Missouri whitetail population in decline

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2014 by lickingbranch

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There is no denying that the whitetail population in Missouri is on the decline, but we are not alone. Hunters are reporting to seeing less deer all across the midwest, from Kansas to Indiana and Minnesota to Arkansas. The harvest totals from previous seasons are down 15-30% in all of these states. Missouri ranks near the top of those percentages. The numbers back up the concerns deer hunters are expressing. On average Missouri is down 31.75% over the previous four years! A downward trend in northwestern and north-central Missouri has been occurring for over a decade now. These two regions of the state are down some 25% over THAT time. It all began with unlimited antlerless permits that put a focus on reducing the herds in these areas. While many hunters are seeing a decline in the population there are many counties in the southern part of the state where the deer herd is plentiful. Listed below are the past five seasons harvest numbers.

Season     Antlered Buck       Button Buck              Doe          Deer Total
2009 107,805 43,504 148,152 299,461
2010 104,477 38,372 131,945 274,794
2011 114776 39,974 136,858 291,598
2012 120,731 42,358 148,215 311,304
2013 84,200 25,345 90,734 200,279

The 2013 harvest numbers vs. the previous four years:
2009 – 33%
2010 – 27%
2011 – 31%
2012 – 36%

What’s happening? The weather can’t be blamed for such a drastic decline from previous years even with rain on opening day and extreme gusty winds on the second day of firearms season. Missouri Conservation Department Resource Scientist Jason Sumners puts it into perspective quiet well:

“The distribution of our deer harvest over the course of the season has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. “Back then, people only had nine days to hunt with modern firearms, so a significant reduction in the opening-weekend harvest was almost certain to result in a reduced deer harvest for the year. Today, Firearms Deer Season spans 42 days, so there is no rush to shoot a deer the first two days of the November Portion.”

“Last year’s (2012) opening-weekend harvest of 69,614 was the smallest opening-weekend harvest in more than 20 years. Yet, in spite of that slow start, hunters shot enough deer during the remainder of the firearms deer season to post the third-largest total deer harvest in Missouri history.” I have over 22 years of hunting experience (all in the Show Me State) so I have been witness to all of these changes firsthand. It’s not the weather that is affecting the harvest numbers. Hunters have more opportunities to hunt deer than ever before.

Is mother nature at work here? It’s widely known that the diseases EHD or epizootic hemorrhagic disease and blue-tongue were a major factor on reducing deer populations nation wide in 2012 and 2013. There are no accurate reports on how many deer died, but its safe to assume it was a lot more than was reported. I know of hunters who did not report the dead deer they found to the Missouri Department of Conservation. However the diseases occur in most years, but are most prevalent during drought conditions. It is transmitted by biological vectors In North America, this is most often the biting midge, Culicoides variipennis. Typically, outbreaks occur in late summer to early fall and end after a hard frost. It’s clear the disease killed MANY more deer than anyone will ever know. A top 3 all time harvest in the fall of 2012 only compounded the problem with the decline.

On an episode of Midwest Whitetail (web-based hunting show) in 2012 my father talks with our local conservation agent about the effects of the disease. We brought this to the viewers of the show in hopes of spreading awareness to the issue for landowners around the country dealing with the issue. The message was clear, it was widespread throughout the midwest and if you were finding dead deer you needed to adjust your harvest. You can watch that segment by clicking the following link and forwarding to the 14 minute mark of the video:

http://www.midwestwhitetail.com/gallery/129/media/4391/mw126-close-calls.html

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What can we do now? The number of deer taken during the hunting seasons are what affects the population size for the most part. Other facts like predation and vehicle collisions play a factor as well though. However hunters by and large control the population. Most of Missouri has liberal bag limits so hunters share a big portion of our current problem. The deer harvest decisions you make for your property should be solely based on your observations and management objectives! My grandfather used to tell me stories about seeing his first deer or first turkey on the farm. On the other end of the spectrum I remember back in the 90′s when we were shooting 20 deer a year just to keep up with the rapidly growing population. There was widespread crop damage. That brought the farming industry begging for reduced population and working in conjunction with the insurance companies to the regulations we have today. We’ve adjusted significantly, especially with all of these factors at work. The fact of the matter is there has been a change in habitat that is playing a part in all of the reduction too. Big farming operations are leasing and buying up land and farming ground that wasn’t fit to grow crops on previously, but provided nutrition and cover for wildlife. Other government programs have expired on properties and folks are converting those acres from cover to food. Things are not looking up. Everyone needs to band together and voice their opinion on what they would like to see.

The biggest thing we can do as hunters or land managers is to reduce the amount you pull the trigger. My father conducted an extensive deer survey this past summer on his property with the use of trail cameras. The data gave us a ratio of 3:1 does to bucks. Our biggest challenge is growing mature bucks. With gun fire reigning down on the animals for 42 days DURING their most vulnerable time of the year its easy to figure out where the problem lies. You can only control what happens on your own property or the property to which you hunt. I’m making sure my voice is heard and will continue to do so. I’m not naive enough to think it can’t get worse if things don’t change.

What I would like to see:
1. Gun season moved out of the rut, to the first weekend after Thanksgiving.

2. Reduce the unlimited doe tags. Go back to the old system of giving out tags based on counties or regions and the populations of the individual herds.

3. Remove over the counter non-resident tags. Go to a draw system based on regions

4. Move the first portion of the Youth Season to September when deer are on feeding patterns, not during rutting behavior

If you have opinions about how Missouri’s deer regulations should be changed, wildlife biologist Jason Sumners encourages you to contact the Missouri Conservation Commission’s regulations committee. You can submit suggestions by email to Denise Bateman, secretary of the committee, at denise.bateman @mdc.mo.gov or by regular mail at MDC Regulations Committee, Attn: Denise Bateman, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Leave a reply below with your concerns or vote in my poll!

Video Blog Journal Entry #2 Nov 2nd

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by lickingbranch

Missouri’s youth firearms season – first portion Nov 2nd-3rd

Daily Video Blog Entry #1 Oct 24th – Oct 26th

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 29, 2013 by lickingbranch

In an effort to keep a daily journal through the rest of the season I am going to try to upload a daily video blog entry of every day’s action through the rest of the season. I’ll start things off by showing the 3 days I took my son out bow hunting in an effort to get his his first antlered buck with a bow.

Highlight REEL

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by lickingbranch

https://vimeo.com/71714439

As a new season approaches I was reflecting on the memories of the past few seasons. Here is a highlight reel of some of the best moments during that time.

AJ Yost shoots first deer with a bow

Posted in 2012 Hunting Season with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by lickingbranch


O
ne of the things I have been focusing on this year leading up to the season is working with my 12-year-old son AJ getting him ready for his first ever bow hunt.
Last year for his birthday (March 2011) I purchased him a new bow and got him shooting right away. He was wild with his shots and really struggling to even hit the target. He clearly was not ready to be shooting at animals once the season rolled around. He came to me a year later and said he really wanted to go bow hunting this fall with me. It was going to take a lot of hard work on both our parts, but I knew we could get him there. I gave him three goals:

1. Keep it fun! We are going into this as a learning experience. I’m certainly going to have to coach him through the whole experience, but he needed to know that bow hunting is a challenge.Take something away from every experience and grow from it.

2. Shoot consistent groups at the target.  The last thing I want to do is put my children in situations where they can fail.

3. He needed to be able to pull back enough weight to effectively kill any deer that walked by.  The plan is to have the chance at releasing an arrow at a deer and the worst thing that could happen is to wound an animal.

