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.
Bow season is almost upon us and the preparation for this season began the day after my buck hit the ground last season. I spent the whole day trying to figure out buck movements during the rut in areas that do not normally hunt. I ended up seeing nine different bucks, all but two of which were legal. This got the motor turning in figuring out what areas to focus on the rest of the fall and winter. I went back and checked the different trails about a half dozen times while out collecting maple sap and there were two spots that impressed me more and more each time out. In early spring, before the leaves showed up I found a few treestand worthy spots.
Around the same time, I had the opportunity to purchase a small chunk of woods and field in among thousands of acres of surrounding farm fields. I could not pass on the opportunity and on my second walk around the property I found out just how many deer frequent the small woodlot. After a little scouting and online research, I figured out that I had the only woods with a one-mile radius that were at least 50 yards wide. After talking with some of the neighboring landowners, I found out that once the fields get cut the deer use my property as their home base and there are normally anywhere between 8 and 20 deer in my field each evening. Once I closed on the property, I did a more in-depth scouting trip in the approximately seven-acre woodlot. I found multiple highway-esque trails, rubs, and even a shed from a decent two year old buck. Since then I have been monitoring the deer activity regularly. The deer were there most days while I planted fruit trees and corn, but as the neighboring corn fields grew, the amount of deer sightings decreased fairly quickly. I took that as an opportunity to carve out some new trails that all filtered right to a spot that I planned to put a treestand.
The layout of the new property
The winter deer sign
Starting in June, I ran two trail cameras in various locations throughout the property. The pictures showed a few resident deer that were calling my property home, along with the occasional visiting buck. In early-July, I hung a treestand that overlooks the back field along with a few heavy trails that are guided by an old cattle fence inside of the woods.
The best buck on the new property so far.
Once I felt comfortable with my strategies for my new property, I turned my focus to preparing the other area that I hunt. I took one walk to the various spots that I scouted in the fall and spring and identified the trees that would be the best for hanging my stands and what limbs would need to be trimmed.
In late-August, I hung my stands, trimmed my lanes and hung three cameras. I’ve decided to take a very light approach to scouting this year in an effort to reduce my scent in the areas. I waited until last week to finally check my cameras and was pleasantly surprised to find multiple shooter bucks and a curious bear in the area. One of the stands, I have not seen since the day that I hung it and should easily be my most productive stand. The spot features a large oak flat, where I’ve taken early season bucks in the past, and natural funnel that a large amount of does tend to use, which will eventually turn this into a gold-mine once the rut kicks in. This is the same general location that I harvested my 136” 8 point in 2009. So to say that I am pumped about this spot would be an understatement. However, the trail camera pictures from the spot that I harvested my buck from last year has me a little torn.
A couple of decent bucks and a bear:
I have also been pleasantly surprised to see deer activity starting to increase on my property as the area corn fields are cut. There are still a lot of fields left to be cut, so I expect the deer activity on my property to only increase as the season goes on.
It should be another exciting year of bowhunting as I take you along with me on the upcoming journeys. Good luck to everyone heading out!
@theoutdoorcpa on Twitter and Instagram for in-hunt pictures and posts.
October 24, 2013
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Temperatures in the mid-upper 30s
Wind: 10-15 mph out of the west
Time: Dawn – 9:30am
I opted for a quick hunt this morning considering I had been hearing about a lot of good deer movement from friends. I set up directly across the road from my opening morning spot in one of my hang-on stands. The wind was blowing hard from the start and the deer stayed low. Even the amount of squirrel activity on the flat was nearly void.
October 25, 2013
Weather: Mostly Sunny with temperatures in the low 50s
Wind: 10-15mph swirling between West and South.
Time: 4pm – Dark
This evening I decided to attempt to slip into my day 2 spot for a chance at hunting close to a bedding area. With the heavy winds, I knew that I could probably slip into the stand undetected. On the walk in, I decided to check my lone trail camera, which is at the day 3 stand. Low and behold I had four different pictures of the buck I ALMOST had last year. Oddly enough he almost looks exactly the same. He was about a 22-23″ wide 7 point last year and this year he appears to be about 25″ wide and again a 7 point with almost identical point length. Definitely a buck that I hope to see this season.
