Monday, December 29, 2008
We enjoyed very pleasant temperatures as we sat in our treestands on Friday morning. I saw four deer (3 doe and a 3-point buck), three of which walked within bow range. Daddy also saw a few deer and attempted a shot at a doe that was about 30 yards away. Unfortunately, a treelimb was in the flightpath of the arrow and redirected it away from the intended target.
After the morning hunt, we checked the status of the protein feeder/food plot area in the middle of our deer sanctuary. There were a few signs of deer around, but they still haven't started hitting the protein yet. The oats/clover mixture that we planted earlier in the fall has been grazed down quite a bit. Shane moved his trail camera to the protein feeder so hopefully we will get some deer pictures. This is a picture I took last month showing the feeder area (which we have fenced off to keep the cows out) and the oats that were beginning to come up.
Since the last few times sitting in my easternmost stand have provided shot opportunities, I decided to put my Dad in this stand on Friday evening. Once again, deer walked within bow range of this stand, but Daddy decided to pass on the shot because it was just a very small yearling doe.
I decided to hunt out of my stand behind the lake that hasn't been hunted in over a month. I didn't see any deer activity that evening, but about 4:30 a large male bobcat walked down the ridge behind me and into a clearing about 25 - 30 yards to my right. Just as I was about to draw my bow I noticed he was turning in my direction. He continued on a trail that passes almost directly under my stand. As he approached he walked behind a thicket allowing me to draw my bow undetected. When he stepped out from behind the thicket, five yards from the base of the tree I was in, I made a grunt noise to stop him and loosed the arrow. It was a perfect shot and the cat never knew what hit him. He managed to make it 15 yards before expiring.
I weighed the cat on the game hanger we have at the bunkhouse and he weighed right at 30 pounds, which is quite a bit larger than the average bobcat. I found a publication on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website that said the average weight of an adult bobcat is 12 - 20 pounds, with the occasional older cat reaching up to 36 pounds. The largest one ever recorded in Texas weighed a little over 37 pounds.
I plan to have a lifesize mount of the bobcat made for my trophy room. I'm thinking maybe it would look good to have him mounted in a leaping position where he is swatting at a quail.
Saturday morning there was a threat of thunderstorms so my Dad and I decided to wait the storms out. So we didn't get in our stands until about 8:30 that morning. I didn't see any deer so I took the opportunity to try to take a few pictures. I think this is a Black-capped Chickadee (poecile atricapillus).
Saturday evening I saw one doe. A large grass fire had started about a mile from where we hunt earlier in the day at someone's deer camp. The wind was really strong and the fire got out of control in a hurry and ended up burning a house to the ground. Here are a couple pictures I snapped of the fire.
Monday, December 22, 2008
There was a slight wind from the south as I headed to get in my stand early Saturday morning, not exactly the best scenario for the stand location I was going to hunt. I climbed up in the stand, got situated and watched as the stars faded into the light of day. About 10 minutes after 7:00 I heard deer movement to my right. I could tell there were multiple deer heading in my direction, but I couldn't tell exactly how many. I went ahead and reached for my bow so as not to make any more movement than possible if the deer did proceed to walk within bow range.
And that they did. The first one, a doe, approached on a trail that leads out of the woodline and skirted within ten yards of my stand. I could see out of the corner of my eye that a second doe was about 15 yards behind her, still in the thicker woods. The first deer continued crossing in front of me from right to left and I drew my bow as she walked behind a small mesquite tree. As soon as she stepped out from behind that tree I loosed my carbon arrow. The arrow flew true and the 100-grain Thunderhead broadhead connected at 14 yards. The doe ran about 60 yards before expiring in the clearing. There would be no need to track this one. The other deer apparently wasn't spooked by the havoc that was wreaked by the flight of the arrow. She continued in my direction but veered away without stepping into a clearing within bow range. A third doe appeared behind her, following her same path. I watched these two deer feed about 80 yards away for the next hour and forty-five minutes. Several times they appeared to be heading back in my direction, but changed course while milling around in the open area in front of my stand.
