This is Part 2 of a 5-part blog series by D&DH Editor Dan Schmidt about his early season bow hunt in North Dakota at Heart J Outfitters.
It was a whirlwind day for DDH TV field producer Les Moore and I. We flew out of Appleton, Wisconsin, during the wee hours of the morning, got into Minot, North Dakota, just in time for lunch, then made the drive north to Chris Jorde’s Heart J Outfitters lodge. I had just enough time left to unpack, fling a few Carbon Express Maxima Red Arrows and get showered and de-scented for the trip’s first hunt.
Our first sit was in a rather spacious homemade ground blind situated in a prime travel corridor between a cornfield and a lush alfalfa field. Our outfitter, Chris Jorde, told us several nice sized bucks were frequenting the area, and he had the trail-cam photos to prove it.
“There’s only one problem,” Chris admitted as we drove to the blind. “These deer just peeled at at end of last week. I haven’t gotten photos of some of them since then. I’m afraid the ‘shift’ has begun.”
I knew all too well what that meant. The “shift” is the common term used by early season hunters to describe the behavioral change in mature bucks when they peel their velvet and adopt new feeding and movement patterns. It happens every year, and it usually coincides with the second week of September in most areas of the Upper Midwest.
The warm weather and clouds of mosquitoes made for an interesting sit in the blind. However, we did have our Thermacells with us, so we didn’t suffer from too many bug bites. The day ended with several does and fawns meandering past our blind, well within shooting range. Despite wanting to fling an arrow at one of those fat does, I knew that we had several more days to wait on that.
When Chris picked us up at the end of day, he informed us that one of the two other hunters in camp, Bob Bennot of Wisconsin, arrowed a dandy 8-pointer earlier that evening. Bob said the buck appeared basically out of nowhere with plenty of shooting time left. Only problem was it showed up mere yards from his tree stand. Bob, a veteran bowhunter with many deer to his credit, played it cool and let the velvet-clad buck feed for several minutes before offering a shot opportunity. His shot was darned-near perfect, and the buck only ran a short distance through a cornfield before piling up.
Let the celebration begin! We have a deer on the ground! The 2014 bow season has started with a bang.
For more information on hunting in North Dakota, check out Heart J Outfitters near Minot.
This is Part 2 of a 5-part series that will run this week here at www.deeranddeerhunting.com.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT: Code Blue Grave Digger
Early season hunting usually means food plots and seasonal crops, but did you know that mock scrapes can be magnets at drawing in bucks and does during this time? D&DH Editor Dan Schmidt prefers to start his mock scrapes in September, which allows him to not only re-route deer to areas closer to his tree stand but also to help get a census on the local deer population. “The key is to get deer to investigate your mock scrape,” Dan said. “Once you have them there, they will do the rest of the work for you.”
The Grave Digger scrape starter from Code Blue includes everything you need to get deer to not only investigate your mock scrape but keep it active all the way through the pre-rut.