2001-2002 Bow Season
September 2001 -This is the first year in the last 10 that I haven't been a member in a deer-hunting club somewhere in the state. This year I'll be relying on the family land and other associations I have with people in and around Morgan County for a place to hunt. It's not uncommon to hunt for days at a time in Morgan County without seeing a deer ... I've settled in with the mind set for a long-hard bow season.
I have a string of 12 straight years that I've harvested at least one deer with a bow. For the last 8-9 years, I've been a member of a good club in Jackson or Greene County. I always knew if I were patient, I'd get a few really good shots during the bow season. Without that to fall back on, the streak could be in jeopardy this year with only Morgan County to hunt. One things for sure, if it gets down to January and I haven't harvested a deer with a bow - I'll be toughing it out with no cover, cold temps and a bow in my hand.
November 06 - What a strange bow season! I didn't get back in that club in Greene County this year due to the fact that Kim and the kids went to Gulf Shores with her parents the week before bow season and the third week of the season I had to go to Charleston, WV on a business trip. Basically the first month of bow season I wouldn't have been able to stay gone from home hunting and spend the time I need with the family. Many of you know that I'm a hunting fanatic, but my family means much more to me than a "hobby" ever will. The club in Greene County has some really good people in it and I miss the commodore. Mac Moncus is one of the landowners, hunters and a truly good person. It was allows a pleasure and honor to talk and hunt with him.
Considering the circumstances it has been a very good bow season. It started off really strange!
November 14 - I've hunted 7 out of the last 9 days and have not seen one single deer. This in not uncommon here in Morgan County for me. The week or so right before gun season always tends to be real slow and doesn't pick up much until after Christmas. I've spent a lot of time scouting and getting more stands setup for the next few weeks. I now have around 15 trees ready for a stands. Some stands are already in place and some just have the steps up waiting on a stand.
November 16 - Gun season opens tomorrow morning and effectively my bow hunting for the year has wrapped up. I enjoy bow hunting, however I tend to leave the bow at home and opt for a rifle during the cold winter months. So far this season I've hunted 20 times out of the 33 days the season has been opened. During the 20 hunts I saw deer only five times from my treestand, however I got four shots at least than 20 yards. That's not bad! Two shots were at bucks and the other two at doe. In my opinion, the weather was really bad this year. The warm weather seemed to cause the deer to be nocturnal or move right at dusk when the light was at a minimum. With the amount of acorns and the lack of deer, they are not hurting for food and can eat at their leisure. Of course the deer already have their winter coats at this time and I know I wouldn't move much in a pair of goose down coveralls in 75-degree weather. Out of the five times I saw deer, I only saw eight deer total! A total of eight deer in 20 hunting trips is really low. It's a shame that the Alabama Game and Fish Department thinks Morgan County has enough deer to allow "Hunters Choice" for 9 days at two doe a day. They are truly unbelievable, misinformed and clueless on what is really happening with the deer herd in Northern Alabama!! I told them this - click on My way of thinking - articles expressing my opinions and then select Morgan County. Maybe the remainder of the season will pick up.
Hunting Stories and Pictures
October 17 - I was hunting around a couple of acorn trees and had not seen a deer all afternoon. Right at dark I heard a deer walking directly behind me. I was already standing up, but facing forward away from the deer. I waited until he came into my peripheral vision and the first time I saw him he was only 8 or so yards away. I saw ahead a small beach tree that he would walk under and quickly formed a plan as to when to draw and shoot. If he continued on the same track it was give me a good place to draw and a quartering away 15 yard shot. To good to be true ... of course it didn't happen. He walked under the tree and I drew, however instead of continuing on the same path he made a 90 degree turn to the right - directly in front of my stand ... straight down wind. He froze in his tracks ... I had him at 12 yards and broadside, it was really late in the afternoon and I could tell it looked a little thick in front of the kill but nothing major. I shot and heard the arrow glance off the brush. He ran off untouched. Later, I got down and found my arrow stuck in the ground at an odd angle. The next time I hunted that stand, in plenty of light there's much more brush than I thought in the low light. The wind had been blowing my scent behind the stand and away from the oak trees, as the wind died right at dark my scent started to fall downhill toward the oak trees ... at that close of a distance he was right in that illustrious scent cone. I felt real good about the shot when I squeezed the release ... I guess it just wasn't meant to be.
