Archive for the ‘Whitetail Deer’ Category

Like a lot of hunters, I spend a good amount of time dreaming of hunting somewhere else – I grew up in Northeast Ohio, hunting rabbits, squirrel, pheasant, and whitetail deer until the mid 1990’s, then I moved to upstate New York, and eventually back to Ohio and finally Georgia, but I haven’t hunted in Ohio since probably 1993, so twenty-five years give or take.

This year, when looking at various options here in Georgia and other states, I was lamenting not having a good place to hunt, and not having the budget to get in on a decent hunting lease, when on a whim I looked up the price for non-resident Ohio hunting licenses with deer tags, and the answer was under $200 for the general hunting license and one either sex deer tag.  I posed that on FaceBook, and the next time I called to talk to my folks in Ohio, the first words out of my dad’s mouth were something like ‘what took you so long?’

44180423_2376530465695540_7964985862242959360_o

My dad is, at this point, 76 year old. He doesn’t use Facebook. He doesn’t know what Twitter is and probably would have to think for a few minutes to explain the term ‘social media’ to somebody if pressed.  He is a retired automotive factory worker and U.S. Army National Guard first sergeant, he doesn’t like computers much, and uses a pay-as-you-go box store flip phone like the old Motorola Razr style, and by ‘uses,’ I mean ‘hates, uses it as little as possible, and would probably prefer to throw it in a river.’  My point is that my step-mom or uncle Phil had to tell him ‘hey, Niko is thinking about hunting in Ohio this year.’

So, with a little planning, we set up the trip. I would stay at the house in Hartford, Ohio, and hunt with dad at some of his favorite places.  The easiest way to describe dad’s health isn’t to list all the things that aren’t working, it’s to say ‘he has one good shoulder, and gets around with the help of a 5′ walking stick he cut himself from a sapling.’  He uses a Barnett Recruit crossbow because it’s light enough for him to carry, and usually takes a darn nice buck with it every year.  He’s average height and weight, too, and for those of you who have met me in person, is nothing like me physically. When we stand side-by-side, I look like Shrek standing next to Robert De Niro.  Despite his health issues, the Saturday I was in Ohio, we left the house at 1:15 in the morning, drove over an hour to pick up Dan, Bill, Edna and Cindy, some of Dad’s Amish hunting friends, and then drove to their property in central Ohio, hunted all day, then drove back, dropped them off, and drove back to dad’s house, a 26.5 hour long day.

We hunted four properties, three in Trumbull County, in the townships of Greene, Johnston, and Hartford, and one property in Tuscarawas county south of Canton. In the time I was there, I saw deer every single day, all but three does, and never drew my bow. I had my release hooked to the d-loop three times, twice, a few minutes apart trying to get a shot at a small six-point while being watched by several nanny-does, and the third time trying to get a shot at the same six-point the last night I was there.  The nanny-does had been spooked by both the doe-in-heat drag we used and a decoy set up off to my right, and that spooked the six-point enough for him to stick to cover the first time, the second time, all of the good acorns were apparently in the underbrush where I couldn’t get a clean shot.  I also watched four gobblers make their way across a field, and saw more raccoons than I thought I would ever see in my life.  When I asked dad about that, he said ‘people used to hunt them, now nobody does, and they’re everywhere now.’ I must have seen fifty or more road-killed raccoons, probably two dozen road-killed opossums, and multitudes of deer while in Ohio.

Still the trip was a great amount of fun, with lots of nostalgic moments driving around the area that forms my childhood memories. I would have liked to come home with a couple of coolers full of venison (I could have purchased additional tags for $42 each, up to a total of three), but that’s ok, I came home with memories.

 

About two weeks ago, I received a text from a friend ‘Call me as soon as you get a chance!’  I thought something was wrong, somebody was seriously ill or worse.

No, he just wanted to tell me about a spot I could hunt less than ten miles from my house, which was a surprise.

Two days later, I was in the woods at that location, and I have to say, it LOOKS fantastic, however I’ve only seen two does so far, and while there is a lot of deer sign on the ground, it’s very chaotic, no real ‘this is the main trail’ or ‘this is the bottleneck between bedding and feeding areas.  It looks, to me, like the deer are wandering in from all directions when they want a few acorns.

I’ll keep at it though, lots of good looking trees to climb in my Summit.

I’ve also decided to start using a bicycle phone mount in the stand – that’s the red-and-black device on the rail in the photo below – the four corners are built-in rubber bands that go over the corners of the phone, much better for control and not having to figure out where to put it if a deer shows up while I’m reading something, because it’ll already be in the mount. (There are lots of different versions of these, I think this one was $10 on Amazon.)

 

I spent an hour or so somewhat shed hunting – I say ‘somewhat,’ because where I was shed hunting, I couldn’t actually pick the sheds up and bring them home.  That’s OK, I just wanted to FIND them more than have them.  I was looking in the area I spotted this buck last November:

aaa

I didn’t find any sheds, but I’m pretty sure I spotted him sneaking away from a patch of woods I was walking through, I couldn’t get a decent look at him, but the body language, low and steady, but still fast, with no tail flagging, just made me think that it was a mature, confident buck, just sneaking out of his patch.

I found multiple tree stands, in an area where there shouldn’t be any tree stands, and game trails that looked like the trails you find in a pasture that has been used for dairy cows for decades.

It was a fun walk, the area was much more open than the photos I took in November would lead one to believe.

10pt_7

I may head back, and hopefully this time, I’ll remember my camera.