Finally, at about five minutes until 9:00, the larger of the two deer made her way back toward my stand. When she got within 25 yards I drew my bow and made a risky decision to take a shot at this deer as she was quartering to me. The shot was slightly errant to the left. Not a big deal if it were a broadside shot or a quartering away shot, but the angle the deer was standing resulted in the shot placement being way too far back. I saw the deer run off, and I was somewhat concerned about recovering this one.
I got down out of the stand about 15 minutes later and was able to locate both arrows. I walked back to the truck and met up with Shane, who snapped these awesome pictures. He took the pictures of me with the first deer, we took care of the field dressing duties, and then began looking for the second deer. Fortunately, we found her about two hours after I shot her, and she had only gone about 100 yards.
After taking pictures of the second deer, Shane took some of me with both deer.
The fact that both of these deer were directly downwind of me and never even knew I was there is evidence of the odor-eliminating abilities of the Scent-Lok clothing I was wearing.
The weather was progressively getting cooler throughout the day, and I knew there wouldn't be any chance of the meat spoiling, so I let the deer hang overnight at the bunkhouse.
Saturday evening I hunted out of that same stand and didn't see anything but an opossum.
Sunday morning we woke up to frigid temperatures. It was 15 degrees when I got in my stand just before daylight. A familiar situation unfolded Sunday morning as two more does walked in on the same trail at about 7:30. Both of them walked past my stand within bow range, but I had filled both of my doe tags the previous day.
I quit hunting at about 8:15 because I needed to allow myself time to get the deer to the processor in Muenster, which was a little over an hour away. I dropped both deer off and placed an order for ten pounds of deer sticks and ten pounds of summer sausage. I'm gonna need some more freezer space!
Two deer in one morning with the bow. I'd say that was a hunt to remember.
Monday, December 1, 2008
With all of the doe activity during the day, I was hopeful that I would be offered a shot at a doe to get some meat for the freezer. On Friday morning I saw three doe right at first light, but they never got within 70 yards. Friday evening I didn't see anything.
Saturday morning I watched a spike buck feed for about half an hour then I looked to my left and saw a doe behind some trees at about 25 yards. I reached for my bow to take the shot, but then I saw that she had a very small fawn with her trailing along at her feet. This fawn must have been born very late in the summer because it was still very small - probably still nursing. I couldn't bring myself to shoot her with that little fawn still with her. I put my bow back on the bow holder and just watched them walk away.
On Saturday evening I once again almost had a shot at a doe. Four of them came by my stand, this time to my right in the heavy cover. They never presented a shot. By the time they were in a clearing they weren't in bow range anymore. So I still haven't gotten a deer yet this year.
Shane was able to take a picture of a really nice 8-point from his stand on Saturday morning. If this deer makes it through the season, he will be a dandy next year!
Last weekend, while I was in Iowa, Shane made a perfect 60-yard shot to harvest his first deer, a really nice doe.
This weekend, Rusty followed suit and brought down his first deer, also a nice mature doe.
Good job fellas, congratulations to you both.
That brings the total number of deer harvested on our hunting grounds this year to four, all antlerless. I think we can probably still harvest three or four more doe this year to get the buck/doe ratio closer to where it needs to be.
I really like my new stand location and it seems very promising. I hope to take a doe with my bow before the season ends.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We arrived at Denny and Kathy's, which is just west of Webb, Iowa, at about 8:30 on Saturday morning, after driving all night long when I got off work Friday. It had started to snow on us about 100 miles south of Webb, and when we arrived there was about an inch of snow on the ground. Katy really had fun playing in the snow.
We hunted most of the day Saturday with Denny and his son Nate. Neither me nor my dad got a bird on Saturday. I had an easy shot at a rooster that flushed right in front of me, but I wasn't able to connect. Denny shot a bird or two that day.
Both my dad and I are decent wingshooters, and have quite a bit of experience shooting doves. Pheasants are much bigger than doves, and one would think they would be easier to hit than a dove, but it isn't as easy as it might look. Usually with doves, you are allowed multiple shot opportunities, sometimes multiple boxes of shells. If you start off shooting bad, there are usually plenty more opportunities which allow you to make corrections and figure out what you are doing wrong. With pheasants, the shot opportunities are fewer, and there is less room for error. Also with doves, you usually see them coming from a long way off and you are more prepared for the type of shot you are going to have to take. With pheasants, you can't always be sure where the bird is going to flush. Even hunting behind dogs, the bird might flush from an area you aren't expecting. He might get up in front of you and fly straight away, or he might get up behind you and veer off to one direction or the other. To make it even more complicated, you also have to make a quick decision on whether it is a hen or a rooster. It is very challenging, but lots of fun.
