So… back to Joe Kurz WMA for the opening weekend of archery season.  We saw 14-15 deer overall, including 9 the day BEFORE season started.  All of what I saw were does with fawns, one of which still had spots on it.  Jimmy saw a small six pointer, and when we left, there were over a hundred sign-ins (we only saw 15-25 people in the campground, so we figured quite a lot of those sign ins were for local hunters) and as of noon on Monday, there were four does and two eight-pointers signed out.

My Zippo Outdoor 4-in-1 - fantastic camp axe, saw, hammer and tent stake puller.

My Zippo Outdoor 4-in-1 – fantastic camp axe, saw, hammer and tent stake puller.

My new tent - I think I could fit two of the old ones in it.

My new tent – I think I could fit two of the old ones in it.

I was supposed to get down to Joe Kurz around noon on Friday – but between dragging my feet all week with packing (I don’t have a cap on my truck yet, so I have to put everything in the bed at the last minute, even if it doesn’t rain, in Georgia, it would melt.), forgetting my TREE STAND and having to come back, and traffic, I got down there at, oh, ten minutes to three in the afternoon.  (I remembered the tree stand five minutes away, and came back for it. Hey, last year, the first trip I forgot my SLEEPING BAG, the second trip, I forgot my PILLOW.   I may be entering the ‘write a checklist, have somebody else check it’ years.)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe scouted a bit on Friday and decided where we wanted to hunt.  This is something of a dilemma at this WMA on Saturdays because of the dove hunters.  Neither of us can figure out what the deer are doing during the feathery war over the fields, so we opted to hunt a good distance from the dove fields.  Jimmy saw some does out of range, I didn’t see anything that morning, but I still think the spot I was in will be much better once the white oaks start dropping acorns.  (Or ‘ay-kerns’ as folks around here like to say.)   Every single afternoon, Friday through today, it rained, so Saturday afternoon, once the rain stopped, I thought ‘I wonder whats behind camp?’ and just walked back through the woods until I found a likely spot.  I was fairly happy in the spot, but I couldn’t find a tree near enough to likely shooting opportunities to get high in, so I was only twelve to fourteen feet up in a pine tree.   I saw three that night, a doe and her fawn, and another doe.  Jimmy had moved his stand closer to the travel route the does took in the morning, but instead of seeing a doe, he saw a six pointer (not legal to shoot at Joe Kurz unless it’s 15″ or wider) cross under where he had the stand in the morning.  We both left our stands in the woods, ate some nice cheddarwurst with chili and more cheese on top, then turned in.

Sunday morning was so humid and hot that I left my glasses in the truck; experience has taught me that on days like that, they fog so much I might as well not have glasses at all.   I climbed back into the pine tree and waited.  I could hear some movement, and using my binoculars, I made a startling discovery. Directly in front of me, maybe forty-five yards out, was a fawn bedded down. These were different from the night before, that fawn didn’t have any spots, and the mother was a gray color, whereas this one was ruddy.   This fawn was very young, with spots and stripes still clear in his or her coat.  I won’t shoot a fawn, or a doe with a fawn still in spots, because I want to see what the fawn will be in a few years.   I know a bit about deer habits, and I wondered if the doe had left the fawn there while she feeds, trusting its natural camouflage, or if she was bedded down near the fawn, so I kept glassing the thicket trying to find her. Most hunters will agree; glassing for deer is like one of the optical illusions that people are fond of, you can’t see anything until you see it once, then you can always see it.  After several minutes of glassing, and slowly shifting position, I found the doe, ten feet or so to the left of the fawn.  I hadn’t seen her to begin with because there was a tree blocking my view of her.

The left circle is the doe, the right is the fawn.

The left circle is the doe, the right is the fawn.

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The fawn is slightly easier to make out in this photo, the ears are what to look for, behind the brown pine needles.