After checking the camera, I made my way down the trail towards my spot. I came up on a thicket that boarders the road when I heard the sound of a deer jumping up in the brush. I quickly threw up my binoculars and wouldn’t you know it, it was the big 8 point that I had missed last Friday. He was bedded approximately 40 yards from where I sat during rifle season last year. That gave me great relief to see that I definitely did not wound him last week and that he was still using the area.
Once he moved out of sight, I continued to my stand. With the loud, crunchy leaves, every step was carefully planned out to ensure that I was as quiet as possible. Fortunately, I made it to my stand without spooking anything. About 30 minutes after getting settled in the stand, I caught movement below me. Here came about twelve turkeys up through the woods. All of them were either hens or this year’s young. Unfortunately, turkey season doesn’t start until the 2nd so I could was watch.
Around 5:30, I heard a branch break behind me. I turned around to see a small deer making its way down the trail. I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough it was a small button buck. I watched him wander around for about 15 minutes, before watching the mother stand up from her bed maybe 50 yards away. I couldn’t believe that she never heard or saw me coming into the spot. The two of them stayed just out of range for the most part before the button buck decided to come to about 5 yards from the base of my tree. Being young, he never looked up and continued down the hill until he was out of sight. The mother doe came to within 25 yards, but it was a little thick for a shot, plus I knew this was the doe and fawn that I had so many pictures of in the summer, so they would be safe tonight.
I spent the remainder of the evening scanning the brush and hillside waiting for something to come down the hill, but that was not to happen tonight. Around 6pm, I about jumped out of my stand at the sound of my Dad’s in-line muzzleloader going offer about 200 yards across the hill. Ten minutes later, I got the “big doe down” text. Once it got dark, I climbed down and went over to help him load up his doe. A nice evening on stand, hopefully the winds will die down soon.
October 15, 2013
Weather: Clear skies, low lying fog on the fields, temps in the low 50’s
Wind: Light and variable, but mostly out of the north/northeast
Time: Dawn – 9:15am
Not much to talk about on this hunt. There was a very heavy fog on the fields that had not lifted by the time that I left the woods. I hunted a spot that I’ve been scouting hard for the last 11 months, but did not know how it would work in the early season. I got to see a lot of squirrels running around, but that was it. I will hold off hunting this spot again until the deer start moving a little more. Based on the sign that I found last November around this spot, I am very encouraged that this should be a good spot during the rut.
October, 18, 2013
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Low 60s
Wind: West around 10mph
Time: 4pm – Dark
This day can probably be summed up as the most frustrating day of archery hunting that I have ever experienced. Hence why it has taken me nearly a week to write about this hunt. I could probably type out my frustrations of the day, but I will stick to just the bow hunting portion of the day.
I set up in my climber in a tree the I set up back in July. It is the same oak flat that I hunted opening morning, but about 30 yards up the hill from the tree that I hunted that day. The plan for the evening was to tale a doe if one were to present me with a shot.
Around 5:30 I heard walking coming from the opposite direction of where I expected the deer to be coming. I turned around and spotted a deer moving up the hill. I quickly glassed it with my binoculars and noticed it was a 4 point. He milled around in the acorns for the remainder of the evening.
