A Great Story Of Beginner’s Luck in The Deer Woods!

This past weekend for me, ranks as a “top three” in terms of enjoyment in the deer woods and I didn’t even pull a trigger!

Let me explain, I hunted Saturday morning and saw numerous small bucks and does but, I have a freezer full of fresh venison from earlier this year and was hunting for a trophy class buck. Well, around lunch as I made my way along the east boundry of the property, I found not one but, two trophy bucks, or at least very respectable bucks. Only problem was, they were both already dead! They had locked antlers in what must have been a battle royale and gotten their antlers wedged together so tightly that quitting was not an option and they fought to the death! What a waste of prime Alabama White tailed deer! I did a decapitation of both heads and the antlers were so locked up, that even when we pulled, twisted and tugged, they would not budge! My nephew wanted them, so I put them in the deer cooler we have to hang deer in for aging the meat and he is investigating with a local taxidermist about mounting them in that locked up position.

Saturday night I went down to Eutaw and spent the night at my father in law’s house since my wife and grandaughter were there visiting him. My granddaughter Anna Faye, who turned 11 this week and has only indicated a mild interest in hunting because she does not agree with me shooting any “girl deers” asked me if I would take her hunting with me on Sunday morning. Naturally, I agreed but told her she may only see a “girl deer” and she said she might shoot one if no “boy deers” came out for her to shoot. We laughed and agreed the hunt was on. However, she had no hunting clothes so my wife went to the dollar store and bought her some dark colored sweats and a cheap camoflauge jacket and sneakers. At 4:00 a.m. when I woke her up, expecting her to say she changed her mind and it was too early, she popped out of bed with a level of excitement and enthusiam that made me proud. We headed out to the farm and stopped for breakfast on the way for some “heat lamp sausage biscuits” from the local service station. Anna Faye commented as she wolfed down her biscuit that it was “great” and from where I sat looking at my granddaughter in a whole new light, I had to agree.

When we got to the farm we went to a shooting house that is at ground level and big enough for us both to have plenty of room. The green field is a large one, about 400 yards long and ranged out at 210 yards across to the woodline from where we sat. This field is one we often use to introduce young hunters since most mornings or evenings it will attract 10 to 20 deer on an average day. However, this day was not average, it was downright pitiful! The weather was warm and with a sparse shower passing through on ocassion. We sat from daylight to a little after 8:00 and Anna Faye was beginning to tire of this “deer hunting thing.” She had looked through my binoculars for deer until she was ready to give up and was reverting to a “fidgety girl child” from the fired up young hunter that first walked to the stand. I was really getting dissapointed because I wanted her to at least see some deer so she would see some of the wonder of hunting but, we had saw nothing in a location where that is just plain bad luck.

Just then….. I saw a nice buck step out of the woods but, he was on the far side of the green field and walking paralell to the woodline almost 200 yards away. I hit my grunt tube a couple of times and he stopped but, then continued on walking. I whistled and stopped him again as Anna Faye was asking if she could shoot him. I told her he was much too far for her to be able to make a shot of that distance, but then I thought, why not? At least when she misses, she can tell her mom and dad the story of how she shot at a big buck while hunting with her “poppop”. So I got her position set with the gun and told her to place the cross hairs on his shoulder and squeeze, not jerk the trigger. She said she could not see him and I moved the gun over and she said “There he is !There he is!” She fired my 30-06 Weatherby perfectly, and much to my amazement and hers, She rolled him! He jumped up and ran into the woods but, I knew she got him!

We hugged, high fived, and talked about what a great shot she made.. and it was! We crossed the muddy green field and her feet got soaked but, she said she didn’t care she wanted to see her deer! I found him about 20 yards out in the woods, a nice 7 pointer who weighed close to 160 lbs. Watching your granddaughter on her first hunt have some great beginner’s luck was a memory we will both cherish the rest of our days and I think I might have a new hunting buddy! She is already looking forward to Turkey season and I am too!

