Friday, September 9, 2005
I woke up at 03:30 and hit the road towards Northern Georgia. It was a very long drive, but mostly uneventful. (Thank God)
About one hour before arriving at Shawn's, I had to pull over and take a nap for about one hour. All of the coffee an "No-Doze" wore off at once and it was either take a quick snooze or wind up in a ditch.
I think that I arrived up there at around 4:30 PM. We headed out to Windy Ridge and set up camp. After setting up my pop-up camper I was dismayed to find out that the dealer obviously didn't put much effort into "Checking Everything". The outside light was out, one of the stitches in the vinyl top had ripped and they did not replace the weather/bug strip on one side of the camper. Shawn and Mike helped me fix up the ripped seam and the rest of the items I decided to live with.
Shawn and I tossed back a couple cold ones and had a good evening before I retired to my camper to finish assembling my gear for the morning's hunt.
I think that we all finally got to sleep around 11:30 PM.
Saturday, September 10, 2005 (First Day of Archery)
Even though both Shawn and I had set our alarms, neither went off as desired. We actually got up at around 4:30 instead of 4:15.
We made out trips out to the stands an prayed for bounty. Unfortunately, the day was a brutal scorcher and nothing bigger than a squirrel was ever seen.
This is one view from my stand that morning:
I think that we got out of our stands
at somewhere around noon.
I took choked down something to fill the hole in my stomach and hit the rack for a quick and well needed nap.
Somewhere around 3:00, Shawn woke me up saying that we were running late for the dove hunt. I grabbed my shotgun and hit the truck running. What Shawn didn't tell me until we were screaming around the mountainous roads was that<b>he</b> had forgot his shotgun at home and we had to go by there first.
At around 3:30 we came screeching into the dove field only to sit around and wait for Darrel, the owner of the field to show up. There was about 5 to 10 guys already there and at some point, some saw the doves come in and the shooting had begun.
I stood there looking at Shawn and said "Well?"
Shawn said "Screw it! Let's get out there!"
All in all, I had a great time! I hadn't shot dove in years and even though I missed more than I hit, it was a great break from the fact that the heat was keeping the deer bedded down and not moving.
I claimed four doves and lost one in the briars despite a valiant effort to find it. Shawn did a lot better! [8D]
Here are a couple of trophy images:
Back to camp and prepared for the Sunday morning hunt.
Friday October 21, 2005
My wife Salome and I made the long drive up to The Windy Ridge Hunt Club in Northern Georgia. It took us about 12 hours. We pulled in around 5:30 PM and were both pretty tired. I was feeling the effects of caffeine withdrawal and was focusing on getting my pop-up setup and my gear in order and had to strain to stop working and extend cordial greetings with all of the members that were already at the camp. Handshakes were made and everyone was pleased to see that we had made the trip without any major problems.
After we finally had everything in order and I could relax, it was around 11:30 PM and I was too tired and wound up about the next day’s hunt to sleep well.
Saturday October 22, 2005
05:00hrs. and the alarm clock went off. Even though I had a restless night’s sleep, I jumped out of bed and went out to start a pot of coffee for the rest of the guys. I told Shawn that I was already awake and he went off to drag the rest of the guys out of the sack.
Since I had pre-staged all of my stuff, I was chomping at the bit to head out into the woods, but since Shawn was going to drive me to my spot, I had to wait until he had his cup of “Joe” before we could get going. Hopefully, in the next day or so I would learn my way around the mountain better so I could take my own truck out.
Shawn set me up at the end of a long draw and we then noticed that there was a ¾ moon, but at least it was hunting season! We expected it to be later on in the morning before we saw any action because of the moon, but I sat there until 2:00 PM before Shawn picked me up and we went back to camp without even seeing a squirrel.
After a short lunch break and some discussions with Shawn, he took me out to one of his favorite stands called “The Willy-Wonka Stand” because a giant deer with chocolate colored antlers had been seen here. Shawn was anxious to see me break my bad luck streak and get a kill and he pulled out all of the stops to help me in this endeavor. To this, I am very grateful.
Well, the stand site was beautiful. It overlooked a wide draw that had about a 200 yard long field of fire. The only problem with this site at this point was that all of the leaves had not yet dropped off and there were really only two firing lanes and they were small. This meant that I would have to see the animal in one lane and hope that it continued into the other lane and I could pop off a shot before it crossed this lane. Still, there was plenty of visibility on my side of the draw if anything came by on my side.
The wind was swirling and all of the animals were fairly pressured by all of the human activity in the woods, so this made it very tough to see much movement for very long. A lot of the guys reported brief sightings, but most of these were fleeting.
At one point, I thought I heard something walk up behind my stand to my left, only to come to a stop just out of sight in the scrubs. Then after a few minutes, I thought that I heard the animal sneak out the other way. I think that with the swirling wind, it had caught a brief scent and decided not to continue in that direction. That was a smart decision on its part since anything without spots was fair game. (Aside from the 15” inside spread rule from the club.)
I sat the evening out and headed back to the road when it got dark. I had driven my truck up the mountain this time. In the daylight the navigation was fine, but in the dark, everything seemed different. Luckily, I had my GPS because I made the wrong turn somewhere and popped out on the wrong side of the mountain. With the GPS I could at least see where camp was, I only had to pick the best turn to try and get there. With all of the switch-backs and turns, this was not easy. I think I spent an extra half hour out on that mountain before I finally made it back to camp.
Sunday October 23, 2005
0’ Dark 30 and I am again back out at my climber in the corner and end of the same long draw as Saturday morning. I got up in the tree without incident and sat there like a statue until 11:00 when I decided to move my stand around to the shady side of the tree. This obviously made quite a bit of noise but when I was done I was pretty shielded from view by my tree and another three that was only about a foot away from mine. After making all of this noise I finally decided to eat that two day old sandwich in my back-pack and I assumed that there was nothing anywhere near me.
