Saturday, December 31, 2011

Take Your Chances When You Get Them

This week has been pretty slow at work. We've been released early every day and Thursday was no exception. I headed home about 1:45 and given that it was 65 degrees, I knew I had to take the chance at one more deer hunt. When the temperature drops below freezing, I find it unbearable to be in a deer stand for very long. It's not that I'm a fair weather hunter, but I'm pretty lanky and find it hard to stay warm in cold temps.

I had a few things to wrap up around the house before I could go hunting, and didn't get to leave the house until about 3pm. The sun set time was 5:25, so I was in a rush. I parked the truck to realize that I left the camera tree arm mount for the camera at home. I had the camera and I had the camera tree arm, just no way to connect them. It's a mile walk to the stand, and during that time, I decide to just enjoy the sit and not worry about filming, getting there late, etc. I choose a stand that transitions between bedding and an acorn flat. I get setup in the tree and check the time, 4pm. Wow, better just enjoy being outdoors. I get a little bit of film to show the stand and settle in.

Around 4:30, I see movement 150 yards to the south. It's a doe walking a treeline. I spot movement behind her, but can't tell if it's a buck or not. I watch the doe as I know the second deer is tailing her. I spot her white tail walking into the tree line, directly away from me. Time to get creative. I grab my grunt call which was set to a fawn bleat and try to sound lost. The doe turns back toward me and starts heading my way. She gets to about 100 yards and turns toward the west. I bleat a few more times and she turns back toward me. There is a small creek 50 yards from me and the doe stops short of it to check out the area. I now notice she's probably a 1 1/2 year old. I can tell the second deer is also a doe, and most likely the mother. The younger doe crashes through the creek and starts feeding at 45 yards. The older doe is still on the other side of the creek and is nervous as heck. She keeps running to the south, then wanders to the creek, then spooks to the east, then comes back, then spooks again to the south. The doe on my side of the creek is also getting nervous. I look around to see if any other deer, namely a buck, are around. I don't see anything. The doe starts walking directly toward me. At 20 yards, she looks up. The sun is in my face and I dip my head slightly to allow my hat to shield the sun. The second doe again spooks and the first doe runs 5 yards to the west and looks to the south. I take my chance to draw as she's looking away. My elbow rubs against my safety harness and she again spooks another 5 yards to the west, but I continue my draw figuring I have nothing to lose at this point should she spot me. She is at 17 yards. I'm at full draw. There's a low hanging branch covering her vitals. A few seconds later, she takes 3 steps to the north west and is perfectly broadside. I settle my 20 yard pin on her lungs and release. Being that the second doe was spooky, I should have held a bit lower knowing she would duck on my release. Since it was only 20 yards, the arrow connects, but is a bit higher that I would like. The arrow passes completely through and I see blood start coming out of the entry wound as she takes off. She leaps away from me, then takes off in a dead run to the north west and circles to the north east in her 60 yard attempt to exit the area. I hear her pile up and thrash. As my emotions start to hit, I look back for the second doe which is staring in my direction from 70 yards. She turns and runs south. I watch her white flag disappear into the treeline. It's 4:55pm. I debate on continuing my sit, but the mile drag back to the truck and the duty of cleaning the doe cause me to go ahead and get down as I know it will be a long night.

My wife doesn't like gamey tasting meat, and that factored into my taking the shot on the young doe. The mile drag was also considered and a smaller deer would be easier to get to the truck. Being that we hunt only on public land, there is zero amount of quality deer management that can be done. Since we can't control what other hunters shoot or the hunting pressure on the area, you take the shots that present themselves.

I text my wife and Matt to let them know of my success then grab the camera to record the recovery. I walk to the spot where the doe was standing when I took my shot. I see where her hoofs dug into the ground when she took off. The arrow is about 3 yards away and covered in pink-ish blood. Even though I know where she went down, I take the chance to track her to gain the invaluable experience of tracking. With knowing where she was at, I could put all the pieces together as I track and note the blood trail, location of the blood, amount of blood, and other sign produced by the death run. The trail of blood was consistent, but not as heavy as if it had been a heart shot. I pay attention to where the blood sprayed on weeds and trees that were along her path due to it being a lung shot. The knowledge I gained while tracking a deer that I knew the final location of will assist later on in my hunting career. I find her where I expected. She was around 60 pounds.

After it was all said and done, I trekked 4 miles that night, making two trips to the truck. One to take my stand and gear, the second to get the doe. Below is a video of the recovery.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gear Review - The Silent Retriever

We were able to get in contact with Kevin VanCamp, the creator of The Silent Retriever and acquire 2 of them for review. We have had limited time to hunt, so getting in the woods to test this guy out was done at the end of a quick duck hunt.

Ease of use: I climbed up in a tree and pulled The Silent Retriever out of the package for the first time. I dropped my knit full-face mask on the ground then attached the included pull rope to The Silent Retriever. The rope smoothly slipped through my hands as The Silent Retriever lowered itself toward the ground. The Silent Retriever is weighted nicely and doesn't require you to pull slack out to drop it. I was able to pickup my face mask and my hat without any trouble. The face mask was grabbed immediately as it is knit and the hat only took two tries to grab it successfully. You do have to be careful when using The Silent Retriever as the hooks can grab twigs, tree branches, vines, etc. when trying to snag your dropped gear. This should be a given however when using an item that is built to grab dropped items.

Durability: The 25 foot pull rope is a solid quality and has been burned on both ends to prevent fraying. Good call there. The rope is also a "camo" pattern with green, black, and khaki colors interwoven. The hooks are fairly thick, and they do not appear as though they would bend easily. Even if they do bend, they should either bend back into place or assist even further with grabbing items.

Where to purchase: Kevin has a website dedicated to The Silent Retriever and is available via email sales@thesilentretriever.com. The Silent Retriever is well priced at $14.99 for the full system, or $9.99 for just The Silent Retriever.

Video of the review:



I would like to thank Kevin for the opportunity to review this great system! It will always be included in my backpack when hunting.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ducks, More Ducks, and a Goose

I admit, we've been slacking on writing blogs lately. Again, life, work, and everything else has prevented the time from being available. Plus, I don't see myself giving up time to hunt on my days off to write a blog. Here's a video/photo-blog of last weekend's duck season opener. We have a split season here and we finally got some cold weather and ice on the water. I, Michael, finally got my first pintail on an uncontested shot and Matt and I tag teamed a goose, which was a first for me as well.


December 10th: Flying Steel



December 10th: Matt's Wack n' Stack



December 11th: Duck, Duck, Goose.






 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Luck of the Draw and Plenty of Missed Shots

Thanksgiving week is usually pretty hectic with family and so many places to be. I didn't bother with adding to my wife's worries with even mentioning the word "hunting" Thursday. Friday and Saturday were another story, however.

In Oklahoma, we have a split waterfowl season. I'm not sure why, but we can hunt almost the entire month of November, then there is a 2 week break, then it opens again on December 10th and continues through January 29th. The first part of the season is usually too warm for hunts to be very successful. The first couple of weeks were pretty slow, but cold fronts and north winds started pushing in the last 2 weeks and really had the birds coming in.

Friday morning, we decided to meet at 5am to try and get the blind location that we wanted. It was a south wind at around 20 mph and due to availability of the public waterfowl hunting areas, we were going to be facing west and playing the wind left to right. Matt and I setup and saw 2 other hunter walk in several hundred yards to the north and locate themselves in a spot with the wind hitting them in the face. Matt's dad showed up with his decoys and we set out 2 dozen with 2 baby mallard Mojos and a teal Mojo.

