Day 3 – 10/11/14
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.
2014 PA Archery Season Preamble
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
A look at my treestand tree without leaves
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.
Day 13 – November 8, 2013 – The Finale
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Temperatures in the upper 30s
Wind: 5-15 mph out of the West
Time: Dawn – 7:45am
After the warm temperatures rolled in on Tuesday, I sat Wednesday and Thursday out. However, I got a report on Thursday that the bucks were moving and moving in a big way. While the forecast for Friday wasn’t ideal with midday winds in the teens, I knew that I had to go out. I could only hunt until 9am, so I could get to work in time, so I chose my hang-on in the middle of the property, which is the same stand as Day 2.
It was a fairly slow morning. The wind was blowing pretty hard right from the start. Fortunately, I had plenty of layers on so I was not worried about getting too cold. I scanned the area in front of me constantly hoping to spot movement. With the leaves mostly gone, I was now able to see a good 100 yards out in front of the stand. If anything was going to come up the hill, I was going to see it.
Around 7:40 I caught movement about 80 yards away on the main trail that eventually comes past my stand. I pulled up the binoculars and immediately recognized the rack and patches of missing fur on the back. It was the buck that I shot at on October 18th. I grabbed my bow and turned on the lumenock as he continued to close the gap. As he got into bow range, I soon realized that I was going to need him to pass my stand before I would be able to get a shot since he was quartering towards me. As he got behind a large double maple tree, I drew my bow. He walked past me without ever looking up. I slowly turned and positioned myself for when he hit my opening. As he entered the opening I made a grunt with my voice. He immediately stopped. He was quartering away pretty hard so I aimed around the middle of the body. Once I got my pinned settled, I released the arrow. I watched as the green lumenock went into the center of the body, out the other side and into the ground. I knew immediately that it was a good shot. He ran out across the trail that connects to the trail that he was on and dropped 60 yards from the shot. I didn’t know whether to be excited or relieved to have finally taken this buck after a long 21 days of pursuit. I gave him 30 minutes to ensure that he was down for good. In the meantime, I texted friends, family, and called off of work for the rest of the day.
I climbed down and found my arrow and noticed good blood on the arrow. I walked over and found him piled up. Now that I could see the rack up close I realized I had a little more history with this buck. He was the very first buck to show up on my trail camera back in August and it just happened to be right in front of the treestand I had just taken him from. Going back even further. I had scouted this spot hard since last December and hung this treestand in early July, because I was that confident that this was going to be a go-to spot this season.
Trail Camera Picture
After examining the antlers, I looked over the body to see how well I placed the shot. I noticed a patch of hair missing just behind the shoulder and another patch with fresh blood near the middle of the body. Then it hit me… The front mark was from my shot in October. Upon examining the insides I noticed that I had just barely clipped the back edge of both lungs from the October hit. There were small notches out of the lungs with black and blue marks around them. One inch to the left and I would have had a double lung hit and a dead buck in October. An inch or two to the right and I would have hit the liver. It is pretty remarkable how small the margin of error is in archery hunting. There has always been the debate about whether or not you can hit a deer in the vital area and not actually kill it. I think this proves that you can hit a buck in the lung area and not actually kill it.
The two hits – Which shot would you think was the fatal one?
While skinning the deer, I got to the area of the October hole exit and my knife hit something out of place. I pulled the skin down a little further and noticed a triangle under the skin. I dug around with my knife and pulled out half of one of my broadhead blades. Upon further examination, I noticed that my broadhead had hit a rib, broke the rib (that had since almost fulled healed), and either the blade wedged in the rib or broke off and caused the arrow to not pass through.
What are the chances of this ever happening? When I began this journal at the start of the season, I never could have thought that this sequence of events could have ever occurred. Now that my buck tag has been filled, it is time to chase turkeys and then begin my pursuit of my first deer with a flintlock rifle with my doe tags.
8 point with a 14″ spread
Days 3 & 4 – October 15 and 18, 2013
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.