Both the fawn and the mother were looking at me, but neither showed any alarm, so I tried to get a photograph of the two of them.  All I had to do this with was either my smartphone, or a tiny Samsung pocket camera, but I did the best I could. Sadly, only two photos really came out clear enough to make out both of the deer, but only just.  (Click either photo for a larger view.)   I watched both for about an hour, then quietly packed it in for the morning and went back to camp.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSunday afternoon, Danny showed up, about an hour before Mother Nature decided to improv Noah’s Flood for four hours straight.  The three of us sat in my truck swapping stories and talking about hunting in general (I do NOT hunt when there is lightning in the area – between the carbon arrows, metal stand, etc. I make far too tempting of a target) and finally decided ‘screw sitting here, we might as well drive around while we talk.  I put the truck in gear, and we toured the entire WMA, seeing hunter after hunter sitting in their car (or sleeping in one case) waiting for the rain to stop.   We stopped and chatted with one poor guy who looked like he swam across a lake to get to his truck.  I’ve seen fish, still underwater, that were dryer than this guy.  One oddity – during the rainy drive, we saw three eastern box turtles crossing various roads.  I stopped to move one off of Germany road, but when I stopped near it, it moved to the side of the road without any help.When the rain slowed to a drizzle, we had maybe an hour before dark, and no guarantee that more storms were on the way, so we did what we could, we made dinner.  (Mac-N-Cheese Hamburger Helper.)

Monday morning, I decided I would go hit up the black sunflower field and see what I could find there – if nothing else, if I set my stand right, I could glass for hundreds of yards and make a decision for NEXT weekend, but it was not to be.  Two trucks were parked at the turn off for that leg of Lodge Road, with one guy walking down as I watched, so I turned left instead and sat up over a freshly sprouted food plot on the other side. Other than some pesky squirrels and a hawk, I saw nothing.

I’ll be back next weekend, more bratwurst and chili in hand, after all, it’s called ‘hunting’ for a reason, when you don’t find something, you keep hunting for it

No Eastern Box Turtles were harmed...

No Eastern Box Turtles were harmed…

It’s nearly time – Saturday is our first day of Archery season for whitetails here in Georgia.  I have my plans in place, my buddies are alerted, and we’re headed back to Joe Kurz WMA for a weekend of bowhunting!

Improvements this year:

  • A MUCH bigger tent, my Wenzel Ridgeline is fine for fair weather and backpacking, but for drive-to-the-campsite style camping, I want something I can stand up in, and that’s what I’ve got thanks to a clearance sale at Bass Pro Shop in Macon.
  • My PSE Freak SP is shooting right where I want it, now it’s just up to the nut behind the bow
  • As always, experiences last year will fine tune what to do and where to go this year

Jimmy* and Danny are supposed to be coming down, I don’t know if Clay can make it, since he has to work now, and I have to get in touch with Jesus to see if he’s coming down this week.

Can’t wait.

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I used to hunt ringneck pheasant with my father when I was young.  Long after I moved to Kirkwood, New York, my dad started to raise German Shorthair Pointers and REALLY hunt pheasants, but other than a few times we went out with his pointers in the early 1990’s, it was always with beagles and a black lab, because that’s what we had back when I was a kid.  I even hunted ruffled grouse a few times with him, which were all over the woods near my house, and across the border in Pennsylvania, which was only three or four miles from where I grew up. (I have never taken a grouse – we literally couldn’t find them during season, we had to wait until deer season for the little heart-attack-makers to pop out of the any clump of debris in the woods right at our feet.)

But I haven’t hunted birds, or even shot clays, for nearly twenty years.

That all changed this Saturday, but it takes a bit of explaining to understand WHY it changed.  I don’t have much of a budget for hunting, we have a lot of rescued pets, and they take up a lot of our budget each month, particularly the allergic-to-the-entire-planet German Shepherd. But, we take care of our pets (all four dogs, three cats, three turtles, two tanks of fish, and the horse) so I make do with what I have in terms of gear and travel for hunting.   I always thought dove hunting was a Southern ‘Gentleman’ sport, and I don’t say it that way to exclude women from the sport, but it always conjured images out of Garden & Gun magazine, of the $3,500 over and under shotguns, with the Orvis or better quality shooting vest and clothes, on big dollar hunting plantations.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat image went out the window last year while bow hunting at Joe Kurz WMA.  Jimmy* and I, while driving around Lodge road, spotted a truck with two young (think 5-7 years old) boys in it, and the back door open.  We stopped to make sure they were OK, and they said ‘We can’t get the radio to turn off!’  I told them to open and close the FRONT door, which would trigger the auto-shutoff on the radio, and then asked where their dad was.  The smaller boy pointed across the hood of my truck, and we peered through the misting rain and could just make out somebody walking down the road about seventy five yards away.   I pulled the truck over,  and to our surprise, it was James, one of the folks we shoot 3D archery with.  He was dove hunting, and had his son and nephew with him, the boys had just gone back to the truck to get out of the rain.

So, that got me interested in dove hunting: here was somebody I knew who hunted an area I was now familiar with, and didn’t mind me tagging along for a hunt.

