Tag Archives: deer

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.

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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!


The Hit-List Buck Falls

By Greg Johnston
AHT Guest Contributor

Grandpa always said he’d rather be lucky than good, but on opening day of the New York firearms deer season, I was a little of both.

Rewind one week to Nov. 13 when my hunting pal, John Koska, and I were hunting my family’s property in Livingston County.

The author with his Great 8 2010 NY buck


It wasn’t long into the hunt and I felt the vibration from my phone in my safety vest. The message was clear and to the point: “Shooter chasing a doe.”

After a short while John gave me a call and said he watched the buck breed the hot doe and then work past the treestand with the doe at about 25 yards. John said the doe trotted through the shooting lane and that the buck had followed. Not feeling comfortable trying to squeeze a Carbon Express arrow through the young saplings, he elected to pass the questionable shot. You have to respect that.

My question to him was “where did the buck go?” He answered “west,” and that gave me an idea. I had a treestand at the bottom of the hill where the buck seemed to be working towards and with the doe in heat I was confident he wouldn’t go far.

It took multiple encounters for this mature buck to fall

So, I packed my gear, climbed down from my stand and hiked to the truck. From there I drove around the block where I planned on entering the same block of timber, but from the west side. It’s probably about 9:30 a.m. or so at this point.

I eased up the hill and reached the stand. Once settled, I could see a flurry of activity up the hill and it wasn’t long before several does worked by. I then caught a flash of something running and knew that mature buck was exactly where I anticipated he’d be. This meant two things: First, I’d positioned myself so the shooter was now in between John and me; and Second, I was now in a position to try and kill him.

With the help of my 10x42s I could see the brute laying into a tree about 90 yards away. I watched for a few minutes and examined him. “Man, he’s got cool-looking bladed main beams,” I thought.

What now?

I decided to grunt – all while watching him through my binos. He didn’t react, so I became more aggressive with a snort wheeze. At this point I realized it wasn’t meant to be. There is no replacement for love and this bad boy was in it.

At 12:30 p.m. I called it quits, as my son’s birthday party was the next day and I had to tend to some household chores.

With that, I hung up the Bowtech for another year and headed to work for the week, waiting for the following Saturday – the opening of firearms season – to roll around.

John and I talked and decided that the “Great 8” had leapfrogged his way to the top of the hit list.

On opening morning, I was carrying my Remington 1100 Special 20 gauge and entered the woods just hoping that I’d have a chance at the buck – or at least a mature buck. The morning hours came and went with many shots fired, but none from inside the perimeters of our property.

I backed out for lunch and John, my Dad and I discussed the afternoon hunt. After a sandwich, we were back at it. I reached the stand around 2 p.m. and settled in. Shortly after, a doe and yearling worked by. From there it gets a little blurry, because I dozed off in the stand. What? You’ve never done that? Whatever…!

Okay, after my cat nap I awoke to a much calmer woods. The wind, which had been stiff out of the west, had faded and the conditions had improved.

I sat and texted back and forth with John as he was hunting a stand in the middle of our property. It wasn’t long after that I caught movement to my right. Guess who? At 85 yards I struggled to find a clear lane to squeeze a Berennke through. That is until he stopped to work a scrape. I steadied my recticle on him and fired.

Bang.

The deer whirled, ran 10 feet and stopped. Bang. I fired again. This time, he went on a dead run through the woods, but angling towards me and closing the distance. I knew the second shot had hit him, but I wasn’t sure where.

I begged him to stop. And at 60 yards my recent string of bad luck ended as he applied the brakes. Bang. I shot a third time and with that he disappeared over the nearby gully.

So, you’d rather be lucky than good? Grandpa was right! Me too. That third shot had found its mark and entered his front shoulder.

I waited awhile and eased my way along the edge of the gully. What I saw at the bottom of the gully was the end of a lengthy, season-long quest. The “Great 8” was down! I stood at the top of the bank for 10 minutes or so collecting my thoughts before descending down to put my hands on him.

I couldn’t believe it had happened. I called John and told him the news. He was pumped and made his way over for the celebration.

Now my problem was talking my wife into another taxidermy bill. It’s like Dierks Bentley sings: Man what was I thinking?