Well, 2020 has been an interesting year. I know I for one, will be happy to see it in the rear-view mirror. The major worry I have is when we get to 2021 it decides to look at 2020 and say “hold my beer!” We just have get a grip on this virus situation so we can all get back to some sort of normal.
I am completely torn on what is the right thing for our state and country to do. There is no doubt that this virus can be deadly but I also understand that many small businesses have been struggling to survive the last nine months and many are hanging on in hopes of a great Christmas Season or a better beginning in 2021. Unfortunately for many that will not be the case. I see many folks listening to our governor’s orders and praying there will be any assistance in order for them to stay afloat and to open back up when the time is right. At this point there really is no choice. We all have to be careful and help one another through these times. So please when you can, please, help out your local small businesses as many desperately need our help.
Time to talk some hunting. There isn’t a deer hunter alive that doesn’t live for those precious days in November. Many guys have to wait for the weekend and hope that those days have the perfect conditions and the deer are moving. This year has been unique. My main goal is to spend as much time in the woods from November 7th – 19th as I can. Of course, work always plays a part of this but I know early in the month if I want to find big Louie, then I have to get a major head start on the next issue. This year I went from delivering my magazines to putting the magazine together in hopes of spending a few days in the woods during prime time. Well as luck would have it, the 7th was on a Saturday this year, so my plan was to hunt Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning before returning to work. Then try to work my butt off for a couple of days and get back to the woods. I was so excited. There is something magical about the rut. You can sit for days and not see a deer but if the rut is on you can see them anywhere at any time. Just look at all of the videos you see of deer in people’s yards chasing does or fighting another buck. When they are in this mode there is no stopping them. They don’t care if you are right next to them if they are courting a doe or showing another buck who is dominant. These few weeks are when the hunter has the advantage. The bucks are not as attentive to their surroundings. There is one thing on their mind and that’s to reproduce.
My first day in the blind has arrived. I nestled into my comfy box blind to wait for the sun to rise above the horizon. No matter what, watching the sunrise always makes the day better. The only issue I seem to have was it was windy and extremely warm. Not really a great combination for what should be the beginning of rut but hey as they always say you can’t kill them on the couch. The day seemed to drag by with only a small doe that was feeding in my food plot. I have seen her on my plot pretty much every day since the beginning of September. The only issue was I wasn’t seeing any of the normal buck activity on my cameras during this time, so I decided to call it around 11am and head in for lunch. After lunch I was back out and sat for about three hours and as I was leaving the small doe returned to the field. Saturday wasn’t my day to meet big Louie but hopefully soon.
Sunday the 8th was going to be a special day because Ella was going to join me for the first time this year. There is nothing that I enjoy more than spending time hunting with my baby girl. Unfortunately, it was almost an exact repeat of Saturday. We saw the little doe and nothing else. Winds were crazy and just not ideal conditions for seeing deer. I know the rut should be on but over 60 degrees and 25 mph + winds weren’t making seem like it was that time of the year. Ella and I were planning to go on Monday but the weather was looking about the same so we decided to wait until Tuesday. Tuesday morning rolled around and Ella and I were off to try a different box stand and see if we could get her on a deer. At first light I look down the food plot and all I can see is this massive body. It looked like a cow eating in the food plot. I brought my binoculars up to my eyes and low and behold we have a shooter. Only 150 yards away but he was definitely a mature deer with pretty hefty bones on his head. We tried a little grunt. Nothing. We tried a little rattling. Nothing. Well he wasn’t ready for a fight and it didn’t seem to be chasing or even seeking a doe at this point, so we watched him walk off the plot and into the willow thickets. A few hours went by and we were ready to leave. I told Ella lets rattle one more time and see if that brings anything in. Well as I started rattling, I notice something running in the distance coming directly at us. I tell Ella to get ready and let her know if he steps out here this is the yardage. We waited for a few seconds and here comes the baby doe running to see what is going on. Luckily, my daughter has no problem just watching deer. She decided to take some videos and pictures to send to her friends. First time I have ever had anything come running in when I rattled, and it just happened to be Bambi. After another hour or so Ella was starting to get antsy. It was closing in on 11am and I knew she was hungry. We loaded up our stuff and headed to the truck. Once again with no harvest but any day spent with Ella is a great day. She seems to love spending time with me, and I want to soak it up as much as I can. She will be 14 (and yes, she is still a baby girl in my mind) in January and I know it’s probably only a matter of time before friends become more important than old dad.
My buddy Tim was taking a couple of days off on November 12 & 13 and everything seem to be setting up for those days to be the best conditions. We finally had a cold front and the wind wasn’t blowing 20mph so he was setup to find him a nice mature deer to harvest. As the morning went, I received a text. “Seems like they are finally moving”. He told me he finally saw the big 10 and 12 pointers that we have on cameras the last couple of days during daylight. Unfortunately, they were both intrigued with a doe that was staying about 100 yards away. Then came another young 8 pointer. Tim sat in the stand all day waiting for a mistake to no avail. One thing was for sure he knew which stand to hunt the next day. The deer were only 10 yards from one of his other stands so he was hopeful for success on Friday the 13th. He hunted most of Friday with no success. Never saw the buck or does that morning and it kind of had me excited for Saturday.
As Friday night rolled around, I asked Ella if she would like to go hunting with me again on Saturday. Of course, I was talking it up about how rut is on and we need to be in the stand so she could harvest her first antlered deer. She decided she would go so we set off Saturday morning with high hopes this was the day. Once again, we sat until around 11am and we hadn’t seen a deer. Tim was in another blind and saw one single doe. My friend Al was on one of our food plots and saw a doe with her baby and another small doe. The only time we have seen rut activity was on November 12 & 13. I know they are in rut I see them on camera and over the last week their necks have swelled. What I need now is for them to become day walkers.
I know by the time you read this we will be nearing the second season of shotgun hunting. Hopefully many of you have filled your tags but if you haven’t there the first weekend of December for the shotgun hunters but still have plenty of time with a bow. I usually love the rut. At this point I am almost waiting for the cold weather to hit so I can get them between their bed and food source. Good luck to everyone hunting and please be safe out there.
May your sunrises and sunsets be magical!