Category Archives: 2009

Waiting on The Waiting Game

AHT Contributor, Greg Johnston Reports From the Stand:

The trail cameras prove they’re there, but this week I failed to lay eyes on any of the mature bucks that visited my Moultree cams throughout the summer and fall. The calendar tells us it’s getting to be that time of year, but the deer haven’t yet cooperated. That will soon change.

A doe feeds on corn Saturday morning.

I expect activity to increase this coming weekend and really get rocking the week of Nov. 7th.

My hunts this week were fairly uneventful, although I saw plenty of does and yearlings. The most action I saw was last Thursday morning when a 1.5-year-old 8-point bumped several does past my stand.

With a week and a half of vacation time coming up this week and next, I’m confident that I can get on some mature deer. I’ll certainly be trying. I’ve got my Dad in the field along with another hunting buddy, so hopefully between the three of us we’ll get our hands wrapped around some bone at some point during the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.

Groceries almost a goner … Need restocking.

If it weren’t for the excursion zones, I’m not sure I’d have believed it. Seeing our five small food plots look like a field of dirt with a few scraggly green plants, I most likely would have cussed Mother Nature for not allowing all the seeds we sowed to grow this Fall.

Excursion zone shows the amount of browse taking place in one plot.

We have a new lease so we weren’t really sure what to expect once we started prepping and planting the plots. Clearly, the deer in our area are looking for more browse or our plot mix is just that tasty. Then again, it could most certainly be both too.

And the amount of browse at another plot

Curious what others think? Is the over-browsing of the plots a good indicator that we need more food sources in our area? The oak trees in our area are just now starting to drop a larger number of acorns. For our particular lease, there are not many crops within a range area of the deer on our land. The closest thing is a mature hayfield that borders our land. Any mast crops are miles away.

I’m anxious to see what these fields do the remainder of the fall – and whether or not there will be anything left to eat before late season rolls around (the time I really expected these to be “hot” spots).

Several deer eating from the first plot

Looking for a Few Good Men and Women

I recently attended an archery education course sponsored by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation. My motivation for doing so was rooted it it being mandatory for acceptance into the Bowhunter Certification and Referral Service.

It’s great that the Service makes it mandatory, however a majority of the content was definitely second nature for many in the room. After more than 20 years of bowhunting, I’m happy to report I knew most of the curriculum. Most in the room did too. But highlights of attending the free course included a small number of individuals looking to join the bowhunter ranks. I’m a huge proponent of bowhunting so appreciated those hunters taking the leap.

Some of the bowhunter course attendees following a faux blood trail

Another highlight included one of the “teachers” lining up a NC Wildlife Resource Officer to chat with the group. And kudos to area sergeant CN Ingram for spending more than 90 minutes with the participants of the course, answering questions and providing insight into a number of hot topics within the state of NC wildlife.

According to Ingram, one of the biggest current challenges the state encounters is finding volunteers willing to help serve as instructors for the state-sponsored hunter safety and education programs.

That’s a shame.

While the bowhunter course I took was more of a repeat, I do remember many years ago being a young want-to-be hunter taking the overarching hunter safety course. I remember spending much of the course imagining the chance to shoot a 12 ga. shotgun during the range portion of the course. I also remember learning some of the fundamental tools that piqued my curiousity about hunting. It sent me searching to learn more – both via feverish reading of outdoor magazines and through first-hand experimentation in nature’s classroom.

Simply put, that course was a great guidepost for my inquiring mind. And it’s a must for young people looking to learn about the sport. Like most states, in North Carolina the course is needed before a young hunter can legally hunt on their own. To me, the challenge of finding instructors likely increases the ability for youngsters to find places to take the course and could prevent or stunt their desire to become hunters.

For a sport in great peril for recruiting the next generation of hunters, that is not good.

I’ll put my time where my words are here and look into volunteering to become an instructor. So too are a few of my friends. It’s something we all should consider.

Cat Tales:
– I referenced above, the North Carolina Bowhunters Association’s BCRS program. It’s a great service that relies on archery hunters to help control and conserve deer populations in populated areas. More specifically, according to the group itself, “the primary goal of the BCRS program is to provide a “FREE” service to the public by offering certified bowhunters to assist with deer management programs.”