I set my rifle down and got the sandwich out of the pack. It was a little soggy but very edible. I was holding the soggy sandwich in one hand and the zip-lock bag in the other hand when I heard a commotion directly under me. Apparently, the damn baggie made so much noise (it was a freezer bag) it had spooked a doe that was standing under my stand. This doe ran about 20 yards and was looking around for whatever had made the noise. She didn’t see me because I was again like a statue, but now I had a soggy sandwich in one hand and this big freezer bag in the other with my rifle laying across my foot rest! I didn’t know what to do. Should I drop the sandwich and baggie and grab the gun? No. This would definitely spook the crap out of her. She was still on alert and slowly walking uphill about 30 yards away.
I decided to slowly stuff the baggie and sandwich into my utility bag that was snapped onto my foot rest and slowly pick up the rifle. The doe was still moving away and just about the time I brought up the rifle to my shoulder, she got level with me and winded me.
Busted! She took off! *&%#!
After seeing my first deer, I would have sat in that stand all day, but my radio was malfunctioning and Shawn had sent out a truck to check on me at around 2:00.
Ok, I climbed down and headed back to camp.
After another discussion with Shawn, I told him that I wanted to try out a funnel that I had seen on the aerial photographs. Shawn was pretty reluctant about this spot because it was out in the middle of a cow pasture and in his experience; sightings were few and far between.
I was pretty adamant and I was tired of having restricted views. Shawn and I drove out in these cow pastures and took a look around. It was a lot bigger than I had expected, but I wanted to give it a try. Shawn helped me pick a big pine tree where I would get a pretty good view for over 200 yards in many directions. We set up the climber and went back for lunch.
At around 3:00 I was itching to get back in the field. This would probably be my last hunt. I had built in a contingency to hunt Monday morning, but this would not give me much rest before the long drive again.
I headed out into the field and climbed up in the tree.
What a view! I could see for miles!
All of a sudden the realization hit me, did I bring my range finder? Damn! I am always heavy with everything but the kitchen sink, but I couldn’t remember if I had it?
I dug around in my back-pack and found it at the bottom. Thank God!
I lasered the area and my longest shot would be 225 yards. I was actually hitting a little high at 200 yards so this wouldn’t be a problem. I would only need to find a steady rest.
I sat up there in this tree for hours and saw nothing. I moved the stand around a little to get a better view of most of the directions and was constantly scanning the area. I kept hearing noises coming out of this finger of brush (the funnel), but they sounder too big to be deer. I suspected that maybe some cows were bedded down in there?
As the light started diminishing I was cussing Shawn like a sailor. I was doubting my wisdom about sitting out in the middle of a cow pasture and thinking Shawn was going to be saying “I told you so!”
Just then I again heard noise coming from my 8 O’ Clock position at the tip of the funnel. I glanced back and down into the funnel half expecting to see a cow coming out of the brush, but to my great surprise, I saw a doe!
Damn! She had a clear view of me if she only looked up. I was about 25 feet up in this pine tree and about 60 feet above her down in that hollow. My rifle was still slung on the rest and I had to move like a snail with my left arm to reach up and take it off of the hook.
Slowly I moved my arm and as I did so I watched her the whole time. The gun seemed very heavy at this angle and I really had to lift it way up to clear the strap.
The doe had come up out of the brush and was now clearly looking at my pickup truck that I had parked like a dummy right at the tip of the funnel!
(What an idiot!)
I had the truck 30 or 40 feet back from the funnel and down the hill from the pastures but right in between the funnel and the fence line.
The doe was starting to slowly stomp her left foot at the truck. At first it was very lightly, and then it got a little louder. I was now lowering the rifle and trying to bring it slowly up to my eye.
“Is she looking at me?” I wondered, then..
A big crashing came from behind her and I saw her look around towards the crashing noise. She stopped stomping momentarily and I wondered “Is that a buck or a fawn” making that noise behind her?
I found a hole in the brush and brought up my scope to my eye.
I couldn’t acquire her! I had to take a brief look and reacquire, this time I found her and she was starting to turn and I knew that she was going to run back into the brush. Just as she had made about four steps I found another hole in the brush and put the cross-hairs on the kill zone and squeezed the trigger.
Wham, the .338 Winchester Magnum roared! I saw a rabbit run off to my left, cows running off to my right, heard a huge crashing noise back in the funnel that sounded like a herd of elephants running away and watched her take a nose-dive and flop and roll out of sight down hill into the thick brush.
Jesus! Everything within a mile was screaming and making noises! Chickens, dogs, cows, goats and birds were either squawking, screeching, mooing, barking or yelping!
It seemed like I had awoken the dead. Where did all of these animals come from? I guess they were all on the neighboring farms?
I was shaking with adrenalin and wondering if it was a clean kill or if she was making her way out the backside of the brush?
In my haste to place the shot I had forgotten that my rifle was shooting a little high. I had meant to remember to aim low, but when the time came, I put the cross-hairs right on the kill zone. Had I shot too high?
Now, I heard some guy on an ATV start running over in the direction that all of the animals had ran. I was wondering, “Is this guy trying to jump my claim?”
My thoughts were a definite “Yes!”
I made my way down the tree and into the funnel. About 10 yards back I found the doe “Dead as a door nail.”
This guy with the ATV was still running around the perimeter and I really didn’t want a confrontation, so I dragged the doe up the hill and wrestled it into my truck. Now he was going to have to fight for it.
I grabbed my treestand, threw it into the back of the truck and headed back to camp.
(I guess there are jerks everywhere?)
I don’t know how much this doe weighed, but pulling it into the truck was no easy task and I would guess somewhere around 175 to 200 lbs.
Well, thanks to Shawn and The Windy
Ridge Hunt Club in Georgia, I had broken my streak of bad luck!
“I am back!”
Tuesday November1, 2005
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up had my coffee, took a shower and hit the road up to Shawn’s place in Georgia.
