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Friday, October 29, 2010

Fruitful Hunt at Long Ridge Deer Camp

I know, I know,  I NEVER blog twice in a month, but Saturday, I went out and took a stand at the Far Stand. This is a stand 50 yards into the woods above the far field, as we call it. I took the stand around 3:30, and saw nothing but chippies and red squirrels for the longest time. Then about 5:45 I heard the distinct sound of a deer coming down the hill off the ridge. Stayed right behind me, for the longest time. Apparently she was getting a light whiff of me because it took her circling and sneaking, at least a half hour to get past and below me where I could see her. When I did, I saw one of the biggest does I have ever laid eyes on. No babes, all alone, and huge. I decided to take her for the pot, and then I would be able to concentrate on using my second bow tag on a decent buck...Eventually she appeared in the clearing below me, warily scoping out the field, and constantly waving her nose high in the air as they do, when on edge. She was about ten yards below me, and started down the trail when I drew, put the pin on her shoulder and touched off an Easton aluminum topped with a G5 broadhead. I heard the thwack! I saw the feathers in her, and she dug in and headed down the trail. I listened carefully and heard her running through the woods for a good 100-150 yards. This scared me. Since going to the Eastons, and 125 grain G5 Montecs, I have not had a deer run more than 35 yards before piling up. Also, this combinatin has always produced a through and through shot. And that's on quite a few deer. On this trail, I did not find my arrow!  So this one, I was worried I might not find...It would be dark in twenty -five minutes, and in this part of the country, you do NOT leave a deer out over night if you expect to save any of it for yourself. The coyotes take a day or two
 to find these kills, but the bears, hey, an hour later they are on them. So, I hung my gear and headed out. No blood, not a drop could I see, though I knew it was a good and fatal hit. I had to follow the digging tracks of her hind feet, for about 150 yards though heavy forest before I found her piled up in some hemlocks. She was a big one, and in order to get her dressed out I had to drag her about 100 feet to a small opening. I knew, the minute I grabbed her, that she was big. Turned out she weighed about 182 on the hoof, and final weight at registration was 141. So, once dressed out, I hightailed it for the farm to grab an ATV and a deer sled, to bundle her up and get her back to the game pole. You
can see the front of my ATV has the towels and I have used to clean my hands and the sled cover tied on for safekeeping during the haul.  Also I find the Streamlight handy to mount on my head while dressing out deer in the dark.

Once back at camp I hitched up a hose (all are shut down now because of freezing nights) and prepared to hang and wash her off. Her she is, hanging up outside the camp kitchen.

The next morning I walked the pups up to where I had dressed her out, and most of her offal was gone. As a big thank you, a bear had left a large pile of his poop right on the scene (mostly apples, thank you!) Don't worry, he returned the next day and finished off all the fat, and her rumen and contents included!!
After checking out that scene I walked to the Far Stand and picked up her tracks in daylight. I had not seen a drop of blood the evening before, but if you look at the maple leaves that cover our land, you'll see the difficulty we have in following blood trails this early in the season. It is literally impossible to spot blood on yellow leaves specked with their own red spots!. Our land right now is knee deep in these leaf colors. Even those 'blood lights' sold by everyone do not help in these conditions. I have one and all they do is highlight the red pigments on the leaves. How do you follow a blood trail, in dim light, with the forest floor covered with leaves like you see here? In any case, in bright light, I was able to find a few blood spatters, and also found my arrow about twenty feet from where  I had hit her. It was missing the broadhead and about four inches of arrow, which I have not recovered. I suspect it is lodged in her left shoulder, and have told the butcher that so he can try to recover it. I hung her for four days before taking her to be cut up. I prefer to hang deer for a week for premium tenderness, but it became kind of warm here the last few day so I took her in early. The rule of thumb for best tasting venison is hang the deer for one week at forty degrees, less if warmer, longer if colder. Of course if you have a cooler for game set at 40 degrees, that would be perfect!. What we do, is hang them and wrap in cheesecloth if it gets warm. Hang it as long as you can. Trust me on that.

Below, you can see Khalie, my dear Sheltie Collie buddy, who will NOT let me drive away without her! Especially to register a deer!
Below you see me at the registration station next to the scale. My scale at home (a Cabelas model) said 135 lbs. but the agent insisted his scale was correct at 141, so we went with that! If I had joined the pool, I'd be a winner! )-:

Below you see a late season picture of a young deer nursing Mom! They are fully weaned by now and will survive just fine without Mom, but sneak in for an occasional drink every chance she is not paying attention. She will kick the babes off, but they are sneaky. Funny, just like our sheep lambs!

