First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

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First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:57 pm

This year I decided to take up archery.

I have been a rifle hunter for years, and decided I wanted to take up this method of hunting.

I did some research and purchased my bow, stand, etc in February.

I have been practicing as much as possible (indoors and out).

Late in the summer I went to my first (but didn't compete) 3-d shoot. Wow was that something else. I cannot wait for the 3-d season to start next year, it was quite nice.

I bought a book on mapping trophy bucks (herndon), and started doing aerial research.

I was a  recipient of 2  hunts. One was a special opportunity hunt (which is a lottery that cost per entry (enter as many times as you like) and then another fee if you "win") the other is a random no cost management area hunt (you pick up to 5 management areas and rank them in order of favorite). Both limit the hunters on the managed properties at the time.
The special op hunt (Nov 1-4) is 1 of 54 on 34,000 acres. The other is nearer to home and if I recall 150 hunters on 58,000 acres (Dec 6-9).

I had no idea how much went into hunting FL in the way of license. Hunting permit, an archery permit, a management area permit (and I don't even want to mention the packages they have available)

Opening day for archery in my region of the state is September 20th, then there is deer/dog training, and finally muzzle-loading, all before my first hunt on Nov 1. Thats the bad news. The good news is "my" 34,000 acres will not be hunted, at all, and, all the surrounding area animals being hunted, probably will be pushed to "my" property. Well thats what I am thinking [;)]

Since time is very thin for me, and I do not live near either hunting grounds I have spent countless hours on the internet (amazing isn't it?) scouting, mapping and planning. Reading my book, DDH forum, and working out the plan so when I do get to the grounds to scout my time is not wasted in the field. I have to do this for two different pieces of land. I have not set foot on either (well I have by now, but not at the time of my progress).

"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sea Monkey » Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:38 pm

I'd be interested to hear how you do.  I only started bowhunting a few years ago and kind of had to learn it on my own.  I mainly hunted public land up until recently, when I joined a club.  It's not QDM, but the benefit is that I don't have to worry about people stealing my stands or cameras.

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:32 am

I certainly am interested in seeing how well I do too! I had little idea how much knowledge is required when bow hunting.
I should say it wasn't like I was clueless about bow hunting but when I started my research on the web I was amazed at how much information was needed (and out there).
I still don't have all the necessary info needed for a successful hunt and that won't come from just reading books, forums, blogs etc. The time in the woods will be the best teacher I am sure. But, I am positive I will not be lacking when in comes to preperation and confidence.

I know I am missing something but here is my "checklist" thus far:

