Time: 5pm to dark
Conditions – Partly cloudy light wind out of the north, Temps mid to low 60s
After the excitement of Thursday evening, my anticipation to get back in my stand on my property was running pretty high. I unfortunately had to go out of town Friday through midday Saturday, so my next hunt would have to wait until Saturday evening, which just so happened to also be a good wind. The evening progressed very slowly. A few squirrels barked in the trees behind me, a decent amount of doves and geese flew out in front of me in the main field, but the deer remained fairly quiet. Around 6:45pm, I caught movement at the far end of the back field right around where you would normally enter the back field. I pulled up the binoculars, but was only able to see the back end of a deer moving towards the main field. Fortunately, I have a trail camera sitting right there, so I was later able to determine that it was the browtine-less buck from Thursday evening. After the deer disappeared, I began glassing the cut corn field in the distance and spotted between 5 or 6 deer feeding. They were probably either bedding in the nearby bean fields or my fencerow woods. Pretty soon darkness fell and it was time to call it a night.
Trail camera picture of the buck that I caught a glimpse of tonight
On Sunday, I came back over to the property to assess the deer activity and try to see if I could possibly identify trails that I had not seen in the summer months. A check of the cameras revealed quite the influx of deer activity from the previous week, especially on Thursday morning. Over the course of Thursday, I caught 6 different legal bucks on camera in various locations of the property. The best buck was an 8 point that I assume was the buck I saw running with the 9 point on Thursday, although he definitely looked bigger in person. The camera revealed a 13-14” 8 point with good point length. I think I got the 9 point on camera 20 minutes before the 8 point came through, but all you can see is the body of a decent-sized deer.
Another picture of the browless buck, who is making himself right at home
Additional scouting revealed two trails that I was unaware of that came from the area that I have deemed to be the “off-limits” bedding area on the western end of the property. I set up one of the trail cameras at the junction with my mowed path and decided to see what the results of that would hold at the end of this week. Neither trail was in a spot that would allow me to set up a treestand with good vision of both trails and the mowed path. I followed both new trails to see where they ended up and each of them seemed to end up in either the western edge of the back field, where you can enter the back field, or popped out in my main field just out of sight from my current stand. With this new information, I decided to put up a new hang-on stand where the road from the front field enters the back field. This stand will allow me to catch anything heading into the main field and anything that funnels from the back field to the main field. The only bad thing about this stand is I will have to expose myself to the main field when walking to and from it. I feel like today brought up more questions than answers. Hopefully I can pinpoint things before the rest of the neighboring corn gets cut. I have a feeling once that happens I will need to be pretty precise with every stand setup to avoid spooking deer.
Time: 5pm – dark
Conditions : High 50s, 15mph westerly wind, partly cloudy
The months of preparation are now over and we can officially say that it is bow season again. Everyone has dreams of the big buck that showed up on their trail camera finding its way to their stand. The anticipation is at its peak and it is now time to put everything we’ve learned and practiced to use.
My opening morning was spent running a 5k that I had committed to before knowing the date it would be held, but the weather was pretty poor so that helped with not being able to be in a stand this morning.
My evening was spent hunting my top hang-on stand overlooking an oak flat and natural funnel. It didn’t take very long to see my first deer. At 5pm, just as I climbed into my stand, I spotted movement about 50 yards to my right. Sure enough it was two does working their way down the hill. I had to wait until they stepped behind a tree just to pull my bow up. They didn’t hang around long and eventually moved out of sight, which allowed me to be able to finish setting myself up for the remainder of the evening.
The view for the first evening
Just as the light was beginning to fade I caught movement in the brush up the hill from me. It didn’t take long to realize that it was a shooter buck. I grabbed my bow, nocked my release and got ready. He worked directly towards me then started veering to my right. Just as he got behind a tree I pulled back and got ready for his next move. He continued moving to my right until he came to a small birch tree and began rubbing his antlers. Through my peep sight, I could see a opening to his vitals so I decided this would be my chance. I released my arrow and was surprised to see sparks and a slowly trotting buck. I then realized there was a small birch tree that I missed seeing in my peep sight that I had clearly just smacked. The buck looked around and continued walking down the hill. I quickly scrambled to grab another arrow but the one I grabbed the blades had come open so I had to grab another. Just as I nocked the arrow he looked up and spotted me. All I remember is his extremely wide rack facing me and just like that he was gone. At that moment I had never felt more frustration in a deer stand. Chances are if I had left him keep walking he would have eventually walked into one of my cleared shooting lanes. Severely frustrated I had to sit down for a few minutes to collect my thoughts before climbing down. Once I finally got down I collected my shattered arrow and analyzed the shot a bit before calling it a day.
It has taken a few days to get over it enough to be able to write about it, but I can now brush it off and get back my concentration and confidence. There is a long season ahead and hopefully I didn’t blow my only chance at a good buck.
October 29, 2013
Weather: Clear skies, temperatures in the mid 30s
Wind: Light and variable
Time: Dawn – 9:15am
With the heavy winds finally died down and temperatures still on the cool side, I knew that I had to get out in the woods this morning. I set up in the same stand that I hunted on Day 5, which will most likely be my go-to rut spot. The morning started off rather slowly with squirrels running in every direction and a loud murder of crows behind me. Around 8:30am I heard a branch snap behind me. I turned around to see a lone hen turkey working her way across the flat. She seemed to be looking for something as she was chattering the whole way.
