This past weekend I had three days, actually two and a half, to dedicate to some time in the woods to hunt solo and I must admit that I really enjoyed it! The only bad part about hunting alone is getting the deer out of the woods, cleaned and hung in the walk in cooler at the farm to age for a few weeks. On Friday Morning I was finally able to get out of bed with out coughing my head off from a six week old cold and I was also inspired by the fact I had some time off work and away from home to focus on some much needed and desired R&R to chase some deer!
I spent the night at the cabin on the farm so the drive to my hunting area was about 1/2 mile. I left my truck while it was still in pre-dawn darkness and slipped about 200 yards to the edge of a large green field that I wanted to get across before day break since I planned to sit a ladder stand in a hardwood neck on the far side of it. However, when I got there and “glassed the field” I could make out the outlines of six does and a large bodied buck so I decided to let daylight move in and the fog to move out a little to get a better look.
After about 15 minutes of watching the deer feeding and the daylight advancing, I looked over to my right to see a troupe of does and yearlings coming to the field and I knew the trail would lead them within 15-20 steps of my hiding spot. While I was in full camo with a face mask and doused in fresh earth cover scent, I doubted that I would escape that many eyes, ears and noses so close and in a few more moments, one big old doe stopped and looked right at me and started to stomp that doggone front foot! I don’t know if she smelled me or just saw my outline and considered me a “booger”. Anyway, she stomped her foot and the whole gang stopped like a bunch of keystone cops, bumping into each other and looking my way with wide eyes! Then the big doe made that alarm blow, and they all scattered! Some ran back while others ran out in the field and that spooked all the deer including the buck!
Not being fully convinced that I was totally busted, I played “statue” for about 7 or 8 minutes and was rewarded with the sight of several does coming back to the field to resume grazing. Then I was glad to see the buck slowly walking back out with his head held high, looking for any danger from the earlier alarm. Not seeing any, he too resumed grazing the clover at about 170 yards on my range finder. I gave him a careful “look over” with my binoculars for another 10 to 15 minutes and debated whether or not to shoot him. I had spotted a bigger buck in this same field on my last trip but, was trying to help a youngster take her first deer and in error, let him pass. The more I looked at this buck and his body size along with a slightly messed up rack, I decided I needed to remove him from the breeding pool since our rut has started.
I considered a shoulder shot but, at the distance he was, and with my scope on 12 power, I felt like I could make a good neck shot. Wrapping my sling around my forearm and resting my elbow on my mid section, I was able to get a pretty solid aim and I squeezed off a 150 grain nozzler that went exactly where I wanted it to. He folded without a kick and I chambered another round and watched him a few minutes before going back to my truck to get my four wheeler off for the drag out. The buck weighed in on our scales right at 200 lbs and will be some great venison for my freezer. I will post a photo soon for viewing. I have got in the habit of making European style mounts out of my last few bucks that although are all nice bucks, I would consider them more as cull stock than a trophy to have a professional taxidermist mount.
The next morning, I signed in on our other property a few miles down the road and again hunted alone. The holidays find most of us so busy, it is difficult to get my hunting buddies to participate as much as they did before wives and small children came in to their lives. Oh well, I decided to hunt a narrow clover field that separates a big hardwood swamp and planted pines. This clover field is about 600 yards long but only 30 yards wide and almost always produces a good hunt with a number of does and even some bucks in past hunts. I saw 22 does that morning and only 3 small rack bucks that were all chasing does and each covered the 30 yards across the field too fast to have shot even if I had wanted to try a shot.
Around 9:50 I decided it was time and there were plenty of does and yearlings to choose from so I picked out a large doe who was showing signs of age, had no yearlings and a big old head and floppy ears. At 35 yards, a head shot took care of the chore with not even a flinch from the doe. I am sure she never even heard the gun shot. I am not one to take a bad shot, especially on a doe and I think we all owe it to the animals to make good shots that cleanly and humanely make the kill.
I hauled her out to our cleaning shed, prepared the doe for aging and then hung it in the cooler. That afternoon, I sat in a small stand we call the “cigarette box” because it is so small and I watched a lane between a bedding area along the back side of a sage field and next to the hardwoods. I saw another 11 does, a four point and a small six point buck but, nothing to shoot.
The last morning I had to hunt I decided to go back to the long clover field and harvest another doe since there seemed to be an abundance of them feeding in it and we need to take some does since the place is overran with them and it was just about a carbon copy of the previous doe shoot except the doe was at 125 yards but proved to be no more difficult than the one at 35 and I was happy to see my scope was “dialed in” with a clean between the eyes shot and no flop by the old doe. Both does weighed in at a little more than 120 lbs each and along with the buck should provide me with some great venison in 2012.
The rut is getting in gear in Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Greene, Hale, Bibb, Chilton, and Shelby County in the central Alabama area. I have also heard from hunters in Elmore, Coosa, Lee, Bullock, and Chambers with no rut activity noted. Give me a report for your area and I will be glad to post it with credit to you! Just email me – firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what is happening with the rut where you hunt! If you take a deer and want to share the photo, send it to me and I will post it with your information.
Now is the time to hunt! Another few weeks and deer season will be gone, so take some time to get in the woods and chase some deer! Take a kid hunting and help teach them the joy of the outdoors experience!
Until next week, GOOD HUNTING LUCK TO YOU ALL! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!