Monday Morning Turkey Report.

I’ve spent the better part of the last five days working my way closer to the turkeys on our public land spot. Things were going really well all the way until Saturday. Saturday morning, we set out and got parked about 20 minutes before sunrise. We got to our spots, and waited. At dawn, 6:09 on the dot, I heard a hen drop from her roost, land, and do a bit of quite clucking. Maybe 15 yards from me considering I could hear her footsteps. Minutes later, a bigger whompf as a tom dropped to the ground. He made the world’s softest single gobble, and I never saw them.  We called our hunt around 8:15, and quickly discovered the reason for our difficulties that day: the third pull-in spot had one SUV parked on the gravel near the road, and two pickups that had actually driven down onto the field and parked on the treeline at the bottom of the hill, more or less directly behind where I had been sitting. Small wonder the birds’ schedule was disrupted. As we left, we took a look at the part of this land parcel that covers the marshy headwaters of Black Earth Creek, and spied the turkeys sitting several hundred yards from the road on the edge of a private field/pasture.

Sunday morning I had to work, and Sunday afternoon we had yard and housework to do in the the lovely 75 degree weather. That was a wash. This morning, however, I dragged myself out of bed before daylight again. Luckily it was 59F, even at 5 AM. Downright balmy. However, my Monday morning hunt was spoiled for much the same reason as Saturday morning’s- that SUV was parked and someone was on the back side of my hill again. And once again, the turkeys were over in that private field.

To some positives. Saturday, Matt had a hen milling around in front of him for a solid 15 minutes. Someone was screwing around in the woods, though, and scared her off- she flew right over my head. And Monday morning, I watched a hen from quite a ways off. So the turkeys are still using this area, I’m just betting that all the people running around this weekend have them all out of sorts. I’m ready for it to cool back down and keep some of these people at home. I have two more days on my original permit.

The hen in front of Matt on Saturday.

The hen in front of Matt on Saturday.

A Very Soft Bite.

Late Saturday morning, we brushed the snow off the truck, and headed on out to Fox Lake again. Matt had been reading that people were having good luck out there, and we were ready to get fish on the ice again. We stopped back by the liquor store/baitshop, and found a long line of people- there was a Fisheree on.

We opted not to participate, as it would be over just two hours after we got set up. We did notice another one on Valentine’s weekend, from the 14th-16th, over night. We noted it, and called up our fishing buddy to let him know. As we drove on, we saw people were in the spot we used last time. We set up a way away from them, in about the same depth.

There were 20+ inches of ice on the lake. At this rate, we may need an extension for the auger. Holes drilled, we waited.

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It wasn’t long before we had a flag. Shortly after another, and another. And bites on our jig poles. However, we weren’t piling up the fish outside the shanty. The bites were all very, very soft. If we didn’t have such light test, we may have never known we were getting bites at all. And when they did do more than barely bump the bait, we were trying to set the hook and yanking it right out of their mouths. Matt lost at least three minnows that way. Most of the flags on our tip ups, we yanked the minnow out of the fish’s mouth, or it spat the bait. The closest we got was at the end of the night, there was a flag on a tip up with a monofilament snell on the end. Matt set it, and we have the fish for a second before the line snapped- probably a northern, and its teeth cut the line. I suppose it’s better than the times we went fishing with no bites what so ever, but I’m beyond ready to have fish on the ice again.

After the snow clouds cleared away, it was a gorgeous day. And the sun is finally beginning to feel warm again.

After the snow clouds cleared away, it was a gorgeous day. And the sun is finally beginning to feel warm again.

Matt is super thrilled.

Matt is super thrilled.

Sun sinking on our failed fishing trip.

Sun sinking on our failed fishing trip.

Behind the clouds.

Behind the clouds.

The poster for the Fisheree.

The poster for the Fisheree.

This coming weekend is going to be a first for the both of us. It’s sturgeon spearing season up on Lake Winnebago, and his aunt and uncle have invited us to meet them up there. They’re among the lucky few who somehow get a sturgeon every year. I have my doubts, but still- it should be interesting, and at the very least, maybe I can get a picture of someone elses’ sturgeon.