This year, that translated into me spending a fairly wild (to me) eight hours at Joe Kurz this opening day, slinging shot and having the time of my life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe day started off a bit rough. I got out of bed after several attempts, showered and threw my gear in the truck, then started putting my boots on when suddenly my cell phone rang.  Work was calling, they needed me to contact Dell ProSupport and get a server back up.  I spent about an hour and a half getting that rolling, then jumped in the truck and headed south.  There is no direct route from my place to Joe Kurz, the fastest way the GPS takes me is down I20 to 285, then down I85 past Newnan, altogether taking me about an hour and a half to go 65 miles.  The last 23 miles are almost all on two lane, secondary roads, and the last ten miles was spent mostly behind people on bicycles for some kind of event.   This meant slowing down to 5-8 MPH until I could get a long enough line of sight to safely pass the cyclists.  Over, and over, and over again.

I try very hard to be extra safe around anyone on a bike, motorcycle, on foot, or even in areas where there might be children or pets playing near the road, because I have a very vivid imagination, and I’ve been in a lot of situations over the years that have taught me that its far better to think ahead and be safe just in case.  (I think the risk management class in graduate school cemented that into my head, for which I am very grateful.)  I don’t know what kind of cycling event this happened to be, because I didn’t just see the stick-insect-skinny cycling fanatics you see in a typical road race, but folks of all shapes, sizes, and on all kinds of bikes, including a tandem, but they were everywhere, for the last ten or twelve miles of the ride.  So after getting up late, work calling, and the cyclists, I got to Joe Kurz around 11:20 am.  Dove season started at noon, so I signed in, and started looking for James’ son and a buddy of his, since James had said to call him when I found them.

When I pulled up to Lodge Road, the long loop section was marked with ‘road closed’ signs that will be familiar to anyone who has hunted a Georgia Wildlife Management area, and there had to have been thirty or forty trucks parked at the intersection.  I was flabbergasted, thinking ‘Oh, crap, I may not be able to hunt here, I might have to just get the camera out and walk with that all day.’

Luckily, dove hunting translates well into being a team sport.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI found Ron and Logan about half a mile down the right side of Lodge road, where the road turns left to continue the loop, and the dead end lodge driveway starts, sitting under a pine tree.  I had passed probably fifty hunters by the time I found them, because there were a LOT of people in lawn chairs, sitting on buckets, or just standing around, the entire length of the fields, on either side of the road.  One of the hunters HAS to win the ‘genius of the day’ award, because he used a four-wheeled garden cart to bring his cooler and all of his gear down the field, most of the rest of us just hauled our gear in by hand.  I did see one hunter using a deer cart, and some other folks who had, like me, a rolling cooler, but I wasn’t smart enough to bring the cooler, or ALL of my ammunition, on the first walk down the field. Oh no, I had 45 shells in a hip bag and my SKB, my camera, and one bottle of water with me, so I had to immediately go BACK up the field and get my rolling cooler.   Then, four hours later, go back up the field again and get my other five boxes of ammunition.  (We ended up shooting five boxes of ammunition total, and I gave a box to a hunter who ran out.)

I saw a LOT of great ideas for last year, but what really shocked me was just how densely packed the hunters were around and in these fields. The sunflower field we hunted over had hunters lining the pine trees, hunters spaced out in the middle of the field, and hunters along the other edge of the field.  What was surprising was the amount of cooperation that generated: hunters would yell ‘over the top!’ or ‘low bird’ as the doves flew, to keep other hunters from decorating each other with #7 shot, or to let people on the other side of some trees know the doves were coming.

Here are just two snapshots of the hunters along the fields:

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When noon rolled around, for about half a minute, I was sure it was going to be a let-down. Nothing happened. No birds, no immediate storm of distant booms, not a thing happened. For half a minute.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThen the first flight of three doves crested the trees, and the booms weren’t so distant. Within ten minutes, there was gunfire in every direction, and the rain-like sound of shot hitting leaves after running out of energy started while we could see spent wads from shells spiralling down in the air around us. And then a dove managed to fly up the road, weaving around the shotshells, angling towards the field right in front of us, and I drew a bead on it with my SKB and knocked it out of the air with my first shot. I was ecstatic, probably twenty years after the last time I tried to shoot anything in the air with a shotgun, and my first shot was perfect.  “Alright! This is much easier than I thought it would be!” was my first thought.  Being in my mid 40’s, my send thought was a very jaded “yup, now I’ve jinxed it, watch me miss all day now…”   Well, that didn’t happen, but I did go through about nearly four boxes of shells myself and only managed six more doves of my own.   I will say this: some folks will claim every bird they can, regardless of who may or may not have shot it, and other people will go far the other way to be as fair as possible.  We had a mix of both types out there, and at times, I don’t think anyone could have said which shot took a bird down, but the shoot was hot and heavy all day.  Did I say hot?  Close to ninety degrees, with spotty clouds, and probably close to sixty percent humidity, until around five pm, when the thunderstorms hit, and soaked us for three hours straight.