I have gotten lots of reports and a few photos from folks who are taking a good number of nice bucks in this late stage of the season. Sanford Peeples, from Elmore County, took a real nice buck on a hunt down in Grady and I have a photo posted of it. Sanford said the buck was fooled into coming looking for him since he used a “drag rag” with some doe in heat scent and the buck came down the trail Sanford walked in to his stand on and came trotting out into the green field looking for the doe he thought he was trailing. Just shows what good scent control of human odor with clean rubber boots and using deer scents to turn the “smell game” to your advantage. Way to go Sanford!

February is a great time to take a kid squirrel or rabbit hunting so plan now!

For those of you who think you are a champion squirrel hunter, the Alabama Wildlife Federation is hosting their annual Dave Nelson Memorial squirrel hunt and if you like some competition hunting along with helping a great organization. For more information check out the web site http://www.alabamawildlife.org/ Tim Gothard or some of his coworkers at the AWF will be glad to answer questions about how you can be a part of this great event.

Other events coming in February - Elmore County National Wild turkey Federation Hunting Heritage Auction and Banquet will be held Thursday night February 23rd at the Wetumpka Civic Center. This is a great annual banquet and is one of the best in the state of Alabama, with past wins as the premiere banquet in the state. If you would like tickets, send me an email. I am postoakman@gmail.com

Coosada Baptist Church will host an Outdoor Sports weekend event on Saturday and Sunday, February 25th and 26th, with an archery competition complete with mechanized -pop up targets. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top competition shooters in the open and pro-class. There is an entry to shoot in the contest. But, the overall event is free and open to the public! There will be many other outdoor venues including Hunter safety certification by the department of conservation, free food galore, some of it wild game, some not. Boating, fishing, tons of door prizes, turkey calling, fishing instruction and more. Check out Coosadabaptist.org for more info. Or just click on this link http://www.coosadabaptist.org/index.cfm/pageid/1371/index.html

This season is about done and so is this edition, GO HUNT and take a child, it is a great experience for you both, especially if one of them is your child or GRAND child!

Until next week, good hunting before it is gone!

~postoak~

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Deer Season is Winding down But the Rut is WIDE OPEN!

In September, we get our bows out and start practice for the first part of deer season and you feel like it will last forever. But, time marches on and we find ourselves here every year hoping the rut will really kick in good before the season kicks out!

Most of us who hunt to the north and west of Montgomery have been enjoying rut hunting for several weeks now, although the mild weather has not put much stress on the deer to make them move in the day, so they have been on a nightly “feed and breed” schedule over the last couple of weeks. This week the new moon phase will bring some darker nights and the promise of cooler weather this weekend should push some of those old bucks to roam a bit more in daylight. IF you have not filled your freezer and got that “wall-hanger” yet, let me suggest that you get to it!.

I was in Nashville last weekend at my youngest son’s college to watch him get his white coat for “pharm D” students and while I thoroughly enjoyed the event Friday night, I must admit I was thinking about the hunting time I was missing while we were exploring Nashville on Saturday. Oh well, got to do that “daddy and husband” thing when required. This weekend I plan to be seriously hunting a big buck to finish out my season over in West Alabama at Tuscaloosa or Greene county.

I have had some nice reports of big deer being taken around central Alabama recently and even better, some of the hunters were youngsters who are just starting out and already demonstrating a prowess to make any dad proud. I have pictures posting for one such hunter from here in Elmore County who just took a very large Buck.

I got a letter along with the photos from Will’s father John Smith. John is bringing his children up right! Taking them fishing, hunting and getting them in the outdoors! Following is the story of the making of a future hunter and conservationist.

Will is in the 3rd grade at Tallassee elementary. He’s picked up hunting on his own through his friends, watching tv shows and playing Cabela’s big-game hunt type video games. The only hunting I’ve ever done is squirrel hunting when I was growing up and very casual bird hunting as an adult. Laura and I are all for opportunities for our three children (older son Sam and daughter Sarah) to get into the outdoors and if any of them wants to hunt, we’re for it. I’ve been a big fisherman all my life and have owned bass boats for 25 years. I’ve taken all three of my children fishing since they were old enough to wear a life jacket.

Last January, Will was invited to a youth deer hunt by Charles Herron. That was his first hunt of any sort. He killed a spike during that hunt, using a borrowed youth model .243. Charles invited us back this past November and my father-in-law found a used youth .243 with a scope that we bought Will as an early Christmas present.

