Well people, the hunting season is upon us! The Long Ridge 3-D deer archery target finally folded for good, and has been taken to the landfill. I am all done practicing, but do draw my bow four or five times before I head out. It is not really cool enough yet, so I have only been out two times. Once (and the first) time on the East Stand. I have both bears and a nine pointer you see below, showing up there, so I lugged both bow and 12 gauge shotgun to that stand in hopes of bagging a bear or buck. No luck, I saw nothing that day. That was the 21st of september, the last day of bear season in this unit.
I have multiple pictures of this dude from many angles. He is a taker, as his rack is wider than his ears. Whether he gives up his absolutely nocturnal habits will have to be seen. All the bucks remained completely nocturnal all summer, which is highly unusual here. I think it is because of the extreme heat and lack of rain this entire summer. Now that it is cooling to the forty and fifty degree range, I am hoping they will range out a bit more.
Today, I took my loaded ATV up toward the Far Ridge Stand, and parked about a hundred yards away on the trail. I rigged up my safety harness, unloaded bow and gear, and headed up to the stand. It was quite warm, but I had showered with scent free shampoo, sprayed all my light cotton camouflage with scent killer, and was comfortable. The leaves are coming down heavily now, about two weeks early because of the lack of rain, and it was noisy going in. But once twenty feet up in the oak, I was dry and comfortable. The first thing I do is hang all my gear, then rig my safety harness to the tree. Then, and not until then, I pull up my bow. I pull out the seat, and nock an arrow, then hang my bow to my right side. Now I can sit down, arrange everything the way I want it, and break out my range finder. Now, I have hunted this stand for some five years, so I basically know the ranges to most markers but it is always good to redo, and review ranges when bow hunting. There is a stump to my left I range at 16 yard. Use the twenty yard pin quite low on the deer. There is a rock at 18.5 yards. Use the twenty yard pin dead on. There is a bald spot in the grass at 29 yards. Use the 30 yard pin low on the deer. That's the gist. I always prefer to shoot a bit low anyway, as my experience has taught me that if the sound of your shot alerts the deer, they will crouch to bound away, and that is why so many archers shoot over the backs of their deer. These days, any quality bow is so quiet, that it is generally not an issue. But it is my habit. Last year, I shot a large doe at twenty yards using the twenty yard pin. She was moving, so I was leading, and in doing so, forgot that I was twenty five feet above her. I took a good aim, released, and took out her spine, when I was aiming behind her shoulder. This is because I forgot how high I was in the air. (I do not use rangefinders with ARC, and won't unless I go on a sheep hunt!)
In any case, once I have reviewed ranges, puttered around for five minutes with equipment, it is time to wait. In this case I waited for an hour, seeing and hearing nothing but squirrels and chipmunks scavenging the many acorns I could hear dropping all around me. As I said, with all the crispy dry leaves, it was LOUD out there! About 5:30 I heard deer coming in...first a momless babe, obviously born this spring, but having lost 99% of her spots. She was alone, and edgy. I'd give good money to know how her mom died. She popped acorns, and grazed toward me for about twenty minutes before she alerted to sounds I could not hear, and beat it out of there fast. She should have saved her breath, it was only a large shiny doe with spring twins. Couldn't tell their sexes, but both were good sized and shiny, and playful. They grazed all around me, while I pulled my bow from it's hanger. Our doe season for archery is closed until October 1st this year, but you never know when a silly young buck might burst upon the scene! Anyway, these five deer kept me entertained for an hour or so, as the younger ones raced around and played, and the does grazed and kept careful watch..It was an instructive hour, because I noted that the deer, while grazing initally, actually meandered to acorns...so now we know where the deer will be - up on the high ridges, where the mast is.
The other day I found these moose tracks wandering all over Long Ridge parking lot. He wandered in from the South, sniffed around my equipment, and wandered off down the lane toward our sheep on pasture. I have not caught this one on camera yet...but it is a large one.