Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sounds of the Woods: Golf Clubs

I was outside this morning enjoying the cool air and a cup of coffee.  Somewhere, off in the distance, I kept hearing someone clumsily walking through the woods carrying a bag of golf clubs.  It would stop for a few seconds and then resume.

Turns out the golf clubs were antlers and the someone was actually two, mid-sized bucks with their heads down, slowly but methodically fighting each other.

That's just cool, any way you look at it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"I'll take 'Deer I Would Not Eat' for $1,000, Alex"

Our neighborhood is surrounded by large tracts of woods and it quite common to see deer and other woodlands fauna.  Our neighbor put a deer feeder behind his fence which usually has a great deal of traffic in the evenings.

Earlier this week, THIS guy came walking out.  (We call him Job.)

At first I thought it was a bush in front on him but it moved when he moved.  (It actually jiggled when he moved.)  Perhaps he had survived a high shoulder shot with an arrow???  After I got the binoculars and then a camera with a zoom lens, I realized it was some sort of tumor or other growth and it was not limited to one area.  (under his chin, around his left eye (not seen above) and between his back legs, etc.).

I looked this up and it appears to be a "cutaneous fibroma" caused by a certain type of virus.  Apparently it is only a skin disease and the meat, in theory, should be fine.  The key word in that sentence is "theory"....  I don't even think my friend Chris the Cajun would eat that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to: Save Money on Flashlight Batteries While Hunting

Step 1 -  On a chilly, windless day, take a youngish child to the deer woods for the first time.  For this occasion, my 12 year old daughter Madeleine worked out just fine.

Step 2 - Spend a delightful afternoon in a tree stand until about 10-15 minutes after shooting light.  (Make sure you demonstrate to the child how to move at precisely the wrong time to scare off the only deer seen in the afternoon.)

Step 3 - Wait for a LARGE and VOCAL pack of coyotes to begin howling about 100-200 yards away.

Step 4 - Wait until the child's face transitions from concern to immeasurable terror.

Step 5 - Climb down from the stand into the pitch-black woods and venture back to camp letting the whites of her eyes lead the way.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How to: Miss an 8 Point Buck at 40 Yards

Despite a rough start to deer hunting, I've been very fortunate to have taken some very nice animals. 

About 2 years ago, I killed a beautiful 8 point East Texas Whitetail at 8:15AM, Sunday morning of Opening Weekend.  (One of the few days a year I skip Sunday morning church). 

Last year, I killed an even nicer 8 pointer at 8:22AM, Sunday morning, Opening Weekend.  The two bucks came from different directions but I was in the same stand.  They were shot within 20 feet of the same spot 365 days apart.

This past year, I joked with many people about having narrowed down my "deer hunting window" to a 15 minute time frame on Sunday morning.  Gee, I'm so clever.

Opening Weekend (2010), I was hunting in the same stand, Sunday morning.  I lost track of time and had to remain frozen due to (i) the freezing temperatures and (ii) the 5 does who were too close for comfort.  After 20-30 minutes, they departed.  Some time later, I saw him; a nice 8 pointer coming into the area like he was being pulled on a string.  Not sure if it was the 5 does who had been there not hour before or a the 3 gallons of WildLife Research Center Doe Urine I had squirted in the area. 

We have a 13" minimum inside spread rule in this county and I desperately did NOT want to shoot an undersized deer because (i) it is wrong, (ii) it is illegal and (iii) I knew my friends would make fun of me the rest of my life.  Unfortunately, the deer would not cooperate by standing still and looking directly at me with his ears erect like they do in the Outdoor Annual to give me a good estimation of his spread.  Apparently, much to my irritation, this buck had not read the Outdoor Annual and taken note of their handy diagram.

Finally, at about 40 yards, he stopped perfectly broadside, surrounded by a plume of doe pee, inhaling through his nose, just taking it all in.  He was just standing there, like a barroom bully, muscles tensed, looking for trouble (or a doe).  After turning his head and looking directly at me LIKE IN THE OUTDOOR ANNUAL!!!!, it only took a glance through the scope to determine that he was definitely a shooter.  Within the next .5 seconds, I dropped the scope and made a perfect shot, behind his front legs, under his massive chest.  He turned, and sprang away, not in that 'I'm hurt and fatally wounded way' but in a ' "WOW, THAT was loud", nimbly jumping over logs and bobbing and weaving sorta way'.  I was so shocked he did not fall over, I did not even think to chamber another round and make a follow-up shot.  (We looked, there was NO sign of a hit.)

To my knowledge, he is still running North.

The only thing I can think is after thoroughly checking out his headgear and dropping the cross-hairs to his chest, the rifle was still moving downward as I pulled the trigger.  (Note to self:  Wait .5 seconds before pulling the trigger to get everything firmly under control.)

The bizarre thing about this was the time.  It was 8:34AM.