On Sunday, we went to church with Denny and Kathy and then hunted that afternoon. Once again, my dad and I missed on our shot opportunities, but Denny was able to connect. He shot this bird that afternoon, and it has to be the prettiest one we have seen since we have been hunting pheasants. Denny has hunted pheasants all his life and has never had one mounted, but this one was so pretty and much bigger than the average rooster, and the dogs didn't chew it up, so he decided to get it mounted. The picture doesn't do it justice.
On Monday, my dad and I had two incidents where we were shooting at the same bird, and we couldn't tell who actually hit the bird. One of them we lost and the dogs never even found it. The other one we found, so we decided to split that one (I guess we have a competition going to see who shoots the most).
On Tuesday morning, right before we headed out to pheasant hunt, Denny got a call from his friend Mark Gustafson, who had been bowhunting that morning on some of Denny's property. He reported that he had just shot a buck that was at least a 10-point, so we headed over to help him load it up and to see how big it was. It turned out to be an 11-point that had lots of character. His right antler was a perfect half of a typical 10-point, but the left antler had an extra beam and a small drop tine. These deer in Iowa are much bigger bodywise than what we see on the property we hunt here in Texas. They estimated that this one field dressed at about 220 pounds.
After we helped Mark load up the deer and snap a few pictures we were off to the field for our last day of pheasant hunting. I was able to redeem myself for the poor shooting on the previous days and connected on two birds on Tuesday.
This was the first hunting trip for my new German Shorthair Pointer pup, Little Sioux (named after the river that runs through Denny's property), that Steph and I drove to Iowa earlier this summer to get. My friends Ralph Warkentin and Mike Hanson, who are both from Iowa, were excited to see the pup. They each have two dogs and all four are from the same bloodlines. Ralph's male dog, Jack, is the sire of my pup. I wasn't sure how she would do since I had been gone to Houston for the month prior to our trip and didn't have the time to work with her as much as I wanted. She is only 8 months old, and she did a good job at working close and not ranging out too far. She never did make a point, but she got birdy a couple times and got excited when a bird would flush. I need to get her on some quail in the next month or so, after it gets cold enough that the rattlesnakes will not be out for sure.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
After I checked the trail camera I confirmed that I have the camera and stand along a well-used trail. Unfortunately, after the camera had been up for several days it got knocked off the tree by a cow. So, I only had a few days worth of pictures, but there was quite a bit of deer activity. For some reason, my camera is not displaying the correct time - the date appears to be correct, but the time is off. I made sure to set it correctly the last time I checked it. I don't know, maybe the camera is getting old or is just acting up a little bit. Here are a few of the pics.
This was a quick trip out to the lease so I talked Steph and the girls into going out with me. They dropped me off and went to Graham and did a little shopping, then came and picked me up after dark. Before we headed home we had to stop by and eat at Cotton's. It was just the right thing to do.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I was scheduled to arrive at the Hunter Check Station for the pre-hunt orientation at 10:00 AM on Saturday. When I arrived, I was directed to sign in and make my selection for the compartment that I wished to hunt. TPWD had aerial photo maps showing the area broken down into about 23 compartments ranging in size, but none less than 100 acres. I selected Compartment #8 as my primary choice, based on several factors. I knew this compartment would not receive any other traffic other than myself due to its location in relation to the river and the associated access trails. Also, it was one of the larger compartments and I wanted to distance myself from any nearby hunters. And finally, I had a conversation with another hunter who hunts that area regularly and he mentioned that a good buck was taken out of that compartment last year and he would have chosen it, if it weren't for the fact that he had his 7 year old daughter with him, and he didn't want her to have to make the long walk to that compartment.