Ten and a half hours later I came pulling into the Windy Ridge Hunting Club of Georgia.
Wednesday November 2, 2005
After the previous long day’s drive, this short eight hour drive to The Shawnee National Forest was no sweat. Shawn and I took turns driving and paying for the gas.
Upon arrival at the Horseshoe Lake Campground Shawn and I leisurely setup the pop-up camper and got all of our gear in order.
We then got comfortable and tossed back a couple cold ones picturing monster Illinois deer in our heads.
Since Shawn and I were a day ahead of anyone else, we had nothing better to do with these last few hours so we just enjoyed the night. Not much longer after the sun set in the western horizon, we hit the rack and dreamt of white-tailed monsters.
Thursday November 3, 2005
Shawn and I woke up with the sunrise and headed into Cape Girardeau Missouri (Cape G) for some food supplies and to see what the Wal-Mart had in their hunting section. (It is never too late for another little hunting gadget!)
After our supply run into Cape G., Shawn mentioned that we might have enough time to hunt near the camp inside of the Horseshoe Lake Campground area.
Shawn was real concerned about the blowing winds and the heat, but me just being a beginner in this part of the world and the only hunting that I know involves swamps, thunderstorms and hurricanes, wasn’t really all that concerned.
I assumed that they had to eat sooner or later and if I was going to sit on my ass anyways, it may as well be in a tree stand.
We setup in a real pretty area that the park had engineered for goose hunting. To me it was beautiful compared to the swamps, and I thought that it seemed to be a waste of time and money creating this scenic beauty, only to close it off for goose hunting only in a week.
(Considering I never saw the first goose!)
Here is what the “Goose Field” looked like from my stand about 15 feet up in a tree. You can see the lush green grass and the corn rows in the background. There must have been at least twenty of these fields set aside for goose hunting.
Well, we sat there for hours and never
saw squat, so we packed up and headed back to camp, although I did leave my
stand in place on the tree for the next morning.
Friday November 4, 2005
0 Dark 30 and I am awake and making coffee preparing for my hunt when Shawn “pulled an ovary” and went back to bed grumbling something about the wind.
I was a little taken aback, but I had seen him do this before when the wind was blowing, so I told him to take his pampered little ass back to bed and get his beauty sleep. (Because he needs all that he can get!)
I went back to my stand and watched a big fat doe walk all over the cornfield and finally disappear into the same point of land that Shawn would have been sitting in if he had only gotten out of bed.
Around noon time Mike, Marcy and Jason came by the campsite and we all looked at aerial maps and decided on where we might sit that afternoon.
We were using some Color Infrared Aerial Photographs that I had purchased from TopoZone that if my memory serves me right were taken in the month of February some years back. We all had spent many hours previously picking out good looking ambush sites on the maps and were ready to check the out in person.
In February there aren’t any leaves on the trees! When we got out there I could see nothing that even closely resembled what I had seen on the aerials. I knew that the topographical features were still there, but you could walk right by a saddle or a gorge and not even see it! Oops!
Plan B. Push through the brush and scout again!
Since I was now not only carrying my 20 lb climbing treestand, but my 30 lb backpack full of gadgets, I was starting to get a little winded and at one point even almost fell backwards like a turtle while climbing out of a creek bed.
I could feel Marcy starting to push forward on my stand to assist me while I was teetering on the brink. Thank God that I didn’t fall backwards otherwise I might have squashed her like a bug and knocked over the whole row of hunters stacked up behind her. (Marcy is a very sweet and tiny little woman and I am sure that she would have gotten hurt by my 225 pound body and 50 pound pack if I had landed on top of her.) The thought of this freaked me out and I asked her to make sure that she stood far enough behind me that if I fell, she wouldn’t get hurt.
After climbing hill and dale, I asked Shawn and Jason to just drop me off at the nearest good looking spot. As it happened, we were right in the middle of a big rub and scrape line. Jason and Mike suggested that I climb “those trees right over there” and overlook the clearing that we were standing in.
Thankful to get out of any further long trek, I accepted. It seemed like they were planning on going over a mile inland to their “Honey Hole” and I figured that I had just as much chance seeing something here in the scrape line as way the hell back there.
I made my way to those trees “over there” only to find out that they were bigger than they looked and they were over 50 yards from the rub line and clearing. I only noticed this depressing situation after climbing way the hell up this tree so I could see over the other trees. I had to be about 35 to 40 feet up!
There was always the possibility that something could walk in from the North or from the Creek Bed to the East right underneath of me so I stayed put.
Here is a picture of the forest floor underneath my stand:
I was soaking wet with sweat and so tired that my arms were shaking from the exertion of climbing this humongous tree. My stupid treestand will not allow you to climb while sitting. You have to do push ups or stomach crunches for every inch of height!
Did I mention that when I went to pull up my gear with the rope, my bow fell off of the carabineer? The cheap $3 carabineer and not the quality $10 one!
I had to climb all the way down the tree to really tie a knot in the rope now and back up the tree again!
Now that I had my bow up in the tree with me, I lasered the rub line and it was at 51 yards.
Here are my views to the South:
It hadn’t been long after I had finally
sat down; cooled off, and got comfortable before I heard Jason exclaim that a 4
point “White” buck had just walked with seven yards of him!
A White Buck? I asked Jason where he was and he told me that he was back between me and the trucks. Somehow he had walked around this hill and ended up behind me.
Humm? This might be interesting! I was facing South and Jason was somewhere South-East of me so I was watching to my left. I sat there enjoying the afternoon breeze and hoped that my Scent-Lok Savannah gear was worth the price because I felt like on old wet dish rag.
Where the hell did this white deer go? Suddenly out of the corner of my right eye I saw a movement. I turned to look and say a nice fat 4 point buck coming from the other side.
I called Jason on the radio and reported my sighting and he asked me if I could count the points. I told him yes, because I was looking at him with my Nikon Monarch Binoculars and it looked like I could reach out and touch him, but this deer came from the other side, it definitely had four points and it sure wasn’t white!
