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Tag Archives: deer

Failure in Familiarity

It simply hadn’t happened before, the path made by the old, wise doe.

Shooting Lanes

The view from old faithful. Updated travel routes kept the shooters out of archery range.

And with it, came little appreciation for the likelihood that the long-proven patterns of deer in this area of my farm had indeed changed.

It wasn’t until after I saw more deer, including a fine 8-point buck, make the same route from a common bedding area and into the hardwoods, that I realized deer aren’t behaving the same as they had for many years.

Even after briefly scouting the new, well-established trails on this new route well away from my faithful stand, it was hard to consider a change needed to be made. You see, many bucks have passed by this stand over the years, and no fewer than three bucks have been arrowed within 40 yards of this tree. Surely, this was the ideal location to be sitting.

Except it wasn’t. And it played a small role in not filling my 2018 archery tag. So too did my stubbornness to not change the stand location earlier.

Familiarity can be a detriment to an archery hunter. The reams of data that exist within a hunter’s memory from decades of hunting a familiar location can skew his or her decisions. That was reinforced enough in me this year that I’m eager to consider how I’ll change several of my stand locations for 2019.

Deer1

This young buck followed one of the familiar trails.

Upon further pondering the challenges of familiarity, it dawned on me how valuable scouting can be to a new hunting location. These are often the most valuable – and fun – elements of hunting the unfamiliar. Those minutes and hours dedicated to learning about the local deer of a location can often be the primary indicator of success.

And advanced scouting before hunting familiar ground should  be no different.

It sounds simple, and it probably is. But when you’re coming from hundreds of miles away to ground you know as well as your backyard, you try to skip the scouting update portion of the hunt and take advantage of the knowledge you already have.

It’s easy to do, right?

Things change within the terrain (felled trees, food sources, erosion, etc.) that provide enough of a reason to, at minimum, confirm your intuitions.

I should have done that. I’ve learned my lesson. And leave it to those old, wise does to teach me.

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Hunting: An Impervious Bond

Editor’s Note: It’s been too long. And I’ve missed writing. The new year brought with it a lot of change in your favorite blogger’s life – almost entirely good change. Hello to a great new job, goodbye to a great old job. It all added up to a short break on the blog. We’re back now, and excited about a number of fun things going on for the blog in 2012. Here’s hoping it’s the greatest year of all, filled with many memories afield.

Making lasting memories with fellow outdoorsmen - and great friends

There are very few things that bond people like the camaraderie of the field. Time shared in the outdoors has a certain knack for binding people together as a brotherhood, a flock of kindred spirits in a world filled with forces that tend to crowbar people apart at every corner. The amazing thing about my favorite sport isn’t just how it connects one hunter to another, rather how it fastens communities together.

I was recently reminded of that in a way that I was simply not expecting: at a heartbreaking funeral.

Over and over again, the memories shared of one of those being remembered during the service, included time at the hunt club, or time together on this or that hunt. And with each memory, I found myself thinking that those stories sounded very much like the ones I imagine my family and some of my closest friends sharing. I could certainly relate to those moments.

Often times it’s hunting that binds together the people of the small, rural towns like the ground I grew up stomping in Allegany County, New York. It’s not just the actual hunters who share in the connection to hunting. Wives and mothers cooking, kids sharing stories about their dads at school and families sharing stories all year long about the hunts of seasons passed.

Those small towns exist all over this great nation, with hunting representing that local culture’s glue.

A friend who visited my neck of the woods made an astute observation that he shared with me year’s ago. He said that meeting people in most places of the world usually means some conversation about the weather.

“Beautiful today, isn’t it?” or “Big cold front headed our way.”

Not in Western New York. There, you’re always asking about deer.

“Did you get your buck yet?” or “Been seeing any good ones?”

You rarely even have to mention you’re talking about deer. For the town where I grew up, that is already known. Everybody knows.


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


Blue Tongue (or EHD) Leaving a Dark Cloud Over Future of Montana Whitetails

It started with a simple Tweet. Outdoor icon Michael Waddell shot the following to his nearly 20,000 Twitter followers on Sept. 1:

“Headed to MT soon. Bad news EHD hit the river and supposedly killed alot of the deer. I will have a report soon.”

Image shared by Michael Waddell, of a whitetail suspected of being driven to a brutal death by EHD


The “report” he promised wasn’t good. Turns out it continues to get worse in Montana. Call it blue tongue, call it EHD, it doesn’t matter what you call it – its outcome is devastating.

Blue tongue, or epizootic hemorrhagic disease, appears to be the culprit. And the aftermath of it, once complete, appear to be headed toward near disaster for the whitetail deer herd in many areas of the state.

Waddell reported, via Twitter, seeing only “10 to 18 deer where we typically see 100.” That report, coupled with many outfitters accounts along the famous Milk River have numbers pegged at between 80-90 percent decimation. That’s extremely sad for a state that has been quickly becoming a favorite destination for whitetail enthusiasts.

That also puts numbers where there probably should be little hunter harvest for the next several years to allow for rebound. It will take plenty of time, based on what I’m reading.

For those wondering, here is what I’ve learned about EHD:

First Blue Tongue and EHD, by definition, are different. Blue Tongue is really the sister disease that affects livestock. Regardless, in it’s most slang sense, hunters know what it means.