October 21 - I was hunting in a different location on a red-hot acorn tree. I really expected to see some deer before the afternoon ended. At dark-thirty I had not seen a single deer. It's really thick in there and I heard something real close to my stand off to the right. He walked out in a little opening and all I saw was a mass of white bone protruding from his head - a big boy - Mr. Shooter - the kind you tote a picture off in wallet to show to everyone - Ole Mossy Horns - The Rio Grande - you know what I mean. I've harvested many deer with a bow but never a really big buck - not a 140 class deer. This one was big but I'm not sure how big ... it was late ... maybe 120P&Y maybe 170P&Y. He walked under some of the canopy and I drew. I couldn't see through my peep sight but could see my crosshair on the deer. I rested it the best I could slightly right of the kill zone to compensate for the non-peep sight shot and squeezed the release. I heard the arrow hit hard and he ran off like on fire for about 70 yards, tearing the woods down and sounded like he piled up. From the time I saw him until I shot was probably less than a minute. I'm feeling pretty good about right now ... I heard the arrow hit and I'm pretty sure he piled up ... I'm sitting in the treestand and I start thanking my list of people that I do every time I harvest a deer ... the list starts with God who makes all things possible. I waited about 30 minutes and got down. My flashlight is almost dead as I spent the night before helping Jim Childers with a deer he shot. The first thing I see is a massive amount of blood and then my arrow. I retrieved the arrow, marked the spot and started back to the truck. It's only about 100 yards to a picked cornfield that I have to cross. When I get to the cornfield I see a large object run off .. to big to be anything other than a deer and it looks almost too big to be a deer. I went back to the truck and examined the arrow. It was not a gut shot but didn't look like a classic "death arrow" either. I called Jim when I got home and we went back to look for the deer. We tracked him for that first 70 yard death run but he didn't pile up ... he stopped and stood around in several places. There was a lot of blood in puddles where he stopped and stood. Spots the size of a basketball and several of them. We tracked him through the woods for around a 100 yards and then back out into the cornfield. That was him in the cornfield I saw! When we found where he stood in all those places and now hit the cornfield, my confidence in finding him and mental stability was at rock bottom. We lost the blood in the cornfield. I came back the next day and tracked him by his track across the field. Every couple of times he hit the ground I would find a couple of drops of blood. I tracked him for 200 yards across the field and found where he went into the woods on the other side. I measured his track and it was 4.5" wide - probably a 200 lb.+ deer. Once he went in the woods I found blood everywhere. He had wondered around in a spot about the size of a basketball court in some really thick bottomland. I could never find where he left the area. I searched high and low and never found him. I spent a lot of time studying the arrow and it was a pass through shot. The arrow didn't have very much blood on it and it didn't have any indication of a gut shot. I've tracked somewhere around 100 deer in my day that has ran off. Most of the time if you dont find them within 100 yards ... you doesnt find them at all. I'll search for hours on my hands and knees for the next drop of blood ... I feel like if they can be recovered I will do it. I believe that the arrow either hit one of two places. 1) Really high in the chest cavity just under the spine. Due to gravity, the organs of an animal settle downward in the chest cavity. They actually have a void area above the lungs. 2) I hit back and low at the point where the diaphragm connects to the lower rib cage. The blood indicated a chest cavity type of blood. It didn't appear to be muscle blood out of say the ham. Plus the arrow shot all the way through at a broadside angle. The ham would be a along way for an arrow to travel in a 200lb+ deer. If the arrow when through all that massive amount of meat, vessels and veins it would be covered in blood. If you have any thought on this send me an email ... I'd like to hear you ideas.
I don't lose many deer with a bow. The good Lord has provided me with the opportunity for good shots and my grandfather taught me a lot about patience. Patience is a major key to bow hunting!
If infection doesn't setup he might survive. I hope he does ... I wish I had missed! It would be tough to swallow missing a deer like that but better than wounding one any day ... buck or doe. If he did die I hope I find him during the season just to see how big he really is. I hunted that stand a few more times and have not seen hide nor hair of him - big bucks tend to vanish when spooked from an area anyway ... but who knows he wandered through again. I may or may not have a permit in that area for gun season - if he don't turn up by the start of gun season I may never know if he made it or not.