About 11:30 they released us to hunt, so I headed straight for my compartment. I parked at the designated parking area and spent about 15 or 20 minutes getting all of my gear ready. One thing I forgot to throw in my backpack was a bottle of water - I guess I was so excited to hunt that I forgot all about it. Well, after hiking in over a mile with a 30-pound climbing stand on my back, a 15-pound backpack, and a gun I was really needing a drink. So I did some quick scouting and picked out a good tree about 30 yards from a fresh rub. I sat in the stand for about a half hour just to rest and then I headed back to the truck for some water and to mark my trail to find my way back out after dark. I ended up not seeing anything that first day other than a doe and a hog, both of which I spooked on my first trip in. I was thankful that I had remembered to take my Garmin GPS with me and had saved a few locations. It helped me get back to the truck that first night because my trail marking apparently was not up to par.
I decided to leave my stand at the base of the tree so as not to have to haul it in and out each day. I hunted that same spot on Sunday morning and still had not seen anything by about 9:30. So I got down and did a little more scouting. The wildlife biologist had mentioned a slough in my compartment that would be a good place to set up. I finally found the slough, as well as a couple fresh rubs, so I moved my stand to this location, which proved to be a good choice. Sunday evening, shortly after 5:00, I saw a 9-point walk by my stand at about 15 yards, but I didn't feel comfortable that he would meet the antler restrictions, so I had to pass on him. He was a very neat looking buck, with an extra main beam on his left antler (very similar to the one my cousin has pictures of from my last post), but he only looked like a 2 1/2 year old. His outside antler spread was about even with the ears, and the goal of the antler restrictions is to allow bucks like this to mature, so I made the decision to let him walk. A few minutes later I saw two hogs, but decided not to shoot because I didn't want to scare off any deer in the area (and I didn't feel like dragging a hog a mile and a half). Earlier that evening I had a coyote chase a cottontail on a dead sprint right under my stand. I thought that was pretty neat to see - he was about 8 feet behind this rabbit and they were running as fast as they both could. He didn't catch up with it and I saw him stop and turn around. Then he walked right back under my stand going the other way.
On Monday morning I got a glimpse of a doe (at least I think it was a doe) off in the brush for just a short moment. I also saw another young buck, a 4-point, about 100 yards away. The hunt came to an end at Noon on Monday without me even firing a shot. But I had a really good time and will put in for this hunt again. There were a total of 5 or 6 does and 3 bucks harvested by other hunters that weekend. The bucks were a respectable 8-point with a 15-inch spread, a questionable 8-point with a 13-inch spread, and an illegal buck with an 11-inch spread. I forgot to take my camera with me but I was able to take a few pictures with my phone. Here's one of me in the stand. The 9-point came from the direction I am looking.
While I was there, I stayed at the Days Inn in Lindale, which has possibly been seen on the television program "COPS" (I was well-armed to say the least) and needs to be seen on one of those interior decorating shows on HGTV. I'm no expert on this, but a navy blue and pink rose print comforter doesn't look that great with pastel lime green walls. However, I was able to get some rest and catch a football game in the evenings.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Chris was able to harvest two deer with his Thompson Pro Hunter muzzleloader on Saturday morning, one being a mature doe and the other, which he thought was a doe, turned out to be a nubbin buck upon closer inspection. So, Chris used his buck tag, and we hunt in a one buck county, which unfortunately means he won't be able to harvest another buck on the lease this year.
Lee saw the most activity of all on opening day - 3 bucks and 7 does. The bucks were a 9-point, an 8-point, and a 5-point, but none were big enough to be considered "shooters". Lee was able to get this picture of the 9-point.
My Dad only hunted on opening morning and had a 4-point walk by.
As I was driving across the front pasture Monday afternoon I saw a small 8-point chasing a doe on the east side of the hay field, headed in the direction of our free-choice feeder. About 5 minutes later, as I got closer to Tater Hill I saw the same two deer. The buck was chasing her across the ridge near my box blind.