But camo just isn't camo anymore. Scent control camo, buzz-off camo, and lately I am hearing about UV and your camo.
Patterns. Do I use mossy oak, leafy, 3D, real tree? Gloves, hats, face netting, face masks.
I have to also plan around the weather pattern. My hunts can be 90 degrees way down to 40 (the rest of most everything I have to plan for revolves around our weather patterns) and I can have a monsoon one minute and blazing steam bath followed by who knows what after lunch.
From what I have read and heard rubber boots not leather are the way to go. But I also need swamp boots that our snakeproof and not cook my feet with 1000 g of thinsulate as well as to try and maintain some resemblence of a budget.
The bow.
I can't and won't even begin to list out all this. The options were numerous. The factors in choosing the right cam, style, draw, manufacturer, sights, release, etc. This was the better part of my initial research. Even the arrow type. The arrow heads.
Sometimes I wondered if too much knowledge was dangerous. Not only to my brain but my pocket book. I did decide early on, on a budget, and tried to remain within. I remember my cousin when he started bow hunting (successfully) years ago with a simple recurve, tennis shoes, jeans and grey hoodie. Along the way I figured I with my budget I would try to at least give myself the best opportunity possible, not jut for me but the animal as well. But I digress.
This was easy. I will be hunting public land, nothing permanent allowed. Long hikes in the swampy woods. Have to be a light climber and my wife saw the Summit Viper and said "I think that one looks nice". Decision was made. Sometime later though I started thinking "Hmmm, what about a ground blind??" [&:]
I chose something I thought would suit my needs and scenario. It was an wasy to access chest pack.
But what would I put in it?
Binoculars, a range finder. Map, compass, gps, lanyard, thermacell, knife, hatchett, butt-out, gloves, grunt tube, scent spray, attractants, I might need a bigger pack. And as everyone knows the above list is but a small one and the choices within them are numerous!
So the internet has now provided me with my clothes, my bow and arrows, my stand, all my gear and still I am not ready to go into the woods???
As I have mentioned I am hunting public land in FL for the first time. I have no knowledge of the area I am hunting other than the terrain. Flat. Flat. Flat with trees and scrub. More flatness followed by swamps, and some hammocks (cypress and oak).
I did what the books suggested and scoured the aerials, topos, anything that would assist me in finding my spots.
Each part of the nation has their own unique features. NY may have hills and moutains, midwest with it's praries, others with farm lands and fence lines, and Florida has its too. But an interesting thing about Florida.
We get fires. Some prescribed and many not. Aerial maps available now may not be exactly what you find when you go into the woods (as I have been finding out).
We also have great periods of drought and other times of extreme, ideal watery conditions that promote growth.
It is amazing what you think you are going to find and what it is actually like when you get there. "That looks like I'll just follow the clearing along the treeline to get to that funnel" Only to find out the tclearing  may now be blocked or clogged with freshly growing THICK saw palmettos. or weeds so thick and so high you'd be better off going through the thick woods**, or even new woods in the clearing!
But it's not just a matter of finding the ideal spot to scout and hunt (I am told the deeper in the swamp/woods the better for the mature bucks), it's also access.
If I find the spot, I have to know how and where to hang my tree stand. I have to account for wind direction, I have to have some deer activity nearby. Scrapes, rubs, trails, bedding area's.
I have an area, great, how do I hang my climbing tree stand on one of the thousands of live oaks?????? All my research puts me on the perfect spot and there is no way climb a live oak [:@]
Well maybe I can use one of those pine trees?? Right I can't cut any branches on public land. I can't clear any shooting lanes with a saw. Hmmm. Maybe that palm tree will work, I could possible get up it. Sure they have no root base and the coral snales only occassionaly reside in the fronds. I could try it??
Of course I am giving worse case scenario's on everything, but these indeed are factors I will encounter at one time or another or perhaps all at once I just have to be prepared right?
I do have to remember when scouting a potential stand area that I have to take in account for scent control and wind direction, sound and the deer movement patterns. So I'll have to have proper access** come 5 a.m. If I have to hike from the south 1/2 mile through crunchy, thick, saw palmetto's then I better allow for extra time. Maybe I can come around from the southeast and hike the 3/4 mile through the swampier watery area to get it. I  certainly hope I don't find any orange tape when I get there.
I think I am getting this all worked out now. Potential areas, access, environmental factors, man, deer and will.
I am ready to scout!!
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:00 am

{vacation and class have taken me away for a couple weeks, but this was from my first scouting trip}
Alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. I decided to go full camo today along with my rubber boots (in case I got into the swamps) which was going to be quite an interesting site; wearing big rubber boots, riding a BMX bike.  You see this area is state managed land and no vehicles of any sort are allowed on it, at anytime (except the w/e of the hunt, then you can bring your truck as long as you stay on the dirt roads). So it's me, my bike, my big rubber boots, and 34,000 acres.
It's supposed to b 94 for a high, I am wearing my long mosquito pants (just in case) and a ss shirt, and hat. As I am driving and getting closer to the destination, I noticed ALOT of fog. When I pull into the parking site visibility is not far.
I open the door and thus begins the Battle of the Bugs. The mosquito's are thick!!!! And I am not even in the woods yet! It's dark, i'm scrambling to get the bike out of the back, check my map (if you recall I pre-determined where I would scout based on the aerial's) and get my pack strapped on.
As I am peddling, I remark to myself how different the terrain looks in person than on the computer. Lots different. The only thing I can really do is remember where my sites are based on cross-trails I counted.
I am on a dirt road, alone, the sun is coming up and strangely it's quite chilly this am (71), hence all the fog.  Which might explain how I was able to ride a bicycle up on a group of hogs. Couple nice shooters and some youths. Foraging, oblivious to my presence, they continue eating while I stop  the bike and stare. Finally one of them hears me and the herd spooks. They look funny when that happens.
I get to what I believe is my first stop. I park the bike in the bush (like I really have to worry about anyone stealing it), and head to the edge of the woods.  Call me a wuss, or whatever, but I no longer got to the edge of the woods and I was airlifted by 10,000 mosquitos. I couldn't even use the BR there were so many! {mental note taken here; bring bug spray on the scouting trips, its worth it.} I am not kidding I have been in FL swamps and woods for 30 years and never encountered anything like that.
So, I pick up the bike and figure i'll let the sun burn off the fog, tame the skeeters, and try to locate all the other points of entry for my scouting and then turn around, the sun should be up and I can go into the woods.
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:50 am