Will agreed that anything he took this season would be bigger than a spike. At Herron’s November hunt, he let several spikes walk and wasn’t at all disappointed by the outcome as we saw a lot of deer. We went new year’s day in northeast Tallapoosa County but didn’t see anything until we opened the door to the shooting house and spooked three.

The folks whose land we hunted this past weekend might not want me to say anything about them or their property but I really, really appreciated the invitation irrespective of the outcome we had. Then again, they might not care but I’d rather not say anything as to the location.

We got in the shooting house about 3 Sunday afternoon and started seeing does about 4:15. About 4:45, the does went into the woods from the green field we were hunting over to our right. Will was disappointed and I told him that if a doe came back into the field, if he wanted to, he could take one. We also talked about being patient. About ten minutes later, this is at roughly 5, while I was organizing our equipment in preparation to go home, Will said “look at that rack!” To our left, the buck had trotted into the green field heading for where the does had been. Will asked me to load his rifle. I did that and passed it over to him. The buck continued moving across the field to our right so we whistled to get the deer to stop. As soon as the deer stopped, Will shot. Not sure if the first shot hit but the deer only moved about 20 feet. I reloaded the rifle and Will’s second shot put the buck down right where he’d been standing.

Since the deer’s antlers weren’t all that symmetrical and he was missing his left brow tine, we’re having a European mount done. Will is completely satisfied with that and ready for his next hunt. He wants to tackle turkey hunting this spring, provided he can find time away from baseball.

A father and son hunting together taking a Trophy buck! It doesn’t get much better than that in the deer woods of Central Alabama or anywhere else for that matter!

John and Will, thanks for sharing your hunt with us! When you get that big Gobbler this spring send us a picture of that as well!

If you have taken a buck you want to show off, send me the photo and I will get it posted here on the Montgomery Advertiser’s Outdoor Sports Photos section. email me postoakman@gmail.com

Speaking of some big buck photos, check out Alabama Blackbelt Adventures web site for their big buck photo contest! Just click on http://www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org/

Deer season will close out soon but small game hunting is still available in February and it is lots of fun for youngsters to hone those hunting skills and for us old hunters to remember our youth in the Great Central Alabama Outdoors!

Until next Week, Good hunting wishes for you!

~postoak~ today’s blog is dedicated to the memory of a good friend who was called home this morning at the way too early age of 57. We will miss you Mike..

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Full Moon and Warm Weather Hampers Rut Hunting

I left Birmingham late Friday afternoon after a tiring, all day staff meeting and started negotiating the frenetic pace of “Malfunction Junction” traffic working my way across four lanes of madness on wheels to reach the off ramp to I-59 and start my journey down to Tuscaloosa. Finally getting through Bessemer and on to the open interstate, my mood began to lift as I pondered the possibility of success in the swamp land we hunt in South Tuscaloosa county.

I stopped in town and purchased some groceries for the cabin. It was after dark when I pulled onto the farm and just as I went through the big iron gate, about a dozen deer ran across the small lane and over to a greenfield on the right and stopped to watch me pass by, not a buck in the bunch! I went around the curve and as my headlights flooded over a corn field, there were multiple sets of deer eyes peeking out of the corn rows before they took off with white flags flying for the cover of the hardwoods to the right.

I thought to myself, “not too good” since all that activity pretty much assured me the deer were in a night feeding pattern brought on by the full moon and mild temperatures we have been experiencing. Some people think these conditions stop rut activity and I am certainly not a biologist so I am not going to jump on a soapbox and declare anything. I am a hunter with close to 50 years of deer hunting experience and observance of ruts over the years, so I believe the rut is still going on, it just shifts to coincide with the peak feeding times. Times that in this case, are during the night hours. Saturday morning, I started to “sleep in” ” slapping the alarm on my blackberry 4 or 5 times while I enjoyed the peace and restfulness that is often found in the solitude of a hunting camp bed. The hunter in me “won out” though and I got up started a pot of coffee and hit the shower to get a good odor removing scrub and shampoo with some earth scented soap. I got dressed and out the door in plenty of time and headed to our other piece of property to hunt just off the banks of the Warrior River.

