• Jim’s Hunting Log
  • Jim’s Hunting Log
    Jim’s Hunting Log

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    December 11th Evening. Settled into the stand at about 3:50. As I was hanging my backpack, I got my glove caught under the strap and made a little popping noise. I saw a couple of deer sneak out of the cover north of me, across the creek, and into the south woods. They were not very alarmed but it is always disappointing to bust deer out at the start of a hunt.

    At 5:00 two young bucks came out of the boneyard and started feeding in the food plot. At 5:03 I saw a buck walk east to west through the woods north of the Tornado stand. It was limping. I just got a glimpse of it but was able to see it limping when I reviewed the video.

    At 5:23 a dope and fawn came out of the woods from south to north into the middle section of the food plot. The doe kept staring back into the woods north of her. They went over by the creek but then came back and re-entered the woods to the south. At 5:40 I saw a doe standing in the woods about 50 yards from me on the south side of the food plot. She was looking my way. After a minute she hopped away towards the south.

    2 hours, 3 bucks, 2 does, 1 fawn, 2 unknowns.

    Dec 11th Aerial

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    December 8th Rock Pile Cherry. My sense last night is all the commotion and chasing started at the big pea plot, so I decided to go to the Rock Pile Cherry, which overlooks it from about 40 yards south of the south edge. There were snow flurries, an east wind, blowing right at the berm on the south edge of the food plot, it was right at freezing.

    At 4:56, I saw two deer running full speed west to east on the south end of the field. Did not identify a buck but of course that kind of running usually involves some buck activity unless fawns are just playing. But playing fawns tend to run in circles whereas these deer were running in a direct line, entered the woods to the east, and I did not see them again.

    At 5:17, a doe and 2 fawns came fro the NE woods into the crimson clover plot and made their way west through the perennial plot and into the pea plot. They fed for about 20 minutes and then moved west and disappeared as darkness fell.

    10 point Covert 2 enhancedWhile I was on stand I got a text from my camera near the Giant Oak at the Gravel Pit.  There was a picture of the 10 point I saw on the afternoon of November 9th at the Other Giant Oak.  Like the Big 6 the other day, he was standing 40 yards from my stand in daylight.  Someday I may meet up with one of them.  I am writing this on the 10th.   I did not hunt tonight because my goal was to be in the Giant Oak, but my wind would be blowing straight up the creek from the WSW.  I simply cannot sit there in that wind.  Last night, I was undone by Obama.  I planned on going there, but because my insurance was canceled. I had to spend over 2 hours waiting on the phone to make sure my insurance would be continued.  of course my premium went up, my deductible went up, and my co-pay went up, but it is supposed to be more affordable. But I digress.  I could not make it out there on time last night.

    Dec 8th Aerial

    1.5 hours, 1 doe, 2 fawns, 2 unknowns.

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    December 7th Center Fecnceline Stand at Hanging Fen for the evening. I worked to get the camera functioning at home, intending to place it in a food plot for late season. I walked in via my main land and went to the PICwesternmost transition food plot on the NW part of the property. I had great difficulty getting it to take my picture and upload it. It would upload fine when I pushed the camera button, but was not taking pictures of me no matter how much I danced around. Finally I changed the sensitivity setting to “High” and it sent a picture to my phone.

    I originally planned on hunting the nearby 2011 Buck Stand, but because I made a couple of rather loud noises snapping in the clips on the camera, decided to go further south and hunt the Center Fenceline Stand. This stand is reserved for an occasion when I know or believe a big buck is working the area. It is risky to use it because it is so near the larger destination food plot, so I may get picked off from it. The wind was from the NW at about 8-10 mph and gusty, with temperatures in the low 20s, so it was quite a chilly sit.

    ants Finally got done fussing with the camera and got in the stand and settled in about 4:30. The ground was very, very crunchy on the way in, but I did not think it was a problem because the north wind was carrying it away from the bedding area north of my entry. I hoped it also carried away the sound of the snapping sounds from the camera. I was rewarded in that because my phone started buzzing at about 5:00 with the first picture of a group of antlerless deer feeding in the plot just 1 hour after I had left it.

    I saw my first deer at 4:50. It was an antlerless deer at the far south end of the big CRP field.

    At 5:20, a buck came out into the CRP field east of me in the SE corner. He fussed around over there for a few minutes and then left to the south down the lane. He appeared to be a young one.

    At 5:33 a doe and fawn were seen working their way south in the middle of the CRP field. They were followed by a really good looking buck. I got my binoculars up on him and determined that he was a 2.5 year old with a substantial set of antlers. I would later learn he was the 9 point I took video of on November 8th at the Bill Vale Basswood.

    I could see 2 or 3 groups of does in the CRP field keeping an eye on him. They would scatter as they came near him. Finally some worked their way over to me and came through the fence line directly on the sneak trail I had made 20 yards south of me. It turned out to be 2 does and 2 fawns. They went up into the upper food plot about 40 yards from me, looking back. Finally I heard the buck trot up and could see his antlers. One of the does snorted once and he held up for a minute, then walked through about 25 yards south of me. He stepped out, through my archery shooting lane, walked up the hill about 30 yards, stood for quite a while, disd a small head feint to the girls, who scattered, and slowly walked away to the SE.

    9 point walks by my stand…again:

    Dec 7th Aerial

    1 hour, 2 bucks, 4 does, 4 fawns 1 unknown.

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    December 6th Evening in the Spring Oak. I planned on hunting the 2011 Buck Stand at the Hanging Fen Farm. First job was retrieve my trail camera from the nearby oak ridge. The camera seemed to be malfunctioning so I decided to take it home and bring it back to place elsewhere. I was not happy with the amount of deer traffic I was getting in that location. The spring oak is so named because it stands at the edge of an a wet area with several active springs. It has been a great stand in the past but I am not getting as much action in this area as I used to, probably because of my optimization of the habitat at the north end of the property.

    Wind was from the NW at 8-10 mph. At 4:51, an antlerless deer walked into the rye plot at the south end of the big CRP field. On inspection I discovered it was a doe and fawns. A few minutes later several antlerless deer came south along the fence row into the rye plot. It turned out to be 2 more does and fawns. They began to work their way in my direction until they were straight across from me about 40 yards away. Two does were very alert looking in all directions. Probably spooked by the wind. But the little guy was totally relaxed as this video reveals.

    After a while they calmed down and started feeding with their backs to me. I noticed running deer back at the rye plot, so I raised my binoculars up to look and got picked up by one of the other deer. They did not freak out, just got nervous, about seeing something moving up in the tree. After a while they disappeared into the woods to the south. In the meantime I saw 1 doe and 1 unknown at the rye plot.

    Dec 6th Aerial

    1.5 hours, 3 does, 3 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    December 6th Morning in the The Giant Oak Stand. Temperature in the low 20s with a NW wind at 6 mph. I was in the stand around 6:45 a.m.. When I was tossing my tether up over a limb it came around, swiped my eye, and popped out my contact lens. Luckily it stuck to my cheek. Still, I had the wind blowing, freezing cold, bare hands, covered with zeolite dust, and needing to get the lens back in. I popped it in my mouth for safe keeping and to prevent it from drying. Then I cleaned my fingers off as best I could. It took a few tries but I finally got it in and got settled down around 7 a.m.

    At 8:18 a.m. a doe and fawn moved west to east in the grassy field about 60 yards north of me. At 8:24 I saw some antlerless deer down my the creek SW of me. They moved north across the grassy area behind me. It turned out to be two does and two fawns. They moved north into the woods behind me.

    At 9:30 I spotted a doe and a fawn at the east end of the creek food plot. At 9:40 something spooked the doe and fawn and they ran across the creek. There was another doe following them. She stopped north of me and kept looking back towards the end of the food plot. After about 3 minutes she made her way back towards the food plot, then reversed again and headed NW, then stopped and stared towards the NE, then wheeled and ran across the creek and into the Bone Yard. Something had them stirred up, and I assume it was a buck, but I did not see one.

    At 9:50 a forked buck walked north to south along the property line, about 90 yards behind me. He stopped exactly where I shot the buck on Nov 30th last year. Three minutes later he was followed by another buck, a bigger fork I have seen several times this year. He too stopped in the spot where I shot the buck last year. Both sniffed around there a while and then went west onto my neighbor’s property.

    I waited another hour, then decided to head in. I first went to the camera and retrieved the card, fixed the date stamp, loaded the pictures onto my laptop, and then headed home.

    Dec 6th morning aerial

    December 4th Hilltop Cedar. Evening hunt.  My intention was to go  to the Giant Oak to do some maintenance on my camera.  But I for got to bring the needed stuff, and remembered just as I was entering the gate.   I decided to go to the Hilltop Cedar and scope it out.  Wind from east 5- mph.

    SKUNKED.  I did something moving east to west about 100 yards away in the woods, but could not be sure if it was a deer or turkey, so it does not count.  There appeared to be virtually nothing left of the food plot except bare ground and a few volunteer grasses.

    1. 5 hours, no deer.

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    December 2nd, The Other Giant Oak in the afternoon.  I decided to get closer to the spot where I saw the Big 6 last night. I figure he was bedding in or near the Bone Yard and I might be able to catch him coming out.   East wind low 30s temperature.

    At 4:43 a pair of does and a fawn made their way east to west in the grassy field north of me.  Then at 4:55 I saw a doe and a fawn running east towards the west end of the field, then turning and running west again.  Surely being chased by a buck but I never saw him.

    I noticed that a dead ash tree had fallen down across the trail since te last time I was here.  I was glad that it was high enough the deer could walk under it.   At 5:30 I saw 3 deer move from north to south about 30 yards away in the bone yard.  The 3rd one was a doe who stopped and looked in my direction.   They stopped and were looking in my direction. A couple of minutes later I heard running and there was a fawn about 15 yards away NW of me on the trail.  She appeared to have been chased there and was stopped and looking back towards the food plot.   Then I saw other antlerless deer moving through the food plot towards the east into my shooting lane.  There were two does in the lead.  The second one stopped in the opening and stared back over her shoulder.  A third doe came through.  Very unusual to see 3 does with no fawns with them.

    That was it for the night.  No bucks.

    Dec 2nd Aerial

    2 hours, 6 does, 2 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    December 1st, Giant Oak in the Gravel Pit. Gotta love the telephone in my Covert Game Camera. It helps me breathe easy about my scent control program and gives me confidence that one of our shooter bucks survived the firearms season (or at least made it to the last 50 minutes).

    So the big 6 was standing 40 yards from the stand for at least 4 minutes last night, in broad daylight, and presenting an easy shot with my muzzleloader, with 50 minutes of daylight left in the firearms season.  So I am there tonight with the crossbow. There is 5 days of archery only hunting until the muzzleloader season starts on the 6th.

    Big 6 1 Nov 30 resizedBig 6 2 Nov 30th sizedHe came in at the end of a line of antlerless deer.  Note, the time stamp on the camera reset itself to 2012, but I know when the deer was there because the trail camera emails it immediately so I have a time stamp on the email.  He was still around 4 minutes later.

    A third picture shows he was standing in the spot where I placed the camera just 5 days earlier. This is when you know you have good scent control. It is one thing to not get picked up from 30 yards. It is quite another to lay down such a small amount of scent that it is not detectable 5 days later (in season).

    So I am thrilled to be out knowing that I have at least one buck remaining that I might actually be able to shoot if I see him.

    So I was pretty excited as I got all my gear loaded in the truck, climbed in, and couldn’t get the key to turn. No matter what I did, I was not going to be able to start the truck because the steering wheel lock mechanism was jammed. I had to raise the front end of the truck up the next day with my loader to loosen it up so I could turn the key.

    I was already getting started later than I wanted. Now I blew another 10 minutes getting my 4-wheeler out and transferring stuff. I finally was in the stand and settled at 4:25 p.m. Wind was from the NW, temp in the 30s.

    At 4:35 I saw the first deer, in the food plot about 80 yards away. Another showed up and I could see it was a pair of fawns. At 4:55 a doe crossed the grass field north of me east to west. The other deer were still in the food plot. Then I saw there was a fawn running behind the doe in the grass field to catch up. I surmised there was a buck around but did not see one.

    At 5:01 another doe and two fawns came into the east end of the food plot from the Bone Yard (south). Then another showed up, then 3 more, so I had 3 does and 4 fawns who began working their way in my direction.

    At 5:16 I saw a big doe move from east to west about 50 yards north of me along the edge of the grassy area. She had a fawn in tow. Fawns were running around, playing in the food plot and chasing each other into the woods. Nice to see these fawns getting back to their youthful October-like behavior. Getting harrassed by bucks constantly wears them down and I tend to not see them just acting like fawns on late November. Add to that the pressure they may be feeling from surrounding properties during firearms season and they go through a lot of stress from November 15th through Thanksgiving.

    The fawns disappeared into the woods to the south, so eventually the adult worked her way past my shooting lane in the food plot and reconnected with them on the west end of the woods. Then they all headed south, 2 does and 3 fawns. That accounts for the 7 deer I originally saw, with 2 moving west in the north grass field and these 5 moving south. This is unusual as they usually make their way west. It may be that their feeding patterns are changing since the beans have been picked and they are probably hitting the perennial plots at the south end of my property and then moving elsewhere, perhaps circling to the east to the ag fields there. I doubt very much that they would move directly east because they would have to go through the no-man’s land east of my property where there are quite a few hunters. Best way to go east is to circle south through my woods and the CRP field on the Held Farm.

    At 5:36 I saw a deer running west to east in the food plot, turning south into the woods. At 5:47 I saw a doe and 2 fawns moving west in the grassy field to my north. Then it happened. I was packing up when I saw a deer move into the food plot about 60 yards away. I got the glasses up and it was the Big 6. I could not legally shoot but I bleated once just to see what he would do. He looked over but then his attention went back to the north, and he moved and crossed the creek. I did not see where he came out at.

    It was a thrill to finally lay eyes on him. I think I was the first in the co-op to see him in the flesh.