We began by getting his strength built up adding two turns to the bow every week or so. Each turn equates to a little over a pound. He progressed by leaps and bounds and started shooting consistent groups out to 20 yards at the target. The last thing we needed to conquer was shooting from an elevated position. I set up a tree stand in a large pin oak tree in our backyard. He still had over 5 weeks at the time to get to where he needed to be. We circled September 29th on the calendar for his first time out and we could hunt two weekends in a row together. I’ll never forget the first time my dad took me bow hunting. On our first morning out a lone doe walked right to the base of the tree. I crumbled under the pressure and never even got my bow pulled back. No matter what would happen we were going to have fun trying to get AJ his first deer with a bow.

On September 28th AJ got off the bus and we headed straight to the farm. To say we were excited would be an understatement. The day we had been waiting for was finally here. The next morning we got to the stand (Brown Pond Set) nice and early without alerting any deer. It was a calm, crisp 45 degree morning with winds out of the northeast. I knew heading to this stand the wind was going to be marginal and it proved costly. I just don’t set up a lot of stands for east winds since they are pretty rare. I just couldn’t give up a sit on stand under the circumstances. You never know what could happen. We had a couple does approach from the SW and hit our scent stream. They immediately started sounding off snorting at us. I’m pretty sure they alerted everything in the entire county of our presence. We saw a young 6 point buck before climbing down around 10:30am.

That afternoon we went to a stand I was just dying to get into. The wind was perfect for it. I had thought this would be an excellent morning stand where a buck might be trying to slip back by heading back to his bed. I convinced myself to go there that afternoon anyway and wouldn’t you know it we jumped a big mature buck bedded not 40 yards from the stand. I was disgusted, but we climbed into the stand and didn’t see anything else that evening.

The next morning we headed back to the Brown Pond set with winds out of the northwest. We saw a group of 5 coyotes chase each other around the pond behind the stand for a little while before running off to bed down for the day. A short time later 4 does and fawns would come out of the ditch from the east of us and feed under two large red oak trees that are in the middle of an open pasture field. They eventually headed in our direction coming as close as 50 yards until they got a whiff of us and nervously walked off to the south. We never saw anything else that morning and had to come up with a new game plan that afternoon to try to get AJ a shot opportunity.

Sunday afternoon we headed to an area of the farm we call the south pasture. There is many food sources in the area with a large soybean field, a 1 acre milo food plot and also an alfalfa field the deer eventually end up feeding in. My dad and I have tried and tried to kill deer in this area over the past 2 seasons and finally had them figured out. Just a week earlier we had a great hunt from a stand we have set up on the dam of a pond overlooking the milo plot. The deer feed past the milo and head by the pond headed to the alfalfa field. I would pull my bow back 3 different times that evening and never release an arrow. The problem with taking AJ there was the wind was wrong for that stand and the ability for him to get any shots off would be difficult for a new bowhunter. My only option was to hang a new stand on the opposite side of the field right off the road some of the deer travel down.

I drove the HuntMObile near the stand and dropped off the stands and sticks. We approached the stand with the wind in our favor using a ditch for access so the deer would not catch any ground scent. Eventually the deer would start to appear, first some fawns and then many does. We had a doe start-up the road heading for our shooting lane when she got nervous and veered off the road and headed straight for the base of the tree. She did not like the tire tracks from the buggy that lead to the tree. Deer are so keen to their environment that they notice every little change and it puts them on alert until they get used to it. That doe would eventually hear me whisper to AJ to draw his bow and pick us off in the tree. She spooked and ran off back from the direction she came.

A doe and some fawns would come from the NW through the milo and in the opposite direction they normally travel. She would eventually stop 30 yards away and give AJ a perfect broadside shot. He let the arrow fly, but he was way low and the deer trotted off trying to figure out what had just happened. A little while later another doe did the EXACT same thing as the first one headed down the road and also walked to the base of the tree. She never could figure out the danger in the tree above and would trot out quartering away trying to catch up to her fawn. AJ was a little slow in drawing his bow as he was waiting on me to tell him it was okay. I tried at the last second to hold him off because the shot angle was not good and she was walking, but he let the arrow fly and made a bad decision. He hit the deer through the back left leg, but we thought there was a chance he might had caught part of her stomach. We backed out and headed back to Kansas City empty-handed. My dad would go back the next morning and find a surprisingly good blood trail that would eventually stop and lead to no deer.

The second weekend we headed back to the farm with high hopes that our luck would change and AJ would finally get his first deer with a bow. Saturday morning we went back to the stand we had spooked the bedded buck from the week prior. It was 35 degrees and winds out of the NNW. Just 45 minutes after first light a doe would sneak in on us and was already 15 yards away when I first noticed her. She would walk out in front of the stand and get to 10 yards in a hurry. She locked up on our scent stream and started looking for the source of the smell. We were out of position and before AJ could get his bow drawn she caught a good whiff of us and tore out of there. We would see a coyote and a hen turkey before climbing down early because we were both under dressed for the weather.

Saturday October 6th our luck continued to get worse as we headed back to the south pasture stand. As we drove the buggy to our parking spot we jumped 8 does and fawns in an area the deer never usually bed in until the late season. My dad normally has cows in this area, but he kept them out because it’s an area we want to plant a food plot and improve for the wildlife in 2013. They all ran toward the ditch we use to access the stand. As we approached the ditch they were all still in the area. We would creep in on them to 30 yards before they finally busted out of the area and ran across the alfalfa field headed north away from us. AJ looked at me disgusted and said, now what dad? I said, we go to the stand and hope they come back or something else comes by.

After an hour on stand 2 does and 3 fawns came back. They came off the creek nervously and were headed for the road. The lead doe was in a hurry and wanting to get back to the east and past our stand. As she started down the road she closed the distance and AJ drew his bow without me saying a word. She got to 22 yards when he begged me to stop her for a shot. I let him know I wanted her to keep coming. As he strained holding the bow and his heart pounding she finally got where I wanted him to shoot her. I stopped her with a mouth bleat and AJ let the arrow fly. THWACK! I couldn’t tell where he had hit the deer, but she ran off on a dead run away from us cutting the milo field headed back up the hill towards the alfalfa field. He assured me it was a good shot. I played it back on the camera and confirmed what he saw. We had many other does and fawns in shooting range that evening, but I didn’t take my bow and I only purchased one antlerless tag for AJ.

At dark we called my dad to come help with the blood trail and to spook all the deer off the field. We went to the spot of the shot and couldn’t find any blood. We headed down the road finding tiny pin drops of blood till we hit the milo plot. We found lots of good blood on the milo leaves, but you could tell it was just smears from the side of her body. Once we exited the milo field and hit the grass we only found a couple drops of blood. We went to where AJ last saw her and couldn’t find any sign of blood. My dad and I started grid searching a large area of about 6 acres and found nothing. We elected to mark last blood and back out. We wanted to go back to the house and watch the shot on a large TV screen to get a better idea of the hit. As we were driving the buggy down the road I spotted something in the timber on the other side of the fence as we passed by. I backed the buggy up and there she laid in the opposite direction we thought she had went from the last time AJ saw her. Success! My 12-year-old son AJ killed his first deer with a bow and I couldn’t have been more proud of him. All the hard work he put in, the ups and downs of all the hunts and the lessons learned will not be something he will ever forget. To top it off he shot his first deer with a bow 2 years younger than both my dad and I. My number one goal headed into this hunting season was to help my son shoot his first deer with a bow and he did it!

