Sunday, September 27, 2009

Opening day.

If you deer hunt you know what it means.
It is like a religion, it is like a rite of passage and it is almost demands a certain reverence.

About 8 years ago I started going to LBL with my friends from on opening weekend.
I would have never believed I would "give up" opening day, hunting at home where I "know" the deer and have a better than average to kill a deer on opening day, or opening weekend.
Since I have given that up I have enjoyed opening day and opening weekend just as much, if not more than before.

It may be because I am getting older but more and more I enjoy the social aspect of deer hunting every year.
This year I arrived at LBL on Friday morning, set up camp and headed to the woods with my buddy stretch.
We "scouted" from 11:00 a.m. until around 7:30 p.m. and according to my GPS we walked a total of just over 8 and a half miles.
I say we scouted, but we moreso looked at areas that stretch wanted to look at and areas that he wanted to show to and share with me.
I would have never seen / found some awful beautiful spots without him.
We walked (alot), we talked, we laughed and we just enjoyed the day.

After that we came back to camp and then shared a great meal with more friends.
Tried out a new steakhouse in Dover that was EXCELLENT and then built us a fire and shared drinks, stories, laughter and friendship.

I'm not really sure when we came to the realization that we weren't hunting this weekend, it just kind of happened.
It was kinda funny because we never really talked about it but we both knew the actual trek into the woods in the morning and the subsequent sitting and enjoying just being there couldn't add alot of enjoyment to this particular weekend.

I even got a "check" of my own mortality this weekend as I heard news of a brother deer hunter getting himself and his stand knocked down from about 30 feet up as a tree fell and it chose a path to the ground that he was directly in the center of. As I type this I don't know how he is doing, but I do know the helicopter was flying him to Vanderbilt while I slept comfortably through the early hours of the morning.
When you hear of something like this it definately makes you think, I assure you of that.

There ended up being three of us that never climbed a tree this opening weekend but I will be totally honest with you, it was one of the best I have ever had.

Make no mistake, the fire is there and I plan on returning to the spots marked on my GPS very soon but I guess this weekend was just a "smolder" that will build into the raging fire very soon.

God bless and good hunting always,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The First One

It was November of 1985 and there weren't alot of deer, but there were indeed more than there were just a few years prior.
I had been deer hunting since I was 14. I had just turned 18 and graduated from high school.

I honestly can't remember how many deer I saw before this hunt, but I know it wasn't very many. I do remember the opening day of "gun" season in Weakley County that year. "Gun" season in Weakley County at that time meant shotgun, no centerfire rifles and no does were allowed. My how times have indeed changed, but that is another story.

The sights, smells, sounds, everything about that day I can recount with vivid detail. I can still hear the rain as it started about 3:00 p.m. as it was hitting the plastic blaze orange vest I was wearing. I can remember hearing some geese fly over before daylight, I can remember seeing a few squirrels earlier in the day.

Mostly I remember the very first instant that I saw the sun hitting the huge rack of the three point buck as he came into view.
It had been drilled into my head that when you shoot a deer it will run off. There is nothing you can do about it, just watch the very last spot you see him and then we will go after him. That is what my brother-in-law, Garry, had told me anyway.

I, until that moment, had never prayed that hard for anything in my life. I can remember staring at that gold "BB" front sight on the Winchester 20 gage and praying that it stayed still, right there behind the shoulder.

I impressed my Garry with the fact that I actually shot the deer at a distance of 80 yards.
I impressed myself with the fact that as soon as I pulled the trigger the deer dropped where he stood, or walked as the case was.

3 point buck, 94 pounds field dressed. The highlight of my hunting career.

Now lets go forward a few years, about 17 or so actually.

I had began taking my son to the woods with me when he was only 4. Mainly just walking with me and usually me ending up carrying him quite a bit.
Then at 5 he began going with me to deer hunt. I would purposely hunt where I would not get a shot, but I might see a deer. Usually our "hunts" lasted between 10 and 30 minutes. I think we got one in that lasted 45 minutes.

Then near the end of the year I decided that it might be time to actually try and kill something while he was with me.
It was a button buck that came out, and I shot.
I asked him if he wanted to see it or if he wanted me to take him home then I would come back and do the "ugly stuff" such as field dressing etc.

To my surprise not only did he want to stay, he wanted to HELP. Needless to say, a hunter was definately born that day.