I am approaching an area I think may be the last on my list (but pretty sure I passed it), I am careening my head constantly from left to right (mostly right since its easier), I look left and what do I see? Two quite large white tails running from me [:@] 
2 seconds earlier and I bet I coulda got a better look at their heads, perhaps there were even more.
I stop the bike and survey the area. Just perfect I say to myself. I park the bike (in the deep brush again) and head over. It's not a far walk and I can see their well-used trails leading into the thick trees. I decided to try and make my presence as covert as possible. I stayed away from their trails and gained entry into the woods farther down, but once inside I found it was not necessary. They were all over here. Rubs, hoofprints, small, half-hearted scrapes and now mine, right in the thick of it.
So I did what only came natural, I p'd on their scrapes, and sprayed some attractant on the low branches. Hopefully my presence will be over-shadowed by their drive to breed and drive off another male.
I was looking for a spot to use my climber, and just couldn't. They are pines, and have alot of low branches. And even if I did find a tree that I could climb the other trees' branches would limit my shooting lanes. We are not allowed to cut any limbs on this land.
I leave my bike and go  deeper into the wood. Using what knowledge I do have to pretend I am a deer and where will I go from here.  I walked and found a pond. And some oaks, and the most perfect shooting lane for rifle season (I am also quite sure the land managers know about this spot as well [;)] ) I have seen. 300+ yards of well-groomed pasture, about 20 yards wide ,a straight shooting lane bordered by pines on one side and the oaks and a pond on the other.
But NO stand site for me [:'(]
Perhaps a ground blind near the pond?? I am sticking with my climber darnit!!!!
So deeper in I go. I figure I need to stay away from the pines for a bit, I need a food source, an oak hammock perhaps.
Across an open field I see what I think may be an opportunity. I decide to trek on over. But wait! What the heck are all those softballs doing wayyyyy out here in the field?? I take a detour to go have a look.
Watermelon. Wild watermelon. Some guys I found out call them sour melons. Apparently neither the hogs or deer will eat them they are that bad.
With my diversion complete I make it to the spot I saw. And I think this has great potential.
Acorns to feed on, a wild orange tree (it too may be sour I forgot to check), nearby grasses, and thicker woods. Near the water source, and cover. It also appears once upon a time it may have been an old fence line. Not sure but it seems to square off, and have an inside corner (34 yards from my potential tree stand sight [:D]) As long as the wind is out of the N,  NE, NW I should be OK.
Deer sign is minimal, but its hard to say with all the Hog sign around(the well used trails somethimes in the sandy ground makes it hard to tell) but there are some small rubs. I did make some mock scrapes here, I plan to go back to check it out.
There are two suitable trees, both have good shooting lanes, some obstructions, but definetely doable.
The furthest is the 34 corner.
I worked out all the lanes, and distances the best I could.
I figure at the least I am allowed as many hog as I want, so if no deer show up, I take a hog and move on.
With a smile on my face for finding "my" remote honey hole, I start to head out. To my shock (and horror) what do I see? Pink tape! Amazing isn't it? 34,000 acres, you think your the genious who found the best spot, and someone else already did.
Thats ok though, it did tell me that all my reading and studying at least may be paying off. Either that or there are two of us guessing at random [8D]
I went to another spot headed into the woods, and I actually found an old fence-line(one wire), followed it, and it lead to where the gate was, and imagine that but I found deer prints going through the "gate".They certainly are lazy to not jump one wire a foot off the ground at best. The prints were of a small animal, but the area looked nice......LOTS of hogs in here.
I was walking through the trees and came upon a sow and a piglet probably 15 yards away, they never scented me nor did they see me (camo maybe). I didn't want to spook them, or an old boarhog so I made a motion for the two of them to move. Thats when the other 6 piglets bolted and made me jump. LOL
It was now 93 and I was feeling every bit of it, while the skeeters subsided about 50%, I was feeling weak from the loos of blood, and headed home after 7 hours in the woods.
Hopefully the next trip will solidify my stand positions.
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:24 am