**Update** And 2016 claims Carrie Fisher as well.

So.. my 2016 goal was to get back to being an outdoorsman, and the only way to chalk that up as a win is to compare 2016 to 2015 and 2014, in which case I succeeded.  I still didn’t get out nearly as much as I wanted to or expected to, not once did I go fishing, so far no small game hunting (though if I hadn’t fallen ill over the holiday week, I would have spent yesterday squirrel hunting with Gretchen and Cinders.  I wouldn’t have actually expected to get any squirrels, or if I did get them, manage to get them INTACT, since Gretchen thinks ‘all squirrels are mine,’ but it would have been fun.)

pic_0001

Gretchen and Cinders when they were young.  Cinders played with toys, Gretchen would tackle him.

I did get a nice hog in January, and managed to see a nice number of deer this November,  including a stunning buck, the deer just happened to be where I can’t hunt them.   I managed three or four hikes, but that was my goal per month, not for the whole year.

We lost my father-in-law, unexpectedly young (early 60’s), which was devastating to the family: Dennis was so cool, whenever the wife and I would dream out loud about taking a vacation across Canada by train, or going to Yellowstone, Ireland, wherever, we were always including how much Dennis would enjoy it.

The world lost a vast number of celebrities of various types this year, and since George Michael passed away Christmas Day, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed for the next few days to get out of 2016 with what the world has now.

So, back to the outdoors: once again, I’m going to try to ramp up my outdoor activities in 2017.  I have six points saved for an alligator tag here in Georgia, so that should come to fruition this year, and I look forward to figuring out how that will work.  I finally have a camper shell on my truck, so taking the Woofs to outdoor adventures should be easily accomplished, and my daughter is 18 and driving, so that’s no longer on my plate.

The property in south Georgia is covered in turkey, so in a few short months, I should be able to, once again, be totally frustrated and skunked by the antics of the mighty Thunder Chicken.  For me, turkey hunting feels like those old comedy gags where there is a chase scene in a long hallway with doors everywhere, and people are going into and out of doors in a random sequence where they can never catch who they are chasing, but the people being chased can never seem to quite get away either.

Fishing will happen, even if I just have to go find a public lake and put a worm on a hook.

I also need to find property where I can fossil hunt – I haven’t done that since I was a kid, and it might be a way to lure the reclusive Wife out of the house.   She still thinks armadillos are these flat things on the side of highways.  I told her the fastest way to find an armadillo is to go deer hunting near hardwoods, where the leaves are good and crunchy, but she doesn’t believe me.

So, all in all, farewell 2016.  Here is to hoping 2017 is a better place for everyone, everywhere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We checked out a new lease about three hours south of here over the weekend: My hunting partner took a doe and sow hog over the weekend, I lost a hog to Gator Country (it managed to make it into a swap where we couldn’t follow it at 3 am, because the swamp was the edge of another property, and it was ‘crawling space only’ to move forward.  I don’t know about you, but crawling, in the dark, in a swap with alligators, doesn’t seem prudent.)

Still, great property, and lots of fun over the weekend.

 

I have to say, having never hunted hogs at night on private property before, that waiting, in the dark, (no night vision) for the motion activated lights to come on, can be a bit interesting. Especially dozing off in the blind, only to wake up as something tries to climb the stairs into the blind with you. (It was probably a raccoon smelling my snacks.)

15073390_1304920776195281_8411173936293114772_n

 

Bobby had a big grin on his face at the shop today 🙂

I see bucks, at least four different ones, though these photos are the only two I could get on camera. (Keep in mind, I’m using a ten year old Fuji FinePix that isn’t even 8 megapixel.) And I can only shoot hogs on this property. *sigh*

For 2016 – the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is instituting a game check system: all turkey and deer MUST be entered on your harvest record and checked through the Game Check system within 72 hours.

 

I also see two new Wildlife Management Areas and a new Outdoors Georgia app.

The new WMA’s are Altama Plantation, “The Georgia Department of Natural Resources recently announced the opening of a 3,986-acre tract in Glynn County along I-95 and the Altamaha River, known as Altama Plantation WMA.” (GON.com, Jan 7 2016 )and Buck Shoals WMA. (The only ‘good’ information on Buck Shoals that I can find is above in the PDF.)

 

 

Yeah, no. Just no.  The wife and I took a drive up to John’s Mountain yesterday, specifically past the shooting range, which was packed as usual, and drove up through that section.  The WMA road at that point hits a ‘T’ intersection that dead ends in both directions, but Danny and I drove it in January and spotted some decent deer sign at the time, so I wanted to peek around during the summer.

It rained off and on yesterday in that part of Georgia, which simply turned it into a sauna. When I did get out of the truck, it was like having five layers of steamed wool blankets dropped on my head.  Between the heat, and the dense foliage, all we managed to see was some deer at Berry College as we drove by, and my favorite tree.

Johns_mountain_troll_tree

My hat is off to folks who can scout when it’s 95′ with over 60% humidity.  I can do it, but without a specific goal in mind, such as ‘I know a piece of property very well, I just need to check traffic patterns, or a trail camera, at THIS spot,’ I’m not going to randomly wander about and sweat without a reason.

Hopefully, we’ll get a few cooler days in the weeks ahead, where I can get into out into the woods without doing a Frosty impersonation.

(Sorry I’ve been absent lately, much to do and little time to do it in.)

It’s that time of year again: time to put in for quota hunts or add to your preference points!

GeorgiaDNR

Click to go to the Georgia DNR Quota Hunt page

Remember – if you just want to build preference points, select a quota hunt, but don’t select a hunt choice – the system will automatically add a preference point to your account after the close of open registration.