Cold, windy, rainy, and FUN!! This past weekend was pretty good for hunting in extremes of Alabama weather and the deer were really moving well. The rut was on full bore in west central Alabama this past weekend!
I hunted in Tuscaloosa and Greene county and the deer hunting was great all three days. The deer moved well in the a.m. and mid day hunting was unusually good.
Friday morning was the worst part of the three day hunt, even though I saw several young bucks and over 20 does. My nephew from Tennessee and north Alabama were down for a hunt and their kids shot at deer with one 8 point taken by Hayden Harris. It was a nice 180 lb buck that had him grinning, and giving a “thumbs up” to everyone who came by the cleaning shed to take a look.
Friday at noon, the rain started for a soaking rest of the day so I assembled a couple of ladder stands I had brought over to add to our stand count on the two tracts we hunt.
Saturday morning was a cold, raw, windy day that had me shivering on my hunt in the swamp and while the deer were easy to spot, they were also hard to hide from as far as scent detection goes. In an attempt to block out some wind, I sat in a ground blind for a couple of hours but, the deer have “patterned” us hunters and they all avoid the hut area. Every deer I saw from the hut was running an open lane about 200 yard to the east and I decided to move over for a better vantage spot. I like to hunt out of a folding camoflauge canvas chair so long as I can find a good hiding spot. I found a large amount of dead vines around an old stump near the lane and it offered me a front row seat to watch the deer that kept running the open lane between 2 swampy areas that were covered with about 6 to 8 inches of water the deer kept sloshing through to get to the lane where they could run a dry, open path. The lane is over 400 yards long and about 20 yards wide. The bucks were rutting like crazy, running does up and down the lane and across the swamps on either side. Most seemed to be “throwing caution to the wind” literally, running and grunting behind the does, some of which seemed to be almost smiling and others just seemed frustrated by the attention the bucks were exhibiting. The winds were strong and shifting all morning and despite all my scent cover, scent elimination and use of estrus based attractants, I got busted by several deer , mostly does. However, one old buck that busted me certainly made a life saving decision and stopped just out of a reasonable shot range for me.
Saturday afternoon, I was pleased to host a couple of folks from Birmingham, a father and his son trying to find that “first buck” for the son. I showed them to a nice double hut that overlooks a huge green field and had favorable wind for the afternoon hunt. They had a great hunt, saw lots of deer, several turkey and the son, Collin Shumate, tried a long shot on a 6 pointer but, did not connect. I was hunting from a tripod on another, smaller field and saw 14 does, two six pointers and a nice young eight pointer with a nice symmetrical rack. The big buck I was hoping for never showed up. But, a thoroughly enjoyable hunt was had by us all.
On Sunday morning, it was 24 degrees when I parked my truck for the predawn walk to the same swampy area I hunted the morning before that is a favorite of mine. The walk is over a half mile and I did not spook any deer on the way to my “hiding spot” overlooking the lane the deer have been using. The wind was much lighter and the direction generally sustained from the east so I found a spot that would keep me from getting “winded” so much by the deer. The activity was almost non-existent until around 7:30 when 5 gobblers came out about 150 yards to the south on the lane and one went into a full fanned strut like it was spring and started drumming and pirouetting for the next 45 minutes. As a “turkey-holic” that made the trip worth the effort and I was just wishing I had a nice camera with one of those huge telephoto lens to snap some of the “January strut” activity.
All of a sudden, I heard the unmistakable sound of antlers clashing violently so I turned around and stood up next to a vine covered tree to use it for cover and a rest aim if I got a shot. I used my grunt tube and made several very loud and prolonged grunts as the buck’s antlers were smashing each other just out of my sight . The next sound was sweet as I heard the sloshing noise of several deer coming directly to me across the flooded thicket. Those bucks stopped fighting and ran straight to me!
The first buck was a nice 10 pointer with heavy horns but, the tines were short so I let him pass the opening I had for a shot window though the thick brush. I could see two more rack bucks coming in at a trot. The second buck bounded through the opening so quickly that I was unable to tell much except he was a rack buck. The third buck had a nice tall rack and was walking fast in a fighting posture with his hair bristled out so I figured he was probably the best of the three and when he stepped in the small opening I sent him a 30-06 round that dropped him immediately. I chambered in another round and watched for a few minutes to make sure he was down and walked over to admire the nice 8 point, 190 lb buck. While he was not a “wall hanger” for me, he was a very nice older buck and I count it as a blessing to make the good shot on such a fine animal. It was a very memorable hunt with the bucks coming to my call!
Sunday afternoon, Chuck Shumate and his son Collin of Birmingham, came back down for another hunt and I felt like Collin would be very pleased with the 8 pointer I had seen in the green field I was on the afternoon before so I sent him out to it and his father opted to sit another field to do some deer watching and did not bring a gun. He was focused on providing a good father- son experience for his son and I applaud him for that. Well, his son Collin, did his job, and he put the nice 8 pointer down with a perfect shot around 4 p.m.
A great hunting memory was made for Chuck and Collin. I had a great weekend hunting with my nephews and we all took some deer meat home to enjoy in 2013.
Just using the grunt tube was a special memory maker for me. You see, the grunt tube is a “one of a kind” made for me a couple of years ago by a good friend, Gary Johnson, who passed away last spring out in the turkey woods. Gary was a very gifted call maker and I am fortunate to have several turkey calls, a crow call and the grunt tube he made for me. Gary was a NWTF Committee member for the Elmore County NWTF and all of us miss him alot. He was a special talent and a great guy.
Happy New year to everyone and may you make some great hunting memories in 2013!