As I drove down the county road to it, deer ran across the road at several spots. “Not too Good!” I exclaimed and I slipped on down the logging road to hunt a small box blind in some big woods that we call the “cigarette” stand. I considered taking a ground blind and hunting another location, but the small stand is easy and I have had great success on morning hunts from it through the years. However, that was not to be the case on this Saturday. I sat in the stand from daylight until 9 a.m before I saw the first deer! He was a small 6 point buck who was a mere youngster at about 140 lbs and he came through sniffing and trotting, looking for a doe. I thought the activity might pick up though and I sat for another hour, not seeing any other deer, I left for the truck.

I had invited a good friend, who is a co-worker to come down and bring his son for a afternoon hunt and I met them at our gate at noon. Keith Gibson and his son Will, are the epitome of what a father and son relationship should be. Keith has always been more concerned about a successful hunt for Will than himself and as he told me again on Saturday, “lets just get Will his first deer and I will be glad to hunt anywhere else.” I had a plan, I thought, that would allow both of them to take a deer and it was partially successful. I directed Keith out to a box stand we have on a part of the property we call the “peninsula” which is a small hardwood rise that is around 400 yards wide and 1/2 mile long. It is surrounded by swamp mud, briers and brush that holds deer, including big bucks most of the time, but the night feeding pattern did not bring any deer by Keith except for a couple of yearlings. That is probably the poorest afternoon of hunting on the peninsula all year. I had sat it 2 weeks ago and could have taken any one of several nice rack bucks which is not unusual from that stand. Not seeing anything but a spike from that stand? Not too good!

I took Will with me to sit in a double ladder stand that overlooks a large greenfield that is 300 x 300 yards and has standing corn in the middle surrounded by clover. It is a prime location for seeing lots of deer and I figured to get some close for Will to get a good shot on one. We sat from 2 p.m. until 4:15 and not a deer came to the field! At 4:15 a nice rack buck jogged across the far end and I hit my grunt tube a couple of times to get his attention. He stopped and looked our way and I was hoping he would turn and come to investigate. No such luck! He looked the other way and resumed his jog into the woods on the other side. A little closer to us, 5 does came out and fed in the right side of the field but still nearly 200 yards away.

Will was ready to shoot something and when a small spike came out of the woods 50 yards to our left, he was like a dog on a leash, squirming and looking at me to see if I would OK a shot. I thought a moment about how much he wanted to get his first deer and told him to take the shot if that was what he wanted, but the spike turned and trotted out of the field before he could shoulder his gun. After another 15 minutes and no other deer in the field, it was getting dark, Will was getting dejected, and I felt terrible for him! This was the third hunting trip we had made and looked like it was going down as another strike out! Just then, I looked to my left to see a line of deer trotting through the woods on the logging road where they would hit the field at about 30 yards from our stand. I told Will to get the gun ready and be ready to shoot on my signal. The warm wind was at our back so I knew the deer would sniff us out pretty quickly after they got down wind which would have them about 25 yards out in the field. Four does and a yearling trotted into the field and the lead doe was a big, old looking one who froze when she hit our scent trail just as I expected. She then took a big sniff, blew it out and stomped her front foot, one time, two times, on the third stomp, she wheeled and bounded for the woods so I gave a sharp whistle to stop them and right on cue, Will pulled the trigger!

She shot straight up on her hind legs and flew out of the field! Will had a look of panic on his face and was asking “did I get her Mr.David, Did I get her?” When I confirmed to him that he had made the shot, his face lit up like fireworks and he gave me a high five and then he started shaking. He was so excited about taking his first deer that it made me excited, it was a great afternoon hunt on an otherwise poor weekend of deer hunting!

We got his dad, who was also giddy with the excitement of the event and they hugged, joked, talked about what his mother and little brother would say. I retrieved the deer and we had the full photo session, bloody face initiation and I had Will to assist me in dressing out the deer to hang in the Cooler for aging. It was great scene!

Helping others is fun and rewarding at any time of year. Helping a young man take his first deer and seeing that great bonding moment between him and his dad was a memory that was just too good!

I have pictures of Will and his deer that will be posted on this site soon ! Congratulations Will and Keith!!

