Three Days Hunting = Three Hanging in the Cooler!

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 – postoakman@gmail.com 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!!

~postoak~

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"Ruttin in North Central," "Nuttin in South Central"

The rut is on!” “Naw, the deer on my lease are not even thinking about the rut!

Both statements are true this time of year depending on who you talk to. Where I hunt in Tuscaloosa and Greene County over in the North Central area of the state, the deer are true to form and the rut “is on” like it normally is around Christmas week and it is best until mid January. In many parts of South Central Alabama the deer are not exhibiting any rut behaviors based on the hunters I have talked to or had emails sent in for discussion. What are they doing where you are hunting? send me an email and let me know – postoakman@gmail.com I will be glad to share your report and will keep it anonymous if you prefer or give you credit for the report, just would like some more reports.

Friends in Autauga and Elmore I have spoken with say no rut signs yet. A coworker of mine who hunts Coffee and Pike County says they never see rut activity until the last two weeks of January. Last year I hunted some in Bullock and Barbour and the best rut time was during spring turkey season in March! (just kidding but, did see bucks chasing does during turkey season and fresh scrapes were everywhere in March.)

Reports from Bibb, Chilton and Shelby are mixed with Bibb being the hottest for rut activity. My cousin who hunts and guides in Sumter and Marengo says rut not there yet. A friend sent me a picture of a nice Dallas county buck taken last weekend but did not indicate any rut activity yet in Dallas.

While the rut may not be where you hunt yet, that should not keep you out of the woods. The deer have been moving pretty good according to a number of people I have called or emailed last week and I have received a few good photos of some very nice bucks but, some folks don’t want the photo published and I will certainly honor that request. If you do take a nice buck and want it posted on the website here at the Advertiser, you can send it to me along wit a permission to post note and I will get it posted. We really like photos of those young hunters with that first deer even if it is a doe! it is a great milestone for any young hunter so send me some photos! postoakman@gmail.com . I have a couple of nice photos of some good bucks, I will have posted on the site of some recent big bama bucks.

Just a reminder that Alabama Black Belt Adventure is hosting a Big Buck Photo Contest and is looking for entries. You can enter your photo at their website http://www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org/photo-contest and check out some good bucks others have taken across the Alabama Blackbelt this fall.

I have been “down” with a severe cold since around opening day of deer season and only taken a couple of short hunts sitting in tower stands to hide my coughing. However, I seem to have finally shaken it, so I am off to our place in Tuscaloosa to get in a few days of serious hunting time and our bucks are “ruttin and runnin” does so it should be a great few days in the woods before Christmas.

I do plan to go ahead and take a couple of does for the freezer on a couple of morning hunts to get that chore out of the way. I like to take does in the morning if they come by late so I can have them hung in our walk-in cooler to age before time to get back in the woods for an afternoon hunt. I like to dress the deer and hang them for two to three weeks in our walk-in cooler at 36 degrees with the hide left on. After the aging process, the meat is more flavorful and tender and even an old 250 lb buck will taste like a doe after aging. If you have access to a good walk in cooler, try it.

I have had lots of people who stated “I don’t eat deer meat” sit down and scarf down some aged venison in many different recipes where they thought it was lean beef. I have had some others try my slow smoked venison ham bar-b-q and rave about how tender and tasty it was. Deer meat is a great protein that is organic, low in fat and good for you! We use a fair amount of ground deer meat and I have the processor to keep it 100% venison. It works great in chili, spaghetti, tacos are awesome with ground deer and if you do want to grill some burgers, just get a small pack of fresh ground beef and mix with the venison to allow the patties to stick together with the beef fat. I also “self process” ” a couple of deer and just cut the aged meat in to meal sized chunks that I can later slice for country fried venison steaks, stir fry strips, fajita strips, stew, etc. Venison is very versatile and considering the “cost per pound”, it is crazy to not make good use of it.

Back to hunting… There are several weather systems slated to come across Alabama this week and they should help deer movement. A good West by Northwest wind will be a welcomed change after all the East and South winds we have been seeing the last two weeks.

Even in wet and warm weather, you can be successful if you pay attention to wind direction, scent control and have the patience to “get on stand early and stay on stand late.” I plan to do just that over the next few days before Christmas and then come back home to celebrate with my family at church on Christmas morning.

Hope everyone has some good hunting this week and a Very Merry Christmas!!