Jason asked “White?” I said “Yes, you said the deer that you saw was white!”
Jason laughed and said “It was light colored and it must have walked around the hill and came in from the West!”
(Did I mention that I was hard of hearing?) Ha!
Well, at least I saw a deer and we know that they are walking around! I probably could have shot this little guy because he was zigzagging in and out between the scrub brushes to my South in front of the clearing, but it was our first official day of more than a week’s worth of hunting, so I never even thought about doing anything but observing him with my binoculars.
Well, the day was coming to a close and I decided that although this spot really sucked, but I wasn’t planning on carrying that damn treestand back with me to the truck tonight. I would sit in it for just at least one more hunt and see what happens.
I could hear Shawn calling me on the radio saying that he was packing it in and would pick me up on the way back to the trucks. Shawn sounded a long ways off and I remember thinking that “He must be on the other side of a hill or something?”
I got down and walked to the middle of the open area in the trail awaiting Shawn, Mike and Marcy.
After about 15 minutes I remember thinking “Damn. Where the hell are they?” I still had my GPS and could find my way back to the truck, but for safety sake we should try to regroup if possible before heading back to the trucks.
I called Shawn and he still sounded a long ways away. By then Jason had seen my head lamp and called me over to where he was. We looked at each other and said “Where the hell are they?”
I called Shawn again and Mike came on the radio and said that they were .11 miles from the trucks. Jason and I looked at my GPS and it said that we were .24 miles away from the trucks!
I said to Jason that I’ll bet they circled around this hill to the South and were in front of us. Jason said “Yep! Must have!”
Ok, we told Mike and Shawn our thoughts and advised them that we would meet them back at the trucks.
After this transmission Jason and I headed back to the trucks with him in the lead.
Just to put this into perspective, I am a 52 year old man (going on 70) recovering from a shattered left heel, a shattered left elbow, right rotator cuff surgery and with bad lungs and a bad ticker from being caught in a backdraft some years back. I just had an infected wisdom tooth yanked out and my whole mouth felt like a punching bag. I am also half blind, half deaf and mostly dumb!
About the only thing that I can still can do is smell!
So her I am, walking through the beautiful woods in the dark with 29 year old Army Soldier Jason in the lead. “Hold up a second there Jason, the old man back here is dying!” “Let me catch up before you disappear into the foliage ahead of me.”
This damn pack is still heavy and I forgot my Bow Sling. As I transfer the bow from my left arm to my right arm, a bug attacks the headlamp and flies right up my right nostril! Jason mutters something but he is facing away from me and I just say “Yea, Yea” trying to decide if I inhaled the damn bug or if it was still stuck in my throat when all of a sudden the world does a 360 on me and I am laying on flat my back looking up at Jason as he laughs,
“Didn’t you hear me say, watch out for
the barbed wire?”
“Hell No!” “Next time why don’t you speak up a little!” “What are you afraid that you might scare one of the bugs?”
(I smelled the dirt!)
In case you might not be aware, I do this (fall down) in every hunt and I only laughed at Jason and said “Well, now that we have my fall for the hunt out of the way, let’s head back for a Budweiser!” Ha!
Luckily, from my experience in the swamps of the Everglades I have learned that when my leg gets stuck on something and I can’t stop my forward motion, I jump up and clear my foot before my leg gets broken. This usually results in some spectacular splashes and a lot of laughs from the rest of the gang, but my leg doesn’t get snapped like a twig. We have a lot of sharp rocks in the Everglades that we call “Pinnacle Rock” and it juts out at weird angles or drops off into holes that will do just that, snap your leg like a twig.
Anyhow, this spectacular “Combat Roll” that Jason mentioned came from years of conditioning and was instinct for me. Between the 360 flop and the Scent-Lok Savannah, I walked away with only a bruised shin and a few small scrapes from the barbs of the wire.
(This kind of makes you wonder where I got all of these broken parts?)
I actually never saw the barbed wire, but from the scrapes, it had to be only one or two low hanging pieces. After Jason helped me up, I never looked back and in a very short time we made it back to the trucks where everyone else had already arrived.
What a way to start a hunt!
Saturday November 5, 2005
Shawn and I made our way back out to where we had been hunting last night in the Wolf Creek area. As I made my way back to my treestand I noticed that this wooded area 50 yards away from the rub line didn’t appear to have any sign of deer activity at all. There was no tracks, rubs, acorns, broken twigs, stomped down grass or anything that would lead me to believe that there was much deer activity at all here.
Unfortunately, I had left my screw in bow hanger and strap up in the tree, so I had to climb up there to retrieve them if nothing else. So up the tree I went one more time and this time I double checked the knots holding my gear firmly to my pull rope.
I sat up in this tree for a few of hours past sunrise and saw nothing. At around 9:00 I decided to climb down and pack up my stuff and look for another spot. Since Jason had suggested that that little buck had headed either over or around the hill to my south and Shawn had related his sighting of a doe on the ridge line, I decided to attempt to climb the hill to my south.
So I took my backpack and bow and walked across the clearing to the hill. I figured that I could get the climber later on and didn’t want the added weight while climbing this hill. The crest of the hill appeared to be only a few hundred feet higher than where I was now, so how hard could it be?
The hill was at about a 45 degree incline and the first 20 yards that I attempted to climb was made out of granite rocks about the size of peanuts. No matter how hard I tried, I kept slipping back to the level ground at the base of the hill.
Ok, there has to be a better way. I started walking around the hill to the west looking for some better approach. After a little distance I found a side that had a smaller gradient and some good form footing, but it was still a tough climb.
If there hadn’t been a tree or sapling to grab onto and pull myself up the hill with, I probably wouldn’t have made it. I had to claw and scratch my way to the top making a couple stops to catch my breath. One encouraging thing was that I was starting to see deer tracks in the same ridgeline that I was climbing up. It was as if the deer had found the same spot to climb as me.
