Early Season Reports on Deer Hunting

The feeder is now empty but, they keep lookin around!

Well, so far, not so good!  At least that is the reports I keep getting from a number of hunters across central Alabama. Not much deer movement being reported and many folks are using the time wisely to go ahead and thin their deer herds of excess does and a few cull bucks. As for me, I have had a very dry start and must admit that I have not done much hunting up to this point in the season.

I went bow hunting twice with no luck unless you want to  call seeing a few does and they were not close enough to make me want to ‘take out” one of them, so I just sat in a tree and got fussed at by several squirrels in the oak tree I was perched in. They just considered me a pest that deserved a “distance cussing” from the top limbs where they were eating and dropping acorns at a fast clip, so much that I believe they were trying to acorn-bomb me.

I went gun hunting last week and saw absolutely zero deer but, the warm sun made fro some good sleeping on the stand in my ground blind. I would not have minded waking up to see a nice buck in the hardwood bottom where I was set up but, I didn’t even see a squirrel!

Oh well, I plan  to get out in the woods on Friday and Saturday this week and look for a couple of does to restock the freezer before the season gets going in pre-rut activity. Depending on where you hunt, the pre-rut could get started in the next week or two.

Generally, the pre-rut activity starts in north central Alabama in early to mid December and the the actual rut follows it by 4 to 6 weeks. I talked to a hunter today who said they are already seeing scrapes and a couple of rub lines where he hunts in Chilton and Bibb county. I plan to hunt in Tuscaloosa and Greene County this weekend so I will be on the look out for pre-rut signs in the woods I hunt.

Pre-rut can be a very good time to create some activity by making a “mock-scrape”. There are various makers of scrape imitator scents so check at your favorite retailer for those products and use them to create a scrap that could attract the local dominant buck to a spot you choose to make that early season shot!

Rattling, even in Alabama can be most productive in the pre-rut period of deer season, especially if you do some light, “low key” rattling of some antlers to mimic a couple of bucks just testing each other a little and not the antler banging knock down rattling like you might hear later in the deer season as the rut peaks.

I like to hunt aggressively, especially early in the season, before the bucks get nocturnal.. or get dead! Try making some mock scrapes, a mock rub, light rattling, grunting with your favorite grunt tube, and you might turn a boring early season “snoozer” of a hunt into a hunt to remember with an early trip to the taxidermist!

If you don’t want to buy some mock scrape products, you can make some pretty good  stuff to create a mock scrape if you have access to different tracks of deer woods to retrieve some deer dropping from and if you can find some good buck droppings in one location, mix them with some water and put the strained out mix in a spray bottle or you can just pour the mix out after you dig out a scrape on a different property. I also like to add a few small pieces of the solid droppings, especially if the spot is in a promising location to make the mock scrape look even more real to the deer who visit it. I have used this method for more than 30 years and I have had some good results by making my own buck scents and spraying or pouring in a scrape that I create or in a natural scrape made by another buck on the property.

Deer live, love, socialize and even die by their sense of smell. Use that to your advantage to bring a buck by your chosen location!

Post Oak

Deer Hunting on Thanksgiving Week, What A Tradition!

Nice Bucks pushing and shoving, getting ready, Are you!

Bucks in training for the Rut!

All too quickly, it is another Thanksgiving and like most of you, I am amazed how fast 2012 is sinking into history. But, I am very happy that God has allowed me to enjoy another year of life in the good ole USA and even more so, living in Alabama, the greatest place on the planet, in my humble opinion. Sometimes when my wife and I are watching TV and we watch folks buying houses on HGTV and moving to a new city or state it looks interesting. But the older I get, the happier I get about my life and the place I live. That gives me plenty of “Thanksgiving” and this whole week, as I enjoy some vacation time, I have time to think about good stuff!

Some of the best “good stuff” I think about is the many wonderful Thanksgivings past where we had large, organized deer hunts using dogs to run the deer past standers. It was a very exciting and effective method of deer hunting and we, like most folks “dog-hunted” for deer on most deer season weekends and holidays with Thanksgiving being the first big hunt of the season. The clamor of the hunters, the excited barking of the dogs, who seemed to have waited all summer for this moment and they jumped out of the truck boxes, yelping, tails wagging, heck! whole bodies wagging! and trembling, straining at the leashes and literally dragging us into the woods  awaiting their release!

As a young hunter, I often was sent to a stand with an adult to make sure I was hunting safely and many times, whomever the adult was would allow me the first shot with my single barrel 12 gauge. I took a number of deer under the tutelage of an older relative or family friend. As I got older, I sometimes would take a stand but, I abandoned that around age 12 for a position as a dog handler and “driver”. As a driver, I would release my four black and tan hounds at the agreed spot and time to push the deer out of a section of woods toward the “standers” who got most of the shots. However,many of us who were drivers would get shots on some of the biggest bucks who would “slip” past the dogs when they jumped the deer herd from a hiding spot and the buck would let the other deer lead the way from the jump spot toward the standers. These old bucks were so smart, they would stay bedded down and hid unless a dog or a hunter walked within just a couple of feet from their bedding spot. I have been lucky on several of those hunts to shoot a buck that was still laying down in hiding while the others were running away with the dogs in hot pursuit. An old buck with that much “survival sense” that he is able to keep calm enough to stay still and keep hid in the face of such danger is a real trophy, even if his rack is not a “wall hanger” !