    Dec 1 Aerial

    1.5 hours, 1 buck, 5 does, 8 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    November 30th Rock Pile Cherry. As I walked in and neared the food plot on the west end of the transitional food plot area, I saw a doe run and stand at the end of the lane. Easy 40 yard shot. She had heard something but was not looking at me. I remained frozen until she noticed me, but still she did not seem too upset. She just loped away, followed in a few seconds by a fawn. I got settled in the stand at 4 p.m. It was in the low 40s with a brisk wind from the South at 8 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

    At 4:15 I saw a deer running east to west at the far south end of the field. It turned in my direction and ran the entire 250 yards of the field to circle around the rock pile I was in and then disappeared through the fencerow east of me. It was an antlerless deer. Wasn’t sure if it was a doe or fawn it all happened so fast.

    At 4:30 a doe and 2 fawns came out in the food plot about 150 yards north of me. The doe seemed nervous and ducked back into the woods while the fawns kept eating. After about 15 minutes the fawns left. Then at 5:05 one came back out and fed there for a long time.

    At 5:45 I turned my head to the left and heard scrambling. The “tall fork” had been about 4 yards from the base of my tree. He must have come in from behind me. He hopped away about 40 yards and looked back in my direction. I had a nice shot at him as the light faded. I was happy to be the last to see him during legal shooting hours on the last evening of the firearms season. This means there is a very high probability he will be around net year, and hopefully, the year after that.

    There was also a doe fawn with him that stood out in front of me while the Tall Fork eventually made his way to the west. She hunt around for about 20 minutes after dark. I was busy packing my stuff up and she was watching me. I kept trying to grunt and make noise to get her to leave. She was just a curious little thing. She finally slowly made her way north.

    My pleasure about the Tall Fork surviving was exceeded when I got home and found an email from my Covert camera. There was a picture of the buck I call the “Big 6.” He is a buck that is number one for the neighborhood co-op, that I think is 4.5 years old. He was standing 40 yards from the Giant Oak with some antlerless deer, in broad daylight, with 50 minutes to go to last shooting light.

    The picture is low resolution but I will be able to get the higher resolution one when I retrieve my SD card.

    big 6 2 Nov 30th 450 pm

    Nov 30th Aerial

    2 hours, 1 buck, 1 doe, 3 fawns, 1 unknown

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    November 29th, 2010 Buck Stand.  I was really excited about coming to this spot.  I only hunted here once this year and saw 4 bucks including a really nice 2.5 year old 9 point (Nov 8th Bill Vale Basswood). I had a gentle SE wind and it was about 35 degrees out.

    As I was approaching within about 30 yards of the stand, I heard a loud noise from the creek bottom. it sounded like a buck grunt only 10 times louder than any I had ever heard. I halted and listened for a minute and heard it again. Now I started to think it was impossible for it to be a deer, and started imagining the feral hogs were back. I could only imagine this was coming from a big Boar.

    I began to slowly continue, hearing this sound several more times. When I reached the base of the tree I could see down the steep slope to the creek bottom. Now as I heard the sound I could see antlers moving upwards. After a few minutes of study I realized it was a buck on the ground next to the creek, and that he was kind of wailing in pain. It had the vibrato of a buck grunt but was loud and gave me the feeling that you get when you hear a trapped animal screaming.

    I came to realize it was a dying buck. I decided I needed to make my way down to the creek bottom and kill it. There was no way I could get a shot from the top in this thick cover. Of course, that is why the deer was here. I provide such thick cover that the deer come to my property to die.

    I had to wade the creek and make my way through the heavy brush as quietly as I could. Although this deer was clearly dying, I have experienced many times the tremendous surge of energy these animals can produce when faced with a human in close proximity. I feared he would take off and run some distance where I could not find him.

    I was about 15 yards from him now and still did not have a good shot. I could see now his head was raised up and he could see me. He looked disoriented and dizzy, like his eyes were cross-eyed, and even though there was a human right there, he seemed too woozy to comprehend what was happening. Perhaps he knew I was human but did not care any more, as he was so close to death that nothing mattered any more.

    Nov 29th buck MSF

    It was difficult to get a clear shot through the heavy brush. I had my Nikon scope set on 9X and did not think to drop it down to 3X. I aimed at what I thought was his chest, shot, (I just wanted to end his pain at this point) and realized I had hit him in the liver as I could see the entry wound. I also saw what he was dying from. As he fell back I could see that some of his guts were hanging out way back in the area of his gonads.

    I backed out and went back up to my stand. My goal was to begin calling neighbors and see if any of them felt this was a deer they may have wounded. It was a fruitless effort, and later, on closer examination, we came to the conclusion that he had not been shot but that he had probably been gored by another buck.

    I got ahold of Tony, who leases property near mine, and he said he would come over and help me. This was a big deer and it needed to be dragged up a very steep 30 foot ridge. Thanks Tony.

    It is rare for me to take a shot in the back of my pickup truck (I said I would never do it again). But in my opinion this deer probably harbored an infection for days and was likely septicemic. It pained me to make this decision but I doubt that it is safe to eat the meat. So he will be respectfully buried as soon as I can break ground with my backhoe.

    These bucks live very violent lives. Most of them are adorned with scars around their neck and face by the time they are 3.5. This one paid the ultimate price to play out the mating rituals of the whitetail buck. Got bless him.

    Nov 29th Aerial

    1 hour, 1 buck.

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    November 28th 2012 Buck Stand.   Got there right at first light.  Temperature of 22 degrees, wind from SSW at a kind 2 mph.  This is a great location to view the length of the creek from my west property line all the way to the food plot.

    2012 Buck Stand Overview

     

    Occasionally deer will also find their way across the swamp grass and within muzzleloader range as was the case with my December 23 2012 buck.  Video here:

    Doe sized

    At 7:56 I saw a doe coming south through the grass on a line about 40 yards out.  She was a big boxcar of a girl.  Worked her way up to the lane along the fence row and disappeared towards the south.  A couple of minutes later I saw a deer moving south to north inside the wood line west of me.  I assume it was the same doe circling back.

    Doe and fawn sizedAt 8:15 I saw a young buck fussing around on my neighbor’s property NW of me about 60-70 yards.   Never did see him again.

    At 8:21 a doe came walking in from my SW about 30 yards west of me. She had a fawn coming behind her.   She turned and came right towards me until she was about 15 yards away.    She looked me over pretty good and did a stare down at the lump in the tree.  I swear it is easier for these deer to pick me off when I am wearing the hunter orange.  I  use mesh materials to camouflage my stands and create the appearance of a lump.  It works fine with my archery gear but the hunter orange is lighter and brighter and causes me problems.  I do not believe they see the color but they see a bright lump there.   She trotted back to the west and disappeared through the woods.  I do not consider this to be a serious bust because she really did not know what I was.  If she had a visual plus my scent I would be more concerned.

    Nov 28th Aerial

    2.5 hours, 1 buck, 4 does, 5 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    November 26th Giant Oak.   Morning in the giant oak at the Gravel pit.  Got there right as shooting light was coming up.  Temperature 30 degrees, SW wind 6 mph.  Light Doe 2 sizeddusting of snow on the ground.   At 7:45 a deer showed up about 80 yards away in the creek food plot.  At 8:49 a doe and fawn angled north across the grass field north of me.  At 8:50 a deer passed about 80 yards behind me going south to north through the swamp grass.  Then 3 does and 3 fawn came from the south in the same area and borwsed in the swamp grass for a while.  The would disappear into the thicket to the north.  At 9:23 a.m. a doe and fawn came along the edge of the grass about 50 yards north of me headed west to east.  The doe saw my hand move at one point as I was turning the camera.  She did a stare down for about 15 minutes. In the meantime another doe and fawn were coming across the grassy area east of them angling NW.  They met up and headed north.  At 9:54 a doe and fawn crossed the creek out of the food plot and walked east to west past me about 12 yards north of me.

    At 10:08 a single antlerless deer crossed the grass to the north from south to north.

    At noon as a packed to leave a fawn was feeding in the food plot about 80 yards away.  I was able to slip out with no problem.

    Nov 26th Aerial

    4.5 hours, 7 does, 8 fawns, 3 unknown.

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    November 24th at my friend Mike’s place.   Mike has property in Hillsdale County.  We exchange habitat work on each other’s property every year and Mike invites me for a half day hunt during gun season every year.

    He has been doing habitat work for over 20 years and has what in my opinion property that is as good as it gets.

    This year it was cold and windy when I made my way to a box blind behind his barn, getting settled in at about 3 p.m.

    This property was hit hard by EHD last year but it is recovering nicely this year, although Mike has not seen any mature bucks yet this year.  That is very, very unusual for him.

    Doe and fawns sizedThis stand did not have shooting lanes prepped but there were a few possible shots, although I had little expectation I would see something to shoot.  The main goal was to try to get some video.

    At 3:30 I saw my first deer, a doe and fawn in the food plot to my south.  Then nothing until 4:30, when I saw a doe about 10 yards to my left (north) moving into the north food plot.  But the deer stopped at the edge and turned and ran to the north.  I ried to get the deer on camera but couldn’t, she left too fast.  When I swung the camera arm back, it biumped the window, and I saw a deer hop to my right. There was a doe and fawn about 10 yards to my right, straight down wind.   They hung around there for a while and then moved to the east.  The doe kept looking west and I kept my eye in that direction.  She turned out to be waiting on another doe and fawn who ended up joining them through the tall grass.  At 5:20 a doe and two fawns showed up on my right in the same spot.  She stood there for about 10 minutes and finally I could tell she scented me.  They finally made their way to the food plot to the south and disappeared.  Then at 5:32 I saw a young buck moving along their trail, and then an unknow took the same pat right at dark at 5:47.

    Nov 24th Aerial

    3 hours, 1 buck, 6 does, 6 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    November 21, 2009 Buck Stand.   This stand is located at the south end of the big CRP field at the Hanging Fen Farm.  Wind from South at 13 mph, gusts to 17 mph.  Temperature low 40s to high 30s.  Was set up in the stand at 3:45. I set up a new Covert Game Camera on the edge of the drop-off to the creek bottom.  This camera will email me pictures of the location.  I want to see if any mature bucks are using this oak ridge.  They used to use it commonly when I had ag fields but now much of the action has moved out into the CRP fields.  Still, I am hoping that pressure on surrounding properties may cause greater use of the creek area.

    2009 Buck Stand Overview

    I have been able to observe this area from the Rock Pile Cherry and have observed deer here on several evenings.  Conditions were pretty brutal up in the tree with the wind in my face.  At 4:57 a pair of does came into the food plot and fed for a while, then left to the west along the woods line.

    So, that was it.  Another very slow day, this time in a spot where I have applied no pressure whatsoever.  These periods come every year.  This year we have had howling winds many days.  The deer get skittish under these conditions.  Plus we are just a few days behind the peak breeding time.  I personally believe that there is less daytime movement during peak breeding, although some research suggests otherwise.  Still, these slow periods happen just about every year.

    I am not hunting very much during this firearms season, as I want to have my property serve as a haven for deer as pressure is applied on surrounding properties, and as I said, conditions have been brutal.  Even though I usually see plenty of bucks during firearms seasons,  there can be periods of less daytime movement, just because the deer are somewhat freaked out by all the commotion on surrounding properties.

    Nov 21 Aerial

    2 hours, 2 does.

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    November 19th Morning at The Other Giant Oak.     Back at the Other Giant Oak again for a morning sit.  North wind 8 mph and 29 degrees.  At 7:30 a.m. I see one antlerless deer in the food plot about 40 yards to my NW.   And then a couple of minutes later I see another deer in the woods over my left shoulder.  At 8 a.m. another antlerless deer whowed up where the first one was feeding.  Looked like a pair of fawns.  They hung around for another half hour or so and then disappeared.  At 9:30 I stood up to stretch my legs.  About 10 minutes later I heard trotting footsteps that sounded like they were coming from the Bone Yard SE of me.  But then I heard a loud snort to the NW.  Never saw a deer.  Not sure what happened.

    One of the slowest mornings I have ever experienced in the Gravel it.  I decided to end it and head in.

    Nov 19th other Giant Oak

    3 hours, 2 fawns.

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    November 19th Evening.  In the “First” Stand at the Hanging Fen Farm at 4:15 p.m.  Wind NNE.  At 4:28 I saw a deer over on the north end of the field working a licking branch.  A few minutes later a doe entered the food plot from the north, about 200 yards from me.  At 4:41 I looked down and there was a button buck right beneath me about 8 yards away.

    Button BuckTall racked buckBelieve it or not, I could see deer moving around way up at the pea plot over 350 yards away through the fence row trees in the next field over.  Just my luck that the action is over there tonight.

    I could see the button buck over in the food plot south of my fence row, about 150 yards away.    At 5:02 I saw a small racked buck feeding in the food plot near the Center Fence-line Stand across the field to the west.   Then a coyote showed up in the same area and I saw the young buck running to the south with his tail up.  He turned when he got to the lane and headed west into the next field over.  The coyote cam back to the edge of the food plot and pounced on something, maybe a mouse.  Then he disappeared.

    At 5:33 I saw a buck and doe in the east CRP field.  He was a very tall fork.  VEry unusual looking.  They fussed around over there for a while until the button buck became aware of them and ran towards them.  I thought that buck may be tending the doe because I know they try to get the does to lay up near roads at times, probably to get them away from other deer trafficAt 5 27 2 does and a fawn came in to the center food plot NNW of me. They browsed there for a while.  A few minutes later the tall fork ended up over there harassing them a little bit.  But then he began to concentrate on eating and pretty much ignored the girls.  At 5:35 a big doe cam in from the west end of the food plot and moved east down the food plot with a fawn trailing behind after a few seconds.

    Nov 19th First Stand_edited-1

    1.5 hours, 2 bucks, 3 does, 4 fawns.

    November 16th Morning.  Settled in to the stand at 6:39 a.m.   Very, very slow morning.  Saw a young buck with spikes or small forks come into the grass about 60 yards straight south of me in the grass.   There was another deer with him.  Not sure if it was a doe or a button buck.  They laid down for a while and then got up and ran about 30 yards.  I could see now that it was a doe.