~postoak~

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January Deer Season, As Good As It Gets!

I am receiving an increasing number of reports from hunters around central Alabama and most are reporting some degree of rutting activity. From Montgomery to the north, the deer are clearly rutting in most areas. However, there are a few folks to the north who report no rut activity at all.

Further south, a relative from Crenshaw told me he had “bucks running everywhere” on his place. A co-worker of mine said he nearly hit a nice rack buck on Tuesday down near Orville and he said the buck was not paying any attention to anything but the back side of that doe! I checked with two friends who live in north Elmore and they report seeing plenty of scrapes and rubs but, had not actually witnessed any doe chasing by the bucks in that area.

An Auburn buddy who hunts in Bullock said the bucks “are chasing” on his lease. In looking at the various locations, it seems that more rutting activity is happening in the areas with a denser population of deer and a good buck to doe ratio. That would be logical since the bucks will have more competition to breed the does. The doe’s estrus period has always played the biggest role in the whole process. Just like some other females we all know, a doe’s estrus cycle is triggered by the sun angle in the winter sky so rut should be close to the same time by sun angle from the different latitudes.

Some hunters swear the rut is triggered by cold weather, cloudy days, etc. I tend to stick with the science of the estrus that biologist have researched and that is sun angle. However, cold weather and cloudy weather do make deer move around more to “feed up” for the cold. I do agree that chances are better of seeing more deer on cold days when the moon is in “dark phase” and they limit their night time feeding to conserve body heat and avoid predators, especially does with yearlings. All I know is that I have hunted deer in the same community for 47 years now and they start to rut right around Christmas, I can “take that to the bank”.

I saw a great deal of rut activity on my place last weekend, just no “wall hangers.” I plan to head out again this weekend and find where a “bigun” has left an active scrape and other evidence of regular visitation, then just hang out. I do like to use a grunt call during the rut and even use some antlers to rattle with on morning hunts from a good hard wood stand. Rattling for me, has always been significantly more effective when done from an elevated stand in open woods and I believe the sounds carries much further in the woods during the morning than hunting from a field blind on a green field. Most of the buck fights I have witnessed also took place in the morning. So, I like to play those odds and just sit tight on an afternoon hunt, doing just a little light grunting, unless I see a buck at a distance and want to bring him in for a better look.

The best part of my emails and calls to and from other hunters is stories shared, especially when the hunt involves a youngster taking that first deer, that first buck or those first few memorable hunts where father are able to witness the success of their kids on the hunt. I have photos from two such lucky parents this week. Kyle Anderson, has became his dad’s best hunting buddy and has taken another great buck this year. I posted a photo of him and another big buck earlier this year and his dad, Wray Anderson, just sent me a photo of Kyle’s latest big buck, nicknamed the “Cobb Buck” due to some trail cam photos of the buck enjoys an ear of “corn on the cobb”. The “cobb” photos led to a stand setup and Kyle shot the big 9 point buck for his second great buck of the season. Lots of grown men would loved to have taken two bucks big as the two Kyle has bagged, and his dad is more happy over it than had he taken them himself! Kyle and Wray, congratulations to you both. Wray reported not only did Kyle make a good shot but, he also found where the buck fell before Wray could locate it. The buck only ran about 70 yards from the shot but, crashed in some thick stuff that made finding it just like icing on the cake! I will have his latest big buck photo posted soon!

Another “couple” that are my friends, co-workers and NWTF Committee members are Ladon and Jennifer Glover. Jennifer’s lovely daughter( favors her mom a lot ) Lindsey Gallops, who is 15, took a really nice 9 point buck on the special early youth season weekend and it is a very nice “grown” buck that weighed in at 170 lbs. Lindsey is an avid hunter and has proven herself to be a successful one! Great buck Lindsey! Go get another and send me the photo!

Season will be over in just a few more weeks! The time to hunt is now! and take a kid, or an adult, hunting that would like to be introduced to the great sport of deer hunting during the rut! I have a hunt lined up to take a young friend and his dad with me and find a buck, or two, to pull that trigger on!

BANG YA’LL ! UNTIL NEXT WEEK, WISHING A GREAT HUNT FOR YOU! and me too!

~Postoak~

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