~postoak~

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Are you Stinking up Your Chances at a BIG Buck?

I like to take novice hunters hunting. I like to help youngsters get that first deer. But, I am amazed at how many hunters fail to understand the results of no scent control or at least very feeble scent control. When I agree to take someone hunting, I ask them to be sure to wash their hunting clothes in scent wash or other scent eliminator type wash products with UV block. I ask them to wash their boots in clean water such as spraying with a water hose and letting the boots dry naturally with a couple of scent blocker sheets stuffed in them to help remove any foot odors.

I discuss using a odor reducing body soap such as “Dead Down Wind” ” or “Primos Silver Body wash”. I talk to them about controlling their fluid “intake” so there is no “output” in the woods and if they are not sure they can “hold it” to be sure they bring a capture vessel to go in that is air tight . I talk to them about “boot bagging” to keep their boots in a scent free bag such as the “Tinks” charcoal bag I use, or at least put them in a plastic garbage bag until we get to the truck parking location in the woods to keep the boots odor free.

I use a scent eliminator spray on all my hunting clothes before I pack them in my hunting bags with “earth” ” scent dryer sheets, then I add a cover scent spray when I get out of the truck to head to my stand. My personal choice for a cover spray is also the “earth” scent. I also take a small bottle of spray with me to regularly reapply while on stand, especially on warm days. I had a fellow a couple of years ago to say this was all just “over kill” and that he had taken bucks before in street clothes while smoking a cigarette. And you know what? I have too! Back when I was young and not very serious about anything, including deer hunting tactics, I hunted in jeans and sneakers with a camo T-shirt or any old army surplus jacket and I killed a number of deer, some of which were nice bucks but, I bet none of the bucks were over 2 year olds.

There are some nice young 8 and even 10 pointers taken every year but, to consistently have a CHANCE to take big, mature 4,5,6 yr old bucks scent control has to be taken to a high level of regard and consistently performed. Most of us would not think about hunting in a red shirt and blue jeans like we did in the sixties, we have learned better. I never hunt without full camo cover including a face shield since I am very light in complexion. I learned alot about camo while turkey hunting and have seen what the right camouflage will do to give me an advantage. The highest level of scent control is going to allow you to see more deer, more mature bucks and give you more opportunities to pull that trigger on one of them. It is not overkill but, it can help you make the kill.

On to other scent tricks that can help fool a deer. There are more products every year on the shelves of our local hunting supply store to help us bring deer to our location. Mock scrape products are a good example and in the right location and time of year they do work. Another product I have found that you can make is your own mock scrape with local deer droppings and if you kill some deer, take care to capture the urine, if any is found in their bladder when you clean them. Since I hunt several different tracts, I like to take droppings from one track and deposit them in the best scrapes on the other tract and vice versa. This has worked well on a few bucks over the last dozen or so years and I think you may find it of value.

Other scent foolers I make are from soaking the hocks of bucks we have culled out early in the season with some bottled water in a bucket and then putting it in a spray bottle to visit scrapes and make the buck think another buck is leaving a challenge. Buck droppings and doe droppings can often be identified by size and appearance. Bucks will often leave a “baby ruth” while does leaves scattered pea sized droppings. Both can be good for “salting up” another scrape or making up a supply of liquid to drip or spray on scrapes to create some buzz from the local population in the rut and pre-rut periods of the breeding period. A fellow over in Mississippi used to make a deer lure with doe urine and a few drops of vanilla extract that I actually used a few seasons and it would bring them to my stand at times, he swore by it and killed some monster bucks using his deer love potion. I have added vanilla extract to “Tinks” and to my home-made deer potions, mostly mixes of droppings and urine or gland -waters in bottled water and sometimes I was surprised.

One thing is for sure, a deer’ s nose is a powerful defense and anything you can do to “stealth” by it can help your odds in the central Alabama Outdoors this deer season.

Control your Human scent to improve your chances, Use “deer made” scents to ramp up your chances even more.

Special Thanks to Joseph Lamberth for the nice trail cam photo ! I will get it posted soon!

Email me or send me photos to : postoakman@gmail.com

Have a great hunting week!

~Postoak~

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Early December Deer Hunting, Time to Get Serious about it!

With The start of December it is time to have your plans all figured out for taking some does and cull bucks from your deer herd. If you are like most of us, the Thanksgiving holiday, football games and Christmas shopping trips with the wife have created challenges to finding time to hunt. I continue to have “calendar challenges” with Christmas parties but will do my best to hunt around them If I can get over this flu that has been on me for clsoe to three weeks!