    Gravel Pit RegularAt 9:23 a doe and fawn came from the west into the little food plot. They fussed around there for a while and then disappeared into the thicket behind me.  I continued to see the other doe milling around north of the creek.

    I had talked to Bill Vale yesterday and he encouraged me to stay out until after the major at 12:30.  So I stayed. I only saw one more deer at 11:45 and it was a buck that came up to about 10 yards SE of me by the apple tree.  Sniffed around and then made his way into the little food plot and departed to the west.  He is one of the young bucks I see regularly.  I left at 12:30, and as I made my way south on my exit trail, I got to within about 5 yards of the little buck and doe before they jumped up and ran towards the northwest.  I expected to run into them so was not surprised.  Had to leave sometime.

    Nov 16th Aerial_edited-1

    5.5 hours, 2 bucks, 2 does, 1 fawn.

    …………………………………………………..

    Nov 15th Evening.  Got settled into the tornado stand at 4 p.m. with a NNW wind.  At 4:51 I saw a fawn feeding in the food plot straight south of me.

    At 5:08 a doe and fawn came into the food plot from the bone yard. They fed there for a few minutes.  They then moved through the creek into the grass field towards me.  She got interested in my trail in.  She buried her nose in the grass (I had cut it back in September) and slowly worked her way in my direction.   I am not sure if she was sensing ground disturbance or if there was a problem with my boots.   She got behind the huge multi-trunked maple about 30 yards from me and I took the opportunity to scan for more deer.  When I looked back at her she was staring right at me.  Not good.  She high stepped her way back towards the creek and ran towards the Giant Oak.   She was not freaked out, did not blow, it may be just that she did not like seeing movement in that tree.

    I am not happy with this stand set-up and will not be using it again.  For one thing, it is only about 60 yards or so from my neighbor’s stand.  I prefer to not be that close to him.  I had called him today to see if he was hunting that stand, because I did not want to disturb his hunt.  I will probably move to that multi-trunked maple about 30 yards south of me.

    Once she got into the thicket near the Giant Oak, a buck popped out and followed her in.  He ended up at the west end of the field chasing other deer.  He was a possible 2.5 year old, but I was really too far to tell.

    That was it for the night.

    Evening Aerial_edited-1

    2 hours, 1 buck, 1 doe, 2 fawns.

    …………………………………………………..

    November 15th Morning.  Opening day of Michigan firearms season.  Fired up the muzzleloader and ready to go.  Opening morning is a defensive day for me.  I sit in spots where I can watch for potential incursions by hunters.  I expect something really bad to happen on this day and I am usually not wrong.  I set up today at the Hanging Fen Farm on the Rock Pile Cherry stand.  I can see my biggest CRP field, and I know that the neighbors will be perched right on my north property line in shooting shacks.  I want to keep a close eye on things.

    I am fascinated by the choices these hunters make.  They hunt on a truly fantastic property as guests.  The property has exquisite habitat on the north end, with ponds and swamps and very thick, dense cover, with ag fields nearby.  These guys choose to come all the way through it to the back of the property to hunt in an open, canopied woods where they (and the deer) can see for 200 yards in November.

    I got settled in the stand at 6:15 with KSW winds at about 8 mph and temperature around freezing.  One half hour later I saw the neighbor’s lights as they were making their way to their stands.  At 6:54, with 6 minutes to go before legal shooting hours, I heard a buck grunt right in front of me, then heard him running.  Got the binoculars up and saw him chasing a doe into the pea plot.  They continued to the west and I did not see any more of them.  The first shot came 3 minutes later.  Close enough to legal to just be my clock or his a bit off, and much later than usual.  It was very dark.

    At 7:56 I saw my first deer, a young buck with very little antlers that walked past the 2011 Buck stand behind me.   At 7:58 a pretty little yearling 8 point came into the perennial plot behind me.   I remembered seeing him back on October 27th at the First Stand.   He ended up about 7 yards from me.  Then he circled back, went right past the 2011 Buck Stand, and made his way to the west food plot in the transition area northeast of me.

    8 Point 2 sizedAt 8:06 a.m. a deer walked into my sneak trail from the NW CRP field past the giant Beech Stand.  At about this time I also discovered what became of my activated carbon face mask.  It was lying at the base of my ladder stand.  This is a scent control tool that I do not like being without.  But it would be too disruptive for me to climb down to get it.  The 8-point had been within a few yards of me straight down wind.   Hopefully my scent was drifting high and dropping to undetectable levels before reaching the edge of the bedding area about 120 yards away.  It is harder to accomplish without the mask but still doable.  My detection distance is typically under 25 yards, so I should be OK, with the main risk area being the path that this young buck took.  It it had been an older deer I very well may have been detected, especially since the mask was open so that the inner surface, which I have been breathing into, was exposed.   It is this kind of little thing that can make a big difference in a hunt.

    Mask on ground sizedAt around 8:24 the young 8 point and another buck with tiny antlers (barely 3 inches long) came out of the bedding area near the Triple Basswood Stand and into theCrimson Clover Plot, where they browsed across the field over the next few minutes towards the northwest woods.  I was happy to see them go that way as they were only about 100 yards or so from the hunters on the north line where they came out of the woods.

    Later, I ran into another neighbor who shares my north property line.  He was with his teenage son, who had seen the 8 but could not get a good shot.  I was sorry that the kid did not get his first buck but also happy that the pretty 8 point at least survived another hour to find his way to my northwest sanctuary.

    At 8:41 a doe and fawn came from the NW CRP field into the big field moving east. They entered the field a ways, but then started running across to the east fence line near my sneak trail by the Center Fence-line Stand.  I could see now that it was a doe and 2 fawns.

    At 9:15 I saw movement over my right shoulder.  I could see a doe and fawn crossing the food plot south to north about 20 yards behind me.  I started to move my camera to intercept them when they froze and were looking straight south.  I realized there was another doe out in front of them and she picked up my movement.  She ran north. and the other doe and two fawns went with her.

    At 10:25 I was packing up to leave when I saw 4-5 deer running in the CRP field south to north.  They ran into and through the pea plot and north along the northwest woods line.  I think they jumped into the northwest woods sanctuary at some point.  They had been running hard for some time as their mouths were hanging open and they were gasping for air.  Something really spooked them.  One was a doe, another was a fawn, I could not figure out whether the others were does or fawns.

    Nov 15th morning aerial

    3.5 hours, 2 bucks, 4 does, 5 fawns, 2 unknowns

    ………………………………………………….

    November 13th.  Evening.  It took me more than an hour to get out of the tree, slowly and quietly make my way along the food plot, cross the bridge, and head north to the “Tornado Stand”  I was settled in around 2 p.m.

    This was an open, canopied swamp hardwoods with a mix of walnuts, maples, white and red oaks.  Last winter Randy and I went in and did a series of videos of me hinge cutting the woods.  I was creating two kinds of hinge cuts.  First, I made a barrier layer a couple of hundred feet long.  This was done by just falling trees wherever they wanted to go, and making sure they were cut low enough to impede deer travel and make bedding in their undesirable.  Then, along the edges, we did less aggressive hinge cutting and made the cuts high so deer could pass through easily, but would feel well protected.

    The goal was to do evening hunts, with the wind blowing down the tornado zone, so that deer could pass to either side without getting directly in my wind stream.  The WNW wind this afternoon was perfect for that.

    This spot is the location where I saw the two biggest bucks I have seen this year.  The first was the 10 point I saw on the afternoon of the 9th.  He ran right past this stand when he left the food plot.  The other was a very wide, large racked buck that I think is the wide 8 that my neighbor was after.  I had seen him from the Giant Oak pass just about 40 yards south of here last night.

    does and buck sizedI got settled in at 2 p.m.  At 2:12 I saw a deer trotting through a thicket about 70 yards west of me.   Then at 2:25 I could see an antlerless deer browsing in that area.  It was there for quite a while.  At 4:48 I saw a doe and fawn cross the grass field and enter the food plot.  At 5:21 I saw an antlerless deer feeding in the food plot.  I think it was a fawn.  A minute later all hell started to break loose as I noticed deer running in the woods edge.  There were two does and a buck holding still just south of me for just a minute in the grass.  One of the does got hyped up and started running east.

    The buck followed.  The other doe hung back and took a pee, but then he came her way and she ran hard to the south and then west straight to my Giant Oak Stand.  There was also chasing going on in the food plot.  Does were fighting with each other.

    The chasing went on and on for 20 minutes.  These does were running the whole 250 yard length of the field, and then turning and running back the other way the full length at full speed.  It didn’t matter whether the buck was behind them or not.   They were just running full out.  I have often wondered why the do this and the only thing I can come up with is that they are trying to lay down as much scent as they can to confuse the buck when they try to finally flee the area.

    Another buck showed up by the Giant Oak and joined in the ruckus.

    After about 20 minutes it came to an end as an antlerless deer trotted right through my tornado zone.  So much for blocking deer movement.! Finally just before dark another young buck showed up late to the party.

    Evening Aerial_edited-1

    4 hours, 3 bucks, 3 does, 3 fawns, 4 unknown.

    ………………………………………………….

    November 13th.  Morning in the Bone Yard Stand.  This is a new stand set up in the Gravel Pit.  Steve Forche and Rich Hutton helped me set it up last summer.  It is adjacent to an area we call the “Bone Yard” because it is where deer come to die when they are wounded.  We regularly find dead deer here when doing post-season scouting.   The “Other Giant Oak Stand”, where I hunted on Nov 9th, is on the northwest end of the Bone Yard and the Bone Yard Stand is on the northeast end.  I get to it by coming right down the edge of the creek food plot.

    Aerial orientation_edited-1

    Temperature was in the low 20s when I went out before dark.  Wind was light from the NE, switching to the SW at daybreak at 2 mph, and increasing to 16 mph with gusts to 25 by late morning.

    small food plot sizedThis area is extremely thick.  There was a little reed canary grass area about 15 yards south of the stand.  Deer used to bed in there and I could not have that so I killed it in the summer, than planted it with rye and a fall blend in August.

    It looks like it did not come up very well but in fact it is just being hammered by the deer.  Every stem in it appeared to be nipped off.  There were 3 scrapes visible from the stand, one of which was about 5 feet in diameter.

    As with the “Other Giant Oak” stand, there is a shot lane to the long creek food plot as well.

    It was very, very slow.  I fired up the video camera at 6:30 a.m., and never saw a deer until 9:06, when a doe came from the north, through the creek, and into the creek food plot about 40 yards northwest of me.  At 9:30 a doe and fawn came in by the same route.

    At 10:10 a young buck suddenly appeared about 30 yards north of me.  I think he came in through the heavy brush on the other side of the creek, and I never saw him until he stepped up from the creek into the food plot.  He moved along and crossed about 15 yards behind me.   I was unable to get a good picture of him.

    At 10:35 2 doe fawns showed up in about the same spot where I think the the buck crossed the creek.  After a few minutes they came in to the creek food plot and fed there way along for about a half hour.

    At 12:15 I saw a deer moving through the woods across the creek towards the northeast.  After that, I decided to change stands and I moved to the other new stand I call the “Tornado” Stand because it is in a strip of woods at the north end of the property that I heavily hinge cut last winter to control deer movement.

    Morning Aerial_edited-1

    5.5 hours, 1 buck, 2 does, 3 fawns.

    ……………………………….

    November 12th.  Evening in the Giant Oak. Like a moth to a porch light, I am back at the Giant Oak again.  The wind continued to be brisk and from the northwest.  Settled in at 4 p.m.  At 4:14 I saw the biggest buck I have seen this year.   He was moving west to east in the grass field northeast of me.  I believe he may have come past the “Tornado” Stand in the north woods.  He was moving along briskly.  I tried to bleat to him and then tried to snort wheeze but with the storng north wind he could not here me.  He is obviously rut crazed as he was out in day light, moving quickly with his nose to the ground and the wind behind him.  He checked a licking branch when he got to the food plot and then quickly disappeared.

    About 10 minutes later, a young buck showed up in the same region of the food plot the big buck had passed through. He checked things out for a minute and then worked his way east and disappeared.

    At 5:18 an antlerless deer was feeding in the food plot, when a young buck came from the woods to the south and began to stalk her.  She came running down the food plot towards me.  There was a buck behind her and he was limping but still pursuing her pretty vigorously.  He had mud on all 4 feet.

    Another deer ran across the food plot to the east.

    Nov 12th Evening

    2 hours, 3 bucks, 1 doe, 4 unknowns.

    ………………………………………………..

    November 12th In the morning at the Drop Tine Stand.  This stand is named for the buck I saw in 2009.  it was the first year of using a crossbow.  This buck was a monster that was thrashign around about 20 yards from me showing a 5 point who is boss.  But the brush was too thick. Then he presented me with a perfect broadsie at 40 yards.  last I ever saw of him as he took off chasing a doe.  I am simply not equipped to make a 40 yard shot with archery equipment.

    I got to the stand later than I hoped.  It was shooting light by the time I did my camera check.  All kinds of delays getting things together.  We had a dusting of snow the night before.  It was about 27 degrees when I got in the stand with the wind from the NW at 9 mph with gusts to 16.

    At 7:44 a.m. I saw two antlerless deer across the creek on the south facing hillside near a big red cedar tree.  I don’t know what became of them.  At 7:55 I saw an antlerless deer on the creek bottom NE of me.  It was moving gingerly along and seemed to have made its way to my neighbor George’s creek bottom area, where there are tremendous bedding opportunities.

    At 8:07 I caught something out of the corner of my eye and slowly turned my head to look towards the food plot to the south. There were two fawns out there, but the Mom must have been looking my way because she got hyped up and did a major routine where she would high step it away from the plot towards the road.  The fawns just kept eating.  So she came back at least 3 times to get their attention.  Finally, on the third try, she got them to watch her as she bounded off with her tail high, and then they followed.  They all went ot eht creek bottom on George’s property.  It is afe there.  They know he is a Vegan.