Letting Hunting Season Go Is Hard.

Deer season is winding down around these parts, and with the early, extreme cold weather, ice on the lakes is out exceptionally early. We intended to go out hunting on Friday, before the big Arctic front passed through and knocked us back into the single digits. Boy, did mid-30s for those two days feel nice. It didn’t happen, though. Matt had to work and my errands ran later than intended, so we chalked the day up to recuperating from holiday travel. The freezer’s full to the top anyhow.

So the only activity we really had this weekend was one ice fishing outing in town (which we’d been hoping not to do- our luck on the lakes here sucks), and one hunting outing as the front passed through Sunday afternoon and evening. It was a weekend of getting skunked, all ’round.

Saturday's high was nearly 40F. There was a layer of water under the snow, and it was very sloppy.

Saturday’s high was nearly 40F. There was a layer of water under the snow, and it was very sloppy.

Tip ups are generally supposed to rest on top of the ice and snow, not underwater. But you can also see the thin ice- only 4 inches or so.

Tip ups are generally supposed to rest on top of the ice and snow, not underwater. But you can also see the thin ice- only 4 inches or so.

We talked to these gents- earlier in the day, they'd caught 3 30 inch pike. Lake Mendota requires pike to be 40 inches to keep, though.

We talked to these gents- earlier in the day, they’d caught 3 30 inch pike. Lake Mendota requires pike to be 40 inches to keep, though.

Downtown and campus from the lake.

Downtown and campus from the lake.

Capitol building.

Capitol building.

And a foot of punchy snow as the temperature dropped into the single digits while hunting.

And a foot of punchy snow as the temperature dropped into the single digits while hunting.

After this weekend, we may be hanging up the camo as well as the blaze, for the most part. The holiday hunt and bow season end January 6th. My Illinois tags are good down there till the 12th, so I might sneak down there to get in one last hunt. But Sunday night was cold. And I got cold fast. With the constant cold weather, I’m more or less accustomed to it, I’m just fed up with it. But this is our weather for the next week.

The day in the low 20s might not be bad.

The day in the low 20s might not be bad.

With windchill advisories, we don’t really want to be outside. But it’s always hard to let deer season go. I suppose coyote hunting and ice fishing will get us through to open water fishing and turkey season.

 

 

The “Fail” Tag Is Really A Lot Bigger That I’d Like.

Ok, so. This weekend? Made of fail. Where do I start, with the colder-than-projected weather, or with the hilarious upsetting in hindsight freak accidents?

I guess I’l start with Saturday morning. We got out around 6AM, and in our stands by about 6:15. The sun was only just turning the eastern horizon pink, and it was cold. The forecast for the day was 21F, an unusual cold snap for this time of year, but not unheard of. I think it was probably 15F as we walked out.

First light an 15 degrees.

First light and 15 degrees.

It was a pretty quiet morning, not even any squirrels, until about 9AM. The leaves are dry, plus flash frozen, and I heard someone walking towards me. When it came into view, it was the big 4 pointer Matt and I have both seen, and which I’ve shot at once. He stopped maybe 15 yards from me. I lined up my shot, pulled the trigger and… it sounded like a champagne popper. And smelled like someone struck a match. The deer kept moving, very calmly. I texted Matt “how do I know it fired correctly?”. He answered “it goes boom”. “We have a problem”, I replied. So, I took a much-welcomed break, climbed down, and walked to him. After some investigating, it appeared that somehow, both the sabot and powder charges had fallen out. Matt and I had loaded our guns together, and his was still loaded, so I didn’t hallucinate that part. Given how difficult it was to get the damn bullet into the gun, I have absolutely no idea what caused it. None. If I’d had my shotgun instead, I’d have had him.

