I had one lone goal in the 2014 season and that was to finally get a harvest on video. I had been trying for 3 years prior and just was not able to seal the deal so to speak even though I kept getting closer and closer (I actually videoed Paul from the tree while he sneaked up on and shot a button buck we had come in and lay down, but it just looks like he is shooting at the ground in it). But that all changed in a matter of 2 hours, if that, into my first hunt last year. Watch it for yourself and I hope you enjoy!
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.
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.
I'm a little late getting to this due to house closing items and getting started on a new project at work (thankfully I am finally back home in NC!), but here it is none the less, in all it's changing grammar tense glory. Let me set the stage for you: April 14th, 2012. 3:59 a.m. brings you to my pitch black apartment and a crowded bed consisting of myself, my wife and our 92-lb doberman mix. The silence is broken up at 4:00 a.m. by the alarm I had set on my phone, thus beginning another year of what I consider the most frustrating season there is for me as a hunter: Turkey Season. Luckily this year I've got an Ace-in-the-Hole by the name of Derek, my buddy Seth's neighbor who loves the outdoors as much as we both do, and is a much better turkey hunter than I could even claim to be. So with that in mind, I actually looked forward to that alarm going off and hopefully seeing my dry streak end when it comes to getting my hands around the neck of ol' Tom Turkey.
I fought through the morning fog that is waking up, getting all my stuff thrown into the Jeep and making the 20-minute drive over to Seth and Derek's neighborhood without any issues. After a quick breakfast (gotta love New Yorkers like Derek and Paul who love a hot breakfast before hitting the field!), we loaded up Derek's truck and were off to public land in the South Mountains along the Cleveland, Rutherford and Burke county lines. The hour and half long drive was a race against the rising sun and breaking daylight, but we were fortunate to race up the mountain, guns and my video camera in tow, just as the Spring woods were waking up. We settled in along a road bed running along the spine of a ridge dropping off the side of the mountain. Gobblers were sounding off below us left and right as night turned to morning, starting our waiting game along that road bed. While all the action seemed to be below us, around 7:30 (or was it 8?) we heard something walking just below our ambush spot in the creek drainage on the opposite side of the road. We waited, debating whether our ears were playing tricks on us or we actually had some kind of animal moving our way. Suddenly I hear Derek yell in a whisper, "Turkey!" and get ready to make a move to a shooting position. After a few seconds, I see a head pop out from behind a bush, then a neck and finally a whole Butterball turkey body. The hen scratched the leaves, feeding her way along the drainage without a clue that two camo clad hunters were waiting to see if she had a fired up gobbler behind her.
It turns out she didn't and as we lost sight, and sound, of her, we decided to stick it out on this particular roadbed another 30 minutes or so, hoping a lonely tom would come in looking for our live decoy. When it became apparent we would have to go find Mr. Lonely ourselves, the all familiar sound of crunching leaves made an appearance again, this time coming from the direction of where the hen had went. Once again, Derek yelled while whispering that it was a turkey and of course that was followed by me seeing a head, then a neck and finally what turned out to be the same Butterball turkey body. We watched and videoed the hen scratching and feeding, hoping this would be the time that a gobbler would silently come in strutting to his demise but it just wasn't in the cards. Once she was gone from sight, we gained the 600-vertical feet as fast as we could to the saddle above where the hen had went, trying to either cut-off her and any turkey that may be with her if they decided to go up the mountain or try to coax an old Tom from off the top of the mountain. We thought it had worked when we heard a few clucks and purrs coming from the thick undergrowth below us, but again our efforts didn't pay off.
The rest of the day was spent listening to the wind howl up top while working our way along the side of the mountain, just below the top. Another setup didn't produce even a peep so back down we went, setting up one more time along one of the many small creeks in the area before having to call it a day. Even if some would consider that kind of day a bust, the fact that we got some good video of a turkey being a turkey, great audio of gobbling off in the distance and important "recon" information about the turkeys in that area (that will make more sense whenever I get around to typing up this past weekend's recap) made it hardly that. We may have been unsuccessful in filling our tags or getting to lay eyes on strutting gobbler, but it was a worthwhile time being able to get out in the woods with a new hunting partner as well as finally being able to share a turkey hunting adventure with someone instead of going after them solo. Until next time, may your shot always be true.
I was able to get out for the last weekend of the Central muzzleloader season here in NC on Saturday. I hunted a spot where I had success with the bow last year, waking up to some great cold morning weather with a temperature of about 37 degrees! I arrived to the parking area and found one other guy who was hunting with his bow and had a quick conversation with him to see where he planned to hunt. Quick piece of advice: It's always a good idea to do this so that you don't hunt too closely to someone else and you especially need to know where everyone is, if possible, when on public land.
I got to my stand location at around 7 a.m. and settled into my tree as the sun was rising! The sun came up and the birds started to chirp...but no deer! I heard a few shots in the distance and by noon I had not heard much action for a couple of hours, so I packed it up for the day; but hey, a day in the woods is better than a day in the office! Even though I did not get a shot or even see a deer, it was still a very enjoyable morning. Especially since I find sitting in a tree one of the most relaxing things I do!
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