    At 9:20 I notice movement to my left again, and there was a young buck, a 4 point, only 10 yards to my left. He moved quickly west to east and disappeared.  I stayed until 11 and then went home and warmed up.

    November 12th Aerial

    3 hours, 1 buck, 1 doe, 2 fawns, 2 unknowns.

    ………………………………………………………………

    November 10th.  Evening hunt at the Rock Pile Cherry at Hanging Fen Farm. Still on a quest to see a big buck working the pea patch.

    Got settled in to the stand at 4:30.  Winds SW 11 miles per hour with serious gusts, emperature in the high 40s.

    At 4:44 I saw several deer way at the south end of the field in the perennial plot.  They came out of the woods by the Spring Stand which is near the biggest spring on the farm (of many) that feeds part of the fen.  At 4:45, several antlerless deer ran out of the northeast woods into the crimson clover plot, followed by a young buck with a tiny rack.  There was one doe that he seemed to be most focused on.  At 4:48 I noticed a doe feeding in the pea plot on the north end, and there was another buck trotting around in the native grasses behind her.  After the chasing stopped and they settled down I ascertained that there had been 2 does and 3 fawns chased out of the woods.

    Back on the south end of the field I could see a buck in the area where I had seen the 4 deer earlier.  Not sure if he was one of them. I count it as a yearling buck, probably a 6 point, and 3 unknowns.

    Another deer was feeding in the crimson clover plot, making 6 total, 2 does, 3 fawns, 1 unknown.  All but one fawn moved north into the firebreak alfalfa/clover strip north of the crimson clover.  Proably trying to stay under cover a bit to avoid the young bucks.

    At 5:04, a doe with a very small fawn moved south to north along the fence row west of me across the field.  About 3 minutes later, a nice looking 2.5 year old buck stepped out of the northwest woods near the Giant Beech stand into the little perennial plot between the two CRP fields.

    At 5:21, a doe and 2 fawns came into the SW corner of the pea plot from the west.  And the doe with the little fawn that had been walking long the fence row turned and entered the food plot towards the north end.  So there were now 2 does and 2 fawns in the pea plot.  The doe with the two fawns worked her way over to the other doe and fawn.  I thought there was going to be a conflict, but instead, the single fawn ran up to the doe and they greeted and licked each other.  I guess they are related.

    At this point 3-legs, the 2.5 year old buck I saw several times last year and have already seen several times this year, entered the picture. He did a litle chasing of the does but nothing serious.  They certainly did not treat him like a cripple.  They were very wary of him.  He is quick when he wants to run, although he appears to be laboring a lot when he walks.

    At 5:53 a young buck moved south to north along the fence row behind me, to my SE.  He was moving from the south end of the field and probably turned into the destination field to my SE.

    Th th th that’s all folks!

    Nov 10th Aerial

    2 hours, 5 bucks, 4 does, 6 fawns, 3 unknowns.

    …………………………………………………………….

    November 9th Evening.  The “Other Giant Oak”.  This may be a first for me, but I decided the Other Giant Oak might be a good place to do my evening sit.  I was sure there were a number of does bedded in the bone yard and wanted to take advantage of that spot with the SW wind.  I got back out there at

    10 point quartered to sized4 p.m. Four minutes into my sit I reached to my left pocket for my gloves, when I heard a big ruckus down to my left.  it was the 10 pointer again in the same spot he had come through before.  He caught me moving, wheeled around and ran about 20 yards back down the trail and froze for a couple of minutes.  Then he walked up into the food plot, and went over to my 35 yard shot window, because from there he could get a good vantage point to see the tree and check out whether that was a giant raccoon or an alien in the tree.

    I was not going to take a shot, but would not likely have done so anyway.  He was slightly quartering to me as he stopped, probably because he wanted to get a look at the tree.  Then he stepped forward and quartered slightly to me again, and there was a twig in the way, so that there was not a good target for a 35 yard shot.   You can see in the video how as he walked he was presenting a great broadside, but when he would stop, he would pivot his body quartered to me, presenting a poor shot.  On review of the video I discovered that this was a different 10 pointer, that appeared to be a 3.5 year old with considerably more antler mass than the one from the morning.  Still, I did not have a good shot and am glad I passed that difficult 35 yard shot.

    An interesting little study of how deer use a sight line like that shooting lane, and how small the difference is between a good broadside shot and a poor quartering to shot.

    Browsing doe sizedAfter he passed my shooting window, the buck worked his way along the food plot to about 70 yards ENE of my position, then, all of a sudden I saw him run full speed to the north, leap the creek from bank to bank, run full speed north across the grassy area, and disappear into my neighbor Luke’s property after going right past my north woods (Tornado) stand.

    At 4:50 a doe fawn followed by a doe came down the same trail the buck had just come down except they came east to west from the bone yard.   When the doe showed up she catught me moving the camera and kept checking my position out, but she was not too concerned.  She was about 12 yards away and kept looking up at me but was more curious than nervous.   In fact she started browsing after a minute.

    After about 10 minutes she circled south and east and back into the bone yard.

    At 5:11 a doe walked east to west about 15 yards south of me.

    At 5:14 there was a fawn feeding in the food plot NW of me about 40 yards.

    At 5:27 I noticed a doe and fawn in the bone yard about 30 yards away towards the ESE.  I assumed it was the pair that passed me earlier.  They would stay fixed in position until dark.

    I only saw one more deer, and antlerless deer was running across the grassy area north of the creek.  Then it got dark.  I quietly packed up hoping the doe and fawn had departed.

    Nov 9th Evening Aerial

    2 hours, 1 buck, 2 does, 2 fawns, 1 unknown.

    ……………………………………………..

    November 9th Morning.  The “Other Giant Oak” is in the Gravel Pit, about 120 yards due west of the “Giant Oak.  This too is a wooden ladder stand 20 feet high.  It faces towards the east, looking over the edge of an area we call the “bone yard”.  Every year we find carcasses of deer in this few acres of very thick brush.  It is the place wounded deer come to die.   This is an area where it is possible to see many deer working their way into the bone yard to bed down after leaving my neighbor’s property to the west.  This is one of the destinations of deer in the mornings, and sources of deer in the evenings that make their way past the giant oak. Being near a bedding area, this stand makes it possible to see bucks later into the day than is the norm for the “Giant Oak” although it is possible to see bucks there any time of the day as well.  I am moving closer in to the bedding because I feel the bigger bucks are starting to move more in daylight.

    From here I can shoot to the long creek food plot.  I have a shooting window that is 35 yards to the center of the plot.  I will take such a shot with the crossbow only with perfect conditions and at a very large target.  Today I would have a chance for that shot but the target was not quite big enough.

    Made it to the stand at 6 a.m.   It was right at freezing with a light wind that would develop to 12 mph in a couple of hours with gusts to 20.  It was chilly 20 feet up, even as the temperatures got into the low 40s as the morning progressed.  .  At 7:00 a.m., about 10 minutes after legal shooting light, a large doe came west to east along the food plot.  At 7:24 a young buck came running from the grassy area to the north, throuigh the creek and into the food plot.  Then he wheeled around and ran back north.  At 7:29 I spotted a doe in the food plot to the NE, and another doe in the grass across the creek facing east. Then a 10 point buck walked up the food plot from the east, turned, and headed north across the creek then west.  One of the does and a fawn remained in the food plot feeding.

    10 point sizedAt 7:42 I spotted another doe out in the grass field to the north.  She was just standing still looking around.  This is a pretty sure sign there is still a buck in the area.  As I was watching her I noticed movement to my left, looked down, and there was the 10 point about 10 yards away to my left.  He seemed nervous and uneasy.  He was almost down wind of the tree and only 10 yards away.  I suspect he caught a little hint of me. Not enough to freak him out but enough to make him turn around and head back the way he came.  There was a fawn standing in my 35 yard shot window, the buck came around into the food plot and scared the fawn away, then crossed my shot window.  I decided to not try to stop him.  I want to see him again next year.

    He crossed over to the north side of the creek, looked around, and then walked off to the east.  About 2 minutes later he ran back west across the field. There were still some antlerless deer dining in the food plot.

    eating multiflora roseAt 7:54 a doe fawn came up the trail from the bone yard.  This is the same trail the 10 point was on except she was coming east, browsing on twigs and plants.  A button buck came along behind her doing the same.  They were about 12 yards away and straight down wind.  She was really chowing down on the multiflora rose.  I hear a lot of guys complaining about multiflora rose.  In my view, it is the single most desirable understory plant for deer browsing. They absolutely love it and it adds tremendously to their diet, as well as giving them the kind of thorny cover the really crave.

    At 8:11, a doe and fawn walked west to east through the food plot, past my 35 yard shot window, and started feeding.  At 8:13 I saw the doe in the food plot go on alert, looking west.  Then at 8:27 I heard blowing coming from the bone yard, usually a sign the does are getting harassed by bucks.

    At 8:33 I saw a buck alternately trotting and running on the north side of the creek headed east.  He then turned and came across the creek into the food plot.  Looked like a 4 or 5 point.  He walked east down the food plot.

    At 9:09 I started to open an energy bar, making a little too much noise, and I spotted a deer getting up and sneaking out about 30 yards away.  My guess is those two doe fawns laid down over there and I did not notice them.  They had left in that direction.  It is very thick in there and hard to see anything.

    At 9:13 a doe came down my sneak trail about 12 yards out in front of me, coming from south to north.  The left headed west up the trail the 10 point had entered on earlier.  Nothing happened until about 11 a.m., which of course is the former noon before the clocks fell back.  I always try to sit until noon when doing a morning sit because it is not unusual to see restless bucks up and around at mid day.  I headed in for some lunch and to get cleaned up for the afternoon hunt.

    Nov 9th morning aerial

    4 hours, 2 bucks, 5 does, 5 fawns, 3 unknowns.

    ……………………………………….

    November 8th.  I hunted in the Bill Vale Basswood at the Hanging Fen Farm in a location where I can actually see and shoot to the edge of the fen.  There is a stand in the oak tree along the north edge of the field.  This is the southeast portion of the farm which is comprised of two fields that were taken out of agriculture in 2010. About 1.5 acres of destination food in 2 small plots and 2 larger plots, which are surrounded by 10 yards wide swaths of switchgrass, except on the south ends where the switchgrass is 30 yards wide.

    Southwest Fields set-up_edited-1There were only 2 stands here up to 2011, when Bill Vale helped me solve a problem.  The 2010 buck stand was in a location at the top of a 20 foot tall embankment that slopes rapidly down to the creek.

    Chris Pierson helped me set-up the spot.  It was meant to ambush bucks traveling along the creek bottom.  The problem was, that bucks would come from west to east along the creek, but did not make the turn around the point at the north end of the field, but instead tended to continue straight and so ended up about 40-50 yards away.

    Vale set-up

    Jake and I looked it over in 2011, and came up with the basswood set.  Moving 30 yards to the west and a little bit further out on the point solved the problem of reaching that travel path.  It was not obvious to do this as it is necessary to drop down the embankment a ways to get to the base of the basswood.  A few days later, Bill Vale came over and I took him to that spot and he came up with the exact same solution.   I went ahead and set the stand with Bill watching.  After I had it in place he said he wanted to help, and of course moved it up another 5 feet higher.  So it is about 20 feet up the tree and about 30 feet above the creek.  As yet, I have not seen a shooter buck on the creek bottom since placing this stand, but I will someday.  Most of my stands are ladder stands but this is a hang on with Cranford tree steps, and has 30 foot rope with Prusik knot running to the ground in order to scale it safely.

    9 point 2sizedI walked back to the stand in the afternoon, and got set up and settled in at 4 p.m.  The wind was 5 mph from the southwest, which allows it to blow out over the creek, and the temperatures were in the high 30s.  At 4:55 I looked over my left shoulder towards the field edge and saw a buck standing there.  At first I had a shot of about 25 yards and clear.  But instead of picking up my bow and shooting, of course I was fussing with the camera.  As I did so he wandered out of my range over by the oak tree where my other stand is located.  This is exactly the kind of buck that is a struggle for me to pass.  Beautiful looking, with more than 120 inches of antler, but possible just a really well endowed 2.5 year old. In fact, he is probably a 2.5 year old.  His legs looked longish, tight stomach, and his neck ended well above his brisket.  His rear end looked a little jacked up higher than the front end, legs considerably longer than the chest is deep. But honestly, in our area, only about 10% of the bucks I see in a season are this well developed.  That is because almost 70% of the buck harvest is 1.5 year olds.

    He continued to browse to the east and then worked a licking branch and left.  He was feeding there for about 10 minutes.  About 10 minutes after he left, another buck, a much smaller 6 point, came and worked the same branch, ate for a while, then disappeared to the south through the switchgrass.  at 5:49 p.m. a buck came from the creek about 30 yards east of me and came up the hill into the food plot.   He looked like a probably fork.  At 6:00 a buck came from the food plot straight down my trail and under my tree.  he looked like he had little tiny forks.

    Oct 8th Aerial

    2 hours, 4 bucks.

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    November 8th.  I hunted in the Bill Vale Basswood at the Hanging Fen Farm in a location where I can actually see and shoot to the edge of the fen.  There is a stand in the oak tree along the north edge of the field.  This is the southeast portion of the farm which is comprised of two fields that were taken out of agriculture in 2010. About 1.5 acres of destination food in 2 small plots and 2 larger plots, which are surrounded by 10 yards wide swaths of switchgrass, except on the south ends where the switchgrass is 30 yards wide.  There were only 2 stands here up to 2011, when Bill Vale helped me solve a problem.  The 2010 buck stand was in a location at the top of a 20 foot tall embankment that slopes rapidly down to the creek.

    Chris Pierson helped me set-up the spot.  It was meant to ambush bucks traveling along the creek bottom.  The problem was, that bucks would come from west to east along the creek, but did not make the turn around the point at the north end of the field, but instead tended to continue straight and so ended up about 40-50 yards away.