A little after 6pm as the light was beginning to fade I heard walking coming from the direction of where I expected to see deer. Sure enough I spot deer legs moving through the brush. As the deer’s body became more exposed, I realized that it had a pretty large body. I grabbed my binoculars and quickly realized that it was a shooter buck. He was an 8 point with a decent spread and would probably score in the 90s. I put the binoculars down and grabbed my bow. He was about 40 yards away and needed to cross the ATV trail in order to come into range. He closed the gap and crossed the trail, but crossed about 5 yards further down than where most deer will cross. This led to him being at 15 yards, but too brushy for a shot. I began looking for potential openings on his path and spotted one on the other side of my tree. As he walked, I carefully spun around and got ready. When he stepped behind a large oak, I drew my bow. He stepped out from the tree and into the opening. I settled my pin on his vitals and released. The buck jumped and took off running down the hill. I felt confident about the shot, but figured I would at least climb down and find my arrow. When I got over to where the buck was standing, all I could find was his tracks. No blood. No arrow. No hair. I couldn’t believe it. I spent the rest of the evening and 4 hours on Saturday just looking for something. I was able to locate his running tracks and followed them for about 100 yards, but never found a single drop of blood. I’m assuming that my arrow deflected on a small branch that I did not see through my peep sight. I searched a very large radius looking for the arrow, but I was never able to locate it.
As the temperatures begin to drop, my focus is beginning to come back and I’m finally feeling the desire to be in a tree stand again. Hopefully, I can put this day behind me and focus on the better days ahead.
Weather – mid 40s, mostly sunny
Wind – light and swirling a bit, but mostly out of the northeast
Time – dawn – 9:15am
With the pending bad weather ahead for the remainder of the week, I figured that today looked to be the best weather-wise. Today I decided to set up in a hang-on that I put up several months before the season that I have been scouting since last December. It has two heavy trails going through the area, both of which lead to a popular bedding area. In addition, there are a handful of mature oaks to provide an early season attraction.
A view from the stand
As I was walking to my stand, I busted a fairly large flock of turkeys from their roost. For the first hour and a half of daylight it sounded more like May than October as the lost birds yelped and cackled to each other in an attempt to regroup.
Around 8:00 the first deer of the day showed up, a nice sized year and a half old doe walking by herself. She slipped in to my left and got to about 15 yards before heading up the hill towards the bedding area. Fortunately for her I need to head to work today because I would normally jump at the opportunity to harvest a deer of that description.
About five minutes after she moved on, I had 3 does run past my stand from the west at full tilt.
The rest of the morning was fairly quiet with a few squirrels running around gathering acorns and the occasional glimpse of a turkey in the distance.
Around 9am, I decided to call it a day. As I was packing up my gear, I heard the ever familiar sound of a branch snapping. I turned around to see a doe and fawn, that I had on my trail camera quite regularly, heading right for me. They milled around for a bit before finally heading up the hill. At that point it was 9:15 and knew I would have to hustle back to my truck so that I could make it to work by 10. Another fairly productive morning in the deer woods. Hopefully the weatherman is a little bit wrong for Friday and Saturday so that I can scratch my bow hunting itch some more before the usual “October-lull” sets in.
Weather: upper 60s – low 70s, hazy
Wind: light out of the southwest
Time: Dawn – 10am
I spent the morning hunting over an oak flat that has about 25 mature oak trees in a 30 yard radius, making it a deer magnet when the acorns are dropping. I was not expecting a lot of movement with the unseasonably warm temperatures. It seemed for a while that I would not be seeing anything except squirrels today.
At about 7:45, I caught movement down below me. A quick glassing with the binoculars revealed a deer that I am becoming very familiar with seeing. Only a three point, but he is probably about 13″ wide and showed up on my one trail camera for 9 consecutive days in September. Shortly after spotting him, he casually made his way up the hill munching on acorns the hole way. He came to within 15 yards before continuing up over the hill.
After he left, a heavy fog came through the area, which made visibility about 40 yards for a good 30 minutes. I started considering getting out of the tree around 9 am, that was until 8:45, when I caught more movement. This time it was a large doe and 2 fawns. They worked their way up the hill and all came within 5 yards of the base of my tree. The one fawn spent several minutes milling around directly underneath my feet. They stuck around for about 30 minutes before working their way up the hill and out of sight.
At about 10am, I decided to call it a day and climbed down the tree. With afternoon temperatures expected to be in the mid 80s, I decided to not go out in the evening. I will hit the woods one or two mornings this week, hopefully the good deer movement will continue.