2012 Shed Antler Hit List

Posted in Shed Hunting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2012 by lickingbranch
I’m starting to get the itch to search for some shed antlers. I love to get out and scout this time of year. The exercise is wonderful and it’s basically a treasure hunt that puts pieces of the puzzle together on the bucks you are trying to pattern and kill. It’s probably still a little early to be pushing into the hidden bedding areas, but we have noticed a few shed bucks on the trail cameras. Over the years it seems many of the bucks really start to shed during the second week of February. With the strange warm winter we have had it will be interesting to see if that pattern holds true. Did the deer experience a frenzied  intense rut or was it less intense and drawn out?  I have access to shed hunt a couple neighboring farms and I tend to start looking on those farms first and save my dad’s for my wife and kids to look with me. I am going to get out and start looking in the next week. I’m not too worried about pushing some of the deer out of the area. We don’t have a large number of deer in our herd so I’m not expecting to find a bunch of them anyway. However there are quite a few bucks that we have built some history with through encounters and multiple years on the trail cameras. We would love to find their shed antlers to add to the history. We compile Hit lists for the hunting season, so why not have one for our shed season too. With that in mind I bring you my 2012 Shed Antler Hit List.

#1 Lopsided Lefty

This is the last photo we have of our #1 Hit List buck from this past season. Is he alive or dead? We don't know of anyone killing him, but where has he gone? It's hard to not fear the worst, but he did show up out of nowhere in late 2010 so maybe he has transitioned back to a different area. I have heard and seen this documented before.

#2 Little Ten

Our #2 Hit List buck should be alive and well with many recent pictures. He has shed in late January or the first week of February the past two years. We are excited to pick up his sheds for the 3rd year in a row.

#3 Brows

This is a 3-year old buck that I expect to really pack on some bone in 2012. Ironically enough he got his name last summer due to his wavy and tall Brow tines and has managed to bust them up both years.

 #4 Stubby

The encounters just keep racking up with this deer over the past two years. He's high and tight, but I'm not sure he's ever going to score very well. He gets his name because he has no tail.

#5 Titan

What a great deer with some real potential. Another deer that appeared out of nowhere in the winter of 2010 and hung around. He carries a great frame and sports G3's that are much longer than his bladed G2's.

 #6 Scissors

This buck lives on the neighbors, but you never know, he might shed his antlers in one of our food plots or a farm I have access to look on.

 #7 Whacky Rack

Another deer that lives primarily on the neighbors. What a cool set this would be to have.

 #8 Bent Beam

Unique deer that got a pass during the rut. Not sure he will ever amount to much in the score department, but he's easy to recognize with his main beam curling inward.

There are also a bunch of younger bucks that have been all over the plots and trail cameras, but they are not on my radar for the coming year. It will be interesting to see how many of them we pick up. Stay tuned and I will post a wrap up with some pictures in late March. 

 
 
 
 

2011 Season Journal

Posted in 2011 Hunting Season, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2011 by lickingbranch

During the past few seasons I have been keeping a journal of all my hunts. People have asked me what all I write about in the journal entries. I think keeping a journal is helpful for so many reasons. If you document everything you see on stand and all the details about the hunt I believe you will learn about a property and the way the deer use it during all the different stages of the season. I document moon phase, wind direction, temperature, stand location, food choice (if applicable) and game movement direction. I am going to journal all of my hunts here at HuntMO365 during the entire 2011 season so everyone can follow along with all the struggles and successes. I hope to show how beneficial keeping this information can prove to be over the years as you hunt a property.

Day One

September 17th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 73% Full

Wind Direction: ESE

Temperature: 57, light rain off and on all day

Stand Location: South Pasture Pond

Food Source: Forage Soybeans

Deer sightings: 5 does, 2 fawns, 6 point buck

Due to an afternoon rain shower we headed to the stand around 4:45. We were unable to hunt for the buck (Little Ten) we are trying to kill in the early season because of wind direction. We chose to hunt this stand because of the food source and the fact there are always a lot of does that visit this food plot every year in the early season. We parked the HuntMObile over a 1/4 mile away and dropped down out of the pasture into the creek bed and walked the dried up creek from the northwest nearly all the way to the stand. We jumped a deer bedded on a very steep bank of the creek. Shortly after climbing into the stand a fawn appeared about 50 yards in front of us and trotted in front of the stand and walked over to where we walked in, sniffing the ground and followed our entry trail through the woods back towards the creek. Around 6:30 a single doe appeared on the steep bank where we had jumped a deer walking in. She fed on acorns underneath a white oak tree for 5 minutes before heading northwest. At 6:45 a single fawn appeared from the SE and walked along the east edge of the filter strip and disappeared into the creek. A short while later 4 does entered the food plot from the Pecan Patch at the south end of the field and fed in the beans for 15 minutes. They fed towards the stand to 45 yards, but the stand is well hidden on the pond dam and I was never presented a shot while they were feeding. The deer one by one left the bean field headed east towards the alfalfa field. They all trotted through my shooting lane too quickly. I could have stopped them with a bleat, but opted to pass on the 41 yard shot. A 1.5 year old 6 point buck entered the food plot from the east  a few minutes later from an area we call bread and butter. He fed in the beans until dark when we left the stand slipping out the back of the pond and into the creek bed.

Day Two

September 18th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 70% Full

Wind Direction: North Northwest

Temperature: 72, light rain ending around 2pm

Stand Location: South Pasture Oak Stand

Food Source: Alfalfa, Acorns

Deer Sightings: 2 Does, two fawns, 4 point buck

At 7:20pm a deer across the field emerged from the timber and started eating on acorns along the creek bank. This is surely the same deer that we had jumped the night before walking through the creek heading to the South Pasture Pond Set. She fed on acorns for a bit before heading down to the Eagle Seed Bean plot. A short time later two does and two fawns walked past the pond set at 10 yards and started feeding on the beans. A 4 point buck emerged from the north side of the pond and started feeding on acorns walking along the creek bank. The doe and two fawns left the beans and walked along the creek bank towards the west and entered the woods headed north on a well-known trail at last light. We were able to get out of the stand and leave the area without spooking any deer.

Day Three

September 19th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 60%

Wind Direction: West NorthWest

Temperature: 80 and clear

Stand Location: Brown Pond Ditch

Food Source: Water and Acorns

Deer Sightings: 2 Does, fawn

Around 5:30pm we headed to the stand and parked near BB creek on Brown’s property. We packed in stands and sticks for a hang and hunt sit. We headed to the ditch to hunt our #2 and #3 Hit List bucks (Little Ten and Big Buck). We know the bucks bed on this ditch to the east of where we were going to hang the stands. We were hoping to catch them slipping down the ditch feeding on acorns in daylight. We already had a set in this location that we hunted once the previous year, but had pulled the set in early summer. My friend had loaned me stands the previous year and needed them back. We have one set of Muddy’s light weight stands that we use to move around to hunt different spots throughout the year. We got everything hung and set up shortly after 6pm. The set is on the backside of a pond dam. There is only one trail coming off the pond dam to the rear and we were set up within yards of this trail. In front of the stand there is the ditch and a small lane of pasture. After getting the stands hung I climbed into the stand and there were a few limbs that needed trimming so I pulled out my hand saw to start trimming the limbs. Just as I started sawing the first limb a doe jumped up out of the ditch 40 yards away and snorted a couple of times and ran off to the east. A few minutes later a fawn appeared at 35 yards walking nervously looking in our direction. She stood trying to figure out what had happened and eventually trotted off headed to the east as well. There was also another doe on the other side of the ditch around 80-100 yards away that stood there wagging her tail nervously for a few minutes before walking off to the east. We saw nothing else this night and slipped out at dark the way we came in.

