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.
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.
The last few weekends have either been spent getting gear cleaned, organized and stored for the upcoming hunting season(s) or hitting the woods to do a little scouting of old and new places. Since I'll be hunting South Carolina for the first time in 10 years, I've been driving down an hour and a half from my house on Sundays to scout with my father and grandfather. They've driven me by places I used to hunt when in my teens and we have walked new places I have never been to before. Let's just say the amount of deer sign we have been finding has me pumped for the October 1st muzzleloader opener down there in the Upstate! I foresee a stocked freezer of SC deer just due to the number of good places we have to hunt, long season and liberal bag limits. Not to be forgotten, I've also been checking out a spot on Alcoa where Paul was blessed to take a mature doe last December on a hunt with me. We planned to cover the whole parcel of land one Friday, but a boot blowout back at the truck after making our way through one half of the area didn't let that happen. But we did a test run with my boat (a 10 minute boat ride saves us a mile to mile and a half walk!) last Saturday with our friend Seth, the cool morning making us all ready for deer season to get here. Parking the boat near just a 100 yards from a tree we had picked out for Seth, we were able to make a quick and quiet approach to said tree, validating the use of the boat come hunting season. But the day was just not for a test run, we let Seth practice using a climbing stand, got a video setup picked out and bushwhacked our way through head high weeds and briars to see where the deer that accompanied Paul's December doe had went to. Outside of a few Sundays in September scouting in South Carolina, my pre-season scouting will end on Monday morning at Alcoa after hunting the North Carolina dove season opener with Paul; I've got to get a tree picked out for next Saturday afternoon (that's right, bow season opens here in North Carolina a week from today!) so I can watch some oak trees from afar in order to pick out an ambush spot for the following weekend's hunt with Paul. From then on out it's in-season scouting, checking out spots on the walk out after morning hunts, during midday and on the walk in during afternoons.
Here we sit juts hours away from the opener of the North Carolina Spring Turkey Season (the youth got started last Saturday, now it is time for the adults to join in the fun) and I am ready to go! I ran across this earlier today on nchuntandfish.com and wanted to share it with everyone. Forum member Hawglips posted it and if anyone is pumped up for tomorrow it is Hal as he gets it done every year in multiple states and lives to chase turkeys. Below is his little ditty based off of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", enjoy and good luck tomorrow all you NC guys!
I'm sure many of our readers have been waiting for something like this. I know coming from NY I was use to hunting Coyotes at night but was not allowed to do the same in North Carolina. However, that is about to change this year. North Carolina has decided to allow hunting of Feral Swine and Coyotes at night on private land only. This is a step in the right direction and gives many of us additional opportunities to hunt these animals. The news story can be found here.
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.
Sometimes the great ideas that we have just need something to bring them to the forefront. The Inside Out team will be putting our talents to work and sharing our knowledge and love of the outdoors with anyone who wants to listen.
Curran's Outdoor Adventures
GoBlog (Get Outdoors)
Grants Blog (Growing Deer TV)
Hunt Like Your Hungry
inFOCUS (Campbell Cameras)
inMotion (Heartland Bowhunter)
Make It Happen Outdoors
Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
The Rivah Blog
The Will to Hunt
Wired to Hunt