I had a wonderful day, even if I felt twice as old when I got out of bed Sunday morning, creaking like a Spanish galleon in rough seas, but happy nonetheless.  My first day of dove hunting over black sunflowers will stay with me for a long, long time.

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*Jimmy is the other half of what we’ve been calling ‘Team Bifocals,’  since both of us are into our bifocal years and have vision problems.

  I’ve heard all kinds of tall tales of ‘125 yard’ bow kills over the years. Realistically, my range is 30 yards and under for hunting shots, unless it’s a PERFECT shot. -Niko

 

Bowhunting_com_Blog

PJ ReillyPosted by: PJ Reilly on Aug 26, 2014 at Bowhunting.com

“Bad hit!”

I knew it as soon as I released the arrow. The doe was only 20 yards away, but I felt myself pull the bow to the left the instant I touched the release. Not surprisingly, the arrow went left and hit the deer a little far back.

Let’s just call it what it was. A gut shot.

The doe hunched its back when the arrow passed through, then walked away slowly. Hoping for another chance, I quickly nocked another arrow. The doe stayed in some heavy cover, but hit an opening at precisely 53 yards, and turned broadside. I took the shot and sent that second arrow through both lungs. Within seconds, the job was finished.

Fifty-three yards is a good poke with a bow and arrow in the Eastern hardwoods. A lot could have gone wrong. But once my first arrow hit that deer poorly, my usual rules about shooting went out the window. All that mattered was cleaning up the mess I created.

Would I have taken a 53-yard shot with my first arrow?

Maybe.

I have five pins set in 10-yard increments from 20-60 yards on my Spot Hogg Hogg-It sight. And I feel comfortable shooting out to 60 yards. But that’s on the practice range shooting at stationary targets.

The writer shot this Missouri buck at 35 yards without hesitation.

The writer shot this Missouri buck at 35 yards without hesitation.

In a hunting situation, how far is too far?

That’s a loaded question; and the answer certainly is going to vary from bowhunter to bowhunter.

As a general rule, 40 yards is my self-imposed “no-worries” range for hunting whitetails. That means I will take a shot at any whitetail 40 yards and closer without hesitation. I might shoot beyond 40 yards if the conditions are right, but I’m going to put some extra thought into such a shot.

And unless I’m chasing a wounded deer, 60 yards is my absolute maximum, since that’s what my farthest sight pin is set for. If a deer is beyond 60 yards, then it’s too far for me regardless of the circumstances.

Read the rest at Bowhunting.com.

Ok – this one is a bit complicated – I saw this posted on the North American Hunting Club’s FaceBook page, followed the link to Hunting.Scout.com, which led me to the YouTube video from GrowingDeer.tv

 

Here is the video:

 

Here is a link to Big John’s Awesome Google Calendar.

Governor’s Gun Club shoots indoors Tuesday and Thursday nights

 

Both Days

Nobody. Nada. Zilch. Nuffin.

 

Saturday

3D – Bowhunter’s Supply Extreme Hunting Shoot – (Bowdon, GA)

3D - Culpepper Outdoors Hunting Tournament – (Thompson, GA)

3D – Rock Branch Archery Hunter’s Shoot – (Elberton, GA)  *Also Shooter of the Year awards*

 

Sunday

3D – Amicalola Bowhunters Bowhunter’s Warmup – (Dawsonville, GA)

3D – Destiny Farm Archery Hunter’s Shoot - (Thomson, GA) ***CANCELLED***

3D – Shiloh Archery Bow Hunting Shoot – (Hahira, GA) *it’s on the calendar, but nothing in the forums.*

 

Of course, this is a holiday weekend, those are always a bit peculiar when it comes to events.

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Here are the scores* from Saturday’s shoot:  Unclaimed trophies can be picked up at Gable Sporting Goods.