The rest of the day was cold and quiet. It never even broke 20F. The high my weather app got was about 18. With 20mph winds, the chill was about 4F. My toe- and body-warmers quit on me around 1 or 2 pm. Dark came at about 4:30.  My last two hours in the stand were accomplished by sheer will, and daydreaming about a hot shower, a big bowl of mac and cheese, and sitting under blankets on a heating pad. I couldn’t feel from the knee down. My violent, full-body shivers scared a deer away right before dark.  When I got home, my body retaliated against my stupidity by flooding my face and extremities with blood. I could barely walk on my feet or cook food, they were so swollen and tender. I was in bed by 7:30.

The low Saturday night was about 8F. When we got up at 5 Sunday, the thermometer read about that. Walking in, the insides of my nose froze slightly with each inhale. I had foregone toe and body warmers this morning- that was a mistake. My feet were a peculiar burning-numb before 7.

I couldn't feel that hand resting on my gun.

I couldn’t feel that hand resting on my gun.

I'm pretty sure that the sun coming up on a frigid morning is exactly what hope looks like.

I’m pretty sure that the sun coming up on a frigid morning is exactly what hope looks like.

Matt called it around 8:30. I was ok with it- not even the squirrels were moving, and there were barely birds flying in the sky. We tried to check the little copse on the creek, near the road, but when we pulled in to the gravel road for it, a very large buck began bounding away, at about 700 yards. We watched him, and tried to drive to the next road down to catch a better glimpse, but we missed him. Matt tried to flush the copse, but it was empty. He had stuff to do at work, so we grabbed a fast food breakfast and sat at home for a bit, reviving our limbs.

Once Matt’s work was done, we headed back over- gun season means hunting hard. It was about 26 that afternoon, which felt downright balmy compared to what we’d been subjected to. I took my normal stand, Matt picked a different spot. I didn’t see anything, and I heard only 3, very distant shots. Until about 4:15. In that gap in the pines, 300 yards out, I see a deer. A big one, a buck. He does the same thing as that day in September- grazes a bit, goes into the woods. My brain jumped on it- maybe he would come back out near me. I wait 10 minutes. 15. And then. I see a rack popping up over the hill. I had my gun to my shoulder faster than anything. I followed his movement, hoping for a broadside shot. He was about 100 yards out. But downwind. I kept both hoping he’d come closer, and that the wind wouldn’t blow my scent and spook him. He took a few steps closer, and I began to worry. I couldn’t take it. I fired. The smoke cleared. I missed. Again. He looked around for a bit, and very calmly turned to walk back the way he came.  I was really pushing the bounds of my muzzle loader at that distance. I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry.

Matt came running at my shot, and hoped to scare the deer back to me. No such luck. We left, and made plans to go out Monday evening. Since Matt’s stopped seeing deer at his stand, we’re going to sit together in my stand and hope for the best. With all the gun shots around, and people walking, and cold, maybe we’ll get lucky. Tomorrow’s supposed to be a bit warmer- just above freezing, but snowing. I hope I can finally not fail miserably. I’m pretty much a wreck as I write this Sunday evening.

Hunting: Now With More Tornado Warnings!

We made it back from La Crosse on Saturday afternoon just in time to not see a damn thing. This weekend was a rainy mess. It wasn’t especially chilly until Sunday evening. Saturday we both got soaked through and neither of us saw anything. In spite of the rain, there were two other cars in the parking area.

Sunday, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees over the afternoon. My hunting gear also didn’t dry overnight, so heading out late Sunday morning to hunt the gap between storms, I had a head start on my soaking. We waited out a particularly bad downpour in the truck, and then headed out. I called it for myself around 3pm in some rain, and ended up waiting in the truck for Matt until around 5. I headed back up the road to meet him at our usual spot, and saw just one deer, well past shooting light, heading up the field towards him. He never saw it though, and we made it back to the truck in 30mph wind gusts.

We had some tornado warnings up here in Wisconsin, however the storms hit worst down in Illinois. Some funnel clouds were sighted near home, but they missed my town (this time- three years ago they were hit very badly). Washington and the Pekin area, 60 miles to the southwest, were hit. A friend of mine from home found a piece of a Washington municipal sign in his back yard. Washington, apparently, was flattened. The storms also crossed over into Indiana. Hopefully those places can recover quickly.

