A Season of Missed Opportunities - A Story About Disappearing and Taking Care of Others' Unfinished Business
As November continued on, the "fun" was just beginning to for me. The weekend after my small unloaded gun failure, Paul and I found ourselves perched 25-feet up a pine tree on section of Alcoa gamelands in Rowan County, NC. Muzzleloaders in hand and me running the camera as well, we sat that still morning hearing duck hunters break the silence as daylight slowly crept over the trees. The occasional muzzleloader shot rang out as well, putting that feeling that "it could happen any time now" in us. And it did, just as heavy fog rolled in.
Instead of doing a month by month recap of my hunting season after early October I've decided to highlight the small failures I encountered on the way to today, the day after Christmas, as I prepare for my final hunting trip of the year that starts this afternoon. All in all this has been a freezer-filling year for me, being blessed with 3 does and a spike (that I thought was a doe actually) and seeing 27 deer to date, making for one of this public land hunter's best seasons ever. But along the way I ran into missed opportunities that I would love to have back, with none more so than the one that happened last Thursday. First, however, we must start in October.
So I dropped the cash on a non-resident South Carolina hunting license this year so I could hunt with my dad and grandfather. Weekends in August and September were spend scouting in preparation for the first weekend in October. I had already been hunting a few Saturdays in September once North Carolina's archery season opened as well as the Eastern muzzleloader opener Paul posted a few weeks ago. But nothing beats October and the changing fall colors in brings to the deer woods and that first weekend of muzzleloader season in the Upstate of SC was what I had been waiting for. Friday the 4th found us hunting a strip of oaks running between pines and a clearcut on Sumter National Forest land in Laurens County, both in the morning and evening.
Cory and I decided to hunt Butner game lands with two other buddies of ours for the opening day of the Eastern NC Muzzleloader season. We had about an hour drive from my place in Burlington, NC to Falls Lake so we left the apartment around 4:30 a.m. and planned to meet up with the other guys around 5:45 to start heading into our spots. It was a cool morning in the upper 40's to low 50's. The cooler temperature had me excited for a couple of reasons: first, I would hopefully not be covered in sweat after the walk in to our stand location and, second, I had high hopes that it would have the deer up and moving around in the morning.
The first two full weeks of North Carolina's Archery season are in the books and we have been fortunate enough to spend a couple days in the woods. No deer yet but lots of valuable information has been gained on this particular piece of public land we are hunting.
Labor Day morning, Cory and I headed over to the Alcoa gameland for the opening day of the North Carolina Dove season. We have been scouting this area for deer hunting quite a bit during the off season so we decided to setup at first light near the power line clear cut to see if we could catch the morning flight of doves. Not long after we had setup we had a dove fly over us that caught us by total surprise. We saw a few others on the power lines but nothing that flew to us and decided to take a walk around and see if we could jump any on the new logging roads; we did but no shots were taken. On our way back to where we had our gear set I flushed one dove out ahead of us and took a shot but did not connect. Although we did not leave with any doves for dinner we used a good part of the day to scout for deer and are now very comfortable in the area and we do believe we will take some deer as the season progresses. All in all it was a great day out and it beat sitting in the office! Now hopefully our scouting endeavors pay off in the coming weeks. Be sure to keep an eye out for many new posts coming!
P.S. - We would love to hear from our readers how they did on dove this year, so feel free to share your stories with us!
Below are our hunting season reviews. First up is Paul's end of season recap followed by Cory's storytelling of the late season, enjoy!
Prepared for battle!
I set off October 11th for Raleigh to hunt the NC Eastern Zone with my muzzleloader. I got a taste of it when I hunted the morning of the 9th in the Western Zone up at South Mountains Gamelands in Rutherford County and was ready to get to a more familiar place with a better deer population. I had made up my mind the night before that I would hunt where I shot a 9 point on Butner-Falls of Nuese Gamelands back in 2009 so when I saw a small buck laying in the ditch not far from the parking area I knew they had been moving and felt good about my chances.
View of the oak plateau I hunted on Friday
As Paul wrote the other week, deer season is now open in NC, with archery opening mid-September and the Eastern muzzleloader season opening this past Saturday and the Western one opening today. With it being the 1st of October, most other states have opened at least one of their seasons as well so I hope everyone is being safe while pursuing those whitetail that we love so much (or mulies, blacktails, pronghorn, elk, etc.). I know it's a little - ok, wayyyyyy - late getting this hunting recap up but hurried housework before I left for and work up here in Southwestern Indiana has kept me running around like a chicken with its head cut off. None-the-less, I wanted to let you guys know how my first hunts of the 2012 season went.
As I said in an earlier post, we gave duck hunting another shot. After all, the first attempt was not the most successful one. I know the number of ducks in this area and knew if we could get a better day weather wise we would come close to limiting out. Well, it turns out I was right! The Friday before I came back down to NC I set out for the same spot with my buddy Brian...and my Gramps! We got set up with the same spread of decoys as we did earlier in the week, knowing the ducks would be flying come sunrise. This hunt was one of the best I ever had and turned out the best numbers yet as well! Shoot, we had our first two ducks at first light!
This was one of my favorite hunts of the week as I got to spend some good quality time with my grandfather who loves to hunt! As I said, he already had a deer hunt for the record books killing a buck and two does all in the same day! Also known as his best day of deer hunting in his life! I'm glad I got to share that with him, so I was hoping this duck hunt would be another hunt that would make memories and it was. We ended the day with 11 Mallard ducks - 6 Drakes and 5 hens. With only one duck short of a limit, you can't ask for a better day than that!
Take a look at the photos in our Media section and, as always, enjoy!
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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
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