I was finally able to get in one of my treestands at about 4:00 Monday afternoon. Shortly after 5:00 I had a 1 1/2 year old buck walk by at about 7 to 10 yards. He had an unbranched antler on his left side and a forked antler on his right. About 10 minutes later I heard something else walking in. I glanced back behind me to my right and saw that it was a very big boar hog at about 25 yards. He continued walking by on my right side as I grabbed my bow. I drew my bow and grunted at him with my mouth to get him to stop, which he did in a clearing about 30 yards away. I put the 30 yard pin on him and loosed the arrow. I made a bad shot and could tell that I had hit him too high and forward in the shoulder. I waited about 15 minutes and then got down to look for a blood trail. I couldn't find a drop of blood anywhere. I finally found what was left of my arrow about 30 yards from where the hog was standing when I shot. He had broken off about a 1/3 of the arrow as he ran by a tree. The remaining 2/3 of the arrow was half covered in blood, telling me that the arrow got about 16 inches of penetration. I called my uncle, Rusty, and he came to help me look for the blood trail and the animal. We never found a drop of blood or the hog anywhere. I think I hit him high enough that I missed all of his vitals and the shot was possibly not fatal. I suspect the hog weighed in the 250 pound range.
On Tuesday morning I saw three young bucks. Two of them were 1 1/2 year olds that looked like little 4-points (one of them was possibly the 3-point from the evening before). The other deer was a larger-bodied 4-point without brow tines, that I think may be a 2 1/2 year old.
Tuesday evening I didn't see anything, but Rusty saw a small 6-point hunting out of Shane's blind.
Wednesday morning I had a 1 1/2 year old 6-point walk by at about 15 yards.
I was able to check my camera and download the pictures. I found two fresh rubs along the tree line near my winch-up feeder, so I moved one of my lock on stands to that location. I also created a mock scrape and placed my camera there to see which buck is making the rubs. Here are some pictures from my trail camera. I can't tell if this is the same deer that Lee got the picture of above or not.
Here are some pictures of a unique buck from Shane's camera. This deer appears to have an extra main-beam on his left side.
I'm home babysitting the girls today and I'm gearing up for my hunt in East Texas that starts tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I haven't had an opportunity to check my trail camera since my cousin Shane checked it for me about three weeks ago. So, hopefully it will have some good pictures on it next week. In the meantime, here are some pictures from some of the other guys' cameras on the lease of a young buck that has some potential in another year or so.
Monday, September 15, 2008
This past weekend we had our semi-annual work weekend at the lease. Everybody was there and it was one of the funnest times I've had at the lease. I know the pictures don't look like it was a work weekend, but we actually did get a few things accomplished. On Saturday morning, we started the day off right with an action packed dove shoot. I'm gonna call it a dove "shoot" because there were so many birds that there wasn't much of a hunt to it. We were beginning to feel the outermost effects of Hurricane Ike as we started to get a little breeze out of the north and some intermittant rain showers. It didn't seem to slow the birds down any as we were able to bag 64 that morning.
After the morning hunt, we cleaned birds and mowed the yard at the bunkhouse. By the time we got done with that it was time for lunch, so we went to my favorite place to eat, Cotton's Restaurant in Bryson, Texas. After lunch we went over to "600", which is the part of the lease where we deer hunt, and we installed a new free-choice protein feeder in the deer sanctuary. We spent most of the afternoon building a net wire fence around the feeder to keep the livestock from eating the high-dollar protein pellets in the feeder. That evening we dined on some of my Dad's dove hash, which consisted of slow-cooked dove breasts chopped up into small pieces and sauteed in a skillet with mushrooms, olives, and diced potatoes. It was different, but good.
Since the bird hunting was so good on Saturday, we gave it another shot on Sunday morning. It wasn't quite as fast-paced as Saturday's hunt, but it was still good. We bagged another 42 birds that morning. The weather was clear and cool and the sunrise was absolutely gorgeous.
We spent the rest of the day working on various stands and feeders. We are only about a week and a half away from archery season, but I may end up missing it if I get deployed to help with the hurricane recovery.
Also, I found out last week that I got drawn for two different public hunts. Chris and I got letters in the mail stating that we were chosen for the "Historic Methods" hunt on Fort Leonard Wood army base in South Central Missouri. I also received notice that I was chosen to participate in a gun hunt on Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area in East Texas.
Photos courtesy of Shane Jordan.