Open Money
Anson Wilson 200
R.C. Shoemake 196
Jay Arnold 194
Rick Martin 187

 

 

Known 45
James Tayler 218
Chad Thigpen 214
Jonathan Post 214
David Carney Jr. 206
Tim Howren 196
Ben Walls 196
Todd Calhoun 185
Tyler Dickinson
David Carney Sr.

 

 

Hunter Class
Sean Simmons 206
Daryl Smallwood 200
Rusty Allison 196
Jonathan Post 194
James Taylor 194
Van Arnold 192
Ryan Shevlin 184
Buddy Allison 183
Keith Wood 180
Bobby Davis 178
Tyler Daniel 176
Craig Freeze 171
Jimmy Sturword 171
Brad Taylor 168
Wesley Dickinson 168
Robert Nash 165
Steve Camp 164
Roger Smelser 163
Niko Depofi 156
Sam Swertfager 153
Allen Walker 135
Will Branden 123
Bobby Weekley
Todd Sumner
Tony Accorsi
Andy Lyman
Jack Tucker
Julie Tucker

 

 

Bow Novice
Charles Johnson 201
Tyler Butler 200
Thor Nichols 198
Chris Brady 191
Brad Rhodes 181
Reece Abernathy 180
Christian Brady 175
Josh Driver 172
Jeff Rhodes 169
Chandler Williams 160

 

Women’s Hunter
Sian Weekley 195
Madison Allison 187
Carrie Driver 187
Jaime Daniel 172
Kristie McCulloch 135
Julie Rhodes 87

 

 

Youth
Trent Foster 171
Lilla Arnold 114
Preston Diller 79

 

Fun Shoot
Matt Beheler
Stuen Allen
Casey Beaver
Kevin Hawk
Melinda Hawk
James Hawk
Brix Berry
Bryce Yerkey
Ryan Reagan
Derrek Denard
Josh Denard
Kevin Roberson
Taylor Roberson
Lathem Moss

 

 

Shooting_for_a_cure_2014

From the Shooting for a Cure to Cystic Fibrosis FaceBook page:

 

Now for the BIGGEST WINNER: (Drum Roll)
THE CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION!!!!!!
They will be receiving a total of
$38,556
from Shooting for a Cure!!
Many, many THANKS to our 32 Volunteers, 78 Participants and 27 Sponsors who made it all happen!

Click the image below to go to their gallery of the event.

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Here is a link to Big John’s Awesome Google Calendar. 

Governor’s Gun Club shoots indoor Tuesdays and Thursdays

Both Days

3D- Full Draw Archery – (Rocky Face, GA)

 

Saturday

3D - 323 Archery SHOOT FOR A CURE: Cystic Fibrosis Benefit (Douglasville, GA)

3D – Soul Hunters Church Archery Shoot – (Toccoa, GA)

3D – Elbert County Archery Club – (Elberton, GA)

3D – Christian Bowhunters/Ace Award shoot - (Social Circle, GA?)

 

Sunday

3D – Riverbottom Outdoors Hunt Shoot – (Franklin, GA)

3D – NGA Shooter of the Year – (Gainsville, GA) ***This is also a charity shoot***

3D – Satilla River Archery Club – (Douglas, GA)

3D – Fort Gordon Outdoor Recreation – (Fort Gordon, GA)

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Click to donate!

Click to donate!

More details:

2 GIVEAWAYS for all Participants

 

(Every participant will receive 1 FREE chance to win)

*A 2-Day Bow Hunt for Deer in Western Kentucky (DONALDSON CREEK OUTFITTERS)

OR

*An Elite Bow of your choice ($850 value)

DRAWING AT 3:30pm

Extra chances can be bought for $5/chance

2014 SHOOTING FOR A CURE CLASSES

Money Classes: (60% payback) $25 

  • Open Money – 45 yd
  • Known 45 – 45 yd

Trophy Classes: $20 (Trophies presented at 4:30pm)

  • Hunter – Max 40 yd
  • Women’s Hunter – Max 30 yd
  • Bow Novice – Max 30 yd

Fun Shoot  $10

Youth (12 & under) FREE w/paying adult*

*Family of  3 or more $40 max

ADD $5 at registration AND RECIEVE A DISCOUNTED LUNCH TICKET GOOD FOR:

BBQ Plate: BBQ Sandwich, bowl of stew, slaw, chips, pickle

IRON BUCK COMPETITION – $5 to enter

  • First shot at 20 yd
  • Contintue at 10 yd increments until you miss
  • Prizes for the winner (longest distance)
  • 3 Classes: *Money *Hunter/Women & *Youth