For about 15 years we had a lease on an old farm that was 475 acres and the adjoining timber tract that was close to 600 acres and every Thanksgiving we had relatives from around the state as well as Florida and Michigan to join us in our annual deer drive for the first hunt of the season. It was a quintessential thanksgiving celebration where all the ladies got to “team shop” and prepare a feast for us guys who were all staying out in the woods most of the three or four days, chasing the deer. We didn’t have a camp house but, we had a meeting spot at the entrance to the farm and we would build a big fire and sit around it in between hunts while everyone was taking a break and waiting on dogs to return from some of the long runs. Most of the dogs were trained to return to the place where we parked and would be back within an hour or two of turnout, ready to make another drive after a little rest on the dog blankets we laid out on the ground at the back of the truck. I had an older dog who was a bit slower to return, sometimes staying gone all day, but I just left her dog blanket  at the turnout spot. I could come back that night or the next morning and “lady” would be curled up on it waiting for me. She was very good dog, just a bit overzealous at times!

Shortly after I married, life got so busy that we gave up the lease and I gave my dogs to a friend who pledged to take good care of them. I still went on some dog hunts for deer but, without my dogs it just wasn’t the same and like most folks, I made the switch to stand or stalk hunting and that is the way I hunt today for most of my trips to the deer woods. We still get together on Thanksgiving for deer hunts and even sometimes do a “man drive” for deer to push some of the deer out of the heavy cut-overs on our hunting property. We sometimes even bark a little!  Then we laugh when we all meet back up and talk about the old days and the Thanksgiving dog drives we all enjoyed so many wonderful years ago!

I plan to make some Thanksgiving memories of the new type this week! Taking my granddaughter hunting and sitting in a shooting hut waiting for a big buck and telling her about the “old days”.  I remember when I was the one listening to the stories and I hope I can do as good a job telling the stories as My Grandfather did telling me of his child hood hunts!

Be Thankful for all your hunting trips and hunting stories!

Make some to enjoy in the future!


Opening Day Success, Are You Ready?


Bucks stocking up on the deer chow!

First thing I want to say is  how grateful I am for our Veterans and for this Veteran’s day as we took time to reflect on the sacrifices and service all of them gave to this country and the defense of our freedom. Thank you so much dear Veterans!

Today, I like many lucky people got to reap the reward for their service in the form of a holiday. I put my flag out this weekend and will take it up tomorrow morning. I also took time to pray today for our soldiers in active duty and especially several young men from my church who are in Afghanistan and Iraq. I hope all of them serve with distinction and return home safely!

Due to the rain, I was not able to get out and do as I had planned in the yard work area, but I also had in my plans to arrange my hunting gear for this Saturday’s start to the gun season portion of our Alabama deer season. I was able to sort out my field gear and get it packed in my deer hunting back pack, ( I keep another one dedicated to spring turkey hunting) I packed my scent blocker, my Tink’s early season cover scent, Some Tink’s Fox Urine cover scent for my “drag rag” got my Thermacell set up with a new bottle of butane and 3 thermacell refill pads that emit an earth scent along with the “skeeter” repellent. I washed two load of my favorite hunting clothes in Tink’s “Bytrol” odor eliminator and am anxious to see if it works well on the early season deer in the warmer temps. Last year I used either “Dead Down Wind” washing solution or the “Primos brand Silver Scent” control washing detergent and both worked well. I bought a promotional kit from Tink’s at the Buckmasters and I am a strong believer in Tink’s products so I am betting my opening week of hunting on it doing a good job.

I cleaned and sprayed my boots down with the garden hose and will let them dry a few days in the sun before I spray them and put them in a Tink’s Scent lock bag for transport to the woods. I have found that if I don’t put them on until I get to the woods I don’t leave any unwanted scents on the way to or back from my stand location. I also keep my outer hunting garments packed in a Tink’s scent bag and  put them on only when I reach my parking spot for my truck. I see lots of guys that wear their camo and their hunting boots in such places as the Waffle House while eating breakfast, at the gas station, walking across that gas splattered concrete and then wonder why the only deer they see (if any) are does and young bucks.  You have got to get serious about scent control if you want to see more deer and more MATURE Bucks! The dumb ones are on a wall somewhere, pay the utmost attention to scent control and you will see it pays off!

Have you sighted in your rifle ? Be sure the bullet goes where you aim and shoot at least a three shot group to verify the gun is on target.  The only thing worse than missing a big buck, is making a bad shot on a big buck (or any deer) due to a poorly placed shot that allows the wounded deer to get away and die in the woods too far away for you to locate him. The only happiness that brings is to the local coyotes and buzzards.  Be sure of your gun’s ability to hit where you aim it and your ability to aim it properly.

