a tree 30 yards out.  She looked down; I drew the bow, held the pin just behind her shoulder and let it go.  I saw the arrow nock light up and disappear.  She jumped, spun around and both does ran off together.  I watched them run side by side for about 75-100 yards then I only saw one tail waving over the hill.  From my stand, I could see the arrow nock.  It was still illuminated and I knew from the positioning it was a hit.

I waited about 15 minutes packed up my stand; threw it on to my back and headed over to the arrow.  Covered in pink slightly foamed blood and missing a vane.  Good and bad………. Good: probably a solid lung hit, she will fall inside 100 yards or so.  Bad: lung shots don’t provide much of a blood trail and worse, it is starting to drizzle.  I searched no blood, but I could see a trail of disturbed leaves in the direction they ran.  Not 100% sure she was down I backed out went home, ate left over pizza, answered email from the office and about 3 hours later grabbed my secret weapon…….. Jake, our trusty German short haired. 

No, not a trained hunting dog, but he points and tracks rabbits and anything else all over the yard.  Last month, he chased deer into the woods and was lost for about 4 hours.  I took him to the arrow; he sniffed it and on queue took off dragging me up the hill.  Without coaxing he was going exactly where the deer ran!!! I was excited but trying to keep from getting dragged on my face by a near 70 pound dog in full trot.  We went over the hill and I felt we were way past where I thought she was but I let him run.  He stopped and started back and forth until he got a scent and dragged me within 10 yards of her!!!  It finally hit me, he followed the scent of the first deer over the hill where I saw her, then doubled back to the down deer that was now dropping a little blood. He tracked her perfectly, they ran together and she doubled back to lie down… Jake did it!
Great fun on a last minute hunt. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My EDC............. not what you think

Every Day Carry or "EDC".  For the unfamiliar, here is a youtube link to a typical EDC video by a well known poster. EDC uploads are extremely popular.  Why, I don't really know.  However, I can assure you that every hour or so it seems someone is uploading a new one.  So, i'm going to have some fun and post my "EDC" . This one is different.  No “Bug Out Bags”, Urban Survival Gear or Conceal Carry details.  My EDC evolves and refers to what I carry from season to season in order to take advantage of the 30 minutes here or an hour there I can squeeze in between commutes to lay a line or throw a lure.  My current summer/spring EDC is geared towards small streams, rivers and office park or municpal pond fishing.  It has taken years to refine my "EDC", but I think I have an efficient flyfishing set up and the ultimate urban (suburban) conventional gear set up.  So let’s go.
First off, fly fishing is my favorite way to enjoy the water. Typically, I keep a chest pack with what I consider a bantam batch of essential flies to cover all water and weather conditions:
As you can see, I favor streamers, buggers and terrestrials.  Poppers are fun to fish but streamers and terrestrials more efficient in smaller rivers and ponds.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be learning to tie my own.   For my conventional pack I generally keep a few 3/16-1/4 oz crankbaits running 1-3’.  The rebel wee-craw is a go to even at 1/8 oz.  In fact I caught my best bass ever, a 20.5” smallmouth on one!  The little micro hook locked in the corner and held.  Next up would be an assortment of senko worms and grubs.  Great thing about senko soft baits is that they have enough weight to cast unweighted in shallow water for a nice slow action.  The last thing to fill it out would be 1/8 safety pin spinnerbaits with chrome single Colorado blades (Strike King). 
For my hardware, I use an 8’ Cabalas Cahill 5wt 4 piece rod and reel.  A good moderate-fast action will load in the top 1/3rd of the blank allowing it to handle large wind resistant flies; present accurate short-med casts and more importantly it will take a beating and hold together.  In contrast most high-end fast action rods tend to be rather brittle.  To be honest, the best rod for this purpose is probably a 6 wt with a fighting butt.  Often referred to as a “salt water 6-weight”.  I’ll be upgrading soon.  In my opinion a 6 wt makes sport of small bream but will throw larger streamers and bugs for bass. 

For my conventional rod I really like a 2-piece 6’ medium-light St. Croix Premier casting rod.  I used to have a Shimano 100B reel.  Great set up allowed me to throw tubes as light as 1/8 oz accurately without bird’s nests.   This reel lasted over 10 years but recently I actually “upgraded to” a Shimano Cardiff 100. Another great reel, I found one new and unused on eBay.  These two reels are the best (IMHO) for small stream bassin. 
The conventional setup generally gets the nod when I have less than an hour on the water.  Honorable mention goes to my spinning set up. A St. Croix reel on a 2-piece 6’6” med action rod.

Rounding out the EDC are a set of waders/belt, mesh carry bag, flash light, utility tool (Gerber Suspension), wading boots, phone and a hat.
The pay off........... a little trophy like this small bass (6 of 2012).  He's under a foot, but I caught him in a small stream you could step accross most days. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Talk about a bad day....

Think you are having a tough day?  Earlier today during lunch, I passed a guy spreading caulk between plates in the sidewalk. When I returned,  I found this little ground skink in it!

