Friday, November 20, 2009

Deer Season 2009: Challenges A Plenty

So far, this deer season in Michigan has been full of challenges for me. Between working out of town, coming home from work in the dark, and helping my Grandpa get beans out and wheat planted, I haven't been able to spend as much time in the woods as I wanted to. The weather this fall has also been atypical, unseasonably warm with temps peaking in the 60's throughout most of October and November. The plentiful amount of late rain has also put the farmers behind schedule, with more than half of the corn still standing. As most Midwestern hunters know, deer love to hide out in corn fields and who can blame them. They have all the food they want as well as the security of heavy cover to keep them safe from predators. The rut has been tough to time this season, with it lagging a bit behind from previous years, but as the corn keeps getting cut and weather starts to cool down, the deer have been starting to become more active. Within the past couple weeks, I have witnessed bucks starting to chase does. Some buddies of mine have started to see bucks locking down does within the past week and by now the rut is looking like it may be starting to taper off a bit.


This was the first chance I really had to get out hunting as I got off work early for once. The temps were in the 50's and the weather was sunny, not your normal November day. By the time I had all my gear around and made it to my hunting property, I was in stand by 2:30 in the afternoon. The stand I was hunting from that afternoon was set up on the intersection of three major ridges that had deer highways criss-crossing it. The stand is located about 80 yards from an alfalfa field and is in a travel corridor to this food source. After an hour in the stand, I noticed 2 does to the north of me, traveling along a field edge 150 yards away, definitely out of bow range. The action slowed a bit from there until about 4 o'clock. A doe with her two fawns filtered their way into the field and started to feed there the duration of the evening, about 80 yards away.

While watching these deer, I heard some leaves crunching to my east. There had been squirrels running around the forest chaotically all afternoon, but this sound was not produced from them. I slowly turned my head to see a deer making its way just below a ridge, about 50 yards out. As my eyes filled with the sight of the deer, I quickly noticed some light colored objects hovering above it's head....this was a buck! The buck had average sized antlers, and from what I could surmise a typical 8 point frame with decent tine length. The rack wasn't the widest in the world, as it eclipsed it's ears by a few inches on either side. The buck was well filled out around it's neck and had some sag to it's belly, this was an indication to me that the deer was at least 2 1/2 years old which was a definite shooter for me. Unfortunately, this buck was on a mission and focused in on his destination. He didn't even glance at the does feeding in the field and made his way across the alfalfa, and out of sight.

This told me that the group of does in the field were not in estrus yet, as this buck would have probably checked them out. Another possibility was that a hot doe had been through there earlier, but I can't imagine it the case because this buck never once sniffed the ground. Despite not having any deer creep into bow range, I witnessed my biggest buck on hoof while out hunting, a success in my eyes.

November 14

With the day off work, I was able to get into the field again before bow season wrapped up. Gun season starts the 15th in Michigan, so this was my last chance to hunt lightly pressured deer before the orange army deployed into every nook and cranny in the woods. My girlfriend, Julie, got out of work fairly early, so she was able to accompany me on this hunt. We decided to set up shop in a double blind that was located in an small woodsy island in the middle of the alfalfa I had hunted near 2 days before. We had the video camera up and rolling with the hopes of tagging a shooter buck on film for Midwest Whitetail. The nice buck I had saw days before passed within 30 yards of the island, which gave me hope we might be set up to intercept him. I laid down a trail of Tink's #69 from where the buck had entered the field and essentially traced his path it. I also hung a scent wick saturated with estrus urine nearby as well as deployed a scent canister on a hill, which I hoped would carry the scent back into the woods where I had sat before.

With the scent laid out, we climbed into the stand and set up the camera arm and camera. We patiently waited all afternoon for deer to show, however it we got skunked. Not only did the buck refuse to come to the Tink's ball, but the does that fed in the field on a regular basis were absent. As darkness crept in, we broke down the filming equipment and exited the field. Despite a no show by the deer, this was still a fun time. Being in the woods is always special and even more so when accompanied by someone who is special to you. I was really hoping to team up and lay some brown down, but things don't always work out that way. The temperature was a bit balmy for November, with it climbing into the 60's which probably shut the deer down until nightfall. Not only that, but numerous hunters wait until the days before gun season to spruce up their blinds, which may also shut down the deer.

So far, the season was off to a slow start, but there is still plenty of time ahead to fill my tags. Stay tuned for continued updates on my deer season in progress.

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