Well I made it to the top and was amazed at the beauty. I found myself a good tree to sit down next to and enjoyed the view for an hour or so.
After a while and hearing or seeing nothing, Shawn called and said that he was headed back to the truck. I told him that I would start heading back and meet him there.
Shawn and I made it back to camp and strategized for the evening hunt.
It was decided that I would try to hunt an old fence line that overlooked an old abandoned field that was now overgrown. On the aerial photos, this looked like it might be an interesting spot.
The plan was simple. Follow the contours of the creek around by the old abandoned farm house and then follow the tree line to a spot that overlooks the field.
By now, our group had grown to Shawn, Jason, Mike, Marcy and Ken. Ken offered to let me use one of his climbing tree stands since mine was still in the woods. I happily accepted his offer and headed out into the field, map and GPS in hand.
It was broad daylight and I had no problem finding the area pictured in the aerial photographs. When I got to the other side of the field, I suddenly realized that my limb saw, pruning shears and pull rope were located at my stand and were not in my backpack!
Oh well! I guess I will just have to locate a good tree and carry everything up with me as I climb. (No simple trick!)
I finally found a decent tree with a nice deer run right in front of me. Here are a couple of views out of my tree.
Notice the area up in the SW corner of this picture? Well, I will get to that later.
After getting myself and all of the gear up into my treestand at around 15 feet, I finally got to relax and enjoy the cool breeze blowing by and evaporation all of the sweat that I produced getting into this position. It was a pretty day but again warm and breezy which didn’t inspire my hopes any about seeing a lot of deer activity.
I sat up in this stand for about an hour when I started hearing this weird noise. It was like a cross between a grunt and a hoot. Myself coming from the Everglades where the deer are not very vocal except to stomp and blow at you after you have been busted, wasn’t really sure what I was hearing. I have never really heard a verified deer grunt, so I was real curious.
Was this a grunt? What the hell is that?
Keenly keeping my eye on the SE where this noise was coming from, I suddenly saw movement. It was a human! It was some stupid guy walking around the woods in blue jeans and a tee shirt with a beer in his hand. He was making this weird noise that I soon came to realize was the name of someone. Something like “Boo” or “Bo”, but he was trying to be discrete when he barked out this name so to me it sounded like an animal noise of some kind.
This guy was looking into the same fence line that I was sitting in and calling out this name. (We had been having hunters of all kinds walking up on us in this hunt, but this guy wasn’t hunting! He was only making noises and stinking up the place!)
Disgustedly, I started making the same noise back at him and he started walking my way. He finally got to within fifty yards of me and said “I can’t see you!”
I was thinking to myself, “No Shit Asshole! I am camouflaged out and in a tree. It is good thing for him that there was no season on stupid people!”
I finally spoke up and said “That is because you found the wrong guy!”
He said “What?”
I said “You found the wrong guy in the woods!”
He looked a little shocked and turned away and took off in the other direction. He ended up crossing the field from my left to my right on the far side.
I remember thinking to myself “Who the hell was that, what is he doing and where in the hell is he going?”
Here is a picture of the guy leaving the area at about a distance of 200 yards:
Twenty minutes later I saw movement again from the left and I see another guy in blue jeans walking through this field.
“What the hell is going on?” “Are these guys’ bootleggers, or Crystal Meth dealers? Do they have a lab out here or something?”
This second guy wasn’t looking or calling anyone; he just cut a path right down the middle of the field from left to right and disappeared into the bushes like the other guy.
Here is the second guy:
What can you do? I sat in this tree for another couple of hours until I saw more movement to my left. I assumed that it was another “Yahoo” taking a stroll on the forest, but was surprised to see that it was an actual deer!
It was the same 4 pointer that I saw yesterday!
I thought to myself “Damn! Aren’t there any other deer in this area?”
I radioed my report back to Shawn and his response was “Kill It!”
After this crappy weather and the number of other humans that we had been seeing, I started thinking that maybe I should kill it? I might not see anything else the whole trip!
I radioed back to Shawn “Not Yet!” because the deer wasn’t close enough for a shot, but he was working in my direction.
The sun was starting to set and I was starting to feel the adrenalin start to pump because I had made up my mind that if this deer offered me the shot I would take it. He was a big fat 4-pointer too!
The buck was still slowly working in my direction from my left and I was standing up in my stand with my bow at the ready just waiting for him. This dear disappeared behind some scrub that if he followed the run that I had seen earlier would take him right in front of my stand.
I kept waiting for him to reappear. Nothing!
It was getting darker and darker to the point that the only way I would see him is if he reappeared right in front of me. I waited.
Ok, this day is over! It is now time to climb down and make my way back to the truck.
By the time that I safely got out of the stand, packed up and started heading back, it was totally dark. I started trying to pick my way back around the fence like I came in, but in the dark, everything looked different. On top of not being able to reacquire the same trail that I came in with, I started running into these big vines that were covered with nasty thorns. (I later came to find out that they were called “Saw Briars.”)
Working my way around patches of these things, I got further and further away from where my tree stand location was and closer to where the trucks were. I soon realized that I was out in the middle of the field where I had seen those two guys.
I had my GPS on and told it to find the truck and it pointed me directly to it in a south-westerly direction. I thought, “What the hell, those two guys walked right through this field, so will I!”
The only problem was that I had a climbing tree stand on my back with my backpack and bow strapped onto it. It was kind of unwieldy and it was black as ink out there!
I started going around or under big patches of this saw briar and was slowly making progress back to the truck. The GPS said that I was about .14 miles from the truck and I knew that this equated to around 700 or 800 feet.
“Damn, this stuff is getting thick!”
I kept plodding along and at some point realized that my Scent-Lok Savanna pants and top were protecting me from about 95% of the briars so I just started pushing myself through the stuff.
Occasionally a piece of briar would catch me in the hand and puncture my light weight gloves or punch completely through the Savannah gear and this hurt like hell!