Rifle season for us starts Saturday. There’s no hunting at all the day before (Friday). I’m hoping to make it out maybe Wednesday or Thursday night for one last bit of bowhunting until after gun and muzzleloader.  Saturday and Sunday will be the days to really get deer. After that, pretty much everything lays low until the season ends. We’re heading up north for Thanksgiving and the last weekend of rifle season. If there’s a lot of Matt’s cousins and family hunting at the cabin, we plan to hunt his grandfather’s back pasture. Gun season is the time we really count on to bring home deer. Hopefully we get some.

 

♪ Shot In the Dark ♪ ♪

Matt and I decided to head out Thursday night for deer. Figuring that most of the yahoos that run all over the place on the weekends probably hold down weekday jobs, we hoped that the deer had settled a bit.

I honestly wasn’t expecting must, given our abysmal luck so far. I didn’t even take pictures. It was about normal weather- high, thin clouds, a bit of sun. Mid 40s, temperature-wise- much warmer than Monday. The snow has melted off by now. The wind was straight out of the southwest. Matt took his normal spot (which has to be getting overused by now), and instead of trekking all the way to the back of the property, I opted to use the tree stand I found a couple weeks ago. Like I texted Matt, the wind was wrong for it, but since I didn’t expect to see anything, I wanted to at least be comfy.

Just in case of a fluke deer sighting, I put out some doe estrus in both my little resealable container, and I made a little trail of it in the field, to lure any bucks present closer. And then I sat. A little gray squirrel ended up getting quite close- I was still enough that he began climbing my pantleg before I moved my head and scared him.

And then I sat some more. Around 4:50, I drew just to see if I could see my sight pin. I could, sorta, so I gave it just a little longer. About ten minutes later I was thinking of finally packing it in, when I heard crunching behind me. Over my right shoulder. At first I dismissed it as the little squirrel, but then I listened closer- no scurrying, no digging. Slow steps. Deer.

I watched her come up the hill and sniff at my scent lure. I must have stepped in some of the stuff I dropped on the ground, because she followed my tracks. I haven’t seen a deer even remotely near me since September 25th or so. And here is a deer, no more than 20 yards out. I draw in silence. She doesn’t notice the movement. I look down my peep sight. Shit, I can’t see my sight pins. Right then, I should have let it back and not even tried, but I was too excited. I tried to eyeball it in the increasing darkness. And I missed. A near miss, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

She jogged away, only to come back closer. You have got to be kidding me. Hoping I might get lucky, I tried again, and missed. This time I think she finally winded me (she was downwind, after all) and bounded off in no real hurry, flag up. I found one of my two arrows in the dirt. I’ll have to look around for the other one in the daylight.

Matt didn’t see anything, but the trailcam he left up caught images, unfortunately, they’re all there while its dark. They’ve got to be in the rut by now, if this slight uptick in activity keeps up. Hopefully we do better this weekend- I might set up farther down that hill to catch one while it’s still light enough to shoot.

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This deer appears to maybe have a scar on its hindquarter.

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Anyhow. Tonight we’re packing for the ball. By the time this goes up, we’ll hopefully be on the road so I can make my appointments for hair and makeup on time. Friday night is for celebrating, so there won’t be any hunting stories (but hopefully nice pictures of us in something other than camouflage). We’ll head back down to Madison Saturday morning to hunt in the evening. We’re supposed to have warm weather, but rain. Hopefully it discourages some of the other hunters.

First Snow and We Catch A Break with Trail Cams

This post is way late, as I had a burst of motivation this morning to get some stuff done, and one does not squander that kind of motivation. Especially when it occurs early on a morning that’s about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Granted, part of it was seeing ice on the inside of our old windows, and the resulting imperative to get the shrink plastic up on them, stat. But then three loads of laundry and three sinkfuls of dishes just kind of happened on their own. My motivation around the house almost always overflows.

Anyhow. Monday was Veteran’s Day. Matt had a 76 this weekend (3-day weekend). So we made it out to hunt again last night. I was looking forward to it- the temperature had dipped the night before, and most of the morning, it had been snowing. Granted, it turned out to be just a dusting, but the low over night was forecast to be in the teens (it was) and Tuesday’s high only in the 30s (it will be). We hoped like nothing else that the deer would be moving.