How about your stand? if it is elevated such as a ladder stand or a site built platform, be sure it is safe before you go climbing up to it before daylight on opening day this Saturday morning. Many hunters in Alabama are injured and some even killed in falls from elevated stands or climbing type stands, Be sure to use a fall restraint device when you climb! There are many good ones on the market now and it will be your most important hunting investment so get one!  If you have not checked your stand thoroughly, it may be best to hunt from the ground until you can give the stand a good inspection in daylight. Ground blinds are increasingly popular and are very portable, not to mention safe!  I like the little pop up ones that you can carry like a backpack. I also like to make a ground blind from natural cover and I use a small, foilding canvas chair that is very comfortable and it allows me to sit motionless with enough elevation to place it in a “brush top” or a “blow down” and see the terrain well. After that, patience and focus can bring you that big opening day buck to you for a ride in your truck!

Have you scouted? Do you use a game camera?  Pre-season scouting to locate fresh deer sign and well used trails is a must to see more deer. A game camera set up along a trail and over a food source can give you a real serious look at the bucks in a given area, just don’t create a legal issue and refer to the regulations for hunting  and food sources.

This Saturday, my biggest decision is going to be which stand and which county I am going to start the gun season off in. I am hunting a new property in Dallas County and I am anxious to actually hunt instead of just scouting it. But, If I hunt in Tuscaloosa county, I could get in an early morning hunt, Go to the BAMA game and maybe even be back in the woods by 3::00 or 3:30. That sounds like the best plan to me!

Hope you are planning to hunt this Saturday and if you harvest that big opening day buck, send me a picture! Just send it to me , postoakman@gmail.com  and I will post it on an upcoming blog! Kids with deer, First deer taken, etc are even better!  Good Luck in the deerwoods!

Until next Week.. Good Hunting and thank a Veteran every chance you get!





Gun Hunting Season for Deer Starts in Less Than Two Weeks!!

Nice buck

This nice buck was visiting our feeder recently.

Gun season for deer hunting in Alabama is less than TWO weeks away!  Saturday November 17th is the opening day for deer hunting with firearms and it runs through the end of January for most areas. Please check out the AL DCNR web site for more information about the upcoming season. Fines have been substantially increased and who wouldn’t feel bad to waste some money and break the law. This link will take you to the state’s web site so you can quickly get informed, don’t be a law breaker! http://www.eregulations.com/alabama/deer-hunting-seasons/ There is nothing sporting, fair chase,OR  fair chance about that!

One  regulation in recent years that many hunters fail to recognize is the game harvest record is MANDATORY ! The rule is NOTE IT BEFORE YOU TOTE IT!  You must be sure to record the harvest of any antlered deer or Gobbler Before you pick it up for transport out of the woods. This means you need to print a copy of the form if you are a lifetime license holder (like me) who does not purchase an annual license , or are exempt from license requirements. This could be someone under 16 who does not have an annual license requirement, someone over 65 who is exempt from buying an annual license, or even a landowner hunting his OWN property which exempts him from having to buy a license, is still required to have on their person and to comply with the harvest reporting requirements! Please follow this link for additional information! http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-2013-Harvest-Record.pdf  I have a lawyer friend who had the harvest form with him last year but, did not have a pen or pencil to fill it out and on the way out of the woods back to his vehicle, a conservation office stopped him and issued him a citation that cost him over $200. don’t let that happen to you! Carry the form and carry a pen or pencil!  NOTE IT BEFORE YOU TOTE IT!!

Just be sure you know the rules and if you have questions, check out the Conservation department’s web site. They even have answers posted to many common questions that will give you the answer in a snap, or a “click” so click here- http://www.eregulations.com/alabama/frequently-asked-questions/

This year, like some others, I got ready for a big bow season and now find myself trying to finish my fall projects list around the house and Yard so I can clear my calendar for gun season. I am a bit concerned that our trail cameras are not getting any photos of big bucks this year. Plenty of bucks on the camera but, no shooters. Well, no shooters that are trophy bucks, just a few shooter “culls” like most year that we keep trying to take out of the herd before the rut kicks off in late December. Did have one “decent” buck stop at one of the feederthat I posted above.

How prepared are you for the start of gun season? Now is the time to “sight in” your gun, make sure you have all your ammo and equipment “ready to go”. Wash all your hunting clothes in a scent eliminator detergent AFTER you do a clean-out wash on your washer and then do a hot wash with just plain water to rinse out the washer before you begin the scent wash of your hunting clothes.Wash  ALL of them down to your “unders and socks” should be scent washed. Then, use a “cover scented” dryer sheet in with them in the dryer, and pack them in a scent lock bag, a “Tinks charcoal bag” or, if all else fails, a clean canvas duffel bag that is sprayed thoroughly with a cover scent.  How about your Boots? Rubber boots such as the “Grange” boot by Lacrosse are winners for scent control in the warm days of early season. More on this next week.

Be sure you make a plan for hunting preparation success and execute the plan between now and the opening morning! It will be here before you know it!!

Good Hunting!

~postoak~  Outdoors..