I have had a moderate season. For everything that has gone right, there has been something else impinging on it. As things go, last year was the best year for us ever-- just about anything would have been a let down.
For starters, the big influences on our hunting this year were:
1) Hurricane Ike
2) The Drought
I'm not going to say it was going to be a banner year for acorns without Ike. This was our second year of drought. However, we have had extraordinarily good luck with acorns in 2006 and 2007, and this year was flat. Ike blew down a lot of acorns early, so after mid-October acorns were no longer that much in play. Most of my best stands are all in oak groves. One of my best stand had zero sightings this year for three sittings. Normally this one produces a 4-6 sightings each time out.
This was offset considerably by my new food plots and a new stand to take advantage of them. The vast majority of deer sightings came from that stand. I bagged my 8-pointer out of it last Thursday. If it had not been for that stand, I might still be out there trying to tag a buck.
Mooseboy, 16, got his feet wet in a big way. It was his first season out all by himself. I prepared a new stand for him, exploiting a previously untouched part of the property. He pulled a doe and a spike off that stand. Sadly, he wishes he had held off on that spike. He learned the hard way that you don't take practice shots with the safety off. Ooops.
Angus, 10, got his first deer and his first Fall turkey as well. He's seriously happy.
So why am I not ecstatic? It boils down to a couple of things:
1) Since so many of our stands depend on a good acorn crop for success, we had a lot of good stands not producing.
2) Outside of some pre-season sightings, the big guys just didn't show themselves. Usually we see at least some sign of their presence. This year, there were 0 rubs and 0 scrapes. Last year was phenomenal. That is not uncommon. The monsters seem to follow the acorns.
Another issue that nearly wrecked the whole season was my truck. After 5 1/2 years of faithful service, my S-10 blew a radiator and a head gasket. It was out at the shop nearly 2 weeks. I missed the weekend of scouting before Rifle Season started, and only got the rig back a couple of hours before I was to leave for deer camp. Just getting to camp at all was a blessing. Mooseboy could have driven me down in his car and left me for a week, but so much of what makes our camp tick comes from that little truck-- taxi rides from the stand, hauling deer, going for provisions. If I'd bagged a monster on one of the days I was going to be down by myself, I'd have probably had to quarter it on the spot and schlep it up the hill a piece at a time. It died a second time while I was at camp. Girlfriend had to bring me a new battery.
Still, you can't beat meat on the pole. You can't beat deer in your sights. You can't beat having the stand swaying in the wind and graupel stinging you in the face. I had an extra bonus too. Thursday night, I got the buck stowed and retired to the back of the house with a bottle of Single Malt, a plate of pate and some crackers. Angus is only 10, but he is a bagpipe prodigy-- youngest member of the Cincinnati Caledonians ever. So there I am under the full moon with my beaker of scotch toasting my success and decided to take things to the next level. The Caledonians practice on Thursday nights, so I called over to practice and put in a request for Caber Feigh (The Stag's Antlers) and listened over the cell phone. Now THAT, gentlemen, is about as good as it gets: deer blood still up to your elbows, getting lit under the full moon with America's oldest Pipe & Drum band giving you a serenade.
just wodering how my fellow hunters out there are doing this year since i am not having much luck myself.....hahahaha
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