Now I know why those two guys were walking through here with their hands held up above their waists!
Then the crap would catch onto the bottom of the treestand on my back and almost pull me over backwards so I had to lean forward and pull my way through.
This position kept my head down and between this position and the bugs flying into my headlamp; I didn’t see a lot of these briars arching over my head. They were getting bigger, taller and thicker in diameter to the point that the actual briar not counting the thorns was thicker than my thumb!
“Fuackata!” I got raked across the face with one of the hellish damn vines!
“That really pissed me off!”
Just then Shaw calls me on the radio and says “Where the hell are you? We are all waiting at the trucks for you.”
I radio back that “I am about 600 feet away!” “I am having a little difficulty with some briars right now and hopefully I will be there soon!”
I think to myself “Where the hell does this crap end and where is that creek bed!”
I know that by being 600 feet away from the truck that I must be real close to the end of this field!
I tucked in my arms and put my head down and start plowing my way forward.
Ten minutes pass, then fifteen, then twenty.
These damn things are so thick that at some times, even with all of my strength, I can push forward and be sprung backwards because of a snag. Then I have to walk backwards to find another path because my gear is all tangled up in this stuff!
Shawn calls again on the radio “Chuck, what is taking you so long? Where are you?”
I reply that I am still about 600 feet away.
(This should have been Shawn’s first clue that I was in trouble.) [:(!]
I am starting to really get pissed off now and I hear Shawn say “Hurry up! We want to get back to the camp and have a couple of adult beverages!” (This is Shawn’s way of saying a nice, cold, long-necked Budweiser that we had in the cooler.)
And to top it off I hear a group of people laughing about something in the background of his transmission!
This pushed me over the edge!
I lost it!
I radioed “Look God Damn it, this isn’t funny anymore!"
"I am stuck in the “Hell of a Thousand Knives!"
"I could use some help!"
"Would one of you nice, jolly people get you’re asses over here and show me the shortest path out of this Shit!”
I was so tangled up and pissed off that I felt like spitting fire!
Someone finally recognized that I was in trouble and just as mad as a house cat tangled up a spool of yarn, so they then radioed that they would be right over.
I knew that I was somewhere near the field, bit I couldn’t see the tree line and at this point I didn’t want to push through on inch of this stuff that I didn’t need to, so I just stood in place marveling at how tall and thick these things were!
It would take a damn tractor and a bush hog to cut through this stuff and the thorns could be long enough to flatten the tires first!
I was exhausted. Finally I started seeing dancing lights in the distance and the guys were radioing “Shine you light so we can see you!”
I exclaimed “I am! The damn thorns are thick!”
So I took my headlamp off and held it as high as I could. Finally I could hear someone saying “He is right there about 10 feet away!”
So close, yet so far. I still couldn’t see them.
Finally they started pushing a little towards me and I saw which direction to head.
I also remember someone saying “Damn, this stuff is thick!” and I remember thinking “No Shit Sherlock!”
I told them to hold on and made my last desperate push in their direction. It was hard going, very hard, but I pushed with all of my strength and someone extended a hand to me and they almost dragged me out of one of the most hellish placed that I have even been in my life.
This coming from someone that has hunted the swamps of the Everglades is one hell of a statement. I felt like I was in a quick-sand of thorns and needles.
I don’t remember who came to help me besides Shawn, Jason and Mike, but I can tell you that I am really indebted to you for your help and I apologize for any of the terrible things that I must have been muttering all the way back to the truck.
To top it all off when I made it back to the group I heard Ken say “Tomorrow night we draw straws to see who gets to rescue Chuck!”
I guess my reputation is catching up with me! RETARD! (An old joke.)
Obviously, instead of following my trail in, I took a path straight through “The Hell of a Thousand Knives.”
By the way, the next day I must have had over fifty puncture wounds that were festering up on my legs. Thank God my immune system took care of them in just a couple of days.
Just imagine what my legs and body would have looked like if the clothing didn’t stop 95% of the wounds?
What a day!
Sunday November 6, 2005
Since I am extremely allergic to poison ivy and I had just pushed through every vine known to man last night, I felt that the prudent thing to do was to wash all of my gear thoroughly and follow that with a nice shower.
Shawn and I headed into Cape G. looking for a Coin Laundry. We had to drive all the way into the town of Jackson to find one, but we got the job done. I came back and took a good shower because I had just handled all of that gear.
When we got back to camp Bryan (Phantom), Lawrence and Steve were waiting for us with Ken. The whole gang was finally in town.
We all went over the maps and aerials and headed out into the woods for a quick morning hunt.
My mission for the day was to go out and retrieve my treestand. Since I was already there, I sat in it for a couple of hours, saw nothing and packed everything back to the camp.
When we got back in town, Ken had a silly smirk on his face and I asked him “What?”
Kenny told that he had taken a shot at and missed a monster. That information got us all riled up and Ken said that he needed some guys to help him hunt that area so we might all have a better chance at bagging this big guy.
Shawn and I were almost jumping up and down saying “Me! Me! I’ll do it!”
So the next morning, Shaw and I will be heading out to where Ken saw his monster.
Monday November 7, 2005
03:30 and the alarm sounds.
I get up and make a cup of coffee for Shawn. We get assembled and meet Ken at the rendezvous point. This looked like an interesting spot. It was only a 20 minute hike up gravel road to where we were headed.
Ken and Shawn dropped me off at the opening of a big rub line that looked very promising.
This is what the area looked like from the aerial. Too bad that I didn’t take a laptop with me, otherwise I could have zoomed in a lot closer like in this image, and really seen the topography. From our large printed maps, these features really weren’t that obvious.
I sat in this treestand in the dark to only find out when the sun came up that I was basically in a spot of very short visibility.
Nothing happened of interest in the morning hunt.
Later that evening we all headed back into the woods again to see how the evening hunt might fair. I still didn’t really like this position, but figured that I would sit there one more hunt.