Day Four

September 21st, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent 34% Full

Wind Direction: West South West (swirling)

Temperature: 60, clear and rising

Stand Location: Brown Pond Ditch

Food Source: Water and Acorns

Deer Sightings: 2 Does, 2 fawns

We headed to the stand shortly after 5:15am. We headed back to the Brown Pond stand. We got in to the stand clean without alerting any deer although an owl flew in front us at close range and hooted. I don’t know about my dad, but I nearly jumped out of my boots. The morning started out with a coyote sneaking past the stand before shooting light as we set up the camera. Just after first light the hunt we got to witness a picturesque sunrise. Theres something special about hunting mornings seeing the woods come to life. We started filming interviews for Midwest Whitetail around 7:30. Just after finishing up the interviews my dad spotted deer to the south of us coming our way. A doe and two fawns ran around playing and chasing each other around the pond. The doe fed on acorns on the other side of the pond around 200 yards away for a little bit before they started heading back our way again. It was clear they were coming toward the stand and knowing we were on the only trail on the pond dam I grabbed my bow and clipped on my release. The doe came down the trail to 5-6 yards and hung up behind the only tree in the way of a shot. I didn’t have a shot with the severely quartering angle. She started sniffing the air and started to get a little nervous. The wind was swirling a bit. Gun shots at the nearby shooting range fired off and she took attention to that as well. She spun around and walked horizontal to the stand behind us providing me with the broadside shot I needed. I drew my bow and settled the 20 yard pin just behind her shoulder. She looked up at us and stomped her foot stopping cold. I released the arrow and hit her a bit high. She snorted as the arrow hit her and she bolted back in the direction she came. The fawns ran off to the east unsure of what had just happened.  I was only able to follow her a short distance before trees inhibited my view of the direction she ran. After 5 minutes a doe appeared with two fawns. My dad and I sat puzzled as we stared at a blood soaked arrow 7 yards away. The deer walked off back to the east to bed down for the day. I got down and retrieved my arrow and found lung blood on the arrow, but there was only a couple drops at the shot location and no blood trail as I followed a short distance toward the pond. Had I just hit the area deer hunters call “No Man’s land”? We played back the shot over and over and everything looked good, but again we were puzzled by seeing a doe and two fawns walk off shortly after the shot. I climbed back into the stand and we waited an hour before picking up the blood trail. We were not able to find a blood trail and crossed the overflow of the pond. I walked out into the pasture on a high point to look and see if I could see her laying anywhere nearby. I saw her laying dead back at the SE point of the pond. Deer down, punched my first tag of the season. We believe the deer I shot was the same doe that had spooked a couple of nights earlier as I was trimming limbs on the stand.

Day Five

September 28th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 4%

Wind Direction: West NorthWest

Temperature: 82 and clear

Stand Location: Brown Pond Ditch

Food Source: Water and Acorns

Deer Sightings: 2 Does

As we headed back to the Brown pond stand our hopes were high after having success in the stand a week earlier. That excitement soon changed as we approached the stand. There was a ground blind that had been placed out in the open lane near our setup.

We use this ditch to access the setup and it was nearly fool-proof and one of those spots you can slip into and out of undetected. I wanted to try some blind calling with a decoy to try to lure a buck in during the pre-rut phase. The spot is ruined. I believe this spot is in the center of the core area of a couple of my hit list bucks. You can bet they are gone now. I went to check and see if anyone was in the blind. What I found was two chairs and a couple of half drank bottles of water. It was clear someone had been in that blind a lot over the past week since we were there. They had worn down the 10 inch tall grass to the dirt inside the blind. Not only was the blind in a terrible spot, but it was being hunted with the wrong winds in the previous days as well. We made the decision to stick out the hunt and come back the next day to pull the set. At 6:30 we watched two does come from the southwest and went to get a drink out of the pond behind us. I lost sight of them shortly after. I heard something 15 minutes later to the west and was sure they were nearby. They emerged from the timber and slowly walked down the narrow lane walking right where we had entered the stand. As they slowly approached the stand the old doe would take a few steps and stare at the blind for minutes before taking another step and repeating the process. It must have taken her 20 minutes to walk 70 yards. I had her at 10 yards broadside for the longest time watching her regurgitate acorns up and down her throat munching on them over and over. She was so close I could hear them crunching in her mouth. I could not draw my bow because the other doe was walking in the timber behind the stand intently watching the older doe. Finally the doe was right under the stand at mere yards and when the younger doe behind the stand reached behind to scratch her back. I was able to draw my bow with both deer looking away at the same time. I put my pin in the crease of her shoulder and let the arrow fly. The arrow entered right above the shoulder and buried down into her opposite side front leg. She bolted with her face in the grass, left front leg broken and ran for about 20 yards and flopped over dead. We went from a low to a high in less than a couple of hours. Doe tag #2 punched for the year.

Day Six

September 28th, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 2% Full

Wind Direction: West North West (wind almost always swirls in this bottom ground)

Temperature: 48, clear 

Stand Location: Creek Crossing Stand

Food Source: Water, Beans, Corn, and Alfalfa 

Deer Sightings: 3 Bucks 8 Does, 2 fawns

We took the previous night off to hunt a morning. We are really trying to not burn out any of the good spots on the farm in the early season. Apply pressure on the outside and slowly move in closer to where I believe the best stands are placed. We have done that well the first two weeks hunting smart winds after scouting the areas and going off past knowledge and success. I listed water above as the first food resource for the deer because we knew this had to be the limited resource around the farm. We decided to wait until first light and then slipped into within a couple hundred years of the stand with the HuntMObile. We are able to drive down a mowed path in the filter strip, park near the creek and walk down it to the stand. There was two large pockets of water near the stand as I had hoped. We know the deer had to go to water this morning, it’s just what they do. Climbing the stand for the first time this season there was already a buck, 6 does and a fawn feeding in the alfalfa field. By the time we got settled in they had all worked off back into the sanctuary. Just after getting the camera setup 2 does and a fawn were headed our way through the bean field. They were going to come to the right of the stand at 15 yards. We have hunted this stand location quite a bit the past few years and have yet to release an arrow after a number of close calls and passing on some opportunities. I was not after a doe that morning so I elected to pass on any shot presented. They got near level with us and the lead doe stopped. She caught our wind as it was blowing in that direction, towards the creek. The morning thermals did us no good in the creek bottom. She stood for a few minutes before backing up and all 3 walked off to the east through the filter strip. They never fully spooked or snorted. She seemed as though she just knew something wasn’t right.

A short time later a young 8 point buck ran out from the sanctuary, through the different crop fields and was closing the distance quickly. Once he reached the filter strip he slowed down and walked toward the stand. There is a trail to the water on each side of the stand, that’s the beauty of it. He proceeded to walk by the stand at 10 yards until he reached a downfall tree and brushed his nose up against a piece of grass and froze, actually he just jolted a little bit as if something startled him. Clearly we must have brushed up against that piece of grass. He stood there for quite a while looking around, licking his nose trying to figure out why he couldn’t smell us nearby. Another young 4 point was now headed our way doing the same as the buck. He was taking another trail and coming towards the buck. The 8 point couldn’t see the other buck yet and on full alert the sudden noise spooked him and he bounced off back to the east through the bean field. The 4 pointer went down to the creek and got a drink before heading south onto the ridge behind the stand across the creek. A successful scouting hunt is what we achieved. They were doing exactly what we thought, going to water. We hoped a mature buck would cruise along in the filter strip in the early morning after feeding and bedding during the night in the crop fields, but that did not happen.