So, I took Matt’s climbing stand back to that watering hole I mentioned. Never again. First off, I saw one guy dawdling his way up the road. I think he was trying to move quietly and not spook the deer, but at 2 in the afternoon, he would have been better off moving more quickly and trying to keep the noise down than dragging out his noise-making. There’s leaves all over, and if they aren’t dry, they’re frozen. Crunchy either way. Second off- I didn’t have a great grasp on how to use a climber. Getting it around the tree was difficult and noisy. Then, I nearly fell to severe injury not once, but three times. It just sort of slid a few inches each time, sending a jolt of adrenaline through my entire body and giving me a tiny heart attack each time. At least I was only about 8 feet off the ground.

Snowy woods and the watering hole

Snowy woods and the watering hole

I clunked around and made so much noise that I doubt I’d have seen anything anyway. To top it off, that particular stand doesn’t bolt together or anything to pack it out- I didn’t tie up the straps or something, and it slid apart. And smacked against the backs of my legs so much that I had to hunch forward and take baby steps out of the dark woods. Adding insult to injury was the guy walking out, while it was still light, smoking a cigarette.

Winter definitely peeked in on us a month early.

Winter definitely peeked in on us a month early.

Anyhow. I finally got the stupid tree stand out of the woods and to the truck. I’m never using it or any climber again. I’ll keep hunting on the ground, even. By the time I reached the truck, I was ready to cheerfully set it on fire and melt it into slag. So, I stuck it in the truck, and trudged back up the path to meet Matt. He’d not seen anything, but he had swapped out the SD card in a trail camera. When we got home, we checked it. And finally- a deer showed up.

Random deer butt one night

Random deer butt one night

And a little button buck at a different time.

And a little button buck at a different time. Edited to add that if you look at the right side of this picture, there’s another deer. I’d be willing to bet my favorite socks it’s a doe.

Not helpful that they’re near his stand location at dark. But with the height of the rut coming, maybe he’ll finally get lucky. Plus, once gun season starts, all the deer will be running around in a panic, so one might happen by his stand then, too. As for me, once we get back from the Ball this weekend, Matt promised to get me a set like his so I can sit in a tree, too. And I’ll hunt a south-facing hillside towards the back of the property. Maybe I’ll get lucky, too.

He’s even planning not to drink very much this Friday. Which, for anyone familiar with how USMC balls generally go, should be astounding. Last year, I had to push him down to the lobby on the luggage cart the next morning. He played a punching bag machine so hard he punched off his medals and bent the stack. The year before that, he crashed a random wedding at our hotel, and nearly ruined his dress blues with pizza. I had to tell him about all three the day after. So, he’ll be relatively coherent the next day just so we can hunt the peak rut. He’s that serious about it.

The Problem With Public Land is the Public.

This past weekend, we only got out on Sunday. Matt was out Friday night, and was only able to drag himself to the pool function, and then home to nap. His brother, sister-in-law and their newborn stopped by in the afternoon. His brother announced that their grandfather had given him permission to plant 12 apple trees and some food plots on the land up north. We’ll be putting that in with them and the skidsteer next Spring, which is exciting.

Setting up the decoys.

Setting up the decoys.

Dumping out his glove after tripping on a submerged log.

Dumping out his glove after tripping on a submerged log.

A whole mess o' coots.

A whole mess o’ coots.

It cleared up and became gorgeous.

It cleared up and became gorgeous.

GEWe did a double today. The morning was for ducks and geese. Or it would have been, if we’d seen any. The closest any ducks were to us was maybe a quarter mile away. No geese flying, whatsoever. The only birds we got were some coots, which have a daily bag limit of 15. They’re plentiful little critters, even if they’re only really good for sausage making. The skins will be good taxidermy practice for Matt, and I’ll grind them up with some pork fat or something and smoke the sausage.