He was not there half an hour ago.  I tried to free him but this stuff sticks to everything!  He probably died from exhaustion or perhaps was asphyxiated in the goo.  Just a reminder, no matter how tough things seem......... someone has it tougher.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Rainy Day on the Neuse River

Earlier this evening, I noticed the rain tapering off and immediately a thought came to mind: A rainy day means no swimmers, dogs, kayakers...... a great time to fish.  It's only 3pm I can get in a couple hours.  So I hit the Neuse and this wonderful sight (an almost empty lot)  greeted me.

A short walk to the landing and sure enough, no boats, no dogs, no swimmers and believe it or not clear water!  Nothing against swimmers and boaters, they have every right to the water and I like dogs (except when they try to retrieve my lures/flies), but it's nice to have quiet water. 

I gladly went back to the truck, grabbed the 5-weight and got to work.  I fished up and down the main channel using an olive beadhead bugger, a black leech pattern, and finished with a chartreuse and white clouser.  Nothing.  I only planned on spending a couple of hours on the water, but just before heading back to the truck I saw a feeder stream that I could not resist.  I decided to tie on a small brown and tan clouser and work the mouth of this feeder stream before heading out.

Bang, hit!  Landed this nice bream (number 4 of 2012)

A few misses and I got number 5...........

As usual the fishing heats up as the clock winds down.  A quick in and out before dinner, but a wonderful way to finish off a late rainy Sunday.

When the Dogwoods Bloom.......................

When the Dogwoods Bloom the Bass will boom.   That was an old saying I heard when I was young.  It generally referred to pre- spawn largemouth bass on a post-winter feeding binge and white bass gathering for their travel up stream.  Last week I had an opportunity to return to the Eno with Kev2380 to flyfish for white bass.  Well the turkey hunters were out (opening weekend), the dog woods were in bloom:

These fellas came over to greet me as I left the parking lot:

The parking lot began to fill:

All signs the white bass run was on, but there wasn’t a white bass to be found.  Much like the dogwoods (this one just started to bloom……. A month after the former!)

the unusually warm March followed by a seasonably cooler April have thrown a lot of migrating species slightly off their traditional patterns.  On the plus side, a few bream and robins made the trip worth it……. The skunk is no more.

The Eno River runs through Orange and Durham Counties in central North Carolina.  My blog is named in honor of the Lower James River which holds a special place in my heart.  My home.  However, the Eno is a small unspoiled (for an urban) river loaded with the largest, most colorful and gorgeous robins (redbreast sunfish) and bream (all other sunfish) you’ll find anywhere.  There is another small gem hidden in this stream as well.  The roanoke bass.  Unless you live in a warm water river drainage of high water quality and no smallmouth bass in the piedmont region of central/southern Virginia or central/northern North Carolina, you’ve probably never seen or heard of it.  Just imagine a rock bass, slightly deeper with a red eye.  Next up......... perhaps a trip to the Neuse  River.  (Note: I was beaten to the punch on Roanoke Bass...... Nice post).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Almost one year ago (April 12, 2011), I initiated this blog with a post about a wily turkey that eluded us for an entire season (The Screamer).   That old Tom had me and my two sons obsessed with turkey hunting.  Addicted!  We were up and ready to hit the woods every Saturday morning!  The only things that kept us away from the woods were a tornado and…….. well that’s about it!  We were off to a hot start, turkey hunting every weekend we could.  Not much fishing, but enough success to feel like I accomplished something.  I did catch my largest cat fish ever!  I was ready for what I expected to be a fun and successful deer season.  Lots of prepping, scouting and practicing.  Some pretty in-depth posts about bow hunting public land  and selecting the right tree-stand for the hunt.  Of course work and life forced a little hiatus and I literally only got to hunt or fish about half as often as I expected.  That’s the life of a Dad.  Not that I’m complaining.  The fish and game will likely be there for as long as I’m able to follow them, but little league football, dance recitals, science fairs, Daddy Daughter dances and family bike rides are fleeting.  My two little hunting buddies are bound to grow up and move on.  They may return, but for now I’ll enjoy the time we have.
Please follow and enjoy as I attempt to make year two more entertaining and informative than year one!  In addition to posts about fishing, deer and turkey hunting, I will expand my topics to include some new things I’ll be exploring in 2012:
·         Gardening (flower and veggie gardens)
·         My first attempt at fly tying
·         Creating a sportsman “EDC” not the urban survival type…… 
·         Reviews of equipment (some old, some new ) for the field and the water.

Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank all those whom followed my rookie season of blogging.    I’ve received a number of emails from friends, family, people surfing through and followers.  To you, I say thanks.  The notes were encouraging and I will post much more regularly in 2012.   Kev2380 thanks for asking about me last weekend (I’ll post a short review of our Eno river fly fishing trip shortly).  River Mud, thanks for listing me as a blog to follow in the River Mud blog!!!!  I got a huge spike in views after your listing and hopefully I’ll keep them coming back and perhaps even following! 
About 16 posts +/- a few last year.  I expected to make about 24 or more.  This year looks a bit more promising.   While I missed the turkey opening, I will probably get after the screamer in about 2 weeks.  No… I am not worried about someone else getting him.  Judging by the number of folks hunting the archery zones and actually bagging a bird using archery gear………. He’ll be there.  Before I end this post, I am going to set some 2012 challenges and I’m posting them here so I can’t back out…. 
1.       Harvest three archery deer (any sex).  Two for the food kitchens to help feed the hungry (donation via Hunters feeding the Hungry) and one for the grill!!!!!!!
2.       Harvest one turkey using archery gear
3.       Catch, photograph and release a “Neuse River Slam” on the fly: largemouth, striper, and catfish.
4.       Catch and photograph an Eno River roanoke bass on the fly
5.       Bonus: Harvest an archery feral hog.

Spring is here, a season of re-birth and renewal for the outdoorsman.  Time to get started on 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A wrap up of the 2011 Deer Season

I intiated this post November 2, 2011... edited it December 29, 2011 and didn't remember to review and release it until well....... now (January 16, 2012).  What can I say? Life happens and sometimes a lack of time for hobbies or play is an indication of great things to come and memories in the making. 
Football, school, work and (gasp) social invitiations significantly limited my opportunities.  The biggest factor being little league football (Pop Warner).  My Wife has had enough of football and she has never been one for hunting or fishing. She was not exactly thrilled by prospects of bowl games, big plays, road trips, last minute victories and..... a trip to the playoffs.  So let's take a moment to blog out a quick review of the 2011 deer season before we move on to the 2012 fishing season. 
  • Hunt 1: The season 2011 deer season started September 8, 2011.  Our first hunt didn't take place until mid-October.  The temperature was above normal in the mid 70's.  The warm temperatures meant food was abundant and as a result, the deer were scattered about, well into pre-rut patterns and  pretty much nocturnal.  So the boys and I hunted from a pop-up ground blind.  A shoot through blind is great for this type of hunting because: it holds in odors; is very mobile; and most importantly it is really the only way to hunt with two restless boys.  We set up about 4 yards off a 20 yard cutover with lots of natural cover, acorns, tracks and other signs of heavy traffic.  I took some "doe pee" and began covering our scent trail in and the perimeter around the blind.  About 15 yards from the blind in a hardwood stand I look up and there are 3 does looking at me!  I stare at them, they stare at me.  After what seemed like an hour (a few seconds), I blink, they snort and wave goodbye.  End of the day.........
  • Hunt 2: Started pretty much the same, but I did not go on a long walk to cover our scent this time!  I just cleaned up our scent around the blind (quickly and queitly) and hunkered down expecting the does to come back up the trail.  About an hour into the hunt, I looked out of the window and what did I see coming in? A coyote!!!! I got around to a stable position and tried to draw my bow when I realized that I had my release strapped on backwards. We had a really good wind and he was no more than 10 yards out when he heard me fumbling with the strap and/or the boys moving in for a better vantage point to watch.  Did he run?  No, he actually circled us about 10 yards out then drifted 15 yards and stopped to look back at us. I shuffled again to turn his way, drew back and he jumped behind a log and slowly walked away. We must have done a great job of playing the wind.  He went about 20 yards further and started digging at something under a tree. I think he heard us again, moved to try to wind us, didn't get a good bead on us, but was nervous enough to move on. They are smart! He just seemed to keep outside of my shooting lanes.  Of course about 5 minutes later in that general direction, I saw the does we were waiting on take off tails flashing. If the coyote couldn't wind us from 10-15 yards, I don't think the does got us from about 40-50 yards. I suspect they either ran up on the coyote digging or got his scent and ran off.
  •  Hunt 3: The third hunt was an evening hunt from a treestand (~2 hours) which I actually tried to blog live.  The most exciting part about it was that it took place on Christmas Eve a few hours before church.  This time I hunted a nice parcel behind my home.  As as soon as I sat in the stand, I heard dogs barking in the background.  and shortly after I saw about 4 does high tailing it across a ridge.  I never saw what was chasing them, but I didn't see any dogs or hunters either.
    •  Hunt 4:  The fourth was a last ditch effort to avert a 2011-2012 skunk!  The boys and I grabbed the groundblind and headed out to a known travel corridor for some does.  This hunt occurred on the very last day of the season, during the last two hours of shooting light. Our last chance.  We waited, desperately watching the tree line for any hint of deer or movement.  Suddenly, in the very last minute of light, there appeared a head bobbing.  It just appeared like a ghost. I could see a really nice mature doe, but she was quartering hard towards us and about 10 yards out, from the corner of the blind.  A really bad bow shot.  I needed two steps .  Just then, a light wind, I heard a short.  BUSTED! Suddenly, it seemed the woods came alive around us!! Deer were everywhere!  Their camo is perfect!  Never saw them.  My boys were adrenaline junkies at this point!  We didn't get one this year, but the final hunt was exciting enough to bring us back. 
The 2011 deer season is over............. 4 months until we hunt the screamer again!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Time to practice!