Day Seven

October 18th, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 66% Full

Wind Direction: North, North West

Temperature: 33, cloudy and windy 

Stand Location: North End Timber

Food Source: None, transition area 

Deer Sightings: 1 Doe

We headed to the stand just as it was getting light outside. As we approached the stand we saw a lone doe throw her tail up on the south side of the fence line of the logging road we use to access the stand. She ran off to the southwest. I tried one rattling sequence after we were set up and ready to go for the morning hunt, but nothing ever showed. The wind started to really pick up around 9:30. We spotted a doe that came from the direction we had jumped one on the way in. We watched her feed off to the north and head towards the Honey Hole clover field. We packed up and ended the hunt after she was out of sight.

Day Eight

October 19th, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Last Quarter 57% Full

Wind Direction: North, North West

Temperature: 31, clear and windy 

Stand Location: 14 Acre Pinch

Food Source: Acorns and Forage Soybeans 

Deer Sightings: 9 Bucks, 12 Does

Once again we waited until first light to head to the stand. We crossed the creek and were driving on the road that splits the crop fields in the bottom. In the North End bottom field my dad spotted a deer feeding in the beans. The deer stood there as we drove by. I asked my dad to grab my binos out of one of our packs so we could find out what deer it was. I stopped the HuntMObile on the other side of the field and pulled up the binos. It was a young 6 point buck. He had enough and trotted off to the north back in the timber. I thought to myself at the time that this might turn out bad as we pushed on.

We climbed the ridge in the HuntMObile and entered the “HILL”. I drove the buggy straight through the middle of the field, but we didn’t get far as we spotted two deer below the pond. I checked them as they ran off to the north, both young bucks. We pressed on for a short distance when 4 more deer emerged from the other side of the pond and ran in the same direction. I checked them and they consisted of 3 younger bucks and a huge 10 point. We would later confirm with trail camera data from the night before that it was most likely our #3 hit list buck “Big Buck”. Not good! The only good thing was that we were driving on the buggy and not sneaking in on them on foot. That’s the advantage of the buggy, being able to get close to deer without them knowing you are there until you are very close. Time after time we have gotten within 20-50 yards of bedded deer on the buggy before being spotted. I watched all 6 bucks run through a small patch of timber and head off to the east onto our neighbors property. We parked the buggy at the Northeast corner of the field next to some hay bales and gathered our stuff up quickly to get to the stand asap in case the deer circled back to the south to head past the stand we were headed to.

As we crested the hilltop headed down into the “14 Acres” we spotted 5 does in the field. They ran off towards the north onto the neighbors property. How discouraging! Spooking a ton of deer, which is the downfall of hunting these spots on the farm. We had stayed out of these areas thus far in the season for this very reason. We got into the stand and all setup. It wasn’t long before a doe and fawn entered the timber from the bean field and walked right under the stand. I never picked up my bow. I’m not interested in shooting does in this spot and doing more harm to the dynamite spot. Around 8:35 a young 8 point buck came from the north and milled around the stand before heading south and out of sight.

At 9:15 a small spike buck came from the north and fed his way to 30 yards before bedding down. The wind had really picked up. My dad and I hunkered down and were really starting to get cold. While filming the young buck he suddenly jumped up and ran off. He was facing us the whole time and must have seen my dad move while filming him. We decided this was our chance to get out of there. After I climbed down to check the trail camera that had sat on this funnel near the stand for more than a month a large group of does jumped up 50 yards away and ran off to the north. They must have snuck back in and bedded near us and we never saw them. There is a large tree in that direction that blocks our view.

It was a bad morning overall. We pushed into one of our best spots too early, something we said we would not do. I let my curiosity of wanting to check the camera and hoping with the cold front that had moved in would yield one of our hit list bucks walking by the stand. Unfortunately, we tipped our hand o a large number of deer that call my dads farm home. Lesson learned!

Day Nine

October 26th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: New Moon 0% Full

Wind Direction: North, North East

Temperature: 54, Partly cloudy and windy 

Stand Location: East End Creek

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut Corn, Cut Beans, Standing Corn, Standing Beans and Water 

Deer Sightings: 3 Doe, 6 fawns, spike buck and 9 turkeys

We got settled into the stand around 4:30 and expectations were high for seeing a lot of deer with the crops being harvested in the last few days. the night started out really slow with a group of 9 turkeys emerging from the sanctuary near the east end mineral site. They fed in the east end cut bean field before heading back into the timber to roost for the night. The first deer we saw for the evening was a fawn running around on the other side of the creek playing. At 5:50 a mature doe and a larger fawn walked the edge of the creek before dropping down into the creek and getting a drink for 5 mins. They went back in the direction they came from and never came out across the creek into the beans. Two more fawns and a doe came out near the east end corner around 6pm and fed out across the cut corn field headed west down into the creek and never showed again for the night.  A few minutes later another doe and two fawns appeared near the standing corn at the east end corner and fed on the edge of the cut corn and cut beans. They went south down to the creek before getting spooky and returning back into the sanctuary. It was a slow night and all the deer were really spooky from the high winds. We climbed down just before dark a a young buck fed out in front of the stand watching us climb down. We snuck back out using the creek as the wind died completely. Not sure how clean we were able to get out of there with the dead silence although we did hear one doe snort a couple times near the Begley ladder stand.

Day Ten

October 27th, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 1% Full

Wind Direction: North, North East

Temperature: 54, Partly cloudy and windy 

Stand Location: East End Creek

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut Corn, Cut Beans, Standing Corn, Standing Beans and Water 

Deer Sightings: 1 Doe, 2 fawns

We went to a set in the East End, near an inside corner where bucks usually come from the timber and enter the field. My dad was having troubles climbing the sticks and complained that his shoulder was bothering him. He tried a couple times, but just couldn’t climb the tree. We went back to the creek stand. By the time we got to the stand and setup it was after 5pm. At 5:15 a doe and two fawns came down out of the sanctuary near the East End corner and walked around the standing corn and followed next to it until they got out in front of us about 130 yards away. They came straight toward us and looked as if they would take the trail to the left of the stand, but the mature doe turned and went out in front at 25 yards. She opted to take another trail on the other side of the stand. I had already made my mind not to shoot this doe. I want to see a family of does established in the new sanctuary and she is strictly off limits. They were headed to the creek to get a drink, but unfortunately she was going to head downwind and I knew we were in trouble. She cut our scent trail on the way to the stand (we don’t normally walk this way, but after the stand switch we had to make a quick move) and froze up. She kept trying to cross the scent trail, but just couldn’t give in and push through it. She finally backed off and went all the way back trotting back to the sanctuary where they had come from. We heard our first grunt this evening and heard a buck chasing a doe behind the stand, but we were never able to get a visual on the two deer.