Shooting light came and went without a bird showing itself. Finally, around 7:30 birds started moving. A group of birds work there way in and we knock down 2 teal. It's obvious that we're all a little rust. To prove my point, we had 9 teal come in and land directly in the decoys. All 3 of us stand up and unload our guns. All 9 birds get the hell out of our spread without losing a feather. We all had a good laugh over how awful that performance was. One thing I did find pretty interesting was that I had my teal mojo mixed in with widgeon decoys on the right side of the spread. We had two teal come screaming in and land directly behind the teal mojo. I stand up and draw down on the one directly behind the mojo and wait for him to jump off the water. Matt quickly says "don't shoot the mojo!" No kidding? It's mine. About that time the bird jumped and I took him while Matt tapped the one on the right and his dad came across and laid the second teal out.

We had a few group of 15+ mallards come toward the spread, but they wouldn't commit. We ended the day with 5 teal, 2 gadwall, and 2 pintail.

Saturday we again met at 5am. There were already a few other hunters in the parking area milling around, so Matt and I hurried to the spot we chose as the wind was out of the north and forecasted to be 25 mph. I built the blind while Matt and Mark set out the decoys.

The wind didn't pick up like it was forecasted to do, so we were battling to get birds to come in. We had a couple of groups work in, but only 3-4 birds max. Most of them were grey ducks. There were 2 birds that worked in and landed outside the decoys on the left. We stood up and jumped them, immediately dropping both right back to the water. All of 1 mallard was seen all morning and the birds just quit flying by 10am. We walked out with 2 widgeon and 7 gadwall.

That concluded my weekend of hunting but Matt and Mark made it back out the next day for a continued north wind. They limited by 10am and their first bird of the morning was a male wood duck. I managed to miss or not have a chance at 2 of my most wanted birds for mounts in 3 days, a pintail and a male wood duck. That's hunting though, all luck of the draw and plenty of missed shots.

FYI, there will be a video or two coming, but there are a few hold ups in editing currently.

Friday, November 18, 2011

When Nothing Is Going Right, Be Ready!

I looked at the weather early this week and saw that Thursday was going to have a low of 28 degrees in the morning with a high near 60. With the beginning of the week having highs around 70 and lows in the 40's, I knew it was time to schedule a day off. Wednesday night I called Matt's dad to ensure that I wouldn't be stepping on his toes if I walked in that morning. He was planning on hunting a different area. We decide to get there extra early to have plenty of time to setup in our chosen locations.

Thursday morning, I get up extremely early and start the long drive. I get to where I'm supposed to meet Mark, Matt's dad, and get dressed. I'm ready to go when he gets there. We chose to use a small boat instead of making a long and strenuous walk. All of our gear is loaded in the boat and we back the trailer in. There is a rope on the front of the boat that is attached to the trailer so we can drop the boat in and pull it back to the ramp as we pull the trailer out. Mark backs the boat in and starts pulling the trailer out but the boat isn't coming back toward us. The rope pulled off the trailer and the wind is pushing parallel to the shore. It's 28 degrees and there is ice all over anything the water touches. We both watch helplessly as our stand, gear, and the boat go floating away from us. Earlier in the week I would've just swam after it, but that isn't an option today. Mark decides to go back to his house and grab his other boat. I continue to watch the shadow of the boat as it drifts into the fog.

Mark shows up with the other boat eventually. Luckily, with the cold weather, there were no other boats on the water. As he prepares to drop the boat in, he tries to start it. It won't crank. He removes the shroud and sees that the starter isn't popping up to turn the motor over. The grease is too cold. Time for enginuity. He pulls the oil dipstick on his truck and uses the warm oil to lube up the starter. After doing this twice, the boat cranks right up. I back him in and he retrieves the other boat. We pull the second boat out and redress to get in stand. I make the mistake of pushing the boat offshore with my bare hands. They immediately freeze.We get to our spot and part ways. I walk quietly to my tree and try to quickly put out scents and get up the tree. I climb a bit higher than normal as my boots were too slick to face the west as my stand would angle down. So I face the east. I try to put my safety belt on the tree but as I face the west (behind the stand where I'll get most of my shots) I realize it'll be in the way of any shot, so I take it off. Not a smart move, I know. I look at my phone. It's 8:09. I decide to plop my butt down and not setup the camera. Too much bad luck and too late to not have disturbed the deer movement.

9:15 and I hear movement up the hill to the north. I peer through the treeline and see several deer moving. I stand up and face the tree (to the west). I spot several does, so I relax my grip on the bow. I watch as 5 does feed behind me at 35 yards. As they pass through wide open shooting lanes, I hear something behind me and slowly turn to see a spike behind me at 15 yards, broadside. He's lucky I only have one more buck tag and want to fill it with large inedible antlers. He circles all the way around me and follows the does off to my South West. I figure that'll be all that I see. I give it a few minutes to see if anything else followed the does and then sat down.

I hear movement to my South East at about 75 yards roughly 30 minutes later. I stand, grab my bow, and then grunt as I see a rack coming through the trees. He stops. I grunt again. He marches my way like I just slapped his mom. He walks directly toward me and I draw while he is still in the trees. He walks into the open and stops, facing me, at 40 yards. I'm confident in my shot out to 50 yards. After holding my draw for about a minute and buck fever setting in as I see his 8 points reaching toward the sky, I take a deep breath, place my pin on the center of his chest, and release. The second my bow flung the arrow in his direction, his chest dove to the ground. My arrow flew straight....over his back. I should have known that he was on high alert after I grunted him in and to aim low. He trotted 15 yards into the trees not knowing what the heck just happened. I grunted a few times as I knocked another arrow, but he decided that whatever it was that grunted wasn't worth it and moved on.

15 minutes later, to my South West, I hear a branch snap. I look and 50 yards away stands a large bodied deer. His neck is swollen and he's on a mission. As he steps out of the trees, I notice that he isn't quite gifted up top. He's a dink 6 point with the body of a beast. I watch as he walks by at 30 yards. The 8 I just missed was quite a bit bigger rack-wise, so I don't bother him. I sit back down only to stand a few minutes later as a big bodied deer works just inside the tree line from my North East to North West. I never see a rack and it didn't respond to a grunt. I sit again wishing I had my camera rolling, but figured the morning was over. It's already 11am.

Then, at 11:30, another deer works just inside the tree line following the previous deer. I stand and watch, hoping it will step out. At 65 yards, I spot an absolute brute of a deer step out. This deer reminds me of Iowa deer body-wise. He walks so proudly. I look toward his had and see nothing but straight tines that make all other bucks this morning look smaller than ants. I see 4 points on his left side. I manage to grab my grunt call as I feel like falling out of my stand. I grunt. That's when I had my Field & Stream moment. He looked in my direction. His ears don't compare to his rack, they look small. There are 8 points. His G2's are at least 22 inches with mass reaching throughout. I guess him at 160+ inches. He walks toward me about 5 yards then turns toward the South West again. I grunt again and he sways his massive head, but continues walking. I grunt several more time but to no avail. He clears an obstacle with ease and disappears. I stand there in disbelief. I am in awe of what just happened and the next hour flies by.