October 30 - I was hunting on the side of mountain and had just got in my treestand. Before I had time to even put my hat, facemask or left glove on, I saw a deer approaching eating acorns. The sun was still up and I'm sure it was reflecting off my face and left hand. I watched the deer and it appeared to be alone. It was only about 40 yards away when I saw it. I watched it and every time it would turn away ... I would go into motion. I had my bow in my lap, an arrow nocked and my release on. That's the first thing I do right after fastening the safety belt. I slid up the tree a little each time it would look away and finally got completely standing up. Then I would turn slowly toward the deer and ease my bow into position as it looked away or got in some cover. The deer offered me a good shot opportunity at 35 yards but I passed. To far under these circumstances. Patience I told myself ... plenty of light left and the deer is moving this way. 35 yards is just to far for me. Sure I can hit dots at 35 yards but a deer at 35 yards out of a treestand with hunting clothes on ... to risky. I have harvested deer at that distance with a bow but it was under perfect circumstances. I prefer my Remington at that distance. It took the deer about 30 minutes to move the distance on in and unfortunately for me the deer feed to me on a path that kept her covered with limbs until she was only 9 steps from my tree. I don't like shooting deer with a bow that close ... I prefer 20 yards ... no more no less ... but it's not a perfect world. She was about to walk out into an opening and I drew. She stood there for what seemed like hours as I held the bow. I'm starting to sweat and shake. Her head and neck is clear but not the vitals. I know if I let down it's over. I wait and wait ... finally she takes a couple of steps just as I'm about to have to let down ... I shoot ... she runs about 50 yards in a death run and hits a tree head on. That was that ... Amber had basketball practice at 6:00pm so I carried her out real fast and hauled her to a friends deer processing center. I weighted, field dressed, skinned and covered in cheesecloth netting until the next day. The next night I quartered her and gave a friend a ham for jerky. He brought some to work .... very good.
Weapon: Hoyt SuperSlam Bow
Arrow: Easton XX78 - 2312
Broadhead: Muzzy 115gr.
Treestand: Custom Built Loc-On
Range: 9 yards
Deer Traveled: 50 yards
Weight: 105 lbs.
Date: October 30, 2001
November 04 - An interesting day. The wind was blowing out of the West-South West, I have around 6-8 hang-on stands up on acorn trees to hunt scattered around the property. We don't normally get a lot of wind out of a westerly direction and one of my best stands needs that wind direction. I headed to that stand to hunt and someone on the adjacent property was bush hogging with a tractor. My stand is only a couple hundred yards from the property line so I had no choice but to move to another stand. It's a long walk back to the truck and on the way back I found a turkey feather - I stuck it in my back pocket and continued on to my truck. I went to another stand that needs that type of wind and hunkered down for the afternoon. With about 30 minutes of light remaining, I saw a deer about 60 yards away but not coming in my direction. After about 5 minutes I saw another deer and they were feeding off in the other direction. When I was certain that they were not coming toward me, I blow a couple of real soft doe bleats. About 5 minutes later I saw them again milling around eating acorns and browse .. slowly coming my way. It's real thick in there and 60 yards is about the max on visibility. Whether it was the call or just luck that brought them back I'm not sure ... probably luck. They were still about 60 yards away and stood around there for a few minutes under an oak tree picking up acorns. At this point, I didn't feel I would get a shot as the light was really fading fast and they were moving at a snails pace. I remember saying, "They would have to walk right to me now for there to be time for a shot using the peep sight". That's exactly what they did. They walked straight from that oak tree to one of the oaks I was hunting. I had just enough light to see through the peep sight. The deer was 20 yards away and almost completely broadside. I drew when she walked under a small beech tree and shot when she walked out and stopped. The arrow hit perfect and she ran about 25 yards and collapsed five steps from my tree. The other deer hung around in the area and I actually drew on her a minute or so later. Even though two deer a day are legal with a bow, only one of which can be a buck, I had no intentions of shooting her. I had her dead to right at 20 yards broadside with the pin buried in the 10 ring. When I got down, I wanted to get her quartered up and the hams to a local BBQ place to have them smoked. I looked at my watch and knew it would be close. I normally go home, call Jim, change clothes and then we go drag the deer out; however time was of importance here. Jim and I always make a big deal out of harvesting a deer. Most of the time you would think it was the first deer we ever harvested even though both combined we have taken over 200 deer. I field dressed her there and timed it on my watch. By this time I couldn't read my watch without a flashlight and I field dressed her in 2 minutes 14 seconds ... not bad. I dragged her a couple hundred yards to where I could get to her with my truck and started home. At home, I quartered her and took off to the BBQ place with Austin. We barely made it in time ... the hams turned out excellent!
Weapon: Hoyt SuperSlam Bow
Arrow: Easton XX78 - 2312
Broadhead: Muzzy 115gr.
Treestand: Custom Built Loc-On
Range: 20 yards
Deer Traveled: 20 yards
Weight: 70 lbs.
Date: November 04, 2001