    Jake and I looked it over in 2011, and came up with the basswood set.  Moving 30 yards to the west and a little bit further out on the point solved the problem of reaching that travel path.  It was not obvious to do this as it is necessary to drop down the embankment a ways to get to the base of the basswood.  A few days later, Bill Vale came over and I took him to that spot and he came up with the exact same solution.   I went ahead and set the stand with Bill watching.  After I had it in place he said he wanted to help, and of course moved it up another 5 feet higher.  So it is about 20 feet up the tree and about 30 feet above the creek.  As yet, I have not seen a shooter buck on the creek bottom since placing this stand, but I will someday.  Most of my stands are ladder stands but this is a hang on with Cranford tree steps, and has 30 foot rope with Prusik knot running to the ground in order to scale it safely.

    I walked back to the stand in the afternoon, and got set up and settled in at 4 p.m.  The wind was 5 mph from the southwest, which allows it to blow out over the creek.  At 4:55 I looked over my left shoulder towards the field edge and saw a buck standing there.  At first I had a shot of about 25 yards and clear.  But instead of picking up my bow and shooting, of course I was fussing with the camera.  As I did so he wandered out of my range over by the oak tree where my other stand is located.  This is exactly the kind of buck that is a struggle for me to pass.  Beautiful looking, with more than 120 inches of antler, but possible just a really well endowed 2.5 year old. In fact, he is probably a 2.5 year old.  His legs looked longish, tight stomach, and his neck ended well above his brisket.  His rear end looked a little jacked up higher than the front end, legs considerably longer than the chest is deep. But honestly, in our area, only about 10% of the bucks I see in a season are this well developed.  That is because almost 70% of the buck harvest is 1.5 year olds.

    November 7th.  Back at the Rock Pile Cherry Stand again.  There is enough action here that I figure it is only a matter of time until a shooter shows up, as long as I don’t get my position busted.  I brought along my Silky Zubat hand saw and made short work of the limb that had fallen down in my way.

    Silky Zubat Video:

    Sparky Senior2Temp in the high 30s wind from the WNW at 9 mph with gusts to 25.  And I was underdressed so I froze my little hiny off.  Settled in at 3:49 p.m. As I started to scan the field I saw a doe and 2 fawns on the pond berm straight across the field from me.  It has perennials growing on it, they appeared to be browsing there.

    At 4:14 a buck came into the north end of the pea plot.  It appeared to be the 8 point from the previous hunt here.  He strode into the field and walked to the south end, circling around the mound at the end of the berm and going up the berm.  Never saw him after that.  I had expected to see the doe an fawns bust out of there but they may have left earlier.   He definitely has the body of a 2.5 year old although he has quite impressive antlers.

    At 4:50 a doe came out of the northwest woods by the little perennial plot and walked into the field and south along the fence row.  A young buck came out behind her but she had already gone out of site.  He guessed wrong and turned west into the northwest CRP field.

    At 4:55 a doe and two fawns moved in to the pea plot on the southwest end.  A couple of minutes later another doe came out in the same spot.

    At 5:06 a doe came out of the sneak trail to my SE coming out of the destination plot.  She stood looking back, then ran west, stopped for a few seconds, then ran south.

    A doe and 2 fawns showed up in the big perennial plot at 5:12 p.m.

    At 5:15 a button buck came from the south into the pea plot and started browsing.

    At 5:17 I saw a doe trotting back and forth in the pea plot acting nervous.  Not sure what caused it.

    At 5:21 a pair of deer, at least one a doe, ran out of the sneak trail from the destination plot to the SE, and stood looking back.  Not sure where thy went.  I shivered until dark and then started sneaking out.

    Nov 7th Aerial2 hours, 2 bucks, 5 does, 5 fawns, 3 unknowns.

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    November 5th.  Evening at Hanging Fen.  Temperature in the high 40s, wind from the south.  I get all dressed up and head out to enter the area where I have observed so much chasing at the hanging fen farm.  On Oct 30th I sat in the triple basswood and observed a shooter buck that was doing some chasing.  Then on Nov 3rd I observed chasing in the same field by several bucks including a very nice looking 2.5 year old.   It was obvious that the center of attention for these deer is the destination food plot filled with rye and Austrian winter peas. Even though it does not look very impressive, because it is constantly getting hammered by the deer, it is a major draw.  The winter peas seem like catnip to these deer.

    Basswood sizedTree limbOn the way to the stand I get to check out a scrape line, including a basswood tree that is all torn up, and marked as high as 4 feet off the ground.  Basswood trees are like catnip to bucks too. They shred any basswood that is exposed and in a social area like a scrape line or food plot edge.  I believe the basswood has two features bucks like.  The wood is relatively soft, and they can “win” against it, in other words they are able to do a lot of damage.  Plus, when they do the damage, the expose the ropey strands from the cambium, which provides a higher surface area for depositing scent with their forehead glands.  Red Cedar has a similarly fibrous cambium and is similarly highly desired by bucks for rubbing.  Both of these species are avidly sought out by bucks for use as licking branches as well.  Again, my theory is that as they chew on the stems, they produce a higher surface area, resulting in greater deposition of scent, which with their superb nose is readily apparent to them.

    When I got to my stand I faced the unfortunate scene of a large branch all tangled in grape vines that had fallen onto my entry path.  This stand is on a rock pile in a field, which provides very treacherous footing, so I had placed well-secured boards to make my way across the rocks to the stand without producing noise or losing my footing.  I made a mental note to bring my handsaw on the next trip.

    The rock pile cherry stand was originally designed as a doe harvest stand.  It sits about 45 yards from the edge of the 3 acre arcing destination plot, which comprises Austrian winter peas and rye to the south, perennials to the northwest, and crimson clover as it arcs east to the edge of the northeast woods.  This is a stand that is pretty easy to get in to as I enter through a low area that is actually a pond built by Fish and Game that never held water.  There is a rise in the CRP field between the stand and destination plot, so I am about 10 feet up the stand before I can see the plot, so I can determine if there are deer in the plot when climbing, and either change my plans or wait them out.

    Green mesh behind hunterIt is easy to shoot into the pea plot with a muzzleloader or shotgun.  I had not originally thought of it as a buck stand, but since the warm season grasses have matured this year, I have seen ample amounts of chasing that takes bucks right past this stand in the CRP grass, as the does circle to and from the plots. It is far enough away from the plots so that the deer do not pick me off in it.  I have dressed it up with green mesh cloth so that there is always a “lump” of something visible in the tree.  I buy this material (visible behind me in the photo) in 4 by 100 foot rolls at Menard’s.  It is a flimsy fabric that, unlike other camouflage materials I have tried that are designed for hunters, holds up very well in sunlight and wind.  I nail it on with 1 inch roofing nails.

    I was settled in the stand around 2:54 p.m., and saw my first deer 2 minutes later. A deer ran out of the northeast woods into the crimson clover plot.  It was a fawn running to the plot with a doe strolling in behind.  They spent a long, long time over there.  I did not see another until 4:28 p.m. It was walking the fence row across the field from me to the west, moving through the tall grass north to south.  A couple of minutes later he ran a ways to the north.  A few seconds later I could see a buck running south to north along the fence row.  As he approached the other deer ran into the pea plot and it was then I discerned that it was a button buck.  In the meantime, the buck, which appeared to be a nice looking 8 point, turned and walked back south, worked a licking branch, and then hopped into the fence row. I thought then that he was bedded there and he would prove me right later on.   He had found a nice spot to watch the pea patch from, so there he and I both were, each perched on opposite sides of the field in a good position to hunt deer coming to the peas.

    3-legged-FBAt 5:10 a buck moved through the CRP grass about 70 yards south of me moving west to east, entering my sneak trail that goes past a stand set to observe the other destination field to the south.  At 5:15 a coal black cat came in to the pea plot on the south end and he worked his way over towards me.  Then 7 male turkeys came in to the plot.  There were a couple of big toms in the group.  The cat heard them and started sneaking towards them.  i don’t know what was on his mind but when he got into the plot he ended up with 7 big turkeys coming right at him. He lit out of there and I never saw him again.

    At 5:32 I heard grunting, looked behind me, and saw “3-legs” chasing a doe past the 2011 Buck Stand.  I suspect he will fall off if he ever tires to straddle a doe but more power to him for at least trying.  I don’t have a close picture yet of him this year but here is one from last year. He has gained a lot of weight and antler mass this year, but still seems rather small.  At the same time an antlerless deer came into the little clover plot across the field to my WNW by the woods.  I think it may have been the button buck from earlier. Grunting and chasing behind me continued but I could not see them.

    small buck big buck labeledAt 5:39 I saw a doe and fawn come out of the woods into the food plot on the far south end of the field.

    Doe in CRP fieldAt 5:41, I saw a buck walking south to north along the fence line across the field from me.  He was walking right towards the spot where I thought that other buck laid down. I expected to see this smaller buck get in trouble pretty soon.   Sure enough the bigger buck popped up as the smaller buck walked by.  Sure enough, he was laying in wait for other deer in a good observation post.  He followed the smaller buck north along the fence line to the little perennial patch.  They did not tussle with each other but just stood watching the food plot, where the button buck had run to.  After a couple of minutes the bigger buck headed straight back to his original spot and jumped back into position on the fence row.

    At 5:49 I noticed a doe moving through the CRP field about 50 yards SW of me.  She kept stopping and staring in my direction.  I think she saw my head turn so she was being cautious.  She took her time but finally made her way into the south end of the food plot.    Of course, it is not hard to figure out what happened next.  Up pops the 8 point out of his fence row bed and he was chasing her around the plot.  I ended up rattling him in to 8 yards, where he began thrashing a tree.  If he wants me to shoot him, he is going to have to wait a year.

    Nov 5th Aerial_edited-1

    3 hours, 3 bucks, 2 does, 2 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    November 4th.  Hilltop Cedar in the Gravel Pit, where I hunted on October 23rd during a mini-blizzard.   Got set up around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Wind from the SE at 8-13, temperature in the 40s dropping into the 30s.  Turkeys made their way through just as I was setting up my camera.  At 5:09 a young buck entered the east end of the food plot.  He was a wanna be 8 point that would not quite measure up to that status.  There is not much food there but there is certainly enough for a deer to think about and want to get a taste of.  He browsed his way through and left to the west.

    This is exactly how this little spot was designed, with just enough draw to possibly hold a doe and cause bucks to feel they have to check it out.  Around 5:30 I heard some running to my left and a few seconds later a doe fawn came running through the food plot, paused there for a minute looking back, and then scrambled out of there again circling north and turning back west in the woods.  Over the next 5 minutes, there was chasing going on back and forth in the woods north of me, and a buck grunting, but I did not see him.  At 5 :47, the doe fawn came back into the food plot, and started grooming herself for a few minutes, then a doe followed her in and browsed for the next 10 minutes or so.  Interestingly, the little fawn knows her way around.  She was anxious to move along to the other food plots, so she went up the trail over the hill we built.  She stood in my shooting lane waiting for Mom but finally gave up and moved on.  Mom followed her at about 5:55.  Darkness came and I went home.

    1.5 hours, 1 buck, 1 doe, 1 fawn.

    ………………………………………

    November 3rd.  I went to the 2011 Buck Stand in the morning for an all day hunt.  Jake was doing an all day hut at his place too and we kept in touch by testing.  This is a stand that serves combined functions of being a scouting stand and an ambush stand (as the name implies).  It is situated in a transition area between bedding and destination food.  it is right at the end of a string of small food plots running through an old field that provide transition to and from bedding and destination food. There is a scrape line running east to west and one running north to south that terminate right by the stand.   It is an observational stand because it affords a good view of two different destination food plots, but it is also in a key area to catch bucks moving from food to cover and working scrape lines.

    2011 buck stand layout

    I got delayed getting set up but that is not a real problem with this stand because it is in a transition area.  I got settled in at 6:45 for legal hunting time of 6:45.   First deer seen 10 minutes later.  Moved like a buck but not sure.  It was moving east to west from the field to the bedding area through the crimson clover plot north of me.  A minute later a buck moved through the destination perennial field northwest of me. He was moving southwest.  Then a doe and fawn showed up in the same location.   A buck came striding across the perennial field from the north.  Probably the same one I saw earlier.  He disappeared in the tall grass to the west.

    At 7:15 and antlerless deer moved north to south along the fence row straight across the field from me.  At 7:42 a doe and two fawns move into the food plot about 60 yards NNE of me.  They were in a hurry and watching behind them.  They fed around in there for a while and then moved south towards the fence row, and came out into the CRP grass just east of me a ways.  They had added another doe to the mix.  At 8:10 I saw a deer come out of the northwest sanctuary woods through the little perennial plot and into the CRP grass. She was followed out by a young buck into the perennial plot.  This is the lane between the two fields that has been turned into a plot.  About 10 minutes later at least 3 deer ran from that woods south to north to my north property boundary, Doe and fawnswhich is heavily edge feathered.  They stopped an looked back at one point, indicating to me that a buck had chased them out.  It was probably the one I saw before but who knows.

    At 8:50 several deer were chased right up to the rock island in the field west of me. They stood and then scattered and ran to the west end of the field.  A couple of minutes later another antlerless deer ran across the NW end of the field.  towards the NE sanctuary woods.  I believe it entered the woods.

    It was quiet for over 1/2 hour after that, then a doe and two fawns came in to the little food plot 60 yards NNE of me at 9:36.  They fed their for 15 minutes and then slowly made their way into the woods towards the bedding area.  All was quiet after that for the next 5 hours.

    Morning Aerial_edited-2

    At 3:34 a doe and two fawns came in to the pea plot west of me and started feeding.  At 3:57 I saw a deer move along the fence row way at the east end of the field next to me, going south to north.