Fast forward to October 2003.

It was rifle season and my son was now 6 years old. He had a brand new Remington 260 and I had turned him lose on the deer that frequent my other brother-in-laws property near my home.

It was a Tuesday afternoon and we were sitting in our ground blind that we had built together earlier in the year. We actually saw a few deer but alas they were being run by neighborhood dogs and needless to say our hearts sank as we knew it was over.

I tried my best to sound believable and told him to hang on as it might not be over yet.
Sure enough, about 30 minutes later I saw a small deer heading our way. It was a button buck and he passed our location at no more than 30 yards.

I will admit that it took my son (Man as I call him, short for Little Man) a few minutes to get on the deer. "Finally I said, if you want to shoot shoot. If you don't want to shoot, don't. But if you want to kill a deer you need to shoot NOW."

I had no more than got the words out of my mouth when the 260 roared and the little deer bucked like a mule.

The blood trail and finding the deer and my actions leading up to it are definately hillarious. I acted like I had never seen a deer killed before in my life. I had to call my buddy Nat and have him calm me down enough so that I could function enough to find the deer.

After numerous photos and so many hugs I lost count, and yes big ole happy tears from ole dad, we headed to town to show "Paw-Paw", his grandfather, my father-in-law and show off the deer. My son's FIRST deer.

Just so you know, Tuesday night is when choir practice is at our church and that is where Paw-Paw was.
Also just so you know, that didn't even slow us down, muddy, bloody and whoopin like wildmen.

I would say out of 20 people in the choir, all the men and all but a few of the women came out to my truck to see the deer and slap my son on the back.
Yes, even now as I type this my eyes well up with tears.

My "Little Man" is now 12 years old and that very first deer was the first of SIX that he killed that year, including two 7 point bucks.
He has definately grown into a fine young man and hunter and make no mistake, THAT my dear friends is the highlight of my hunting career.

I wish you all the very best this coming deer season and I sincerely hope you are all as lucky as I have been and get to share in a first of some kind this year.

God bless and good hunting always,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Packed

Well over the last ten years I have made well over 70,000 posts and written two books while sitting at a computer but this is my very first blog.
Good thing I have a friend helping me or I never would have made it this far.

I am not the most computer literate person you will ever meet, nor am I a very good writer. I can, however, talk and type. So this just might work out.

I made a goal last week of doing ONE thing every day in terms of getting ready for deer season. The first day I worked all day around the house. I was at my wife's mercy all day. This may not seem like doing something to get ready for deer season, but if you have been married very long at all, you will understand why it was.

The next day I did something but can't remember what it was. I guess two days in a row is pretty good because the next afternoon I played golf.

Today was Monday and I am leaving for LBL Thursday afternoon. Needless to say, I have to get busy now.

It really is amazing to me how I can have stuff scattered in so many places when I try so hard to be organized.
I began by unloading all the contents of my shed to retrieve the three totes that held my gear.
I managed to dig out three "outfits" for the weekend hunt.
Found my gps in my turkey vest, along with my saw and pruning shears. I even dug enough to find my lost Thermacell.

My son and I were doing all this together, just like we do everything. He saw two bicycles that were covered in dust and since his has "issues" we dug them out and he started cleaning them up. One was mine that I broke the chain on and replaced it with one that just isn't "quite right" and the other was my wife's.
Needless to say, they are in "like new" condition.

After he got them cleaned up we headed to town to fill up the air tank so he could air the tires up and take them for a spin.
The bug lady came and I was arriving back home just as she was getting out of the truck to spray the vial smelling liquid all over my home.

Sanded a couple of my turkey calls and checked for the dog's reaction to them. They weren't impressed by the way.
I am amazed how light my climber is when my backpack isn't attached to it and I'm not going up and down the hills at LBL with it.

Finally dug through the three totes and got what I had to have out of it then ended up spending another hour going through the toolbox of my truck.

So I spent approximately 3 hours working, and sweating, getting ready for the opening day of bow season and when it was all said and done I had put a sleeping bag, two camo bags of clothes and two pair of boots in the back seat of my truck.

I guess since this is my first blog I needed to just ramble aimlessly because that way you will know what to expect from now on from me.

I will add a tip however, start getting ready for deer season more than four days before your departure.
God bless and good hunting always,