It’s a contagious virus affecting deer and is spread by gnats. It is most found near waterways and standing water encourages its spread. While most biologists recommend you discard the carcass of a dead animal found with questionable symptoms, there are no known spreads of the disease to humans.

You’ll likely be seeing more about the actual outbreak in Montana in the coming months (I’m sure whitetail magazines are gearing up coverage), however the true impact of its destruction will surely be felt by hunters in that region for many, many years to come.

That’s tough – especially for someone who has long dreamed about glassing those endless prairies for a Milk River whitetail to put a strategy to. I wish the herd, and the hunters impacted, the best.


Summer Bachelor Parties

“Scotty” was my first vehicle. A 1978, the pickup was in remarkable shape in the early 1990s when I started driving it. My grandfather had purchased the truck new and it sat many years after he passed away. It was a Scottsdale model and picked up the nickname from my baseball teammate Lenny Green, who rode with me most days from school to the ballpark.

Scotty was a part of many teenage memories, including carrying one of my first archery bucks

As you might imagine, I have enough memories with Scotty to fill an armored truck. Summer nights were some of the best. We spent most evenings during the hot Western New York months looking for whitetail bucks throughout Allegany County. I loved it.

While the passengers along for the ride varied, Scotty and I were the mainstays. Some nights it was Ward Craft with us, cousins Tom and Jeff made appearances, both of my brothers Doug and Mike came along from time to time, or other nights it was just my girlfriend and I burning gallons of gas looking for big bucks.

Searching for these bucks had nothing to do with early-season scouting. I very rarely hunted anywhere other than our family land – never needed a reason to. That didn’t stop me from knowing many of the giant bucks that roamed throughout the area. Finding bucks during the summer was almost like having another hunting season.

Most evenings, my parents’ old-school video camera was in tow to document deer sighting via shaky hand-held footage. I ran across a VHS recently with a compilation of highlights from one summer in 1994. There were several great bucks that summer, but even more fantastic memories. None remain stronger in my memory than the night I videoed four mature bucks feeding together only 85 or 90 yards from the road on the Knapp Farm. One was a great buck, pushing 140″ as a 10 pointer.

Gas prices make it much more difficult to hop in the car and go for a long drive to check out deer. Ironically, it’s one of the reasons my family chooses to live in Rowan County, N.C., instead of closer to Charlotte. We love the agriculture-rich terrain it affords us to be away from the city.

I’m going to make it a point to go “hunt for deer” more this summer. I know my 3-year old would love to join too. Poor girl, she is sure to get sick of the old stories from yesteryear while we’re riding around. Here’s hoping she won’t get sick of hearing about Scotty though!


VIDEO: King of Bucks Tour

Our local Bass Pro Shops hosted the “King of Bucks” tour recently. Join us as we take the tour and catch a look at some of the largest whitetails ever killed in North America.

For those wondering, a representative shared with AHuntersTales that all the deer on display for this tour are the actual mounts (no replicas).


World Record Buck? We May Never Know

I may not pay very close attention to Royal weddings. But when it comes to big deer killed by hunters, few things usually slip by me.

I’m not sure how it took so long for me to learn about the absolutely magnificent deer killed by Wisconsin hunter Johnny King in 2006. While the deer itself is noteworthy, the story behind it rivals something you would read in a mystery novel.

The King buck. Image borrowed from DeerandDeerHunting.com

In fact, it’s one of those stories that leaves you scratching your noggin and wondering, “huh?”

The story is featured in a recently released exclusive from Deer & Deer Hunting and outlines the journey King has been through. It would probably be less noteworthy if the deer wouldn’t surely contend for the world record, currently held by Canada’s Milo Hanson.

Amidst shooting the deer, King also put a shot from his .30-30 into one of the buck’s main beams. It subsequently broke the main beam – a clean break that allowed for the deer to be scored as a full-framed deer. Without making a long story even longer, King tried to have the deer scored by a panel in 2007 (after driving 1,200 miles) to have Boone & Crockett executive secretary Jack Reneau decide the deer’s G3s actually were abnormal points because he felt they grew off the G2s. It was one man’s opinion.

King was left to have it scored that way (not by the panel because the abnormal points no longer met the criteria to need the panel score), having another official scorer run the official tape on the buck to a net non-typical score in the 180s.

The deer is at least 30 inches bigger than that. And B&C allows only one – the first submitted – score to be official (to keep hunters from “shopping” for a better score).

Since that time, almost every person who has scored a deer agrees that the buck did not get a fair shake and should be officially scored as a typical. Enter Reneau, who I’ve never met but can only assume refuses to relent to his original opinion and has made keeping this deer out of the books his personal quest. He refuses to let a panel review the deer, going as far as squashing two attempts for a panel to meet and discuss / score the deer.

I remember my parents teaching me that sometimes right or wrong is something you just feel in your stomach. I think my belly has an opinion here.

How hard would it be to provide an unbiased panel to officially put forth a recommendation and score on this deer? And then call it a day?

It’s almost as if Milo Hanson were the one making the decision. I just don’t get it.

It should be mentioned that AHuntersTales.com friend Brent Reneau is not beleived to be related to the B&C executive mentioned!