Mark had text me around 10 saying he shot a spike. I get down at 12:30 and find my arrow from my miss. I unscrew it from the broadhead as the 63lbs of draw-weight buried it deep into the tree.
I head to Mark's location and we find the back half of the arrow with blood spray on it. We track the deer for 200 yards through some nasty thickets. The blood stops. I start doing a grid search. Mark says he found him. I spin around and there's a pile of leaves. When the deer piled up, he completely covered himself in leaves and was easily missed. We drag him about 400 yards out. The hit was good, it hit one lung and sliced directly through the liver. We are looking for the other half of the arrow and the broadhead that is attached. It is lodged in the skin lining the guts pointing toward the back leg. The shot had been broadside, but the arrow took a 90 degree turn. Every time he ran, the broadhead sliced into his leg, exposing the entire knee joint and giving the appearance that something had tried to chew on him.
All this to say, if you're day is going absolutely terrible, you'd better be ready! The deer of a lifetime only needs seconds to appear and a few more seconds to disappear. How I wish I'd setup the camera.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Huntography 2011 Deer Tour Comes to Town

Hunting has been a little slow the last 2 weeks. We've seen deer here and there, but it's been warm enough to make afternoon sits unproductive until literally last light and the morning have provided a few deer sightings, but no real shot opportunities, that is, until this week.

I took a follower of our blog, Charles, on his first duck hunt last Saturday. It was opening day and we opted to sit on a river that flows into the lake. I knew the competition wouldn't be as great and hoped that the birds would seek refuge there. We had 1 flock of teal work by and we got all of 2 shots off, but no birds. A group of mallards gave us a look, but my calls were locked up and by the time I got one to work, they lit into the water 200 yards from us. Opening day was too warm for the birds to be here yet.

I took off Monday-Wednesday for Rudy (aka Huntography) to be here. Monday's weather was like springtime here. Tornadoes, hail, torrential rain, and we even threw in an earthquake for good measure. Rudy decided to come in on Tuesday afternoon to try and avoid the weather. Matt and I decide to hunt Tuesday afternoon to get an idea as to what the deer were doing as we had backed off to keep them from feeling pressured prior to Rudy's visit. Matt and I both chose locations and got up in our climbers. The woods were dead. With the time change, shooting light was ending near 6pm. At about 5:30, Matt had a doe walk in and present him with a 16 yard shot. The arrow sailed over her back. Matt was nailing a target at 40 yards no problem prior to the season and we knew it wasn't nerves. Almost right at 6, I had 2 does come in. One walked to 20 yards broadside and looked straight at me in the stand. She walked backwards and around a brush pile. The second doe also came in broadside at 20 yards. I decided to pass as I wouldn't have time to pick up another tag before hunting with Rudy the next morning. Just behind them was another deer, but with light all but gone from the sky, I couldn't tell if it was a buck or a doe. We got down from our stands and found that Matt's dad had shot a button buck. Being public land, all deer are fair game. If you pass on a deer, the next guy will shoot it. There is no "Quality Deer Management" with public land. We go to help him track it. The shot was 30 yards, but almost no blood at impact. We find blood about 10 yards from where he was shot.
We trail him for about 100 yards finding decent blood, but not a lot. It is all dark red. The arrow didn't pass all the way through. The blood stops where the buck stood for a moment. Matt and his dad start doing a grid search. I'm on my hands and knees and find the blood trail again as well as 3/4 of the arrow with the broadhead, but there are only specks of blood here and there. This is the largest section of blood we found after that.

We trail another 150 yards then grid search again. After 2 hours on the grid, we give in to hoping is was not a kill shot. Matt's dad returned the next morning to look some more but didn't find any more sign.

I finally meet up with Rudy at 9:15pm. He's been waiting for 5 hours. I felt really bad. We chat for a couple of hours and crash.

Tuesday morning, we start out at 4:45 so we can both get ready and out the door. We meet up with Matt earlier than normal so that we can all get positioned and give Rudy time to get setup. Rudy is sitting with me this morning and I put him in the west tree, 30 yards from mine, the east tree. Here is where I screwed up. He was going to be facing east, directly into the rising sun. I didn't even think about that until we were already positioned. The morning started slow, but it was cold. Around 8:15, a doe comes in from behind Rudy and he starts filming. She is 20 yards from him and feeding slowly through. As she works toward me, I look behind her in the woods. There's a buck! He's shredding a sapling! I try to get Rudy's attention, but he's focused on the doe. I text him "Buck! your 5 o'clock!" He turns the camera and starts filming what appears to be an alright sized buck. Then, he steps out of the shadows of the woods. Rudy almost fell out of his stand. We are on public land and have an absolute brute of a 10-point coming straight at us. The buck angles a bit and stands in a shooting lane from Rudy's stand at 20 yards, BROADSIDE! He slowly works toward me, but is angled slightly to my left. I see where he's headed and slowly range an opening. 50 yards. I look at the buck. This guy is a good 3-5 inches outside of each ear and has mass that carries past his G-3's. I look back toward my opening and see my curse. a branch with two less than inch diameter twigs shooting straight up into the opening. The buck continues to tear into every sapling in his path and is about 75 yards behind the doe at this point. Good, she's not fully in heat yet. He steps into my opening. He is again broadside, but those two twigs have names now. One is regret, the other, agony. I never draw. Instead, Rudy films and I watch as this majestic animal continues his course away from us. I tried grunting and bleating at him, but the wind was strong and he couldn't quite hear me.

Rudy's view. A picture he took while recording the buck move through.


10 minutes later, Rudy signals to look behind me. I do, but don't see anything. Instead I hear crashing 75 yards away. Rudy texts me that it was a buck hot on a doe. He was bigger than the 10 and Rudy guessed he'd go 150ish. I can't believe the kind of day we are having. Matt texts me that he shot a spike. He got down from his stand, found the arrow and the deer expired about 100 yards from the stand and climbed back up to see what else happened by. Another 2 and a half hours go by without a deer sighting. We decide to get out of the stands and grab some lunch. Just as I take my hand off my bow for the first time all morning to start putting stuff away, I catch movement. I look up and there is a pig of a coyote right under Rudy's stand. When I say pig, this dog looked like he'd been eating nothing but cheeseburgers for a year. He looks directly up at Rudy who made sudden movement to try and get him on film. I, at the same time, quickly grab my bow and attach my release. The coyote bolts. I kiss and whistle at him. He had enough of those weird trees though and meandered off into the woods. We exit the woods and Matt drags his deer out and guts it.
We get back in stand a bit late due to quartering out the deer among other things. Matt had obligations that kept him out of the woods and Rudy and I headed back into the same stands as the morning. I left Rudy in the west stand as the sun would set behind him. About 5pm we here antlers demolishing a tree. This goes of for at least 10 minutes. It almost sounded like bucks fighting with how loud it was, but Rudy confirmed that it was a buck making toothpicks. The buck grunts 3 times. Each time was a low gutural grunt. I grunt back trying to entice him. He steps near the edge of the treeline, but never presents himself. He shreds another tree. I grunt a few more time, but to no avail. He walks down the treeline away from us. With 20 minutes of light left, I hear a deer come to within 25 yards, but it stays behind a brush pile. Then I hear another deer come crashing in on the party, but it also stopped behind this giant brush pile. I hear thrashing, crashing, jostling, etc. It didn't sound like antlers meeting. I had no idea what was going on. After every bit of light was gone, and before the moon rose, the deer walk directly below Rudy's stand. He could have spit on them. After we get out of our stands, he tells me that it was two spikes in a constant shoving match for 20 minutes. He got it all on video. He's smiling from ear to ear. I might not have harvested a deer for Deer Tour, but the footage that Rudy got made it so very worth it. Rudy and I enjoy the long walk back to the truck under a bright full moon, reminiscing about the incredible end to the day and Deer Tour. It was as if it had been written in a script.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

ScoutLook - The Hunter's App

I was given the opportunity to try out the North American Hunting Club's new iPhone app as a participant in Huntography's 2011 Deer Tour. I appreciate the chance to review and test this application.

