It is Harvest Time in the Deer Woods!

This past weekend, I got numerous reports about great deer movement and rut activity. Many hunters I spoke with think it was about as good as it can get for any weekend of the season! In the western part of central Alabama.

I spent my weekend hunting with my granddaughter who has become quite a good young hunter and is so much fun to spend time in the deer woods with that it makes an old veteran hunter like me smile and remember how excited I used to get when I saw a deer not to mention how pumped up I was when a buck walked out! We hunted on a prime spot at our family farm in Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon. It is a big grrenfield that is 200 yards wide and 400 yards long and is simply known as number four field. It is surrounded by a hardwood swamp just about a mile from the Warrior river and is a deer paradise!

We got in the stand early, about 2:15, and we sat patiently unitil five does came out in a small greenfield behind our stand just visible through about a 100 yard scope of woods. Not long after they came out at about 3:30, a very nice heavy racked 8 pointer stepped out in the field and Anna Faye started asking if she could try to take a shot at him. Since he was on the other side of a thick stand of small saplings, I told her I did not think it would be a good shot and she fussed that she was sure she could get him even through the trees. I asked her if she wouldn’t feel bad to miss him or even worse to wound him and allow to run off and die in the swamp. All of a sudden, they spooked and all cleared out of the field so that ended that debate. It was almost 5 pm before we saw anymore deer and She was getting mighty dissapointed the 8 pointer had not came to 4 field. About then a nice 7 pointer with a good size boddy and nice rack stepped out of the woods on the other side of the field about 200 yards away. He was soon followed by five other bucks with various small to medium racks and a single doe.

I first though he was one on the “no shoot list” but as he walked closer I could see he was not a buck with kickers that Travis told me not to shoot. Anna Faye was so excited when I told her she could shoot him and I had to tell her to calm down and take some deep breaths before she lined up her shot!

She was in a state of full blown “buck fever” and finally got her composure and I coached her to take her time, focus on the sights and squeeze the trigger. BAM! she fired and he shot straight up and then piled up dead in his tracks! She had made another great shot and the buck was hers! Excited, she handed me the rifle and ran out to get a closer look at her buck! It was a great hunt and one this old hunter will remember for years to come. I think she will too!

There were several nice bucks taken and down in South Alabama there was a couple of Monster bucks reported taken in the wiregrass. In Abbeville, a hunter took a huge buck from a peanut farm and he was a drop tined monster! At 181 and 4/8s that is quite a rack!. There have been several free range Alabama bucks taken this season that scored from 160s to almost 200 and when you can find free-range, true wild bucks across different areas of the state that is a very good sign for the future of Alabama Deer Hunting!

Rough Weekend for the Deer and Us!

Anna Faye and Me on a weekend with better results! ~postoak~

This last weekend I took my granddaughter back to the deer woods in pursuit of that “trophy-drop tine buck”  that she is convinced she will get this year because she has “prayed enough to deserve it”. I have attempted to explain to her that God is not a Genie and he does not grant the wishes of little girls to kill a big drop-tine buck no matter how much they pray in ernest. Her reply was “why not?” I really want one so bad and it would not hurt anything, (other than the buck) so, I went back over the issue again in a futile attempt to explain how rare a drop-tine buck is and that no one has every killed a drop tine buck in our place.

We have killed many very nice bucks with big racks and heavy bodies. Bucks with multiple “sticker” points, long brow tines and big knarly bases but, drop-tine bucks are very, very rare. I told her that I have personally killed hundreds of nice bucks and while a number of them had sticker points, kickers and other unique antlers, a real drop tine buck is one I have not taken. Undeterred, she continued to say she would get one as we sat in the shooting house on a huge green field down near the Black Warrior river in west Alabama.

About 3:45 a yearling stepped out of the pines and timidly fed along the edge of the field. The Yearling stayed near the safety of the pine thicket until it was joined in a few minutes by five more yearlings. Emboldened by the numbers, the yearling pranced out to the middle of the greenfield and started nibbling the winter wheat stems again. Two other youngsters butted heads and chased each other around in the field about 75 yards from our hut and just as Anna Faye was exclaiming how much fun it is to just watch the deer, she started to hiss under her breath, big buck! big Buck! BIG Buck! I  whispered for her to hush and sit still since the buck was less than 10 yards behind the shooting house standing back in the pines.