    At 4:15 a small doe passed east to west through the food plot NNE of me.  Same light body coloration as the one I saw a few minutes ago so I assume she made her way down the two track from where I saw her before.

    doe with tail upAt 4:21 another doe came running in from the east into the same little food plot.  She had her tail raised up and kept looking back.  I could see her privates were very pink and swollen, plus her back was roughed up.  I assume she is ready or close and someone tried to mount her.  She really acted stressed as she spent several minutes looking back to the east with her tail either at half mast or up fully.  She stood in the same spot for 9 minutes, then started feeding, although she continued to look back occasionally.  At 4:35 a young buck came running straight east of me about 40 yards away and going south to north into the food plot just south of the doe.  I could see him in that food plot but he must have gone east or north because he did not show up in the closer food plot.  The doe finally left to the west after about 30 minutes in the plot.

    At 4:48 a young buck moved into the destination plot SE of me.  It was moving west to east down the plot, worked it’s way into the perennial portion of the plot, feeding as it went, and then moved along the fence row to the south and disappeared.

    8-point arrowDoes fightingThree minutes later another young buck entered the pea plot west of me browsing north to south.  And a doe and 2 fawns were seen in the perennials north of him.  Another buck was chasing in the CRP grass on the west side of the field while another doe and 2 fawns moved in to the perennials.  At 4:57 there was lots of chasing going on all over the perennial plot.  Deer would run to different spots and start feeding as fast as they could.  They tended to try to stay in a plot so they could eat in between harassment episodes.   At 5:00 a button buck came walking right under my stand and headed out to the pea field, followed a minute later by a doe fawn.  The young buck doing all the chasing was still hanging out and eating.   

    At 5:26 one of the does being chased came south into the CRP grass towards my position.  They were hanging out and milling around just north of me while another buck, one I knew from last year as the “3-legs” came into the pea plot and joined in the chase.   His left front leg is missing at the shoulder.  There is a nub just maybe 3-4 inches long there.  I have watched and filmed him on several occasions and he seems to do very well running and chasing and feeding.  He made it through the year pretty well.   At 5:38, a really pretty 2.5 year old 8 point came walking along in the area the does had been milling around, just west  of the giant walnut tree out in the field.

    Evening Aerial_edited-1

    11 hours, 6 bucks, 8 does, 10 fawns.

    ……………………………………………..

    November 2nd.  Evening hunt at the Giant Oak in the Gravel Pit. Disaster befalls me in the form of a combination scent-sight bust that may make this spot questionable in the future.  I know some of you guys may think I am overhunting this spot, but I don’t think so.  This could have happened on day 1.  I have hunted this stand as often as 4 times (2011) by this date without seeing a decrement in sightings.  I do not have to worry about my trail in because my scent control is so good on my boots.  But I do have to worry about getting busted in the stand, and that is what happened this night.  On this evening, I got settled into the stand at about 4:40 p.m.  There was a doe and fawn about 100 yards away in the creek food plot when I climbed up the tree.  They never saw me get set up and settled in.  The temperature was around 45 degrees.  Wind from the north, which is good because it blows my scent over the creek and into the open grass field, which deer do not traverse very often, preferring to travel along the creek.

    At 5:00 a doe and fawn showed up, turned into a doe and two fawns.  The other pair began to work their way in my direction.  They were eating Jake’s fall blend (blend contains a mix of brassicas, purple top turnips, kale, and groundhog radishes, all things that attract deer later in the season), which I added this year to the creek food plot. The plot originally extended along the creek with perennials for several years.  The perennials are getting a little bit overgrown with grasses. I decided I would extend the plot all the way down along the bedding areas south of the creek.  The idea is to get deer to come out and browse along the creek to me.  Having the plot extended like that allows different doe families to use it without conflict.  I will plant perennials in place of the fall blend in the spring after I spray it again.  Then I will kill the older portion in the spring, and plant it to a fall blend in August.

    Another doe and pair of fawns came out, so now I had 2 does and 6 fawns in the plot.  There was a little bit of aggression among the does as they raised up and bitch slapped each other a couple of times.  Fawns were running around too.  One of the does stood up on her hind legs to work a licking branch.

    Button Nov 2 sizedAt 5:17 a doe came southeast from the grass field north of the creek and made her way to the area where the other deer were still browsing.   A few minutes later a doe followed by a button buck came from the creek and passed the apple tree near my stand about 10 yards away.

    The doe was my first indicator that something was wrong with my scent.  She stopped, looked my way, and was raising her nose.  I hate wet air.  The weatherman said that there was not going to be any more rain, but there was a light mist falling. This is a great way to convey scent to the ground. I had cooling air, that was wet and heavy.  Anyway, she was not spooked, just curious, and passed through and he followed.  When he got to the west end of my little killing food plot, he had a standoff with a big Tom turkey.  The turkey won the showdown and backed off the little stag.

    At 5:40, a doe and fawn crossed the north grassy area headed for the creek food plot.  A few minutes later a deer was seen running north along the west woods line.  At about 10 minute to 6, the deer started emptying out of the food plot through my shooting lane on the west end.

    Doe and fawns-sizedGrunting buck-sizedSoon, the trouble would begin. Their intended path seemed to be the usual one along the creek, but they turned south along the woods line across the creek from me.  It started raining at about 6:15.  The doe had now been frozen in position, turning only her head occasionally, for a full 15 minutes.  Something was obviously wrong.  At about that time, a buck came down through the food plot east to west working licking branches along the way.  He was a yearling.  I lost track of him and then he showed up among the does south of me a few minutes later.  He must have gone through the woods.  He fussed around with the girls for a few minutes, then came over into my shooting lane and showed off his grunting abilities. Looks like the same forked buck I saw back on October 22nd.

    Thirty three minutes later, the doe was still planted in the same spot, mostly staring off into the grass field, while the buck worked his way along my entry trail and worked a scrape under an oak limb.

    In the meantime I saw a single deer, that looked like it was being chased, run a circle in the north grassy field.  I never saw her pursuer though.

    Finally, after 40 minutes that doe started moving.  Now she had another doe with her and they were staring towards the woods I was in.  They were acting nervous.  Finally one of the third does with a fawn came back towards her, and she turned and started high stepping into the grass field, moving right into my main wind stream.  After a few yards she stopped, did her nose in the air routine, and then turned and walked nervously back towards the others, then turned again and headed quickly west, which is where I believe she wanted to go all along.

    All was well and good as my stand site was not busted.  As darkness fell, I packed up, and started to load my backpack with my camera equipment, when I heard a deer blow.  I belive she had circled back from the creek area to the west end of the little killing plot, and caught my dark silhouette against the light sky.  She blew several times as I shook my head in disgust.  Now, I have no proof that this was the same doe.  It could have been another deer, in which case I am probably OK.  But I have seen this behavior enough times to believe that the alpha doe from that group circled around to continue to inspect whatever was bothering her.  If so, I may have a problem on my hands in my 4th season of heavily hunting this wonderful spot.

    I will now stay away from this stand for a while. I have plenty of hunting to do at my other property.  I will let things cool off at this location. If, the next time I hunt it, I feel like the deer are looking for me in it, I will have to abandon it and relocate it next year.  The problem is, if she has the exact spot figured out, and knows I was a human, well then she will stop and stare at that spot every time she comes by, and her subordinates will follow suit, and may even pass the uneasiness about this spot on to subsequent generations. This is not “training” in the intellectual sense, it is just spookiness or uneasiness about a spot that makes every deer around her uneasy about the spot and can have a generational impact.  It may be necessary to only move a few yards, or even just to the other side of this very large tree, to overcome this problem.

    This is one of the reasons that it is best to not use the exact locations of an existing stand when you buy or hunt on a new property.  If that stand has been busted in the past by an alpha doe, it may impact the behavior of all the female deer in the area.  Not so with bucks.  They will be uneasy once they bust you in a spot, and may stay away from it, but they will not imprint this behavior on other deer.  I am much more concerned with a doe busting my stand than a buck.

    Nov 2nd wide aerial

     

    The bust2.5 hours, 1 buck, 4 does, 6 fawns, 1 unknown.

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    November 1st.  Held Farm the Point Stand in the evening.  It was drizzly but the rain was supposed to stop so I threw together a quick hunt behind the mother-in-laws house where I killed the doe on opening morning.  It is a great “scouting” stand because I can see a lot from there, including, most importantly, how deer are interacting with the neighbor’s bean field.  My property serves as a bedding area for deer that will make it to that bean field in the evenings.  A group of about a dozen hen turkeys came through the food plot at 5:35. Then at 6:05 I spotted some deer in the northeast edge of the bean field.  First a doe and two fawns showed up.  They were followed by a small buck.  He fed for a while until some other antlerless deer showed up and then he started chasing.  The first doe and fawns had worked their way to the west, he was now chasing another doe and two fawns.

    This is good news that deer are using this field an hour before dark.  It means they are moving towards this destination earlier.  There is really no good bedding right next to the field.

    A 6:15 a doe got up from the CRP field about 100 yards west of me and headed west towards the bean field.  She appeared to be alone.  About 5 minutes later I spotted a young buck about 70 yards east of me.  He was walking north and had a limp. H stood for a while sniffing the air.  My scent was blowing right towards him from west to east but he did not seem concerned.  He appeared to be scoping out the mowed trail that runs from one plot to the other in the CRP field.  He stood about 15 yards from it sniffing and staring, probably expecting girls to come through there.  He finally made his way to the trail and headed east.  When he turned I could see he had a big patch of hide scraped off on his right rear haunch.  He did not appear to have any broken bones so very well might survive.

    At 6:34 another doe and fawn entered the bean field.  There had been periodic chasing going on by two young bucks over there.  That was it for this evening.

    Aerial Nov 1

    2 hours, 3 bucks, 4 does, 5 fawns.

    ……………………………………….

    October 30thPerhaps my last chance to hunt for a couple of days with rainy weather coming.  I drove to the Hanging Fen Farm, parked on the northeast side, and walked back to a stand that I call the “triple basswood”. This is in a very risky location, right at the entrance from the woods bedding area to the 3 acre plus destination field that arcs through my biggest CRP field.  The wind was light from the SSE.  Thus it would blow out into the CRP grass to the north, and not in the food plot. At the same time, it set things up so that a buck might feel comfortable coming out of the bedding area towards the south, perhaps entering the food plot at my location or passing on a trail 20 yards east of me to hit the numerous small food plots on the south end of the woods.

    It was a little warmer than I like, in the 50s, but I walked in wearing only light silk base layers and dressed at the stand. Worked up very little moisture.

    I got settled in at 5 p.m. This is a wooden ladder stand nested in a triangle of three good sized basswood trees. I have my back to the food plot, facing towards the east, so deer cannot see me from the food plot.   At 5:25 a doe came trotting into the food plot west of me from the south. She obviously had been moved out by a buck and nervously circled and ended up going back the way she came.  At 5:55 p.m. I turned my head and saw a doe about 30 yards away to the northeast staring right at me.  She had just exited the logging trail and must have seen my head turn.  No biggie, she watched for a minute and then carried on, heading straight west to the field about 35 yards north of me. Bummer!  I thought I had that blocked off so they would have to enter at about the 15 yard mark.  I will have to tighten that up next year when I tune up my shooting lanes and trails.

    I got settled in at 5 p.m. October 30th fawns This is a wooden ladder stand nested in a triangle of three good sized basswood trees. I have my back to the food plot, facing towards the east, so deer cannot see me from the food plot.   At 5:25 a doe came trotting into the food plot west of me from the south. She obviously had been moved out by a buck and nervously circled and ended up going back the way she came.  At 5:55 p.m. I turned my head and saw a doe about 30 yards away to the northeast staring right at me.  She had just exited the logging trail and must have seen my head turn.  No biggie, she watched for a minute and then carried on, heading straight west to the field about 35 yards north of me. Bummer!  I thought I had that blocked off so they would have to enter at about the 15 yard mark.  I will have to tighten that up next year when I tune up my shooting lanes and trails.

    She entered the field, eyeballed the food plot, and then turned north and disappeared.  I looked over my right shoulder and could see a doe entering the food plot from the south. That would explain why the other one turned and departed.  The second one came walking through the plot and stopped immediately down wind of me about 10 yards away.  I could just catch her with the corner of my eye as she stood there for about 10 minutes, occasionally eating. She was followed in by two fawns, who spent the next hour in the food plot. One of them lay down for quite a while facing away from me.   Lazy little thing was chowing down on crimson clover while lying down.    The mom eventually found her way out to the perennial plot about 120 yards west of me.

    At 6:50 I saw the distinct glint of antlers coming into the food plot from the southwest. I was not able to get him on video because he moved up to the tree line too quickly and disappeared to the south along the field edge.   About 3 minutes later a doe and two fawns were coming into the food plot from the north, and caught my head turning.  They ran out into the perennial field.  I don’t think she was particularly spooked and certainly did not get my scent but was just being cautious not knowing what was up in the tree.   As they ran to the end of the crimson clover plot, the buck reappeared on the south end of the food plot.  He worked his way towards them.

    The several does and fawns at the end of the plot continued to feed for a few minutes, then the buck re-entered from the northwest corner.  He paced around in there for a few minutes and then started eating.  He was curious about my location because he had seen that doe that caught me moving staring towards me.  That piqued his curiosity and he kept moving closer.  I estimated him at 40 yards and broadside in my shooting lane.  He then drifted out to about 60 yards.   I bleated at him a couple of times in the final moments of legal shooting hours. He stared my way for a few seconds before returning to his meal for a minute. He then departed to the northwest again, pursuing some does.

    I passed on the forty yard shot because  my maximum shot with my crossbow freehand would be about 35 yards.  I could not pick up my range finder at the moment because he would have caught me moving, but my estimate was right on at forty yards when I checked the spot later.  Nonetheless I enjoyed the encounter and may meet up with him again, hopefull in a better position and with better light.  After studying video of a deer I passed last year, I think this is the same buck.  The still from 2012.

    I got stuck in the tree for another 20 minutes or so as a doe came in and started feeding below me, and the buck and another smaller one hung out at the northwest corner of the plot, with some other does feeding to the west of them in the perennial plot.  They sparred a bit but mostly fed. Finally, they both worked their way over by the doe, and then they charged her and everybody disappeared on the run.   I sneaked out and headed for the truck.