I have an iPhone 3GS and downloaded ScoutLook from the appstore.Once I setup an account using my email address, it allowed me to utilize both ScoutLook's website and phone app and share data between the two rather seemlessly. Upon launching the app from your phone, it pulls your GPS location and provides you with an arial photo and a pin showing where you are.

There are 4 options at the bottom of the screen: Location Map, Radar, Scentcone, and Setzone. Location Map is exactly that and the default screen that opens on launch. The Radar option provides a zoomable map with active radar showing movement of storms in solid detail. Scentcone looks like the Location Map in that it is an arial photo of your location and a pin showing your location. However, when you tap on your pin location, it zooms to show roughly a 200 square yard area, queries the current wind direction, and then provides a green, yellow, or amber (depending on wind speed) "Scentzone" showing where your scent will be pushing to. Zooming in or out will shrink or expand your Scentzone effect to provide you with a better understanding of your scent area. It gives you the option of viewing your Scentzone for the next 54 hours for a given location. In order to drop a pin from the Scentzone or Setzone tabs, simply tap and hold for just a second and a pin will drop allowing you to view the Scentzone or Setzone for that location. The My Locations option is great as it allows you to save the stand locations that you have and preview the the affect that your scent will have on the area for the next 54 hours as well. If you do not have a location saved, you can move about the map just like the default maps you have on your Android or iPhone, then tap and hold where you will be hunting to drop a pin. Tapping this new pin will load the Scentzone for the pin's location.



This app isn't just for deer and predator hunters though. The 4th option is Setzone. This shows you which way to setup your goose and duck decoys spreads to take advantage of the wind and where the ducks will almost always be coming in from. Instead of a cone, it shows 3 waterfowl icons. I was sitting in my deer stand when I took these screenshots.


The app is $1.99 in the Apple Appstore and very well worth it. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't talk about the ScoutLook website though. This site is incredibly detailed and provides you with information for hunting whitetail deer, waterfowl, elk/big game, turkey/small game, trapping and predators as well as fishing in rivers, lakes, and saltwater with drift-maps.





The North American Hunting Club really did it right and you can tell the app and website were designed by true outdoorsmen. Thanks again to Ben with NAHC for sponsoring the #deertour!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's My Stand?

Saturday, the 22nd began like any other morning of a hunt. Matt and I had decided to head back to where we've seen a large buck in a bachelor group. Matt chose the ladder stand in the cedar that I killed my spike out of last weekend. I decided to use my climber and setup in a spot we haven't used yet.

We meet at 6:10 and head toward the stands. I end up walking through 6 foot high weeds that have a heavy dew on them as I make my way to the tree. There really isn't any way to avoid it. I have only been to the tree once before when we cleared shooting lanes. I get through the 50 yards of weeds and am pretty soaked. Did I mention it's 50 degrees? Time to come up with a different game plan for the rest of the season as temperatures continue to drop. I wander into the general area of the tree and spot it right away. This is the first year that I have owned a climber and the second year of using one, so to say that I'm slow in getting setup when using it is a serious understatement.

When hunting, I put my phone on complete silent, no vibrating, and dim the screen as low as possible. The vibrating puts off a tone of sorts and with a deer's keen sense of hearing, the last thing I want is an out of place sound generated by a text or a tweet. God forbid it be against something metal when it goes off.

It takes me about 25-30 minutes to climb the tree and get setup. I will give myself the fact that the tree had some of those Virginia Creeper vines on it. Those are the ones that get up to the size of your wrist and cling directly to the tree. The tree also required that my climber be adjusted to the shortest cable length possible. I hook up my safety harness and the camera arm. It's already shooting light. I check my phone. A missed call and several texts from Matt. What the heck happened now? I read the texts. "Stand's gone" "Are you ok?". A quick call to him confirms that the ladder stand in the cedar tree has been stolen sometime in the last week. He is now sitting in the other ladder stand near there. If I hadn't brought my climber, one of us would be hunting from the ground or we would be going home.

The sit in the stand is rather uneventful with my thoughts lost on when the stand was stolen, who stole it, and where they took it. It is only a $50 ladder stand, but the fact that someone would take it and walk a mile to the nearest parking area baffles me. Blue Jays invade the area. Apparently something about the tree next to mine has them going nuts. Luckily, none of them sound the alarm. About 9am, I decide to get down and go look at the crime scene. Matt and I get to the area and start looking around. I find a cigarette butt and can still smell the burnt tobacco. It hasn't been but maybe a day or two max. We look up in the tree and there's an empty Monster energy drink can laying on top of some the branches. We are thinking the stand was spotted previously then the perpitrator came back, hunted the stand, and then took the stand with him while leaving his trash behind. He smokes Marlboro lights and you better believe we are keeping an eye out for him.

Sunday, we took a ladder stand of mine back in to replace the stolen one. This one weighs about twice as much. Matt purchased 3 kevlar bike locks and we secured the section of the stand tightly together, the top section to the tree, and the top two section to a branch of the tree. If this one is gone, I'll be surprise if the tree is still standing.

Since when was all respect and common courtesy for other hunters lost in our tradition? I know we're on public land, but it still amazes me the lengths that some people will go through to show their true colors. Who else has had experiences with disrespectful hunters, trespassers, thieves, and all around low-lifes while in the woods?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Take The Shot

Saturday, October 15th, began with Matt and I finally able to get into some new stands we had set 2 weeks before the season. We've been anxious to get in this location since opening day. Matt chooses the ladder stand that we setup in a cedar tree while I took the ladder stand 150 yards east in a point of oak trees that overlooks where 3 deer trails come together.

The morning starts slow, but about 7:45, I hear movement coming down the hill through the woods. It sounds like several deer. They get to within about 30-40 yards, but are still obscured by the trees when they stop. They turn and head toward Matt's location. I text him quickly to give him a heads up. A few minutes later, he replies, "3 bucks. 1 is 120"". I wait. He replies again, they were 40 yards out and he didn't feel comfortable with the shot they presented. Moments later, 70 yards down the hill, I spot 3 spikes moving quickly toward Matt yet again. I text him to let him know. He said they passed close to him, but didn't offer a shot. The rest of the morning was uneventful, but to see 6 bucks in one sitting while on public land, that's near unheard of.

Saturday afternoon, Matt and his dad head to a friend's house about an hour South West of here to hog hunt. Within an hour of being there, they snuck within 5 yards of a bedded boar and dispatched him with a load of buckshot. He dressed out at roughly 200lbs.



The morning after college football Saturday, or Sunday morning with a hangover, Matt was too tired to go out, so I decided to take the mile walk back to the same stand he had sat in the previous morning. I pull up to the parking area, under an almost full moon, and am greeted by about 7 does. Here I am thinking this can't be good if the deer are already moving. I get dressed in my camo, grab my gear, and walk toward the stand. I walk in the dark as the moon is lighting the way and I don't want to spook any game. I cover about 300 yards and spook a great blue heron. He takes off squawking loudly. I make it another 100 yards and something tells me to turn my headlamp on. I hate that feeling. I stop and switch it on. 15 feet from me, in water up to it's eyes, is a raccoon. He appears to feel cornered as he arches his back. I back up slowly while knocking an arrow. I circle around him at about 10 yards, all the while facing him in case he chooses to get frisky. He stays put and I move on. It's not coon season and I don't want to possibly lose an arrow.