He was watching the yearling in the field and when several adult does came out and joined them, he walked away and down the row of pine woods. About 15 minutes later, he appeared in the end of the field at a distance of 270 yards on my range finder. Anna Faye watched him through the scope and was protesting about me telling her not to shoot him and lets see if he would come closer. After he fed near the end of the field about 20 minutes and the other deer slowly funnelled out of the field headed to the hardwoods behind the field, he started walking directly toward us and then started to trot toward us. I told her to get ready to shoot when I told her to and we watched the buck walk and fed unitl he was 90 yards out. At that point, he turned and started walking back toward the pines so I told her to get on him and I would whistle to stop him. I gave a short note in a shrill tone and he stopped perfectly at broadside and I told her to SHOOT! As I watched her fire, he bucked, kicked his rear legs indicating a hit and I told her she hit and I think she got him!

She handed me the gun and bolted out of the hut to go find him. I reloaded and followed her to see where he fell since he had exited the field. However after a 10 to 15 minute search and with dark arriving, I had to call off our retrieval and she was so upset, she broke down and started crying! I hated it so bad !  But, felt good she had made a good shot so I told her to stop crying and that I would find the buck in the morning. That seemed to reduce her anxiety and we headed to My father in law’s home in Eutaw to spend the night. Saturday morning, I came back and sat in the woods watching for a doe to harvest but all I saw was two young bucks and several yearlings that were probably part of the same group I saw on Friday evening.

At 8:30 with a cold wind and little deer movement, I decided to get up and find the buck she shot. I went to the field where I had marked the location I estimated he was at when she shot and walked around awhile but, found no blood at all. Concerned, I started to work my way up and down the rows of pines in the woods he ran in after the shot. I walked the pine rows back and forth for the next 2 hours covered 27 rows from one end to the other with each being about 600 yards long. Tired and disgusted, blood sugar dropping, I headed for the truck and it was nearly lunch time. A little more than 300 yards around the bend of an adjoining field, I saw a big set of ears moving as a deer watched me approach but, remained laying down. I thought it was a doe and was far too tired to want to fool with one, Although I needed to take some meat. I decided to not shoot and when the deer finally jumped up and ran, I saw it was the 6 pointer Anna Faye had shot! I was so mad at myself for that mistake, That I spent another 45 minutes trying to track him back in the pines. I caught a glimpse of him one more time but, finally gave up and went to the truck!

Anna Faye had been so distraught and them blamed the gun for the wounding that I decided to check the accuracy of the scope. Two shots hit the target near the bullseye at 135 yards as the last item for me to do as I was leaving the farm. The scope was on target. IT is hard to tell an excited and dissapointed young hunter the deer was not found and the scope checked out ok. But, that is the reality of deer hunting. I would rather miss a deer than to ever woulnd one and it have to suffer. However, this buck looked like he probably will heal! Not so sure about about her ego!

~postoak~

Pert as a Ruttn’ Buck!

Fresh Rubs mean the Rut is coming soon! ~postoak~

One of my very favorite movies is a Clint Eastwood saga titled “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. (From 1976!) The line “pert as a ruttn buck!” is a brave lie told to Josey by his young side kick who has been mortally wounded by them “no good yankee red legs”. A term they used to describe the Kansas militia men who had a red stripe down their pants legs and were know for their hatred of the rebels, especially a Missouri rebel like Josey and the young man who died moments after making this memorable movie line.

I often think of that sentence when I am getting ready for a trip to the deer woods. It is one that enlivens and gives me a little added excitement when I consider how special it is to watch a rutting buck as he chases a doe around trying his best to persuade her he is the “man for the job”. He has an actual expression of pleasure on his face and his actions are foolish, with often total disregard for safety or common “deer sense”.