    Aerial Oct 30th_edited-1

     

    2 hours 2 bucks 5 does, 4 fawns

    ……………………………………………………..

    October 29th.

    Truck towWent across the road to the Held Farm and hunted the same spot I hunted opening morning.  A lot of leaves had blown off the trees. I only saw one deer all night, an unidentified antlerless deer east of me on the field edge. But I was in a perfect position to observe the wrecker coming to get my old blue truck that I use to drive to and from deer hunting.  It appears to have a bad starter.  Saw the deer at around 6:30 and that was that.

    1.5 hours, 1 unknown.

     

    ………………………………………………

    October 28th.  I had quite the saga on last night’s hunt. When I got to my Hillsdale County property, I looked in the back of my truck and my bin with my boots in it was missing.  Scent free bootsIt had blown out on route.  After a 12 mile drive, I found it a little over a mile from home, laying in the ditch in front of Jake’s parent’s property.  No boots.  The lid was on one side of the road and the bin was on the other but no boots.  Determined to go hunting I went home and grabbed a pair of rubber boots from my mud room.  I had used them to work last winter and they had been laying around the house since then.  So I ran them to my scent room in the barn and washed them down with scent free soap.  I rinsed them, then hosed them down with Scent Killer Spray, then put them in the bin and showered them with Scentbuster Dust in and out.   I went hunting last night with no concern because I know how effective they are. But this morning I was able to prove it. 

    I headed for the Hanging Fen Farm again and got set up in a brand new stand location.  I had moved a ladder stand to this spot in the summer.  Aerial Oct 28This is on the far eastern end of my northeast sanctuary.  This sanctuary was an open woods when I purchased it in 2010.  My friend Dan Mittlestat and I took out the timber and hinge cut the woods, creating several bedding areas.  The biggest problem at the time was that you could see 200 yards through the woods after the leaves were gone.  So we created about a 3 acre “tornado zone” next to the road. I wanted to put a food plot in near some evergreen trees about 70 yards in from the road, but could not do it for three years until things got thick enough.  Finally I was able to put the food plot in this year.  I also opened up some of the tornado zone so deer could bed in there.  Then I set up this stand to try to catch deer moving from the main bedding area in the woods to and from the food.

    eating beech nutsI got settled in and got the video camera going just before daylight.  It was about 30 degrees with a very slight SW wind. As the light came up I could see that I had gotten good growth of the fall blend but that it was getting absolutely hammered by the deer.  It was a nice clear morning.  I heard several deer blow as the light was coming up. I do not think they were blowing at me. They were in the thick stuff to the northwest.  I assume there was either a hunter over at the neighbor’s property that blew them or that a buck was bothering them.

    Deer in food plotAt 8:54 some turkeys came by followed by a doe and fawn.  The doe browsed her way over to the beech tree I was in and appeared to by looking for beech nuts.   She ended up with her nose buried in the spot where I put my coveralls on, without giving even a hint of concern. Proof positive that the cleaning, spraying, and dusting of my boots the night before had been very effective.

    3 hours, 1 doe, 2 fawns.

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    October 27th.  Hunted the “First” stand at the Hanging Fen farm in Hillsdale County.  First hunt of the season there.  This property seldom has any buck activity until late October.  I had a west wind about 7 mph and it was in the low 50s, but had been cold that morning.  This is a stand from which I can determine how deer are using my destination food.  It overlooks two CRP fields, one to my east and one to the west.  There is a long winding food plot that goes through the two fields, comprising a couple of acres, but several parts of it are well concealed and feel like small plots to the deer, and several doe families are able to use it at once without dispute, as it winds along and follows low contours of the field, and is surrounded by tall grasses and/or trees and brush.

    I do not hunt this plot, but observe it from a distance to see how deer are approaching and using it.  This will help lead me to the stand sites I will employ as time goes on. Tonight, things were really slow there.  I can see two key stand locations from this vantage point.

    I got set up and settled in around 5:30 p.m.

    While chatting into my camera to explain the above, a deer jumped up from a berry bramble about 30 yards from me and loped off. I could not identify it, but a short while later I saw a single deer down the fence row in the destination plot.  That was an antlerless deer that was probably the one that jumped up.  By the way it moved I don’t think it was particularly freaked out.

    At 6:08 p.m., I spotted a doe and fawn in the food plot, same location as the unknown deer I saw earlier.  Right were the food plot narrow down to go through the fence row.  At 6:16 p.m. a young buck walked by in the CRP grass about 25 yards west of me and headed along the fence row to the north. Young buck oct 27th

    About 5 minutes later the buck made it there and chased them off, then he spent the next 10 minutes or so feeding there.

    At around 6:30 there was a single doe feeding on the winter blend in the larger food plot area west of the fence row.  A few minutes later she charged straight east, and disappeared.  A doe and fawn were seen on the east end headed north.

    At  6:54 there was another doe feeding in the food plot and the little buck came from the east and chased her, then followed her towards my stand up in the NW corner of the field.

    The last deer I saw was an unknown feeding in the west food plot area around 7:23.

    Aerial Oct 27th

     

     

    1.5 hours, 1 buck, 3 does, 2 fawns 2 unknowns.

    …………………………….

    October 24th. Went back to the Giant oak for a morning hunt. It was very active on Tuesday, and this was a crisp cold morning with a similar wind, so I headed back there again.  I At 7:58, a buck walked west to east across the grass field north of me.  He looked like a 2.5 year old who was missing his right antler.  He slowly walked, looking back over his shoulder to the west occasionally.

    At 8:49 a.m. a doe and fawn walked thought the tiny food plot about 10 yards to the south.  3 more does and 5 fawns total slowly walked through. They all entered the stream and walked right on the creek bottom to the east. I have seen this behavior before, usually when does are being pursued by an amorous buck.  I wondered if they were aware of a buck and trying to avoid him.

    After a few minutes they started running in the creek bottom.  Some kept going and one came back up on the north bank and was looking back in my direction, but not at me. One of them blew, and they all took off running, got out into the grass field to the northeast and ran in a big circle full speed.  It lloked like chasing to me but I did not see any bucks.

    At 9:40 I heard a deer blow, and it blew several times over the next few minutes.  It was upwind of me and I have no reason to think it detected me.  Again, probably interaction with a buck.

    At noon I packed up and headed out.

    October 24th aerial

    4.5 hours, 1 buck, 4 does, 5 fawns.

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    October 23rd.  Hilltop Cedar in the Gravel Pit. This is a site behind one of the hills at the south end of the Gravel Pit.   There are several nice perennial plots and a perennial lane connecting them at the south border of the property, next to the Held CRP field.hilltop cedar stand-labeled

    plot

    Last year, I observed bucks in the morning leaving that area and angling back into the woods towards the bedding areas on the NE end of the property.  There was a small area of high ground between the base of the hill and the swamp.  Last March my friend Dan Mittlestat helped me cut about 100 trees there, some of which we let fall back to the north onto the hillside.  This was done to let light in and to prevent deer from going up the hill there because the stand site was to be on top of the hill in a red cedar tree.  In summer my friends Steve Forche and Rich Hutton came over and helped me place the ladder stand, which was 15 feet high from the ground but about 25 feet above the food plots on either side.  My wind can be blowing towards the north in the evenings towards were the deer are coming from, and towards the south in the morning when they are coming from that direction.

    food or lack thereof

    Here is an aerial that happened to be taken by Google Earth on April 2nd, just 10 days after the work was done, and the trees we dropped are clearly visible. We also dragged many trees to a nearby walk-in trail to create a barrier.

    winter aerial

    So on this night I went there for the first time for an evening hunt.  The wind was from the west and it was in the 40’s. There had been precipitation earlier but the doppler showed it would clear by the time I got back there.  What I was presented with is a beautiful little alcove that could serve as a great staging area in the evening.  I could only see what was in front of me since I was in a group of red cedars.  I love red cedar trees because they create great cover to put a tree stand in.   I could see no more than 25 yards to shoot, so it was a situation where I would not be able to see deer approaching until they were in or entering the plot.  I had top dressed with a fall blend of brassicas, turnips, radishes, etc., but it was either hammered hard by the deer or did not come up very good.

    button in snow

     

    At any rate, I saw only one deer that evening. It was a button buck who hunkered down under a tree about 25 yards away while we both got hammered with big hard snow flakes.

     

     

     

    Aerial

     

    1.5 hours, 1 fawn.

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    October 22.  All day sit in the Gravel pit. Around freezing in the morning.  Hiked back to the “Giant Oak Stand” near the creek in the Gravel Pit.   Wind about 7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

    Buck licking

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGot the camera going at 7:00 a.m. with legal shooting to begin at around 7:30.  Began to see does at 8:30, then chasing and saw several bucks between 8:30and 10:45 a.m.  At around 9 a yearling buck chased a doe up to my stand.  They came right up my wind stream which was pretty much blowing from west to east. He hung around for a couple of minutes and then took off chasing another doe that had come up from the east. They both took off to the east.  I had a picture of him from my trail camera on october 10th, 12 days earlier.

    1st close buckAt 10:00 another young buck came in from the west, worked a licking branch, and then left.  I also had a trail camera picture of him from the 10th of October.  At 10:30 another little buck came in and worked the same licking branch and kicked up some dirt in the scrape.  Then he worked his way over to the food plot to my east.

    That was it until about 2:45.  The little devil in my brain was whispering to me around noon that I should give up and head in. I fought it off by playing video

    Buck 3 games on my I-phone for a couple of hours until I saw October_Lull_Buckmore activity to the north at about 2:45.  A buck showed up then about 60 yards north of me and kicked out a doe that had bedded down there earlier.  At about 5:04 I noticed a buck right below me about 15 yards to my east.  He picked up my scent and acted nervous for a few minutes.  Still gave me an easy shot but he was a bit spooked.  This is a really important observation I have had about scent control.  On an all day sit I expect my scent control to deteriorate as the bacteria on my body repopulate and I eat and do other activities that can lead to producing more scent than I started out with earlier in the day.  So whereas deer downwind may not sense me at all in the morning, they will begin to pick up a very low level scent by late afternoon.  In this case the young buck froze for about 3 minutes under an apple tree, then he stepped out and headed west and gave me an easy 10 yard shot.

    He then spent a few minutes in the little tiny food plot south of me and about 14 yards away.  So even though he detected something when in my scent stream, it was not something that registered to him as human.Buck 4

    He was displaced by another buck that came in from the west, and worked the licking branch and scrape that had been worked over earlier in the day.  The little guy was really throwing the dirt!Buck 4 rub urinating

    He then rub urinated in the scrape. When they do this, they are holding their legs together and peeing on their tarsal glands, which transfers their tarsal scent to the ground.  The name “rub” urinate comes from the observations that they rub their tarsal glands on each hind leg against each other while urinating.

    He then connected up with the other young buck about 90 yards west of me and started sparring.  They attracted the attention of a third buck that came out to investigate.Doe

    More deer showed up in the food plot and a buck scattered the does. Again, a doe came right up my scent trail from the east, and like the buck earlier, she sensed some very light but detectable scent.  She froze for a couple of minutes and checked the area out. Her eyes locked on my position a couple of times but it was the scent she was concerned about.  She spent quite a while at about 18 yards from me trying to decide what to do.

    Buck 5 rub urinating

    She then retreated back to the east.  At the same time there was a buck in the food plot 35 yards from me eating. He then commenced to lick a different licking branch, and then worked his way into the woods to the south.  He was almost immediately followed by another, who also worked the licking branch, tore up the scrape a bit, and then rub urinated.

    Finally a buck came in from the east and came this side of the apple tree, about 10 yards away.  Then he turned and ran back the way he came, grunting. He chased some does around.  Two came by me just before dark, and then a doe and two fawns after shooting light.  That was it for the day.

    I packed out of there with no incident.  I had a great day although it is just another example of the kind of activity we see in Michigan, where it is so rare to see deer with much age to them.  I expect to see a few older bucks as the season progresses though.

    See video of hunt HERE.

    11.5 hours, 13 bucks, 20 does, 9 fawns, 8 unknowns, 50 total.

    Aerial

     

    …………………………………..

    October 20th evening.  Temp in the 50s.  Went back to the Point Stand where I shot the doe on opening day.  I wanted to see if thengs had settled down there.  I had the same wind as before, from the SW blowing out over the food plot. SKUNKED AGAIN!

    Saw nothing excpet a fat woodchuck chowing down on my food plot.

    I don’t know if it was just an evening when the deer were not moving or if I laid so much scent down in the area that I created a no go zone for almost 3 weeks.  Well, I will not figure that out because I will not be hunting this area again anyway.  My accdess path to the Gravel Pit will begin to disturb movement along the property line as I park there going into the serious season for my great locations in the Gravel pit.

    2 hours, 0 deer.

    ………………………………………

    October 15th evening.

     The luck of the draw.  For my third hunting day of the season, I decided to go back behind the house.  I have seen deer activity straight behind the barn every night.  Last week on two occasions I saw a bachelor group of 4 bucks back there, one of which is likely a shooter for me.  On one evening they were tearing up a pretty big tree.

    I walked back straight behind the house.  This is an area with a trail out of the bedding area in the woods.  I cannot see this area from the barn but have no reason to think it would not be as good as the other area I have been watching.  It has several small food plots.  Again, as with earlier hunts, I am trying to not penetrate very far or disrupt my key pre-rut areas. Barn

    Well, on a small property like this it is the luck of the draw regarding what day you decide to go out.   I was at the base of my tree getting ready to climb when I heard two nearby shotgun blasts that sounded like they came from my neighbor Tom’s place.  Tom is a retired Sheriff’s Deputy who loves to shoot his guns.  I heard the pellets spray through his trees about 15 yards away.  He was shooting on his property and the pellets stayed on his property so what can I say or do?  Nothing!