I finally made it out for one last scouting trip before the Nov1 opening day.
I looked again at my aerials from a new website I found (It gives you the gps coordinates, which saves ALOT of time in the wood) and pinpointed where I was going to scout.
I decided to go to one of the oak hammocks the state biologist told me about. He said they had good night-time head counts in the vacinity.
I mark it, and a few other spots. One that looked promising as well was an U shaped indention of the a field into the woods.
I get there just b4 sunup, but light was in the sky. A beautiful crispy 57 degrees this am. Thankfully I had on my long sleeve buzz-off shirt. I saw one other truck in the parking area. Great, myself and just one other on 34,000 acres.
The biologists spot took me to an new part of the management area, one I hadn't ridden to yet. I get to the first chunk of oaks and cypress and see two deer hightailing it away from me. Great sign I say! I continue biking down this dirt road, and come up on a remote camping area, I see approx 50-75 kids camping, I think its a BSA troup. Funny, here I thought I was all alone for the most part.  I look over to them, wave and peddle on. I don't make another 100' and a large yearling is standing 50 yards in front of me. Almost long enough to get the camera out, but as you would expect she was having none of it.
The ride is incredible, the cold air is nice change from the 92 degrees last time I was here. It is very quiet, and I am riding with a solid canopy over my head. There are loads of tree, but not too thick that I cannot see through them. Which compounds my viewing; I have too much to try and look at!
I check my GPS (the signal came in and out) and saw I had another mile or so to my new "secret spot". After  spell I look to my left and see another whitetail bounding away from me into the deepest area of the trees.
I said this is certainly a nice oak hammock, I  check the GPS and sure enough it says my 600' to destination. So the biologist was right, this area had activity and just where he said.
I start on foot and find deer sign (as well as hog) but no buck sign. I look and find nothing, anywhere. I walk an old horse/farm trail that still sees occasional activity from riders and such. The trail takes me out of the oaks to a field of small ground palms on one side and sparse pine trees and palms on the other.
On the left I see a grassy area and a small patch of thin trees maybe 12' high. AND trails in and out of it in all directions! I found a bedding area.
I back out, head to my oak hammock and walk the edge of the hammock and the thick palms until I find one of the routes into the hammock.
I find it and start looking for the food source or where they are heading. I can't find any acorns at all for the most part. They are dropping like crazy right now, maybe the deer have been hitting them hard. Finally I find an area of trees that are covering the ground with acorns and plent deer sign.
I find a tree site 25 yards from the acorns, and 50 yards from the palms. Good shooting lanes (I had to clear out some hanging moss), good tree to climb, and in between a feeding area and their bedding area (maybe 125 yards or so from my tree).
Still no buck sign, the rut in this area of Florida is generally October but in this management area it is December as told to me by the biologist.
So I am thinking:
I have a bedding area nearby, with confirmation of deer activity, a rut soon to be approaching and a most recent first cold blast of the year. Maybe this will/could get the boys to start hanging around more (if they are not already there). So at this time it probably will be my primary location IF no one else has set up there come Oct 31 (we are allowed to bring our trucks on-site Oct 31 to set up and such).
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:12 am

I get back on my bicycle, and head to the original sight I had found on a recent trip. It was the one with limited tree stand opportunities but great deer sign.
When I get there I find nothing. Oh there are a few new tracks, but not like before. I am perplexed somewhat and relieved in a way; I don't have to worry about a stand sight now. While I was here though is where I had my 'rattlesnake' encounter:

I had another sight on my gps that I found from the aerial's in this vacinity that I wanted to check out. It was the one that had the U shaped indention into the woods. I guess it would be an double-inside corner/funnel.

I hike into an oak hammock approx 1/4 mile east, and then turn south out of it to a very large field covered with dog fennel, maybe waist to chest high. It is over 1/4 mile long perhaps not quite as wide. It is accross this field to where the double inside corner is.
I look down and see tons of tracks. Hogs, deer and turkey, and then I also realize that they are using the edge of the field that borders all the woods as a highway! There is nothing but a dirt/sand path all the way around the field! There are also plenty of trails leading into the fennel.
Deciding that the shortest distance to my destination is a straight path I headed into the fennel to my "funnel"
I see multiple bedding areas inside, as well as trails leading in all directions. Really good sign.

I make it across and head to the funnel and WOW! It's like grand central station (the X on the diagram). You literally could drive a train into the woods from the trail all the game has made.

There are no trees on the edge that I can hang a stand on, but there are a few just inside that may offer some opportunities, however this side is heavily wooded and trying to access this site at 5 am and trying to keep myself as " invisible " as possible would be very difficult. It could take as much as an hour to access it. And if its warm at all I would be a sweaty mess.