Day Eleven

October 31st, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 28% Full

Wind Direction: South, South West

Temperature: 26, Clear 

Stand Location: Honey Hole 

Food Source: Clover, Standing Corn 

Deer Sightings: 3 Does, 3 fawns, 2 bucks

It was a calm, clear and cold morning heading to the stand on the HuntMObile. We approached the stand from the north through a cattle pasture. Just after first light I spotted a doe and two fawns running around playing on”The Hill”. They fed on clover and made their way to the corn plot before disappearing. I tried some blind calling, rattling and grunting. We went ahead and filmed an interview after 15 minutes. Just as I was finishing my last sentence and turning back around I spotted a doe and fawn coming toward the stand. She must have caught movement as my dad swung the camera in place because she stopped and started looking our way. She hung around trying to make us out in the tree before slowly walking off back in the direction she came from.

At 9 am I performed another blind calling sequence and shortly after my dad said he stopped a doe in the timber on the other side of the clover plot. All the sudden the doe bolted and I spotted a buck chasing her in circles in the timber grunting at her. I grunted back and a small 1.5 year old 6 point buck walked up from behind the stand to see what all the commotion was about. As he started to enter the timber where the doe and buck was a 2.5 year old 6 point started walking toward him. He postured up at the younger buck and started pawing at the ground. The younger buck took notice and moved out of the way. Ten minutes later the doe appeared at the North West corner of the plot and walked along the edge of the plot. I made my mind up to shoot her if given a good opportunity. She came to 25 yards and I drew my bow simultaneously asking my dad if he was on her. Just as I was about to release my arrow my dad stated not to shoot, he was not on her. I bleated for her to stop in my next lane and never heard the go ahead to shoot. I let her walk into my last lane at 34 yards, but I had let down and decided not to shoot. The 2.5 year old 6 point followed the same path as well as the other young buck a few minutes later. They went behind the stand and the older buck made a new scrape and thrashed a couple trees putting on a show for the camera. All the deer ended up working off and at 10:25 few left the stand.

Day Eleven

October 31st, Evening Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 28% Full

Wind Direction: South, South East

Temperature: 61, clear 

Stand Location: South Pasture Pond

Food Source: Standing Beans and Water 

Deer Sightings: 1 doe

We parked the buggy a quarter mile from the stand and noticed a couple coyotes in the pasture to the south of us. Getting ready they spotted us and ran toward the “Peachy 40″. We got to the stand walking through the alfalfa field and slipping in on the pond dam. At 5:30 a coyote appeared in front of the stand on a fast walk with a deer’s hind leg in his mouth. I reached for my bow only to realize I had forgotten to put on my release. I quickly put on my release as the coyote moved away from the stand. He stopped and dropped the leg on the ground. I ranged him at 45 yards. I had to squat on my knees on the stand. He was at 45 yards. I settled the pin behind his front leg and let the arrow fly. The arrow went just under the yote and he jumped back a few feet. I nocked another arrow, but he grabbed his meal and started off. I reached into my pocket for my Knight and Hale rabbit in distress call and sounded off. He would stop and look in our direction, but he wasn’t interested. At last light we had another coyote walk by in front of the stand at 12 yards while we were packing up for the evening. Upon leaving we sky-lined a single young doe feeding in the alfalfa.

Day Twelve

November 1st, Morning Sit

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent 38% Full

Wind Direction: South West

Temperature: 51, Windy

Stand Location: North End Timber

Food Source: Transition Area 

Deer Sightings: Zero, Zilch, Nada, Nothing!

Skunked! Didn’t see a thing! Time to take off the evening hunt and the next day with a front moving in hoping the deer will move after the front.

Day Thirteen

November 3rd, All Day Sit

Moon Phase: First Quarter 58% Full

Wind Direction: North West

Temperature: 40, Really Windy

Stand Location: 14 Acre Pinch

Food Source: Transition Area 

Deer Sightings: 2 bucks, 2 does

The action started off good at 8am with a 4 point buck walking in precisely how we want the deer to come into the stand approaching from the North or Northeast. He fed on acorns for 10-15 minutes at 15 yards until heading back the way he came from. The rest of the morning and early afternoon was dead. The only thing moving during those hours was the trees as we swayed back and forth for hours on end. The wind started to die off around 5pm and we saw a doe directly east of the stand on the ridge behind us as she was running, zigging and zagging down the ridge. She slowed in the valley below and looked back up the ridge before walked down the valley to the south and then walked back up the ridge where she came from. A couple of minutes later I caught a flash of antlers midway up that ridge behind us. I grabbed my binoculars and scanned, but was unable to locate the buck to tell which one it was. At 5:30 a 3 year old buck we have named Stubby came in from the northeast and fed on acorns at 13 yards. He fred for a few minutes until he started looking behind us and getting nervous. I slowly turned to see what was behind the stand when a doe turn and ran off 10 yards. She stopped and stood looking in our direction. Stubby spooked and ran off back to the northeast across the pinch point to 30 yards away. He stood watching her until she calmed down and walked off to the south and over the ridge headed toward the bottom. Stubby walked off back to the northeast and out of sight. As we were beginning to pack up we observed a spike cross the field that sits above and in front of us. He went to the forage bean plot and fed in it until dark. We left the stand and spooked a couple deer on the way out.

Day Fourteen

November 5th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 76% Full

Wind Direction: South switching to Southeast

Temperature: 52, Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut beans, Standing Corn 

Deer Sightings: 3 bucks, 11 does and fawns

We got into the stand 40 minutes before dark knowing we were going to a feeding area. In case we spooked deer going in we wanted to give them time to settle back down and come out as daylight approached. When it was just light enough to see through the binoculars we saw two bucks sparring out in the beans to the west. It never got light enough to see what bucks they were before they disappeared, not sure of what direction they walked off. Pretty sure they went north back into the sanctuary. Just as you could visually see 7 does and fawns piled out of the sanctuary and fed on alfalfa as shooting light hours approached. They fed for the next 15 minutes or so. We had already decided we were only going to shoot a buck. A small spike walked right by the east side of the blind at 15 yards and was headed in the direction of the alfalfa when he got downwind and spooked. He trotted off stopping from time to time as before disappearing and walking up the ridge to the northeast of the stand. The does got nervous watching him and finally all left the field walking back into the sanctuary. A coyote bounced across the field coming from the south and headed toward the sanctuary. I was unable to get a shot. He entered the timber and a couple fawns ran off to the northeast across the top of the ridge.

At 8 am a doe and fawn came off the ridge to northeast and walked across the cut beans and around the east side of the island headed south and across the creek. Thirty minutes later a doe ran off the ridge from the northeast and into the cut beans as a great 10 point buck named Titan was chasing her around the field. She ran down the road to the north of the stand headed our way to 120 yards. I grabbed the camera on the tripod and opened the window where she was headed as the buck followed behind. I got the camera in position and grabbed the gun for my 8 year old son and got him into position. The buck had stopped where she had run off back to the northeast. I was on the buck with the camera and just as my son said he had him in the scope and was ready to shoot the buck bolted again running off in the direction the doe went. We lacked about 10 seconds from my son getting a shot at the 140 inch four year old buck, bummer! I never eve contemplated letting my oldest boy shoot. We were trying to get my youngest son his first buck although the buck was at his max range. Had I assessed the situation differently I should have let my oldest boy take the shot. He would have been able to get the gun and get a shot. Those crucial moments of getting the camera ready and hunter ready cost us the shot. That’s part of filming and one I was upset about costing us our one good chance.

