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.
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.)
We 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.
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.
Sunday 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