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.