Whitetail Journal: A New Year

Whitetail Journal: A New Year

Whitetail Journal: “My hands hurt and sweat started running into my eyes.  I held a Wicked Tree Gear hand saw in my left hand and I wiped my brow with my right.  The task seemed daunting just looking at the jungle of thicket I intended to cut and thin out, but to push on I thought about what I always think about- that monster swamp buck making his appearance. Every branch I cut, every limb I broke and every log I cleared was moved with a purpose.  That purpose keeps me up at night and awakes me early in the morning; so much sacrifice goes into hunting a mature majestic whitetail.  I have been planning on cutting into this swamp ever since I laid eyes on two bucks that I would kill in heartbeat.” 

WhitetailThere is one buck I call “Ocho” and he started out as a basket rack 8 pointer and has blown up in both the antler and body size department.  I estimate him to be at 150 based on the pictures from the 2015 season.  I can’t imagine what he will be in 2016 if he made it through Michigan’s gun season.  He is at least 4 years old and has the large neck and pot belly to prove it.  There is another 10 pointer that would have gone mid-140s this year, however he doesn’t seem to be the same size as “Ocho”.  I would love to harvest either one of these bucks, but it is a lot easier said than done.  I know the swamp water deters the other guys from entering the cattails, and I have sunken up to my waist twice already.  But I am prepared to dive head first into the black muck if it means a single shot opportunity at “Ocho”. 

It’s January and I am cutting lanes and clearings for mini kill plots with efforts to develop some type of game plan for these deer.  It has been a while since I laid my hands on a decent buck, and at this point in my hunting career I want nothing more.  It’s January and this is what I think about literally every day.  The ideas, schemes and strategy consumes my mind rendering other events of any day insignificant.  It’s January and my hand saw’s teeth bite into another sumac.  I have never started prepping stand locations this early in the year before- yet it feels like opening day is only a couple days away.  Did I mention it is only January?

Whitetail

I get excited about this part of the season because success relies heavily on preparation.  The more one prepares now the better the odds of success.  I am ready to be fully committed this whitetail season and accomplish what I haven’t been able to in over 4 years.  The clearings I am cutting are not just to create a shot opportunity, but to also generate natural browse and potentially lay ground for planting a small kill plot.  I gathered this idea from reading a great article by Jeff Sturgis of Whitetail Habitat Solutions.  From what I understand, Jeff believes that deer frequently get up and browse around their bedding areas during the day.  Since the area I will be hunting is right outside of these beds I plan on trying to get some of the existing red brush to flourish by bringing more sunlight to them.  Additionally, I will look for some type of seed that is low maintenance to plant in select areas of higher ground.  I am hoping to have this project finished long before mid-summer that way “Ocho” and the unnamed big ten pointer have plenty of time to get the whitetail comfortable with the swamp again.  Trail cameras are going to be a game changer for me in this particular spot.  All of the bedding sign resides at the core of the swamp and I plan to cast my net of trail cameras just 60 yards outside of it. 

Before any of the trail cameras are broken out I need to continue hacking away at the swamp.  If all goes as planned there will be stand locations for every wind direction, so if a mature whitetail buck is showing up in the area I can use the wind to my advantage.  I really like using swamp waters, ponds and small lakes as barriers to keep deer from getting down wind of me.  This spot is allowing me to do just that provided I clear out some shooting lanes and create some points of interest for whitetail deer to travel through.  It all sounds good on paper, but the true test comes in the fall.  I know that we all conjure up some crazy ideas and tactics to kill whitetails. Every die-hard bowhunter does.  So I will continue to hack away at this crazy plan and pray that it ends with a mature whitetail harvest.          

Intro to the Whitetail Journal:  Update on the 2015 Season

Intro to the Whitetail Journal: Update on the 2015 Season

This season is holding many “firsts” for me as a hunter and outdoor writer.  I have proudly launched this hunting blog to provide quality information to the die-hard deer hunters and outdoor videographers. Recently, I acquired my first hunting lease. There are a few new properties that I was granted permission to hunt that I will be hunting for the first time. Lastly, I missed my first deer for the first time in a long time.