As the sun started to set and we got into the gray light, I heard what sounded like a bow string release and then I heard a crashing.
I thought to myself, someone got one! A few minutes Shawn called me and told me that he got a buck! I congratulated him and told him to wait enough time to be sure that he bled out before running up on him.
I waited another 30 minutes until it was dark and then headed over to Shawn. He told me that it was a 7-pointer and to follow the fire-eyes. I hadn’t realized how far back they had walked! It seemed to be a three or four hundred yard walk! It was amazing that I heard anything.
When I finally got there, Shawn had already gutted the darn thing!
Damn! In the swamps we hardly ever get them because they float, but up here everybody seems to be in a big rush to get them. I think the possibility of the meat going bad is over-exaggerated.
This is what I found when I got there:
I said “Damn Shawn! He isn’t even dead yet! He is still eating!”
This is after Kenny got there and cleaned things up a little:
Shaw was so happy and proud that I thought he might explode! He was riding a major adrenalin rush and after he told me the same story about five times, I had to tell him to shut the hell up.
I looked at Shaw and Ken and said, “How the hell are we going to get this donkey-sized deer out of here?”
We had to be a miles drag up and over ravines, stumps and rocks.
They suggested that I go out to get the cart that I had brought along with us and that they would start dragging it by hand. (I was more than happy to offer my assistance!)
I think that I had to drive all the way back to camp to get this cart. I never really thought that it would be of much help, but in the end, it really did make a difference.
It is just a little nursery cart, but it was worth its weight in gold.
On the way back to the truck I ran into Mike and Marcy. I told them that Shawn had gotten a buck and that I was headed out for the cart. They went “Hopping and Skipping” back to where the guys were and I headed out for the cart.
By the time that I had arrived back with the cart, they had already pulled the buck out to the dirt road and were waiting to use the cart for the last half a mile.
I had only found two beers in the cooler at the cabin and I saved both of them for Shawn as a congratulatory gift. He gladly accepted them.
Everyone loaded the donkey-deer into the cart (which was no easy task) and we headed down the dirt road back to our trucks.
When we were heading back to camp we found out that the only store in town that sold beer had already closed! What the…..?
We ended up going to this little dive of a tavern that was run by a woman nick-named “Pig-Ears”. Shaw was still going on and on about his darn hunt (this time with his wife) when Jason and I went in and grabbed a frosted mug of beer.
Ten minutes and two beers later he finally came into the tavern.
Ten seconds later he started recounting his hunting adventure again!
Tuesday November 8, 2005
03:45 and Shawn didn’t want to get out of bed.
This was not really a big surprise. We had been burning the midnight oil and we both could use some rest, besides Shaw had broken the ice and someone finally got something in this horribly hot weather.
So we both slept in.
Later on in the morning Jason came by and took Shawn to his cabin to bone his deer.
In the afternoon, since I didn’t know how to contact Shawn, I went out and sat in his stand to hunt. My stand position sucked and I didn’t feel like moving it right then. I figured, what the hell? He isn’t using it. While up there I saw a doe come up behind me from the north. She had just come down a hill and never really got close enough for me to get a shot off.
A little while later I saw another curious creature coming my way.
It was Kenny!
Actually he had called me on the radio and asked if I minded that he walked through.
I told him “Of course not! Come on by!”
Then while I was relaxing in the stand, I all of a sudden had to take an Emergency Projectile Diarrhea $hit!
God only knows why these things happen to me, but they do.
I knew that I had to get out of Shawn’s stand otherwise it would never be the same for him so I slowly and safely started untying the ropes that locked the stand in place.
Then as time progressed I became more frantic! Now I had to pi$$ to, but I couldn’t pi$$ without crapping in my pants, because of the diarrhea. (Jesus I hate this swollen prostate!)
I started to panic! My eyes were darting from left to right and the hair was standing up on the back of my neck. I was sweating like a horse in full lather and I was still ten feet from the bottom of the tree!
I remember thinking “I’m not going to make it! Don’t fart! I’m going to crap all over myself!” “Oh My God!”
Finally I got to where I could climb out of the stand and I started thinking “Where can I $hit?” “Not right under his stand!” “Where???”
“Over there! In the dry creek bed!” “What was that” “Was that a fart... Run!”
I was running (more like hopping) bowlegged twenty yards over to the creek bed.
I finally got to the creek bed and started fumbling with my belt, then my suspenders (no jokes about the belt and suspenders), then my underwear...
Oh God my pants were right in the way! “Grab the pants and pull them forward!”
“Look out for the shirttail!”
Finally everything was clear and I let loose! The pressure was so great that I actually felt like I was being pushed forward from the recoil.
I remember thinking that I hoped that Kenny didn’t witness this. He had to have heard it?
Oh well. Damn!
“I have to cover this stuff up or the buzzards are going to start circling!”
I cleaned up and raked about twenty pounds of dirt and leaves over it.
I climbed back in my stand and for the rest of the day, nothing came by.
(I wonder why?)
Wednesday November 9, 2005
The next morning I hunted out of the same location, but I decided to reposition a little closer to the hill where I had seen the doe. (And further away from the creek bed!)
I don’t remember exactly where Shawn hunted, but I was still in his stand.
We came out still a little upset about the crappy weather and we wanted to try something new, but I still wanted to stay in that same area.
As we were heading back to camp for lunch, we had pulled over on the side of the road and were looking at some aerial photographs, another pickup truck pulled over next to our truck.
I remember thinking “This is probably the land owner/farmer of the land that we had pulled over by and he is going to think we are planning on poaching his property and he was going to run us off.”
As it turned out, it was the farmer but he was very friendly and we all had a very nice discussion about the area and he even suggested that we should try one particular area. His name was Allen Miller and it was a real pleasure meeting him. We shared our aerial photograph with him and he pointed to a little water hole.
This water hole was only a few hundred yards from where we had been hunting!