– I took a little video during the bowhunter course of Jamie, one of the instructors, showing the class how to tie a prusik knot. For anyone who doesn’t know how to tie one, it’s very easy and can help save lives. The knot is among the leading options for hunters as a knot for use with a safety harness in climbing in and out of treestands. Here is a video showing how to do the knot.

– Headed into the event, The Biscuit and I saw a big female red fox cross a driveway in front of us. After looking deeper into her whereabouts, we found a pair of fox pups hanging out in a nearby drainage pipe.

A red fox pup surveys his surroundings from a drainage pipe

Last-Minute Gift Ideas For Your Hunter!

Christmas shopping can be a little bit like deer hunting. You can spend weeks afield without finding the right deer, much like you can waste several hours in stores seeking the right gifts. As my 2010 hunting season can atest – sometimes it only takes a few hours to get the job done.

With that, I suppose it’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts! I mean, there are still two solid afternoons to buy gifts. For those of you looking for ideas on the go, here are a few that can help make the hunter in your life very happy this year.

Socks … and I mean really good socks
Very few items you take hunting with you can be more important than a quality, warm pair of hunting socks. They’re easy to purchase, but here’s one where you can get what you pay for.

Warm socks are vital to a happy day afield in those cold November and December days

I hunt mostly with a wool/cotton combination and wear only one pair (no matter the temperature).

A quality sock will keep your feet warm (when coupled with the appropriate boot) at all conditions. Most quality socks run anywhere from $12-$16 per pair. And you can find them at any sporting goods store.

Boots … And I mean good boots
I purchased a pair of Irish Setter RutMaster boots with the ExoFlex system after doing a lot of shopping (trying on) earlier this fall. They’ve been a comfortable, warm boot for some of the cold conditions I’ve hunted.

Irish Setter RutMaster boots

There are other quality boots out there. I also have a couple pair of Muck boots that I like wearing. If your hunter is worried about scent control, be sure to focus your attention on rubber boots. Prices vary by level of Thinsulate insulation and manufacturer. A good 800 gr boot will run a shade more than $100 in most cases. The particular boot I referenced is usually $139. It’s expensive, but a hunter’s wheels are the root to having a positive hunt.

A handheld video camera to document all the partying at camp … I mean, all the hunting afield
I’ve talked in the past about how much I enjoy my Kodak Zi8 when I’m hunting. It’s a great little camera that captures HD quality video and takes pretty good photos to boot.

The Zi8

There are several manufacturers who make similar cameras (Flip being the most popular), but it is worth noting that Kodak is the only manufacturer I’m aware of that actively markets to outdoorsmen.

The Rochester, N.Y., company has a couple models that are designed for sportsmen. They look a lot like the Zi8 I purchased before they started doing that and I’m not sure I’d trade my camera for another now that I have gotten used to it. It fits on my hip in a case and has been a blast the last two hunting seasons. The price on these also varies, but be prepared to spend $150-$200.

A knife sharperner
This is another quality gift that is worth mentioning as a possibility each year. These range in quality, functionality and price. Chef’s Choice makes a wide array of sharpeners.

A popular Chef's Choice model

There are several out there, including a Cabela’s licensed brand that is very similar to the Chef’s Choice.

If you spend a little more than bottom dollar, you can get one that sharpens both straight edge and surrated. This makes a great sharpener for those kitchen knives too. The biggest difference is the number of stages the sharpener will run a knife through. Most are 2-4 stages. The price range of sharpeners is between $35 and $200. A good one can be purchased for $50.

The ‘uh oh, I forgot to shop and need the greatest gift to give’ idea
If you’re in the mood to wow your hunter and looking to find an awesome gift OR you have a future hunter that you’d like to provide a legacy for, giving a lifetime license could be the perfect gift.

Most states now sell Lifetime Licenses for residents and they can be pricey (most lifetime hunting licenses are $500 for adults), but pay huge dividends for a lifelong hunter. It’s a purchase I made years ago and have since made for my daughter. Many states offer a very attractive price to buy for young kids (sometimes infants under 1 year old).

Check with your local state department of natural resources or game commission for more information. All I’ve ever checked into could be purchased online.

Have a great holiday!