    I just crouched down and waited a while and then climbed to my stand.  I got settled and got the camera going at about 5:50 p.m.  Before long I realized my neighbor Jack was driving up and down in his hay field to my west.  Sure enough, he had come over to borrow my drag that afternoon and now he was dragging it back and forth in the field right into the evening.  So much for a relaxed evening for me and the deer.  Gun fire to one side and tractor activity to the other.  Needless to say I ended the night with a giant skunk.  I did 48 sits between now and the last time I did not see a deer, and guess where the last one was?  Yep, you got it, right on this property on October 1 2012.   I am beginning to think I will never see another deer from anywhere but the barn 🙂 .

    1.5 hours, 0 deer, 2 shotgun blasts

    Oct 15th aerial

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    October 8th Evening. 

    East stand Held Property. This is one of my early season favorites for buck huntiong. Easy access from the house, and I see a lot of bucks there.  This is an isolated food plot in the woods where I shot a doe last year on the 6th and saw what I called the “ghost buck.”  Video HERE.  This plot has been in perennials for several years.  It is a short distance from a hay field that is a destination spot for evenings through September with decreased activity going into October as the adjacent woods starts getting bow hunting pressure.  So the east food plot is a great spot to catch deer staging up to go into the hay field.Food free food plot

    I had some problems though.  The wind was blowing from the SE, which was fine.  But it was warm, and I found I had forgotten to prep this trail to the stand, so I had to go through high brush for the last few yards.  Noise is not a real problem here because it is a ways from bedding, but I was very concerned about brushing up against plants and leaving scent near the ground.

    It did not turn out to be a problem because no deer came near the food plot.  The problem was it was a food plot without food.  I had planted a fall blend but it did not take.  So it appears that deer were not zeroing in on the plot.  Instead, I saw several deer angling from bedding to the Northwest to the CRP field south of me.  They are probably staging up there to enter the hay field at night.

    2 hours, 0 bucks, 3 does, 2 fawns.

    October 8th Evening Map

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    October 8th Morning.  Second hunt day of the season.  Woke up at 5 a.m. and went as planned.  A cold front came through the night before.  It was still supposed to get up in the sixties but it was high 30s when I walked out to the barn.  My destination was the “Cabin Stand” right behind the cabin in the Gravel Pit.  This is in a white oak tree and there are 3 white oaks within my range that are all well endowed with acorns.  Last year this was a major social area for the deer.  It is composed of reed canary grass and most years it is wet.  But because of the drought last year, the water table is still low and it is high and dry.  The trees are right between bedding and destination food, about equidistant, and it seems like a good place to catch a buck feeding in daytime.  Last year the biggest buck I saw all year (maybe ever?) came to this spot on October 21st.  It was my best experience of the year, since there were 5 other bucks also within 35 yards of me at the time.   I could not shoot him but it was a real pleasure observing him for a few minutes.   I had observed another big buck breaking up a sparring session among three yearlings on October 6th of last year.  They were tearing up this area, working licking branches, and generally being very active early in the season.   So my hope this morning is that it is again a major social area, and that I may get a chance at a shot.

    Again, because this is a transition area, I do not worry too much about getting there early.  I was set up in the stand about 7:40, just a few minutes after legal shooting time.  On the way in, I busted some deer out of the neighbor’s bean field.  I had cut a path through the CRP grass and thought I would be covered from view, but I wasn’t.  This is not a major concern because a likely pat for them is to head north and then turn east to where I will be situated. Cabin Stand Oaks

    Winds were 1-3 miles per hour from the SE, moving to the east as the morning progressed, and picking up a bit.  There was a moon minor going on at 9:40, and it was still the desirable dark period, on the 3rd day after the new moon.   But it is the cool weather that drove my desire to penetrate a bit into the Gravel Pit.

    There was a fairly dense fog to the north and west, which helped to cover me as I got the stand prepped and got my video camera mounted.  Nothing eventful until around 8:08 when I spotted a doe about 100 yards north of me near the woods edge.  She was just standing there for a while, occasionally dropping her head and looking back to the west.

    About then I heard some movement behind me, which sounded like deer padding feet but nothing came of it.  About 5 minutes later, I slowly turned my head to the right (east) and there was a doe standing there who blew once and headed east into the woods with a fawn behind her.  Rats!  Sight busted.  But I am not concerned about the stand being busted because she did not get my scent and only saw movement.

    At 9:00 a doe and 2 fawns showed up at the same location I saw the doe earlier, about 100 yards north.  A deer started blowing way off to the northwest about 300 yards away.  The doe and I both watched that direction.   About 2 minutes later, I heard blowing again, and 5 deer ran along the creek from over there, headed northeast.  Then they turned and all ran bright back towards where they came from.  This says buck chasing.  They had not busted a human or they would not run back that way again.  This area gets lots of chasing at this time of the day almost every day of the 3-month season.  After a couple of minutes the doe north of me hopped into the woods to the east.

    At 9:56 I saw a single antlerless deer to my northeast a couple of hundred yards.  It ran north towards the creek.

    Scanning the area around my stand, I noted that there was very little rubbing and scraping going on.  Nothing like last year at this time.  Not sure why, because the ground is dry here, and I could hear acorns dropping occasionally even in the absence of much wind.  I will not come back here until I can see some action going on here as the season progresses.  I can see this spot from two other stands so will be able to keep tabs on it.

    Photos By Trail CameraI headed in at around 10:10.  Stopped and picked up two SD cards on the way out.  In season, I only have cameras in one spot on the way in.  It is a high traffic area and at some point I can get most bucks in the area on camera here as the season progresses.  Damned if the Moultrie only had about 10 pictures on it, mostly of me. I think that camera is trash as this is the third time running.  I think it is just draining the batteries within a few hours.  The cheap little Bushnell got plenty of pictures but no shooter bucks.

    2.5 hours, 0 bucks, 3 does, 3 fawns, 6 unknowns.  Deer seen while walking in not counted.

    October 8 Map

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    October 1st Evening.

    I took a nap in the afternoon being tired from the morning hunt.  It was pretty warm out but I decided to finish day 1 by going to the “Point Stand” on the Held farm.  Like my spot this morning, it is aimed at being as non-intrusive a hunt as possible, going to easily accessible stands, with the goal being to shoot a doe, but not have her be able to reach the main sanctuaries to the north.

    Got settled into the stand about 6:30.  First deer came in from the north at 7:20 p.m.  A doe and fawn entered the food plot; followed by a large, alert doe.  She looked over towards the trail coming in from the east, on high alert, and after a minute or so turned and ran back north.  I assume there was either a buck over there, not visible to me, or something else that made her unhappy being there.  I do not think she got my scent, as she did none of the typical behaviors related to picking up scent.   She was obviously reacting to something audible and/or visible.

    Just a few minutes later I looked down to my left and could see the head of a large doe standing on the field edge about 15 yards away.  I don’t know what ever became of her but she did not come through to the food plot.  At 7:36 two fawns came to the apple tree that was my main focal point for the hunt.  They milled around and ate apples for a while.  At 7:49 a doe family showed up at the trail entrance to my right.  I could see one adult doe and a fawn.  Then I spotted a doe walking up to the apple tree and decided to shoot her.  I estimated her at 25 yards.  I raised the crossbow and shot, but knew I had hit low.  She turned and ran with the fawns to the north and entered the CRP field.  I had forgotten to put the camera on her as I had pointed it at the new deer entering from the east.

    After a few minutes I got down to look for my arrow.  Couldn’t find it.  I found the spot where they entered the CRP field and backed out.  Went home, ate, changed my clothes, got some toilet paper to mark the trail and headed back about 8:30 p.m.  Six hours later, at 2:30 a.m. I had followed her about 230 yards.  I had tracked her through the CRP field an agonizing few feet at a time, looking for sparse blood, sometimes 8 feet up at the top of the bluestems and sometimes on the ground.  It was a slow process using up most of a toilet paper roll marking the trail every 5 feet or so.  She was entering the woods and headed towards my sanctuary so I decided to back out and get some sleep.

    I woke up at around 8 a.m. after getting to bed around 4 a.m. and made my way to the barn, did my scent regimen and then headed out on my 4-wheeler.  My heart sank when I saw buzzards circling above the field.   It turned out to be a dead buck that appeared to have died recently.  I did not see any holes in him and he did not die near water, so I am hoping it was not EHD.  He was pretty ripe so I took this picture and backed out. dead stinky cropped

    I took up the trail again, mostly on hands and knees finding one spot at a time.  I could tell that her left side (entry side) had blood on the leg because I would find blood swipes on branches to the left.  It took me about 5 hours with lots of agonizing false leads and seemingly ended trail when I would find another spot and move along.  She ended up circling back south along the east edge of the CRP field in the woods.  This is very thick cover but I was finding very little blood.  Finally the trail ended.  I spent the next hour trying to cut trail and finally, as I was walking out into the CRP grass to look for blood, I kicked up a deer.  I thought it might be her, so I headed in that direction, ending up right back where I shot her the day before.

    The story is in the video here: LINK, but to make a long story short, I kicked her up again laying just a few yards from the location where I originally shot her.  I had hit her in the shoulder and the arrow had penetrated one lung but did not pass through.  It was still hanging from her.  I was able to dispatch her with another arrow and got her hung and packed in ice by the end of the day.  I dragged her to the barn with my 4-wheeler. Got a live weight of 131 and a dressed weight of 97 lbs. Jawbone aged at 2.5 years old.  Lactating.

    2 hours, 0 bucks, 5 does, 4 fawns, 1 doe harvested.

    October 1st evening Map

    October 1 evening map

     

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    October 1, 2013, Morning.

    Freddy lookalike copy

    The Rock Island St and on the Held property (mother-in-laws).  This property is 60 acres across the road from my home.  I was up at 5, but took my time getting out there.  It is not near any destination food and I do not expect much activity until later in the morning.  I was wrong about that but so it goes.  It was supposed to be in the low 80s but it was cool in the morning with a light Southwest wind.  Went to the rock island right across from the house.  Got there right after first shooting light.  As I got ready to mount my camera I looked over my shoulder and there was a buck standing in the small food plot.


    Earlier in the summer I sprayed it. And then mowed it to drop the grass to the ground.  Then in September I came in and sowed rye into it.   The entire surrounding field is very tall warm season grasses, so deer will move in any direction at any time of the day.  
    I had made that food plot in September.  For the past 25 years that I know of it has been nothing but a low, wet area packed with reed canary grass (swamp grass).  It dried out due to last year’s drought and was still dry this year in spite of all the rain we have had.  I decided to try to grow something there.

    Oct 1 2013 spike

    So now there was a five point yearling standing in the food plot.  I froze and watched him walk over to a bush about 25 yards from me, and start to work it.  While he was working the licking branch, I slowly pulled my camera out of my backpack, and removed it from the food storage bag. Of course it made that crinkling sound but that young deer was clueless.  After a while he walked into the grass nearer to me, and made his way east.  At that point another buck slowly passed him headed west.  He was a spike and he too worked the licking branch.  They both left to the east.  After a while I decided to turn around and settle into my seat.  I had to move my backpack, and when I did I heard a deer blow over in the direction the two bucks had gone, and that was that for that.  I sat in a very, very light mist off an on, until I decided to pack it in at around 10 a.m.

    3 hours, 2 bucks, 2 passed shots.

    Oct 1 morning map

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    INTRODUCTION

    I will be updating this log as the season goes on.  I do a log every year.  Now that I am making it available to our members, I will start off by describing the properties I hunt, as I will be referring to them as I go along.

    I hunt 4 properties.  My “Home” property is a 13-acre piece that includes my home. The homestead takes up 5 acres, and the rest is dedicated to “deer habitat” comprising 8 acres.  Then there is the 60 acre “Held” property.  It belongs to my Mother-in-law and I have been hunting it for over 25 years.  Most of those years were off and on whenever I could get back to Michigan from IL, AZ, or CA, where I lived and worked as a scientist for a couple of decades.  Adjacent to and north of the Held farm is my 47 acre piece called the “Gravel Pit.”  It is called that because at one time it had been used as a source of dirt/gravel for farming operations.  My Father-in-law used to pasture cattle on that property. It is mainly swampy, with a creek running through it.  The fourth piece is my 130 acre farm in Hillsdale County, about 12 miles from my home.  It is called the “Hanging Fen” farm based on a unique ecosystem called a hanging fen, which is a series of alkaline seeps and springs that feed a hillside that goes down to a pristine unnamed creek that I call “Hanging Fen Creek”.  Pictures of that farm will come later.

    In most cases there will be a lesson associated with each sit.  I generally learn something new or apply something useful that I have learned in the past on every hunt.  The goal here is to be educational.  I will be exposing errors and mistakes as well as perhaps sharing some tips that might be helpful.

    On every hunt I will note what deer I saw, what they were doing, and whether they are a buck (antlered deer 1.5 or older), a doe (female deer 1.5 or older), a fawn (born this year) or an unknown (moving to fast or too distant or in too heavy cover to identify).

    This is not a blog format.  I will add information to the top with each entry. There is no comments area, so please, if you want to discuss put it up on the WAS Facebook page.  I welcome critical analysis but let’s keep it civil.
    Property Overview

    October 1, 2013

    Perseverance: The Key to Success When the Hunt Does Not Go as Planned

    Every year I try to harvest a doe during the first few days of the Michigan early archery season. I like to get one in the freezer before I start serious buck hunting. But the problem is that being a small property hunter, if I make a mistake, and a deer makes it to my sanctuary, I can disrupt normal deer behavior, making them insecure and more difficult to hunt.

    So I try to hunt the edges of the property, enough distance from the main designated sanctuaries as possible. This year that meant setting up in stands that require very little penetration of the property. Well, sometimes things don’t go as planned. On my first day of hunting in the 2013 season, I mess up the shot, hitting a doe in the shoulder and getting only partial penetration of one lung.

    That made for a long stalk, in fact, if you watch the attached video, you will see that the main lesson is that regardless of how bad things look, there is always another drop of blood or another clue to lead towards a successful conclusion. The key is to not give up. As a hint about the ending, guess what I am having for supper tonight?

    Deer Backstraps Loins