I make it another 400 yards and start hearing quite a bit of splashing in the water. I find this odd as the wind is calm. I have my headlamp off, but keep an eye toward the water. It's not long before the top of the water explodes to the sound of flapping wings and honking. A flock of what I'd guess to be at least 40 geese. Great, so much for a stealthy approach to the stand. I get to the stand and climb on up. This morning I am determined to finally get my camera arm strapped in and ready to film, but as I am hooking it up, I notice the tree is too small to firmly ratchet it down. Oh well, it'll have to do. Just as I'm ready to sit down, a deer approaches behind me. I am unable to see it in the moonlight and it continues on past.

I sit down and await daylight. Then I hear it, buzzing, right next to my ear. I reach into my bag and grab my mesh face-mask. The mosquitoes descend in waves attacking my hands and exposed skin around my eyes. I quietly deal with the pain of their bites and don't dare try to swat at them as the sky is turning blue. It's almost shooting time.

At 7:06, right at legal shooting light, a deer appears to my right in a small clearing. It's not one of the big bucks, so I decide to pass, but stand anyways so I can try to film it. I get the camera on and recording just in time as it steps out from the cedars at 25 yards. He's a spike. He continues broadside for about 15 yards then stops and looks straight at the tree I'm in. A moment later he turns and starts walking to me. I'm thinking this is perfect for video purposes. He is still coming toward me. He gets to the bottom of the tree, 6 feet from the bottom of the ladder stand and drops his head to graze. My thoughts went something like this: "Hold out for the big one. But he's getting closer. What if I scare off the other buck by taking a shot? He's getting really close. I could throw this arrow like a spear at him. That'd make for some top-quality film. Ok, this is just a gimme shot. What if I don't get another good chance at a deer this season? I can't wait any longer." With all that commotion in my head, I quickly draw. He's 3 yards from me, and that's only because I'm in a 15 foot ladder. I can see the back of his vitals and spine through a hole in the branches. I lay all 4 pins on his spine and release. THWACK! He bellows, drops to the ground and is done. Meanwhile, the camera is recording. I turn and let the camera capture the moment for me.

I sit for another hour just in case the big boy steps out but nothing materializes and I have a really long drag ahead of me. I get down and find the front half of my arrow with the broadhead on it. Uh-oh, it has green on it. This is not going to be fun. I admire the spike for a moment. This is my first true archery buck. The fletchings are barely sticking out from his spine. These Muzzy MX-series broadheads do a number on bone, muscle, and anything else they hit. I pull him about 100 yards away and gut him. The arrow shattered his spine, punctured a lung, and sliced through his stomach. Oddly enough, the holes created by the broadhead in his stomache are extremely clean and I am able to carefully finish gutting him without spilling any of the contents in him. Then, the drag. I'll say this, the only other deer I'm dragging that far will be a brute of a buck, but I was still smiling after all was said and done. I had my first true bow buck.




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Morning of the Glowing Eyes

I took the day off Friday, October 7th to get some things done around the house in the afternoon which provided the perfect excuse to get in the woods for a morning hunt. The winds have been out of the South East for 3 weeks now and have most of our stands inaccessible.

There is an area that I hunted last year and consistently saw deer on weekday mornings. On the weekend, the place is packed. The SE wind is doable in a woodlot that funnels deer between two fields and provides some exciting ground hunting opportunities. I decided to give it a shot even though I have not even seen the place since early last season. I arrive at 5:45 to beat anyone to the location and walk in. I opt for my ghillie suit and a stool, no blind. Pop-up blinds that appear out of nowhere in a funnel is not the best idea. Deer aren't that dumb.

The woodlot has several small gullies that run throughout it and I drop into one for my stand location approach. There's a downed tree running across it. I go around and back into the gully. There's another downed tree. I'm wondering what happened here in the last year. This causes me to get confused as the scenery has now greatly changed and I'm not sure where to sit anymore. I look 10 yards to the north and there is a pair of green, glowing eyes looking at me. I quickly analyze them. The shape, size, width apart, and color. It's a deer. You've got to be kidding me. I just walked up on a bedded deer. Then, I see them. Two more sets of green, glowing eyes. Crap, 3 bedded deer? I retreat to the top of the gully to the SW of the bedded deer. The wind is blowing 10-20mph from the SE. I figure my scent should move away from them as the deer moved from NW to SE last year. I can barely hear anything above the roar of the wind. About 6:15, I pick up what sounds like deer moving.

As daylight breaks, the bedded deer are no longer there and nowhere to be seen. I notice that I'm about 60 yards to the WSW of where I want to be. I can't hear anything. I sit quietly (not as though it'd matter with the wind) and scan the woodlot. I then spot a doe bounding toward the spot I wanted to sit at. Seriously? She turns around and bounds back to the NW. As I'm looking in that direction I spot more movement. It's a buck! He's about 70 yards away and making a rub, then he makes a scrape. It looks like he's a 6-point, maybe an 8. Since I had to setup quietly and without my light, the camera is situated where I can't see the screen to zoom in. I have the camera pointed toward that area. The doe goes bounding back to the SE, and a few seconds later, bounds back to the NW again. I lose track of the buck and tried to grunt at him. I figure if he's making a rub and scrape, he's territorial. I sit for another hour with no movement. I find a spot near the rub for Saturday morning. It'll be the same wind and conditions.

Saturday morning, I head to the same area. I realize when I'm about to park, I left the camera at home. You've got to be kidding me. I have a great feeling about the morning and the setup, but no camera to document it. Great. There's another truck with 2 hunters getting ready as I pull up. I dress and get my gear as quickly as possible, but they're already ahead of me. I'm walking to the spot I found the day before and end up following one of the guys as he walks past it. I don't know where he's planning on setting up, but I drop into a gully and come up behind the white-oak that I'm going to sit next to. 5 yards away, glowing green eyes. Seriously, you've got to be kidding me. 2 mornings in a row in different locations of the lot? I turn off my light, but it's too late. She gets up and moves slowly to the North. I quietly get in front of the oak and setup. That's the only movement I saw that morning. About 9am, my butt is tired of sitting on the camp stool and I know there's hunters all around me. Time to go. I pack up and head out. As I come into the field that runs right up to the parking area, there's a pop-up blind in the middle of the field. I'm guessing the guy got there late and didn't know where anyone else was. I look to the left and about 200 yards away, another pop-up blind is on the edge of the field. It feels cramped suddenly. I get to the truck and there are 6 other vehicles there. This is why I hunt this spot during the week primarily. Below is a video of Friday morning. Again, I couldn't zoom the camera in, but in the middle of the frame you can see the doe running back and forth several times.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Opening Weekend of Deer Season

Our season opened up on Saturday, October 1st. The night before, I came down with the flu. Luckily it was only a 24-hour type, but I sat in my blind on opening morning with a fever, body aches, and trying not to puke.