I am torn. Lots of deer sign, bedding area, and food source (acorns) in the area. The wind mostly this time of year is north or north easterly, so this funnel would be ideal, its just access. I have to think about. THe only way in is from the west. I can't imagine coming in from the south, it would take a day to get there LOL. Maybe I can come in from the west along the game trail,  and cut into the woods some distance from the "funnel" and then come in from the south.

I have 1/2 day to make the decision. The hunt is on Nov1, since I can get there oct 31 to set up, perhaps I can check access one last time that day and decide if I go here or to my primary location.

"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:58 pm

approx 56 hours left!!!
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Patriot » Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:27 pm

Great stuff Sailfish.  Your passion for the sport is obvious!  Good luck!!
Paul K. "aim small, miss small"

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RE: First ever archery hunt, Nov 1.

Postby Sailfish » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:25 am

Well, as much as i'd like to be able to post an incredible tale and pictures of my first ever archery hunt, I can't. Despite all the work and effort it just didn't pan out....this time.

I was able to go Friday and set up for the w/e hunt. Finally the chance to actually drive onto the premises instead of riding a bicycle!! My quads were getting way to big [:D]

I set up my stand, and worked out the best entrance based on wind, least disruptive, etc.

I had alot of time leftover so after talking to one of the regular hunters I went scouting in a different area.
Never really did see the signs  I was looking for in this area but I kept a keen eye out.....just not keen enough. I was 2 feet or about one step from either stepping on a snake or getting struck by a snake. Thank god I just bought a pair of snake gaiters 6 days before.

I must tell you, this is no tall tale (no pun intended), I have been in FL woods and FL for 35+ years, and seen, caught, numerous snakes. I have seen large rattlers, even larger inidigo's, mammoth rat snakes, but, I have never, ever, ever, ever seen a snake this large!!! It rivaled snakes on TV. I am not kidding.
I hadn't never seen this type before either.
I looked at first at its head and it was not viper shaped (first bit of relief), then I moved some grass to look at his tail, no rattles. Mind you he is not the least bit intimidated by me, or even moving. It was solid-cream colored with not a single marking on it's body.
He was not coiled but laying in thirds in the morning sun warming up. I started almost thinking some sort of exotic. Seriously, maybe a Australian Copperhead or cobra escaped or something (don't laugh, south of me in the Everglades there are some released/escaped exotics that have made a home there).
It slinked away and thats when I saw it's full length. My first, reserved guess, was a solid 7 1/2 feet. But really it had to be at least 8' or more. I checked with some folks and we determined (most likely) that is was a solid cream-colored coachwhip (non-venomous) with the largest recorded at 102". I would've put this one up against that for sure.

But I digress. Onto the hunt.

Driving into the management area and to my parking site I did not encounted one deer or hog [:@] that was the first time ever that occured.
Got there at 5 am, I wanted to be sure I was dressed, outfitted and in the top of my stand well before light. I was.
Excitement was high, first light came ....and went.
Nothing but squirrels.
No hog, no deer.
I stayed in the stand from dusk to dawn, 12 hours and never got down, ever. I did finally see 2 hog about 150 yards away, too far for the bow.

Same story day 2. Nothing but rain today. I was wet, miserable, and before last light I decided to get down and spot and stalk (deer or hog).
I headed north (into the wind and rain) which was good for scent cover and sound. I made decent headway about 1/2 mile into the wood I heard something crashing the palmetto's. Then it stopped. It was moving south, I kept moving with it to try and keep downwind. It kept moving too, but it just wouldn't show it's head. I figured by this time it must have been a hog, or a very large buck. But I will never know. It started pouring, I heard no more sound but rain and I headed to the car.

Since I spent all my time in the tree I never got a chance to see what else was taken at the management area (I was too depressed to ask). I did see a couple hog being skinned out though.

Oh the best part was leaving; just before exiting the gate a very nice 90# sow was feeding in the dark along the road, and just outside the gate?????
4 healthy deer. [X(]

Hey, I have another FL archery Dec. 6th. I figure you just can't reap natures bounty because you may have done everything right. She wants you to pay your dues.....that's my story and I am sticking to it!

But, before that is Nov 15th and opening day rifle in Michigan. Maybe I will have a nice rifle report before I get back to FL for my "Second Ever Archery Hunt!"  LOL
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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