I include the picture below because I'd like some opinions on what this is! Wide open mouth? Antlers? Bear? Who knows? We have had cameras jammed up by bears and deer antlers, so take your guess! In the meantime, tomorrow begins muzzle loader season, so I will be out there with a hunter or two to see what we can come up with! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Bowhunts at Long Ridge

It is a wonderful time of year at Long Ridge! The dry summer, and humid weeks we suffered are long passed, and nights now are generally below freezing. Days at 50/60 are pleasant, and as you walk across the field edges you get that 'fall smell'. The foliage is mostly gone by but below are a few images from the last few days. In the sunlight, it is bright, and cheery up on this ridge!

I have been out with bow six times since my last post, and have seen nine deer. Nothing exceptional, but I did take a shot at a large four pointer. Young perhaps, but very large of body. It was an exceptionally cold evening and I had a puffy camouflage jacket on, which caught my string. I missed by a mile, and he jumped straight up into the air, and then continued grazing at 45 yards away. I have been bow hunting for several generations and know better! Shame on me for being careless... this is he, below on camera at another location. This is just before he attacked my camera, attached to an apple tree. He didn't hurt the camera, but flipped it upside down, so the next picture of the coyote you see the titles on top, and upside down! He is a spunky one! In all I have had nine deer close enough to shoot, but have passed them all up except for a miss you will see below. In any case, mostly does, which are great for eating and management purposes, but do not begin to attract me until a bit later in the season...

Here are a couple of turkeys sayig hello at the same camera on the apple tree!

Below, though not very clear is the only creature I saw on one of my afternoon stands. He entertained me (it doesn't take much in the woods) for hours...
Below is the scene from my twenty foot tall ladder stand at the Far Ridge.  The farthest edge of the green is about forty yards, by design. The light rock spot is 18 yards, and I gauge off these two marks when shooting deer. This has been a very lucrative stand over the years.
The grapes as shown here, are all over our property...All the conservation rags and biologists say they are great for wildlife, but I must say, I have never seen any bird or mammal eat them. They end up all dead and shriveled in the dead of winter and then just fall off. As wild as they are however, they do make wonderful grape jelly, which is what we use them for.
This is the fall scene at LRDC. All the wood is in, the foliage is bright, and the call of the woods literally screams at you.

Last evening, I watched several does graze below me for an hour before they meandered off for acorns. I could have shot them a hundred times. But it is still early, and I have not lost my patience yet. Things are still calm in the woods. No LRDC hunters showed for the archery hunt weekend, so the deer here are still quite unaware. As I climbed down from my stand I just had to take this picture of a fall moon just coming up. It was particulary striking, because there was a flock of Canadas way, way high up, not low enough to see, but I could hear them winging south. Neat!

Above we have a (probably the same one that did my camera) frisky four pointer sparring with an eight pointer. Luckily the eight pointer does not seem to take this little guy seriously! Looks like just good fun. Then below this, you see the eight pointer I am aiming for. I have no daylight pictures of him, and he may never show in aiming light. But I can hope, and plan, and adjust tactics to try to make it happen. After all that is what it is all about. And if, at the end of the season he wins? Bonus! A ten pointer to stalk next year!

Here is another picture of this handsome brute! He'll weigh in dressed at about 175/180 is my guess.

So that is it for the last few weeks people! I did get an email form an unknown reader who asked me to post more often. That would be nice, but honestly, I cannot. This blog is about hunting, deer camp, and the methods and equipment and management practices we use. I simply cannot fill and post blogs with plug ins from other sites, trivia etc. Can't do it. I am
going to continue to post as often as I have new info, pictures, hunting experiences and time. I am not one to sit down to the computer every day, so I miss a lot of posts from folks I follow. Those of you who post daily, just amaze me!. In any case, all that we post here, is real time, our experience, our equipment, our hunts, and remember, the whole idea behind this blog was to encourage others to start a deer camp. Even your living room is a great place to start! To the reader in Ohio, go back to my first several blogs to see how easy it is to get one started! You'll never regret it, and your worries about leased land will end!

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