 

The reason I am bringing these events to light is to NOT make excuses, but to talk about the roller coaster that hunting whitetails really is.  The highs and lows.  The monster buck encounters, and the long, quiet struggles of uneventful stand sits.  And oh are the struggles real.

With all of that said, I am excited to introduce to you the Whitetail Journal.  This will be an ongoing series of updates, observations and insight that I (or fellow hunters) have in the field.  This will definitely be a blog series that I would like you as a reader to participate in. It would be great to get feedback and/or here about your hunts as well.  My favorite part about being a hunter and living this great lifestyle is seeing others succeed.  Please enjoy and interact with me here in the Whitetail Journal and with other blog articles as well. I truly look forward to swapping stories with everyone.

One word to describe the start of my deer season would be “scrambled”.  I had acquired some properties at the last minute, in addition to acquiring a new lease as well.  I was excited to have these opportunities, however I had so much to do in so little amount of time. Like many of you, I still work 40 to 55 hours a week and hunting just doesn’t get the attention it deserves from me.  I quickly had to speed scout these properties and development a game plan before the season started.  All the while, I was confined to my office for hours on end during my most opportune times to prepare stand sites due to additional work related obligations.  On the other hand, I made the most out of the time I had and managed to develop a plan that is very different from what I have done in years past.

 

My plan overall this season was to be more mobile than I have been in years past.  The idea behind this was to attempt to have more “1st time sits”, and to be able to capitalize on opportunities during the season. Additionally, I needed to be more mobile to make up for my lack of stand preparation during the off season.  I did plenty of scouting (but definitely could have done more), however I just did not have the time to hang tree stands in the areas that I scouted.  Prior to the season, I chose to purchase a Lone Wolf Assault II, with the climbing sticks, in efforts to help me with my goal of being mobile. I will say that this has been one of the best investments I have made during my 16 years of buying hunting gear.  I chose Lone Wolf for several reasons, but the primary reason I went with the Lone Wolf system was because it is very light-weight, quiet and portable. It was exactly what I was looking for to become a mobile hunter.  Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Lone Wolf in any way.  I studied reviews and experts’ advice from resources like “huntingbeast.com” with Dan Infalt, and the Lone Wolf Treestand creator himself, Andrae D’Acquisto from Whitetail Addictions.  There are other systems out there and I am definitely going to try others out, but I knew I couldn’t go wrong with Lone Wolf.

 

So far this season, I have been able to position myself into several shot opportunities on deer.  Unfortunately, the RIGHT deer haven’t been giving me the opportunities.  This has been a trying year for me as a deer hunter, and once again proving to me that as a deer hunter there is always more work to be done- regardless of the time of year.  At the beginning of October, I managed to miss a doe at 25 yards, completely broadside AND looking away.  Additionally, I passed a few smaller bucks in Ohio and Michigan to hold out for a more mature buck.  I have been on a three year quest to harvest a whitetail buck on film, and I am not looking for just any buck.  I want it to feel like it is the right buck.  Age structure is important to me, however I enjoy the story or experience behind every hunt.  With that said, I am hoping that with my continued hard work I will be able to finally put one down “on film”.

 

Lastly, I have been seeing a lot of good bucks being put down in my home state of Michigan, and I love seeing all the success other hunters are having.  I can remember when I first started having success in the whitetail woods I asked myself, “Why doesn’t everybody at least try this once in their life?”  I have always enjoyed hunting as my own passion, but I find more enjoyment in seeing others succeed and find pleasure in this great sport. With that said, I have been able to introduce a special person in my life to whitetail hunting this year, and I plan to accompany one of my younger cousins this season on a few hunts. More to come on those stories.

 

Stay tuned everyone for more from the Whitetail Journal, and if you are interested in getting updates on the Fierce Outdoors website, please subscribe to our newsletter.  Our goal is to provide valuable information to aid in your hunting and filming adventures.  Thanks for reading the Whitetail Journal and I hope to see you again!

 

 

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