The wind has been constantly out of the SE for the last 2 weeks which is not a predominant wind in Oklahoma, so we don't have but 1 or 2 locations that will really work for it. On the first, I sat in a ground blind on a funnel of young pecan trees that you, our readers chose during the pre-season. I didn't see anything besides a few birds and was glad to get home and rest.

Sunday evening I felt much better and Matt and I rushed to get in stand as our schedules were packed throughout the afternoon. I chose a climber spot and Matt took a ladder stand as his climber wasn't at his house. When we got to the parking area, there was one other vehicle there. We didn't think much of it as there is so much land there that the chances of seeing the other hunter(s) was slim. I get up in my climber about 4:45 and realize that I hadn't fully setup my camera tree arm so I couldn't use it without making a lot of movement and some noise. We have never sat in either location, so we were optimistic. About 6:45 I hear footsteps 100 yards in front of me. I stand and get ready to draw. Then I see it, camo is moving through the woods. He walks within 50 yards and I whistle. He yells back asking where I am. There goes my hunt. He says he's looking for his ground blind and proceeds to walk all the way to my left and about 150 yards out. He starts making a terrible racket; snapping large limbs, zipping the blind very quickly, thrashing about in the brush. A moment later, I spot him walking behind me now and there's another hunter with him. Why are they packing up at prime shooting light? They complete a full circle around me while stepping on every stick possible.

This is what makes public land so difficult. You never know when another hunter is going to crash your setup, setup with the wrong wind, or just show a blatant disregard for everyone and the woods. Given these points, I'm ready to shoot a monster spike. Below is a video recap of the hunts.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Setting Stands and Awaiting Opening Day

The last two weekends Matt and I have setup a total of 7 stand locations. Last weekend we setup 4. We have to climbable trees within 50 yards of each other in a funnel that has produced deer in the past. Why have trees that close? With the drought we've been in for 2 years, water levels near this area have dropped dramatically. Having these two trees cleared for this year give us an opportunity to move in the funnel depending on deer movement without having to intrude and clear shooting lanes during the season. Plus, we can hunt the area together if we want and have a possibility at two points of view video-wise for a kill on camera should the deer take the trail between the stands.

Our third stand is roughly 200 yards to the ENE. It is a ladder located in a cedar tree. I don't recommend trying to setup a stand in a cedar unless it is just after the season as this tree was infested with ticks. The stand overlooks a small field with several 5-15 foot trees spaced throughout.

The fourth stand is about 75 yards to the ENE again. It is another ladder, but in a scrub-oak on a point of trees that overlooks 3 deer trails and the spot where they converge. The only rough thing about this spot is the deer will show up out of nowhere and not offer much in the way of video prior to having to take a shot.

This weekend we went to a different location and setup a ground blind in a travel corridor. I laugh when looking at it as you'd expect to shoot ducks out of it rather than deer, but it is about 70 yards from a large scrap from last year and will allow us to catch deer as they move just inside the treeline from an overgrown area. This will allow for some great filming opportunities as long as the deer travel from the south to north. If it is reversed, they'll come from behind us and will make filming interesting .

About 700 yards to the south, we setup a tree for a climber with another tree nearby should we want to try and both hunt/film the spot. It is another funnel, but a pretty open area. I would say that this location is probably our biggest gamble for being off from where the deer actually are.

The last location is my favorite setup. It is a ladder stand in an immature pecan tree. The tree overlooks a small field that is partially overgrown in the middle as well as a fence crossing from private land. There are about 6 deer trails within 30 yards and they all funnel into 2 main trails. While we were clearing out the tree, I look into the field and there is a doe not 20 yards from us. She spooked a bit, but only ran about 15 yards. I won't be surprised to find myself in this stand next Saturday on opening morning, but I do not look forward to a drag from there as it's about a mile from the parking area over rough terrain.

One more week and we'll be looking to get some deer on film for you guys. Let's Make it Happen!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Opening Day for Dove

4:45am, my alarms started going off. It's a 45 minute drive to the spot I had chosen to hunt, it's opening day for dove, and I'm hunting a populated area. I get there at 5:45 and there's already a vehicle parked. Shooting light is at 6:30am. As I walk into the field, 3 others vehicles pull up.

Due to my previous scouting, I know exactly where I am setting up. I am using a half-dozen Game Winner inflatable foam dove decoys as well as a Mojo motorized teal decoy. Why in the heck am I using a teal decoy? They are closer to the size of a dove and Mojo has made the wings spin faster on the teal version. Dove are attracted to the flash of the wings, and Mojo has created a dove version, but I like to have more than one use for the items that I purchase and early teal season starts on the 10th of this month. I place 3 of the dove decoys on the top of the tall brush that I am sitting in and 3 on the ground roughly 10 yards away and the teal Mojo in the  middle of them.

I sit and watch the clock to shooting light. The dove start following what I planned for them to do and funnel toward me. I miss the first bird, but after that I'm connecting on the first shot. I manage to take a 15 bird limit on opening day with only shooting 1 box of shells. Here's a video of the hunt:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Scouting for Dove Season

This last weekend, I got out to scout for dove just 5 days before the season opener. This year has been marked by drought and rough conditions for any animal, let alone dove. I started scouting by checking a pond that isn't visible from the road. A secluded waterhole, must be a perfect ambush spot, right? I flushed a single bird as I came over the dam on the back side of the pond. It would appear as though this might be a secondary location for a setup after the birds quit going to the fields at first light.

I make my way to a field that was a weak excuse for wheat a few weeks ago. I'm surprised to find that it has since been cut. Immediately I spot 2 dove on the side of the field. As I get my gear ready (I'm also out here to clear a few stand locations for deer season), I spot a group of 10 dove circling the field. They circle 3 or 4 times before lighting into the trees on the far side of the field. All dove disappear as another prospective hunter appears to do some scouting of his own. We make small talk as I pray that the dove do not return while he's there. He doesn't see the one or two that fly over. I need all the luck I can get. 

After I clear some stand locations, I stop by another pond and spot 5 dove perched in the trees surrounding it. This pond is but a quarter of it's original size due to the drought. Dove season opens Thursday, I'll be hunting with the video camera as my wingman.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tell Us Where To Place Our Stands - Feedback

We received some feedback on the last post with the aerial and topo photos and were pointed to two areas. I marked the aerial photos with red dots for stands that are pretty much guaranteed and aqua dots for a possible stands. Of course, nothing is set in stone until they are scouted from the ground and the miles are put on the boots, but they appear pretty promising.





Given the fact that Oklahoma has had 37 of the last 45 days over 100 degrees, getting out to scout has been tough. We scouted two weeks ago starting at 6am and by 9am, we were soaked in sweat. The things we are willing to go through for scouting...As soon as I can get some time away, we will be scouting the area with both video and pictures to provide y'all with feedback as to what the spots you chose look like and we'll continue to work with you guys in the placement of the stands and execution of the hunts.

This scouting is for the Huntography - 2011 Deer Tour

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tell Us Where To Place Our Stands

I was sitting at home last night thinking about how to get our readers and followers more involved. That's when it dawned on me, why not post aerial photos and topographic maps of a location that we've been considering hunting, and have y'all choose our stand locations, entry points, etc. and tell us why you would choose that spot? We want your feedback and to involve you in our hunts and adventures. I have scaled down some of the aerial photos so as not to disclose the location as we do hunt public land.

First, let's start with the topo map. The horizontal line is the property line between the public and private land. The blue lines are creeks that have 15-25 foot banks that are straight up with no crossing points that we've seen. Spend some time looking at the topo prior to moving to the aerial so as not to taint your viewpoint on the area with anything other than the topo data.