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We got home around 10:30, after some gasoline-related mishaps at the launch (the truck was completely out and I had to walk a few blocks to the gas station). We showered, had coffee and brunch, and hung out for about two hours before heading out for deer in the afternoon and evening.

My view to the west.

My view to the west.

To the north-northwest

To the north-northwest

There was one truck in the parking area when we arrived around 1:30. Matt took his normal spot, and I opted to hike all the way to the back of the land.  I haven’t hunted here since the last day of last season- which would have been early January, on a day that was about 10F. In nearly three feet of snow. But this is the field I harvested my first deer in.

On the way back, I finally saw some sign around a puddle in an old tire rut. There’s a couple puddles like this that never really fully evaporate, even in summer. The deer drink out of them all the time, since the nearest water source next to them is the creek all the way up by the road. There were all sizes of hoof prints with those from does and fawns/yearlings dominating. But there were a couple big ones, too.

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In spite of this, I saw only a turkey hen, two bird hunters, and two people lollygagging around, walking the field edge right at 4pm. About 45 minutes before the sun set. They stopped at the entrance of every game trail, and stopped to wave at me, oblivious to my growing frustration.

Seriously? Go home.

Seriously? Go home.

The turkey and hunters at least came and went early in the afternoon. I sat in an old stand in the middle of the field- Monday hopefully I’ll get brave enough to use the climbing stand and get inside the tree line of this back field. Even if it’s a mile hike, uphill most of the way. I have to find the deer here at some point.

My Politeness and Good Manners Will Be My Undoing.

Tuesday afternoon, I arrived down in my hometown in Illinois. With work having wound down completely, and the house being in constant disarray with this flooring project, there isn’t much for me to do, really, since Matt works so much. I intended to just stay Tuesday night and then leave Wednesday evening. Well, I sorta kept tying on one more hunt, since I had literally nothing to do in Madison until Friday night. I got to spend all day Wednesday with my sister and little 9 month old nephew (who is just the best). I also got to do a little target practice. I found out I’ve been giving my bow a pistol-death-grip with my left hand (I draw right-handed), which is what’s been causing my arrows to miss high and right. Once I corrected my grip, I was shooting 5 inch clusters and bullseyes. It would be nice to be more accurate, but without a place to practice, I’ll take it.

I got back to Wisconsin late on Thursday night so I could put the house back together before the weekend. My mom was lobbying for me to stay another night since she had Friday off, but I’d left Matt and the dogs completely unsupervised for three days.

The pre-rut is definitely going hard down there. It should be going up here in Wisco too, but the deer on the land we hunt are so quiet and secretive that it’s hard to know. We’ve seen one scrape up here, but my second evening hunt down in Illinois, I heard two bucks rattling and grunting somewhere out of view of my stand. The younger, smaller bucks are also chasing does already.  Since I haven’t already inundated this post with pictures of myself posing with a beast, it should be obvious I didn’t get anything.

The first two nights, my mom’s friend and I hunted the corner of a bean field over decoys. Nothing the first night, and just the rattles and grunts the second.

The decoys.

The decoys.

Most of the week was heavy, over cast skies and spotty showers.

Most of the week was heavy, over cast skies and spotty showers.

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Got a little mud on the tires.

Got a little mud on the tires.

The third night was a clutch decision on my part on Wednesday evening. Again, with nothing of particular interest of import to do back at the house, I opted to stay for another hunt- I’m much more likely to see deer down there on this private land than I am to see any up here. Plus, these are the kinds of deer this guy regularly pulls out of there. If I said that wasn’t affecting my decision, you’d all be allowed to call me the filthy liar I would be for making that statement.

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This guys antler bases are about the size of RedBull cans.

This guy’s antler bases are about the size of RedBull cans.

So. We head out for a third evening hunt. I have the stand I want to use in mind. The ladder stand I used last time I went home.  One of his buddies from work was headed out with us, too. When we parked the trucks near the road, he mentioned wanting to use the same stand I did. So I told him he could have it, and I took a stand about 50 yards to the south, down in the creek draw. I shouldn’t have done that.