The doe, depending on her mood and stage of pre-rut or rut she is in, can exhibit anything from no reaction to the buck, to being kicking, pawing fighting mad or on the other end of the scale, acting coy, shy, or downright ready for action! Just being out in the woods to witness the wonders of the deer rutting season and how it changes, ebbs and flows across the state from north to south and even somewhat east to west, makes for exciting times in the Great Alabama Outdoors!

I hunt deer mainly on family lands in West Alabama across a couple of counties. The rut starts routinely in the north end of our hunting area during Christmas week and peaks the week of the new year with some activity through out January. Where I hunt on the south end of property in Greene county, the rut kicks in the last week of December and runs strong in January but, there is a shut down week where the deer seem to disappear before the activity resumes. Moon phase and temps also affect the rut activity since deer are more active in colder weather days with dark nights and less activity is noted on the full moon cycles, especially if it coincides with warmer weather.

A buddy I hunt with in Macon county tells me the best rut there is the last week of January and he has scouted deer in February and March who are still rutting wide open! Yet, there are areas in Barbour and Henry where the rut happens like north Alabama in December and January. There are a number of hunting services that offer rut maps in Alabama, so google one for your area and see how accurate it is compared to your hunting observations!

Rut season is time to get in the woods season and enjoy the excitement of seeing that “pert buck” on the prowl for a doe!

~postoak~ outdoors~

Youth Deer Hunting Weekend -This Saturday!

My grandaughter and me with a nice buck from last deer season. Youth weekend starts Saturday! Take a kid hunting! ~postoak~

In just a few days the gun deer season kicks off for the youth in our great state! The ALDCNR has designated this coming weekend as Youth deer hunting weekend across the state on all privately held properties and in accordance with the normal rules of the season. Here is more on the official  notice http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/youth-hunts/AllYouthHunts.cfm

This is an excellent opportunity to take a kid hunting and focus on the instructional aspects of deer hunting for the upcoming generation of hunters. I urge you to please take your child or youth out hunting so they can learn to appreciate the outdoors and share in your hunting adventures! I will be taking my granddaughter to shoot a doe over in west Alabama and she has already became a a great success as a hunter, taking a nice buck  (7 pointer and 8 pointer) each of the last two seasons, both at over 200 yards!  I believe I now have a hunting buddy for life and am so proud of her!

The youth weekend can provide a great time for comradery with other club members who also will be taking advantage of the event and you just might get to do some good scouting for the opening of the gun season for deer next weekend!

Another “youth- only” series of hunts is available at the Fred Stimpson WMA in Clarke County and could make a great weekend hunting trip for you and your child to enjoy hunting in the hardwood swamps near the Tombigbee River. Information for applying is located  here- http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/youth-hunts/youthdeer/ The Stimpson WMA is one of the premier WMA units in Alabama and you can create a great deer hunting memory at this special place.

Are you ready to hunt? Or if you are like me you have procrastinated to the last minute to make sure your camo is properly washed in a good scent wash detergent and properly stored in a scent prove bag to keep it fresh for that opening day. Is all your gear checked for safety and being in good working condition? are your optics cleaned and ready to use? Is your rifle sighted in? Can you actually “hit” with it through the use of practice rounds? I see folks who have a good quality rifle and scope and they just “check the sights” with a 3 shot group. This is great but, if you do not practice some on making several standing free hand shots, practing sitting and from an elevated stand like you hunt in then you are doing yourself an injustice! Buy a box of quality ammo, the same kind you plan to shoot at the actual deer and shoot a box of them in various positions and at different angles and aiming speeds to become well aquainted with your gun!

I have been guilty of not doing that and it has caused me to miss some deer or not attempt shots on some deer that I never got a second chance on! Several years ago I hunted with a friend who was a member of a very exclusive, another word for expensive, club over in Dallas County. Just before dark a great buck came out on the green field and was chasing a doe. I was hesitant due to a lack of practice and when I finally decided to take the shot, I was not able to connect on him. He was taken from that same field later that year and he scored over 160! When I saw the photo, I knew in an instant it was the buck I had seen but I could not find in the scope. That is a sad memory!

Be sure to practice, practice, prepare and plan to succeed. Like most things in life, it will make a difference in your level of success in most things, not just deer hunting!!

Until next week…

~Postoak~