These are the aerial photos. Now we have several spots that we like, but again, we don't want to taint your view. I want y'all's first opinions.The first is a zoomed out view with the 2nd through 4th going from left to right of the zoomed out view.













We will post a follow up blog with the locations that we had picked prior to our reader's input as well as the locations that y'all picked. Also, if it's easier for you, feel free to save the map/photo, add your own markers, then email it to us (makeithappenoutdoors@gmail.com) and we can compile the responses that we get then post the results.

This scouting is for the Huntography - 2011 Deer Tour

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bow Shoot, Bow Gear and Some Pre-Season Scouting

Over the last couple of weeks, we've been busy getting things ready for the hunting seasons right around the corner. I recently picked up a dozen GoldTip Hunter Expedition 5575 arrows at Oklahoma Archery. I enjoy using Oklahoma Archery due to their small size and expertise. They're a great help, just know that if you go within a month of bow season starting, you can't expect them to chit-chat with you all day, as they get swamped with business.

I also purchased a new sight. My old one had all of an inch of fiber optic for each pin and was not very friendly to make small adjustments on, plus, the pins disappeared at prime shooting time. After looking for a few months, I settled on the TruGlo Carbon XS sight. What attracted me to it is the fact that it has .19 pins which assist with better accuracy and do not cover the target so much at greater distances. It has roughly 6-7 inches of fiber optic cable per pin as well as a screw-in UV light that illuminates the pins like the noon sun. My groups have gotten significantly tighter since adding the sight and it also allows me to shoot at dusk when it's cool outside but low-light conditions. I highly recommend the sight to anyone looking to upgrade. In fact, my brother-in-law just added one to his new bow this year.

A video camera was acquired by myself as Matt already has one, but we did not want to stick ourselves to having to hunt together all the time in order to get footage. While figuring it out, I also used my digital camera and filmed a quick bow shoot that I had at dusk one night last week. Here's how it turned out.


I was pretty happy with the results. The camera does lack some low-light functionality which may come back to bite me during the season, but you do what you can when you can afford it. Let me know your thoughts on the video.

Matt and I also got out and did some scouting on Sunday at 6am trying to beat the ridiculous heatwave we've been under. We finished at 9am, and were already dripping sweat. We only saw 1 doe and a fawn, but were just looking at a new location for possible stand placements. We found a few areas of interest including a cedar tree on a small hill with a roughly 60 yard in diameter over grown field that butts up to a fence line providing somewhat of a funnel. We did locate a decent scrape from last year as well. Here's a quick video of some of our scouting.


We put in the work now to Make it Happen Outdoors this Fall. This scouting is for the Huntography - 2011 Deer Tour

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Name Change - Make it Happen Outdoors

Ever since we started our journey in the outdoors as children, Matt and I have always wanted to make our own hunting and fishing videos. We started this realization a few months ago by starting this blog, our twitter account, and YouTube channel. Currently, we only hunt and fish on public land, however this may not always be the case. The previous name, Public Hunting Only, would be constrictive in future growth should we have opportunities to hunt and fish private land whether that be through leases or through our friends and contacts. We needed a name that would truly convey our goals and aspirations for this "dream".

Our friends, @Huntography and @JoshDickerson7, provided valuable insight and inspiration to create a name that we can own and be proud of. I've never thought that simply coming up with a name would be so difficult. After a couple of weeks of batting around ideas, the name came to us out of no-where. Make it Happen Outdoors was born. MiHOutdoors is our true passion. With only having access to public land currently, you really have to make it happen for yourself when it comes to being successful.

We have a couple of things in the works for the next couple of weeks for the blog and are currently working on video editing and everything that encompasses it. Until next time, Make it Happen when you're Outdoors.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting Social with America’s Whitetail Deer Hunters

Just announced this morning is Huntography's road-trip to film some of today's social media deer hunters. From his blog: 
Huntography

 
1 Huntographer. 12 States. 19 Deer Hunters. 5,000 Miles. Fall 2011


This fall, I’ll be hitting the road again to film more of America’s whitetail deer hunters. Each one of these folks I met via social media. Through Twitter, Facebook, a blog or a forum, a relationship was forged.
I’ll visit them, on their private back 40 or on some local public land of their choice and capture their hunting experiences, deer camp culture and heritage on camera in HD. We’ll also be sharing what’s happening in realtime using a vast array of social media tools and websites.
Huntography is a movement to showcase how the rest of us hunt and how we are using technology to connect with each other across the country, from online to offline.
We’ll see you online and in the woods this fall. It’s on!
 
Fall Deer Hunting Dates:

Wisconsin: Bowhunting – October 16-18
Michigan: Bowhunting – October 19-23rd
Ohio: Bowhunting – October 24-25
Maryland: Bowhunting – October 26-27
Virgina: Bowhunting – October 28-29
North Carolina: Bowhunting – October 30-31
Georgia: Rifle – Nov 1-2
Tennessee: Bowhunting – November – 3-4
Arkansas: Bowhunting – November 6-7
Oklahoma: Bowhunting – November 8-9
 
 
 We can't explain how excited we are about this opportunity to work with Rudy and be included  in his trip. A huge thank you to @huntography for choosing to spend a couple of days filming us. We are his last stop on his enormous loop throughout the country and are bound to make an impression. You will get a chance to see us in all of our "glory," humor, and just being the everyday outdoorsmen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ethics, Responsibility, and Common Courtesy in The Woods.

Whether you hunt public or private land, you either have had, or will have, a bad encounter with another "hunter". There's that moment when you are just dumbfounded by the lack of respect for others and their efforts. I'm pretty sure that the longest chapter in Hunter Education courses covers ethics, responsibility, and courtesy. Private land hunters don't typically have much to worry about unless a trespasser is involved. However open leases and public land is all a matter of time before you run into that individual who will almost purposefully wreck your experience in the woods and not think twice.

I have had several experiences where I couldn't believe what was happening. Here's a few. I found a perfect funnel during the summer with plenty of sign, however it was not far from a parking area, so I knew it was going to get pressure. The first 2-3 weeks of the season were hot, and I saw a lot of deer movement including a spike that came in directly behind me at 3 yards, however I wasn't able to get a clear shot through the vines that I had against my back. The first time I sat in the location I noticed that someone had placed a make-shift feeder on a tree 15 yards in front of my chosen ground blind location. 20 yards from that, a hanging stand had been placed.

One morning I started walking into the funnel only to get whistled at. I promptly turned around and found another location several hundred downwind. Several days later, I arrived at 3:00pm to try and catch early deer movement. Around 5pm, I see movement to my 10 o'clock. I see two hunters about 150 yards away walking toward me. I notice it is a guy and his roughly 8-year old son. The guy stops at the edge of the field and sits down. His son then proceeds to continue my direction being as stealthy as a heard of elephants. I whistle. He doesn't react. I whistle again, this time louder and more drawn out. Nothing. I keep whistling but he ignores it. I start waving, he stares directly at me but does not stop. He gets within 20 yards and I finally stand up and yell "Hey, I'm over here." The kid shuffles around, walks 20 yards back toward his dad and relieves himself, then goes and sits with his dad. It's 5:30 by now and I know the hunt is blown. Big deal, it's public land, it's bound to happen right?