Day Fourteen

November 5th, Evening Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 76% Full

Wind Direction: South/Southeast

Temperature: 60, Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut beans, Standing Corn 

Deer Sightings: 6 does and fawns

The afternoon hunt was really slow with the high winds. We did have a couple of does run out of the sanctuary and down to the creek around 3pm. They came back around an hour later and back into the sanctuary to our northwest. Around 6pm a couple does and fawns entered the alfalfa field and were really spooky constantly looking at the tower blind and surveying the situation constantly. They hung around for 5 minutes before getting nervous and going back into the timber. With about 15 minutes of shooting light left two does, most likely the ones we saw in the late afternoon came back out and started feeding on the alfalfa. They were really nervous as well. I got my youngest son in position to take a doe. One of the does were facing us and the other broadside. He fired a shot at 140 yards and the doe paused a second and then they both ran back into the timber and up the ridge. He yelled, I got her! I was pretty sure the shot was a miss. I replayed the shot on the camera over and over and all indications were a miss. We got of the stand at last light and drove over to the shot location on the buggy and scanned the ground for blood where she stood and followed the trail back to the edge of the timber and never found any blood.

Day Fifteen

November 6th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 84% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 50, Really Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut beans, Standing Corn 

Deer Sightings: 1 bucks, 3 does and fawns

The morning hunt started with a doe and two fawns coming out of the sanctuary and fed on alfalfa as shooting light approached. This is the same doe and two fawns my dad and I have given the pass earlier in the season. We know these deer are definitely living in the new sanctuary where we performed TSI this past winter. I want to see a large doe group grow in the sanctuary and they are strictly off limits. As they fed away from us the young buck that had spooked the morning before come off the ridge to the north and walked across the cut beans headed towards the island. He got out of sight behind the island before returning spooked by something (the buggy I imagine). We park the buggy close to the stand when hunting in this spot because we can get in close, quick and can park it behind some tall johnson grass that grows on the downside of the island. He must have taken the trail that leads right to the buggy and got spooked by it.

Day Fifteen

November 6th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 84% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 50, Really Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Alfalfa, Cut beans, Standing Corn 

Deer Sightings: 1 buck

The evening hunt was pretty much a bust until 5:30 when a 4 point we have seen a couple of times up on the 14 acres came off the ridge from the northeast and slowly walked along the road over the course of the next 45 minutes before finally getting in range. I had my son in position as shooting and camera light faded fast. As my son was getting settled in a coyote howled nearby gaining the attention of the buck. He threw up his trail and nervously walked away from us before walking into the timber and out of sight.

Day Sixteen

November 7th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 90% Full

Wind Direction: North, Northeast

Temperature: 40, perfect morning

Stand Location: Honey Hole Clover Stand

Food Source: Clover, Standing Corn nearby 

Deer Sightings: 2 buck, 2 doe

We got into the stand just as light was breaking. As my dad finished up getting the camera ready and was readjusting his harness a doe was approaching in the pasture on the other side of the fence on Brown. She caught his movement and trotted off back to the northwest. A few minutes later a buck came cruising through the pasture on Brown where the doe had been with his nose to the ground. I grunted loudly to stop him, then snort wheezed at him and that turned him. He jumped the fence behind the stand and walked with his nose to the ground still. The buck was a 2.5 year old we have lots of pictures of. He walked off to the west and out of sight behind the stand. I performed a rattling sequence and a few minutes later a busted up spike buck approached from the east on Brown along the fence. He jumped the fence in the same spot as the previous buck and walked the same path out of view. We sat until 10am before calling it a hunt knowing the rain was coming and we were scheduled to meet the HVAC guy to put the finishing touches on the heating and cooling system for my dads new house we have been building.

Day Seventeen

November 8th 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 95% Full

Wind Direction: North, Northwest

Temperature: 50 and steady rain

Stand Location: Hanging a new set East End Ridge

Food Source: Acorns, cut beans 

Deer Sightings: none

We have really been relying on trail cameras this year more than ever moving them around the farm trying to figure out the patterns of our hit list bucks. I pulled the cards on the 7th of November and a travel pattern appeared to be taking shape. In one area of the farm we have a large hill top field where we have captured pictures or videos of nearly 25 different bucks, but we were really piling over the pictures of our hit list bucks. We were trying to pinpoint how the deer were moving through the farm to get to this area. We noticed a large majority of the photos showed the deer coming in from the east at all times of the year. We run trail cameras year around.

There is a ridge that runs east and west with a sanctuary on the west end. The hill top field spans a large majority of the ridge. There are three doe bedding areas along the ridge. We knew the bucks had to be cruising along this ridge downwind of the doe bedding areas. With north/northwest winds predicted over the next two days we thought we could intercept a buck cruising the north side of the ridge with the wind in our face or be safe from them being downwind with the scent stream blowing over the top of them if they went low on the ridge. My dad and I went in on the 8th during the rain storm and I hung a new double set on the east side of the ridge about ¾ the way up in a large red oak tree. There is a natural funnel that pinches down the deer coming from the north, east or west.

 

Day Eighteen

November 9th, All Day Sit 

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 98% Full

Wind Direction: North, Northwest

Temperature: 40

Stand Location: East End Ridge

Food Source: Acorns, Cut Beans 

Deer Sightings: 6 does, 4 bucks

About an hour after daylight I spotted a good buck cruising the trail just inside the timber below. I pulled up my binoculars and recognized him right away as a 3 year old stud named Brows. He started freshening up a scrape straight below us at 30 yards. My camera man was unable to film him so I grabbed the camera arm and swung it around the tree. When I grabbed the arm my shooting release clanked against the arm and he heard the noise. He stared in our direction and became nervous. He started off to the west the direction he came. He walked about 40 yards and changed his mind and came back to the scrape, but was really nervous. He left the timber to the cut bean field and trotted off to the east.

Fifteen minutes later a 3 year old buck we call Bent Beam appeared from the north east and walked down the funnel and right by the stand at 5 yards and headed off to the west. We sat and ate lunch and I saw my first buck move in the middle of the day. At 12:28 a 4 year old named Big Buck that is the #3 buck on our hit list appeared off to the west at the edge of the timber. He crossed the cut bean field and then the creek on the south side of the farm.

The afternoon was really slow with all the high winds, but it died just before dark and does started pouring over the ridge from the north east. They worked their way down into the cut bean field. We started to pack up the camera gear and were about finished when I spotted a buck enter the timber. He walked right up the ridge on the trail next to the stand and walked toward the stand. He stood under the stand for a minute before heading off to the north east and out of sight. We packed up and got out of there.

 

Day Nineteen

November 10th, All Day Sit 

Moon Phase: Full Moon 100% Full

Wind Direction: North, Northwest

Temperature: 40

Stand Location: East End Ridge

Food Source: Acorns, Cut Beans 

Deer Sightings: 6 doe, 5 bucks

I started filming a time lapse from my side of the tree when I got caught with the camera and does started appearing from all directions and headed toward the stand. Before I knew it they were all around the tree. I managed to slowly swing the arm back around to Joe and grab my bow. A friend asked me to shoot a doe for him so I decided to go ahead and take my 3rd doe of the season. As Joe stood the does spooked a bit from the movement and pinpointed us in the tree.  One stood staring at us and I went ahead and drew my bow with her looking right at me. She stomped, turned and gave me an opening. I let the arrow fly, but something didn’t feel right. I hit her high and back. They all ran off and the woods went silent. I was disgusted with the shot, but thought there was a chance I put the arrow through her liver.