Early December is an excellent time to go ahead and “take out” some does for your freezer and to remember those who could use some extra help by donating deer meat and other items to your local food bank or pantry. The department of conservation has a list of deer processors across the state that you can bring your excess deer to and donate them to help others in need. Check out the list at http://www.outdooralabama.com/news/release.cfm?ID=451 This is an older list but, could be a good place with contact info to help make a difference.

Reducing the herd on your land is also a good thing to improve your hunting and the time is now, before the rut kicks in late this month or early next month depending on how far north or south you are in central Alabama. Cull bucks should also be taken at this time if you are seeing any. Why leave them until the rut when they can pass on their inferior genetics to your breeding pool of does? I have hunted the same tract for about 27 years and when we first got it we had a lot of bucks with a bad left side rack where it would be severely reduced when compared to the right side rack. We killed bucks routinely who weighed over 200 lbs but, had that bad left rack and we have finally got most of it out of the herd. We have some other bucks that have “crab claw” racks that are big but only 6 or 8 points and they rarely score over 130, Unfortunately, we are still working on shooting those out of the herd. I saw a big one earlier this year on a trail cam that is a real big crab clawed 6 pointer and hope one of us takes him down before the rut gets going. Only problem for most of us is finding time to hunt!

Cull bucks are pretty easy to spot and judge by body weight and of course the rack. Be careful to consider if the rack is a genetic creation of just a case of damage to an otherwise normal rack that has broken off due to an accident or fighting. Keep a good quality pair of binoculars on you and at the ready so you can view the deer clearly before you decide to lift your rifle. Cull does can be a bit more of a challenge unless you have killed a bunch of them and learned from your mistakes. Check the doe over with your binoculars and learn to spot the signs of a mature doe versus a young doe or yearling buck. Body size alone can be tough to judge. Look at the head, older does tend to have more pronounced jaw lines and ears are larger, The head is longer and the neck is often long and slender. Along the body, check to see if you can see ribs showing. This can indicate is a doe has worn down teeth and is unable to collect enough food to remain healthy. If possible and you are seeing multiple does on most afternoons, wait for a number of them to show and judge them by comparative analysis. Older does will often hang back and wait until the younger, less wary does and yearlings go out in the field first to make sure it is clear. Many older does are foot stompin, nose blowing, alarmists ! That is another good way to decide which one to shoot! If an old doe gets in my field and goes to doing the “stomp and blow”, then she is the one who “has got to go” !”!

This is the time of season you should be getting aware of feeding and bedding patterns and the hottest trails between those two locations on which to have your fixed position or ladder stands set up to give you the best views from the “down wind” side and if you can, position stands for opposite wind direction hunts so you can take advantage of different wind directions to stay on the down wind side of the trail, green field, or woods you are planning to hunt over.

Have you located rub line and got in mind how to place stand for hunting near them? The deer in our area of west Alabama generally will start making some pretty active scrapes during the first two or three weeks of December and will continue to make and visit them until the last week of January. I have had many successful hunts over scrapes and suggest you give it a try. Rattling antlers or other buck fighting mimic devises tend to work best for me during the pre rut of early December and I have had some success through the years with this active form of deer hunting. My best times have been at the break of day just before sun rise and mid day from 11:00 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m. Several years ago, my cousin Max and I rattled in seven different bucks on a cloudy, late morning setup of rattling and aggressive grunt calling. However, the largest was a 7 pointer that we did not want but, man they did come running!

Don’t wait until late season to thin out does and cull bucks, that time should be saved for making your place a haven for older bucks so don’t go around shooting does then, when now is the time!

Reminder about Coyotes, SHOOTEM! Every time you see them! Stop hunting and go to shooting! there is growing evidence that coyotes are not only killing many fawns, the number of video cameras on trail cams with photos of pack hunting and scenes of them killing grown antlered bucks. Coyotes are a menace to your deer herds. Manage them before they damage your hunting population of deer!

Please send in photos of deer taken this year to me postoakman@gmail.com and I will get the m posted on the Advertiser for you or you can post them from this link. http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPhotoUpload&plckGalleryID=18fc0e4d-5b52-4508-9240-ced7925a751c

Until Next Week, get in the woods!

~postoak~

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