I pack up my gear and decide I should inform this gentleman that his son is unaware of what whistling means when moving through the woods while hunting. I make plenty of noise on my way so I do not catch them by surprise. I approach them cautiously and the guy says "hi". I ask him if he has taught his son about hunting etiquette and whistling. He said "yes". I then ask his son if he heard me whistling and saw me waving at him. He says "yes". I then ask why he didn't stop and turn around. His dad chimes in "Because I told him to go check my stand and see who was sitting in it." I told him thanks for ruining my hunt intentionally, and that I was on the ground, not in his stand. I then proceed to head toward my truck.

After about 150 yards, I began to build a rage inside. I turned and confronted the guy again. I asked how on earth he could send his own son into the woods to check as to where another hunter, with a weapon, was at. I told him that he was a pathetic excuse for a father for putting his own son at risk like that and he should be more respectful of other's space, time, and efforts. I told him that he was lucky that it was me in the woods and not someone who shoots at movements and sounds.

As a father, I cannot imagine knowingly sending my child into harms way "just to see who is sitting in my stand". Have hunters, and people as a whole, really become that self-centered and inconsiderate? It's no wonder those who hunt have acquired a bad name if this is more of the norm than the exception.

Another instance occurred last year as well. Matt and I made our way toward our stands. We were just walking into the wood-line as another hunter pulled up. We made sure that he saw us and then continued walking in. There was a north wind that day. The other hunter stops 75 yards north of us, walks into the woods and starts yelling asking us if we planned to hunt there. We replied yes, trying to get him to quiet down, he continued yelling about how he needed to check a stand of his which is conveniently due north of my stand location, thus he was dropping a scent line which would surely screw up and deer movement from the north. Sure enough, not a single deer was seen that night.

Per the Oklahoma Hunter's Education handbook:
"The greatest threat to hunting in North America is not anti-hunters. It is the negative hunter image created by poor hunter behavior in the field."


"All hunters have a personal code of conduct dictating how they act. There are many different personal codes of conduct. People hunt differently in different parts of the country. Individuals place personal limits on how they pursue game based on their skills and abilities. One thing is universal. A good code of conduct includes actions and attitudes that show responsibility and respect."


"Respect for other people including yourself, landowners, other hunters and non-hunters: Before you hunt, ask "Is this safe?" and "Is this sporting?" 

What are your thoughts and personal experiences? Let us know in the comments. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Catchin' Crappie

Last week I was able to find a few hours that I could get away and team up with Matt to smack some crappie on the river. Matt picked up about 3 dozen minnows and we headed out. The weather wasn't real promising as there was a 95% chance of rain that turned out to be all of a sprinkle and a cold front had moved through taking the temperature south with it.

The spot we fish on the Little River is well known and if you don't get there early, or on a week day, you are liable to have people walking all over you. There is an "S" curve in the river which pushes the bait fish, and in turn, the crappie up against the south bank where plenty of dead trees and brush abound for the fish. Here's an overview video of the immediate area.



The crappie are wrapping up their spawning soon, so we have been trying to make the fishing days count. We've ran into multiple fishermen while in this spot and each time they've had 15+ fish on their stringer. This particular day, I made an effort to film what I could with my iPhone, and will be taking the video camera on our next outing. We ended up with a fairly heavy stringer and a total of 23 crappie. Here's a couple videos of catches.






One of the last fish that I caught looked a bit nicked up. His skin was missing on a section of his back and Matt decided to take a closer look at him. That's when we noticed the fishing line sticking out of his mouth that wasn't mine. With his mouth propped open, we could see a minnow in the back of his mouth with another hook lodged in the roof of his mouth. Unfortunately I didn't get as detailed of video as I would have liked to, but it sure was interesting. I've always been told that when a fish has a hook in it's mouth, or has been caught recently, that it will not bite again. We proved that wrong.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

When Turkey Season Lasts For a Day

Tuesday night, I got baby duty. Went to sleep at 11:15pm and was up every 1-2 hours until 4:30am when my alarms went off and yet I'd already been awake for an hour. I was on my 3rd cup of coffee as I walked out the door. The temperature was a bit brisk at around 45 degrees, and the 45 minute drive flew by with anticipation. The shear distance to Lexington WMA from my house prevented a lot of my scouting opportunities, but also that fact that the baby came a month early threw off my pre-season scouting plans as well.

Matt and I met up at 5:30am to give us plenty of time to get situated. While we are loading his gear in my truck, another vehicle drives past us, headed into the WMA. It's a Wednesday and we still have other people to deal with? Yep. We leave a few moments later heading toward our pre-picked spot all the while noticing that we are driving into a cloud of dust. We round the corner to where we were going to park, and there is the other vehicle, parked right where we were going. Out of 10,000 acres, they chose the spot we had talked about for months. We chat with them for a minute to insure that we are not going to run into each other and Matt and I head to a backup location. Given that pre-season scouting wasn't performed as we wanted to, our spirits sank a bit. We drove about a mile and a half from the other hunters and setup at the back of a 100 acre field. 

Our owl hoots went unnoticed and the darkness was perfectly quiet, save for the owl who apparently thought he had a new neighbor. We had a decoy placed at 17 yards at our 11 o'clock position. The setup looked perfect, now for the birds to come in. 



With daylight, I called sparingly without any response still. The higher the sun got, the more I plead with my yelps, cuts, and purrs. The birds were having none of it though. Around 8:30, we still had no responses even after utilizing a crow locator call, so we packed up and drove around the property attempting to locate a gobbler. 3 hours later, we still hadn't heard any turkeys, much less seen any, and this is where our planning comes into play: When hunting public land, always have a backup plan. When that backup plan fails, go fishing. This is exactly what we chose to do.

By 1:30, we were on the river bank of the Little River and had 2 dozen minnows ready to go. I hooked a minnow, tossed the line toward a brush pile, and barely 2 seconds after the bobber hit the surface, it disappeared. The crappie were hitting the minnows so quickly that most of the time the minnows were still on the hooks and alive after we threw the fish on the stringer. We got pickier along the way as to the size of the fish that we would keep. The afternoon and minnows went by quickly and we ended up having a pretty solid stringer for being on the bank of the river. All in all, Wednesday is the kind of day that makes a one day turkey season strikeout seem like no big deal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pictures From The 2010-2011 Duck Season

Here are a few pictures of our duck hunting adventures in the 2010-2011 season. Wanted to give you something visual on the blog here. Mind you, I just started duck hunting during the 2009-2010 season.

The first picture is of a quick trip I took to Lake Thunderbird by myself with a dozen decoys and hiking in with full, chest-high, rubber waders on.


The second is picture is of a female hooded merganser that I dropped at 40 yards on a slow day at Fort Cobb (sorry for the dark pic, it was taken with my phone).



The third, I did not compose for public viewing, but to show Matt, who was laid up with a broken leg my near-limit while again going to Lake Thunderbird as a novice duck hunter. Yes, there is a headless drake in there.


The fourth picture is from the same trip to Fort Cobb as the second picture. It was early November, 70+ degrees, and we were lucky to see these birds in the 5 hours we sat. On the way back to the truck, I found the skull in the background. It appears to be a kill from 2009-2010 due to the bleaching of the skull, however the lack of rodent marks on it and the remnants of hair and some skin on the upper lip area led me to question this. Judging from the teeth, it appears to be a 2 1/2 year old buck and a decent 7 point by any public hunter's definitions. An interesting note, the right side of his rack only has 2 points as it does not have a brow tine, making it one of the larger fork-horn racks that I've seen personally.