Nope. I'm not all set. In fact, I'm probably way behind. I have already given up on the archery opener in KY. My shoulder is still not fully healed from last year's injury, and I just haven't had the time to give it the attention it needs. I really wish KY would liberalize its crossbow season and make it run with the rest of archery like Ohio. I'd hang up the compound for good. I turned 50 last month. I have bowhunted half my life. I could walk off the field and feel good about it.
My job hit the skids back right around the start of turkey season, and about the same time my Mother-in-Law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. July 7 I lost my job. The next week Grannie took a turn for the worse, and we buried her last week. Lots of long stories there, but nothing to do with hunting. Suffice it to say that a lot has gotten in the way of me being ready for season.
Last weekend we finally got back to the farm and did some serious decompressing. Yow! Even that trip had its bittersweet moments. For starters, I had pulled down Heartbreak Ridge, the first of the successful stands I placed at the farm in 2001. It was showing its age, and it was time for a rebuild. KYHillChick also helped me pull down and replace Campground, the most successful of our stands. I think we've had seven deer off that stand, between Moose and myself. Two of my monsters came from there. Campground had begun to list to one side. I put up a new identical stand that turned about 90 degrees to the old one to better match up with the cant of the tree. The new one is much more solid, but I don't like the view quite as well. Lastly, I pulled about 20 dead cedar trees out of the top of "Virginia," the unexploited finger ridge that I have been saving for Mooseboy's first solo hunt as an adult this year. It got its name from the fact that it is "unused." It also borrows from the Ivor Biggun's scrofulous "Hillbilly Song:"
"I've been in Mississippi, and her husband's after me, but halfway up Virginia, is where I want to be!"
The stands are all nearly identical Hunters View Buddy Stands. Between the salvaged parts from Heartbreak' and Campground, we'll make a strong stand at Virginia.
Very little is really set yet. #2 Son, Moose, is still working on his load for his Christmas deer rifle. It's a Win Mod 70 variant in '06. Right now, I've got him on a 150 grain Hornady SP, but I haven't seen a group I like. #3 son, Angus is close to putting final touches on his Marlin 336 in 30/30. We've switched to 150 grain Winchester PP bullets. He's got nice groups, but now he's got a bug to jump up to shooting the Mosin Nagant (150 grain bullets over H4895 and loaded down to 300 Savage levels.) Right now, I'd like to see him nail his first deer with a proven system. Between the Moose and myself, I think we have 3 deer with that 30-30.
Moose also has not really had a chance to shake out his Mossberg 500 ML barrel. I've tried it and liked it, but Moose had to miss the Muzzleloader season last year. About the only rock solid thing that's cased up and ready for season is my Savage 99. It came out a few weeks ago, and put 165 grain Hornady SP's into a one-inch group. It's a 308 Win, but I shoot it at 300 Savage velocities for what I find to be a near-perfect treestand gun.
I also have the Whelenizer that's been calling from the back of the safe. It's a Rem 7600 in 35 Whelen that so far has taken 3 deer in the two seasons it's worked. I download it considerably as well, but it still packs a serious whump. Think of 35 Rem on steroids. When one of your deer rifles call to you, you know you have to listen. I have found the stock to be a bit long for me when I'm all bundled up, so I only bring it out on the warmer afternoons of rifle season. My problem has been that I'm getting the freezer filled too soon to give it a chance.
Anyhow, the shaman is back in the saddle, and for the first time in 10 years I'm job hunting as well as deer hunting. God be willing, I'll be lucky both ways by Thanksgiving.