At about 8:45, I figured I would not be seeing any deer for today. I was texting a friend to see how his morning hunt was going, when I spotted movement across the trail from me. I could see a decent body size on the deer, so I threw up the binoculars and spotted two more deer behind her. A doe and two button bucks. As they were feeding, I continued to scan the hollow below me for movement, when I realized that there was another deer standing over there as well. I brought up the binoculars again and spotted a decent rack. It looked to be a 12-13″ 7 point with a fairly thick rack. While watching him in the binoculars to judge whether or not I would consider a shot if he came over another deer crossed in front of him. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the buck that missed two Fridays ago. He walks past the smaller buck, lowers his head at him, drops his ears and takes two steps towards him. The smaller buck immediately backed up, wanting nothing to do with the bigger buck. The big buck then straightened up and turned up the hill. No sooner did he go out of sight did the 7 point start chasing the doe. As soon as they started running, the button bucks took off. The one walked in front of me and stood about 20 yards away. The buck and doe disappeared down over the hill and the woods went silent for a minute or two. The button bucks continued to feed as I once again caught movement on the flat. I spotted through the binoculars the 7 point had come back from the chase and was now munching on acorns. I then spotted the doe about 50 yards up over the hill feeding under an oak tree as well.
While watching to see what the deer would do, I heard a branch snap down over the hill. The button buck in front of me took off running across the road, meeting up with the other button buck before running off to the hollow on the other side of the flat. I scanned the hill below me for movement when I spotted a large bodied deer moving through the saplings. It was another good buck. It looked to be an 8 point with a spread of about 15-16″. A shooter in my book, but as he worked his way up the hill, he also worked away from me, before finally walking out of sight. It was now 9am and the woods were once again quiet. I sat in the tree for another 15 minutes before deciding to call it a day. After all of the action on the other side of the road, I think it is safe to say that I will be hunting over there tomorrow morning.
October 30, 2013
Weather: Cloudy with temperatures in the mid-upper 40s
Wind: Light and mostly out of the East/Northeast
Time Dawn – 9:30am
After yesterday’s action, I moved across the ATV trail and set up in my opening morning spot. On the walk in I jumped a deer along the road. It ran a few yards and then just starred at me as I continued down the trail. As I was climbing my tree, I could hear walking. I turn around and here comes the same deer down the ATV trail. Thinking nothing of it, I continued up the tree with my climbing treestand. Not much longer, I hear the walking again. I turned around and deer is heading right for me on the exact path that I had just walked. I was maybe 12 feet off the ground and I knew it was only a doe, so I continued up the tree and figured if I spook it, it’s not a big deal. Plus, I figured it was probably a fawn with how curious it was acting. I am moving up the tree when I realize that the walking is eerily close. I look down and the deer is at the base of the tree sniffing my bow. It then walks down the hill a little and looks up at me. I was almost done with my climb at this point, but was still adjusting the positioning and the deer was completely unfazed by me. What really surprised me now that it was up close and I could fully see it in my headlamp, it was a definite adult doe. As I continued to get ready for the morning, she worked her way out the flat eating acorns before she finally disappeared before daylight. Definitely one of the stranger pre-light encounters I’ve ever experienced.
Once it got light out, it was a slow morning. The dozens of squirrels that populate the area sounded like elephants as they ran around the flat gathering acorns. Three hen turkeys passed through out of range around 8:30, but other than that it was a quiet morning. The deer never showed up. I climbed down around 9:15am and spent the last 15 minutes opening a few new spotting lanes in preparation for the days ahead. While yesterday made it feel like we were very close to the rut, today made it seem like we are no where close to the rut. With plans to hunt every day for the remainder of the season starting on November 2nd, the best is yet to come and this should be my last double post.
After just over a year of not posting, it is time to get back to writing about my outdoor experiences. With just two weeks until the PA Archery Opener, the majority of the upcoming posts over the next three months will be related to deer hunting. I used to keep a very detailed journal of all of my archery hunts, but as with many things, I got away from it. So for the 2013 season, I will be posting each adventure into the PA woods right here. With the help of my camera, recently purchased GoPro, and video camera, I hope to take you, the reader, along for the ride.
In addition to deer hunting, I will also be posting about my maple syrup making, wild trout fishing expeditions, and everything else in between.
I’m a full time certified public accountant/manager at an accounting firm in Central PA with a passion for the outdoors. Whether it be pursuing a big buck with archery equipment, paddling in my kayak while fishing for largemouth bass, exploring small mountain streams for wild trout, searching the woods for wild edibles, or maintaining a vegetable garden, I will take every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. This passion for the outdoors combined with a love to constantly talk about the outdoors has led me to a part time career in outdoor writing and photography, which began in 2005, while still in college. Currently, my writing and photography can be regularly found in the Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine and the Pennsylvania Outdoor News with plans to venture into additional publications in the near future. My involvement in writing has led me to become a voting member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.
Now that you know a little bit about me, enjoy the blog.