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I figured that since it was such a windy day, and the temp had dropped about 15 degrees that afternoon, the deer might stick to the sheltered little valley anyway. I saw a small buck chasing a doe about 80 yards away from me within 5 minutes of climbing up. And then nothing else. About 4:30, I heard the coworker’s bowstring twang, a deer hauling ass away, then some crashing to the north. When we all climbed down at dark, he said he’d watched two does and a 5 pointer pass before taking the shot at that doe just before the sun set. I should have taken that stand.

So we tried to track the doe. There wasn’t a blood trail to go on, just the prints from her taking off after impact. And she’d run north down the bean field towards the pasture. We kicked around in there for a bit, searching, until we realized the bull was at that end. We called off the search, and they were going to head out today to try to find her, if the coyotes didn’t get to her first.

So. I came home empty handed again. I can’t describe how very badly I wanted to fold down the Jetta’s seats, lay down a tarp, and try to stuff a big, corn-fed buck in there. I’m not sure when I’ll make it down again. The rest of November, our weekends are chock-full. Next weekend is the USMC ball up in LaCrosse, the weekend after that is opening day of gun season, and the third weekend is right after Thanksgiving. That’s the last weekend of gun season, and Matt gets a 96 for the holiday- we always go up north to hunt there. Maybe I’ll make it down for another middle-of-the-week trip next week or the week after. And just maybe, the third time will be the charm.

Same Old, Same Old.

We had another relatively uneventful weekend in the woods. We’ve had to put waterfowl hunting on hiatus for the time being, as Matt’s gun is still on the fritz. There seems to be a spring gone awry in the trigger mechanism. We’ve tracked down a couple gunsmiths in the area. Additionally, a friend of his has mentioned lending Matt his gun, since said friend has a pregnant wife at home, and thus won’t be doing any duck hunting.

Matt seems to be zeroing in on the deer, which is good. Getting off the field edges and into the cover has been key. The hillside he hunts on is thick with brush and scrub under the oaks. Having a stand in there is essential, and I don’t have one yet. I’m relegated to the field edges still, I suppose. I did try with my ground blind in the brush, but I couldn’t see more than a couple yards. The tree stand I found is in the trees enough that it might help, but the wind was wrong both days this weekend.

The thick stuff

The thick stuff

Matt was out Friday night on his own while I was at work. He saw that 8 pointer again, without a good shot. He also saw a big 4 pointer, which could be the deer I shot at and missed back in September. Saturday and Sunday we both had other hunters walk past us. Saturday, someone inexplicably crawled up the wrong side of the hill, through the brush, with a climbing stand on his back, more or less ruining Matt’s hunt. I want to start looking for private land, but getting permission for deer is tough.

Far and away the most exciting thing to happen for me this weekend (if you don’t count the dog eating a bottle of Doe Estrous Pee, and personally, I’d just as soon forget that if the smell would only fade) was a great gear find. We were moseying around Farm and Fleet yesterday, after stopping at a home improvement store (we’re installing new floors in the house, fortunate, with that whole deer pee thing). They had a very thick, insulated, fleece pair of ScentBlocker pants. In women’s small. The only pair on a whole rack of men’s gear. The tag said $80. I’d looked at a thinner pair of UnderArmour pants with scent eliminating properties for $180 at Gander Mountain. I snatched them right up. Holy moly, are they warm. And they fit correctly. No hitching, hoisting, yanking, or picking requiring. It’s like wearing warm pajamas into the field.

I told Matt it's a good thing they were ScentLok. I was sweaty enough by the time I sat that there was plenty of scent to lock in.

I told Matt it’s a good thing they were ScentBlocker. I was sweaty enough by the time I sat that there was plenty of scent to lock in.

No word on how much they really block scent yet. Or their durability. But they’re warm and comfy, and really, that’s half the battle. Or it is when you spend a couple seasons wearing ill-fitting, cheap youth larges.

Anyhow, we’re hoping to make it out sometime during the week, since the place is a little less crowded then. I’m also hoping to head back home before November goes and gets all wall-to-wall busy, because it will. Hopefully I have better luck than last time, since the rut’s getting going.