Allen said that acorns were everywhere and these crop fields don’t mean anything to the deer right now. “You need to be by the water” he said. “Find the water and you will find the deer.”
Hell, at this point, I was willing to pi$$ on a spark plug if I thought it would get me a shot at something!
Well, that was the evenings plan.
That evening we repositioned our stands. Shaw and I went looking for that water hole. Shawn found it first, but since he had already gotten something, he was thoughtful enough to offer it to me.
I set my stand way up on a tree right on the edge of the water hole. Normally, I wouldn’t put it right on top of a deer’s destination, but this offered m the best angle on a deer no matter what direction that he came from. I was way up there.
I sat there all afternoon and didn’t see as much as a squirrel!
But, I wasn’t totally pored! I took plenty of photographs out of the stand and I even experimented with some existing light photos as it became dark.
Thursday November 10, 2005
03:45 and again Shawn didn’t want to get out of bed! Geez!
I guess this is what happens after you get your buck? I had been a rough two weeks for us and if I had a buck already under my belt, I am not sure if I had gone out either?
But off I went. I met Kenny at the gate to the dirt road and off we went into the woods again.
I climbed up into my stand and hoped for the best but soon became bored and disappointed about the Shawnee hunt. By this time I had decided that if anything legal (buck or doe) came under my stand I was going to go for it!
After a while, out came the camera again.
“This sucks, this sucks, ...wait!”
Something caught my eye from the right!
“What the hell is that?”
“It is a little buck! It is legal and it is heading my way!”
I still had the camera in my hands.
“Take two quick shots with the camera.” It was still at wide angle, but I didn’t have time to zoom in and he was somewhat off to my right and I didn’t want to screw up this one and only shot for the whole two weeks!
So I took two crappy pictures. Maybe you can make out the buck?
I slowly put down my camera and stood up with my bow.
For the past few months I had been practicing with a new device called a “No-Peep”. Ken had realized from my mistakes of last year that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with an arrow and he thought this device might help my form. There was no way that he was going to get me to put hours and hours of practice into technique, I am just to busy, impatient and lazy for that, so I gave it a try.
At first it was very difficult to set the damn thing up and I really got aggravated, then I finally took it back to my archery shop and told the guy to spend more than 10 seconds and help me get it in the ball park!
Once this guy spent two minutes with setting it up, this little thing actually worked!
It really didn’t matter what position that I was standing or how I was off balance, as long as this little black dot was in the right spot, I would hit wherever the pins were!
I was also experimenting with a new broadhead. I used to utilize mechanical blades because I didn’t have the time or patience to practice with filed tips and then broadheads again later, so I bought whatever would fly just like a broadhead.
These Sonics were 125 grain and their cutting diameter was one inch and this might be the first time I would get to see how they work!
As I stood up with the bow I noticed the he really wasn’t as close as I would have preferred, but within a matter of seconds he would be crossing directly in front of me and I would only have one opening to make the shot.
He kept a steady pace walking from my right to left and at my 1 O’Clock position, he passed behind a tree and at this point I drew back my bow.
I was looking for the no-peep to center up, but something was wrong! Then I noticed that it was by heavy cold weather gear so I pushed my head harder into my shoulder and the no-peep lined up!
I put the 30 yard pin on where I thought he would appear between the trees and there he was crossing right in front of me…
I put the pin on the kill zone and released!
I heard the bow string cut the air and the deer took off like his tail was on fire and disappeared into the trees.
“$hit!” “Another clean miss!”
I took out my range finder and looked at where I shot because it was 3X and since it was the last days, I didn’t bring my binoculars.
I lasered the distance and it was just as I had thought, thirty yards.
“What the hell is that?”
“It is my damn arrow stuck in the ground and it’s Lumenok was point directly right back at me.”
Further evidence of a clean miss!
“Ok damn it, I suck and I know it. Now I remember why I hate hunting with a stick and string! Give me a rifle any day!”
I sat there pi$$ed off at myself for about a half an hour when Kenny called me on the radio and asked if I minded whether or not he scouted up the road.
I told him of course not. “It was over a hundred yards away, I think?”
Kenny said thanks and went on his merry way.
A few minutes later I hear on the radio “Holy Crap! There is a dead deer up here!”
I radioed back to Ken “Is it a little two or four pointer?”
(I couldn’t really see what it was because I was focusing on the kill zone.)
“Yes!” he replied.
I radioed to him “That’s mine!”
Ken said “You didn’t tell me that you shot a deer!”
“I didn’t think that I had!” “I thought I had missed it cleanly!”
Ken said “Get over here and look at your deer!”
"Were you going to tell me that you shot at a deer?"
"Hell No!" I replied. "Not if I missed!"
I climbed down from the tree and picked up my arrow. It was coated in blood and there was a very small blood trail. I followed the blood trail over to Ken and the deer and there it was!
It was a little 6-pointer! He would have grown into a nice double drop tine because you could see the stickers starting in the back of the beams, but oh well!
Pretty soon the word spread and the whole gang was over with my little 6-pointer. They had even stopped by my truck and picked up the cart.
They were all having a great time watching a “City Boy” cut the butt hole out of a deer and trying to see how many (more) stupid things that they could catch me doing.
I didn’t let them down. In the end they were all taken aback at how I cut the feet off of the deer.
I took the quarters over to a tree stump and cut them off with the claw of a claw-hammer.
What’s wrong with that? Sure there were a few bone fragments flying around the camp site, but who cares about that? [:o)]
Friday November 11, 2005
The day sucked for hunting.
Everybody but Ken and Jason had left town and was headed home.
That night Shawn, Ken and I got together at a nice restaurant with Kenny and got a little toasted on draft beer and ate wonderful food with wonderful friends!
All-in-all, it was a wonderful two weeks. We made new real good friends and shared wonderful memories. (Even the painful ones!)
The only down side was that in the end, it was a real shame that us southern boys had to show up these darn Yankees!