Around 8:30 my camera man Joe Knobbe spotted antlers off to the west at the bottom of the ridge. He said it was a good buck with a doe. A few minutes passed when a single doe came up on the shelf we were sitting on and came to about 30 yards when she went north to the high side of the ridge where it flattens out and fed on acorns for awhile before bedding down behind a downed tree. We saw a small buck chasing a doe off on the ridge farther west after we lost sight of the buck with the doe. We assumed that was the deer Joe saw until I changed the trail camera days later and realized a large 10 point was in fact with the doe and snuck by us somehow and passed through the open gate 75 yards away.

The smaller buck chased the doe right by the stand 15 minutes later with a small 4 point following a few minutes behind. He ended up spotting the bedded doe behind the downed tree and bumped her and chased her off to the north east. Stubby came by at 5 yards around 9:30 just below the stand and angled down to the trail below just inside the timber headed east.

We gave the doe I shot 5 hours and took up the dry blood trail. I was on a very hard to see blood trail, a drop here a drop there, but I found her about 100 yards from the stand where she was in a bedded position with her head tipped over to the side. Upon filming an interview over the doe Joe noticed a clip around the bowstring. I guess when I released the arrow the string caught on the binoculars clip on my Muddy harness and ripped it right off. That explained everything with the bad shot.


After taking care of the doe we climbed back into the stand around 1pm. That afternoon it was about to all come together. We saw Stubby again about 2:30 as he cruised by to the north near the 14 acres fence headed back to the west.

At 4pm I clashed the Knight and Hale Pack Rack Magnum together and it would prove to be monumental this time around. Out of nowhere appeared a buck headed down the funnel and was coming toward the stand, it was big buck our number 3 hit list buck. Joe told me to stay focused you got this! He came to 40 yards when he turned and walked back to the north. I thought he was about to walk away and go north toward our open gate set and crush any hopes I had of getting a shot. He stood about 50 yards away nosing around in the timber. I felt helpless and asked my friend Joe what I should do. He wanted me to call to the deer, but I already knew the buck was not an aggressive deer. Whenever we would get pictures of him with other mature bucks at the mineral or baited camera sites he would always stand in the background.  Not only that, but he was too close to call and he would see there was no deer and would pinpoint our location and be on high alert.

Everything changed in an instant when he turned and started walking right toward us and that’s when I knew I was going to get a shot. He got to the edge of the shelf we were facing and turned broadside and started walking along the shelf at eye level headed west. As he approached my first shooting lane I drew my bow. He stopped under a hickory tree and made a scrape. I contemplated letting down, but reminded myself to stay focused. He started walking toward my first shooting lane and I bleated softly for him to stop, but he didn’t hear me so I did it louder. He stopped right behind two trees and I had no shot. Still at full draw for what seemed like forever he shrugged it off and started toward my last shooting lane when Joe said to stop him. I bleated loud again and he stopped perfectly in the lane 30 yards away. I settled the 30-yard pin a little low and released the arrow. I remember the moment of aiming and releasing the arrow like it was in slow motion. The arrow buried just behind the front leg perfectly and he sprinted off low. He ran about 30 yards, stopped and tipped over. I couldn’t believe it, this was precisely how I envisioned killing this buck almost exactly the way I wanted it to happen on film. I just thought it was going to be from the stand we had passed him the two previous years.  The 3-year quest to shoot a buck with my bow while the camera was rolling is over. I could now say Big Buck Down in more ways than one. I called my dad, wife and then my youngest son who had named the deer just as he was getting off the school bus. I told him I had just shot Big Buck and he said, COOL!!!!!!!!!! What a day in the woods, one I will never soon forget.

 

Day Twenty

November 12th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Full Moon 100% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 52, Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Cut Beans, Standing Corn, Alfalfa

Deer Sightings: 6 doe, 4 bucks

I was filming my son AJ for the opening weekend of Missouri’s firearm season. It was warm and windy, but the deer were moving in the timber. We saw two different bucks chasing a doe along the east end ridge. Around 8am a doe and fawn crossed the cut bean field to the east and then across the creek to the south. Not long afterward a doe came running across the cut bean field from the creek to the south and following behind her was my #1 Hit List buck named Lopsided Lefty. They ran up in the timber and right by the East End Ridge stand I had killed Big Buck out of a couple of days prior. Around 9:30am AJ spotted a doe along the road at the edge of the alfalfa field traveling toward us. As I pulled up the binoculars to get a look at her AJ said he spotted another deer following. I scanned and saw Brows following behind. I started rolling the camera and told AJ to get ready for a shot. The doe went back up the ridge into the sanctuary as Brows stood broadside about 200 yards away. AJ was struggling to find a comfortable position to get a shot. I told him to move to a different window and he was still struggling to get into position when I called him off taking a shot. The buck and doe stood up in the timber for 5 minutes before heading up the ridge and out of sight.

 

Day Twenty

November 12th, Afternoon Sit 

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 98% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 64, Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Cut Beans, Standing Corn, Alfalfa

Deer Sightings: 3 doe, 4 bucks

The afternoon was pretty slow until a 6 point we have seen quite a bit approached the alfalfa from the south. He fed for a few minutes before looking off to the west at the cut corn field a few hundred yards away and trotted off in that direction. At 4:30 a couple of does were at the far east end edge of the field. They were feeding on acorns and a few standing beans that were not picked by the combine. At 5:15 a doe ran out of the timber edge near the other two does with Lopsided Lefty following behind. He chased her up the east end ridge and back down, over to the neighbors and back before she finally stopped in the field where she peed to show him she was not in estrous. Another buck appeared from the timber down in the east end corner and he spared lightly with Lopsided Lefty for a couple of minutes before Lopsided Lefty went back into the timber heading north. I was unable to tell what buck it was because of darkness, but it was a very large bodied buck. Another yearling buck passed by the stand in the alfalfa before we packed up and headed out.

 

Day Twenty-one

November 13th, Morning Sit 

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 94% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 56, Windy

Stand Location: Clem’s Stand

Food Source: Cut Beans

Deer Sightings: 1 doe

I decided we needed to get to the other end of the field where we had spotted Lopsided Lefty. We went to a set I had yet to hunt for the year. This would be AJ’s first time in a tree stand. I purchased him a harness a from Muddy Outdoors two years ago. He struggled a little bit getting into the stand and once there he was not comfortable being that high in the tree on such a small stand. He was worried about falling and held on tight. I asked if he could shoot at a deer if it walked by and he said no so we climbed down and headed to Clem’s stand 80 yards away. The stand is a set of old scaffolding turned into a deer stand. We got setup after light and settled in. At 8 am a doe had crossed the creek and busted me when I looked to my left. She was 40 yards away. She trotted off as I got the camera on her and told AJ to raise the gun and get on her. She ran off and stood about 90 yards away on top of a terrace and AJ took the shot. He missed! That is a big deal because he has never missed a deer before. After the deer ran off he told me he wasn’t really on her very well. I think he may still be a little young for the fast action of the rut. The deers activity requires you to be on high alert and ready to shoot fast when the deer stops from running.

 

Day Twenty-one

November 13th, Evening Sit 

Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 94% Full

Wind Direction: South, Southwest

Temperature: 60 and Windy

Stand Location: East End Tower Blind

Food Source: Cut Beans, Standing Corn, Alfalfa

Deer Sightings: 1 doe

At 4pm the 25 MPH winds just completely died off and it sounded like WWIII all around us. Guns were firing in every direction. The deer were certainly on the move. A small doe entered the alfalfa field and AJ wanted to shoot. I figured this was a good time to let him field dress his first deer, something he wanted to accomplish this year. He got in position and dropped her with a single shot from 110 yards. I am so proud of him for redeeming himself and field dressing his first deer. Congrats buddy!

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