Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Grouse

Scott, Logan, Adam, and I headed up to the central MN property that we deer hunt on for a little grouse action. It snowed about 1.5" on the drive up to the property which limited the amount of bird activity we usually see up there. We burned a lot of leather walking the property, but the birds didn't cooperate very well. Around 10:30am Adam had a bird running in front of him in the cover and he made a great shot on it after it flushed; Grandpa's ol' side by side served him well!

The bird sailed about 60yrds into the timber before going down, but Oshi made quick work of the retrieve and we had our first bird in hand. We walked out the rest of the property throughout the afternoon and only kicked up one more bird. It flushed about 35yrds in front of me and I cracked off one shot hoping to get lucky, but it was to no avail. Regardless it was a great day in the MN timber!

We also sighted in Scott's 30.06 with the low recoil rounds for Logan's MO youth deer hunt January 7-8. It's crazy how much less recoil the rounds have and they are still extremely accurate. Now we just need the deer to cooperate in a couple weeks. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yote Smoked!

I meet up with Adam shortly after 5 a.m. on Friday, December 9th to muzzleload hunt in Annandale. The temperature at home was 2 degrees when we pulled out of the driveway. By the time we arrived at the farm the temperature had dropped down to -2 with a windchill of -15. The wind was out of the west at 5mph and was suppose to increase to 10-15mph by late morning. It was going to be a cold sit!

I put Adam in the High Stand which sits just north of a picked bean field and is located between two bedding areas. I have had great success in that stand during past late season hunts. I set up in the Big Oak Stand which sits on the south end of a large swamp.

Adam had a very productive sit other than never getting to shoot. Just before 8 a.m. he had a button buck come down from the picked bean field. Minutes later he had a small fork buck and several young does come down the same trail. Adam was planning to take one of the does when another young doe came trotting down from the field with a nice 3.5 year old 8 pt. right on her tail. Adam tried several times to stop the buck but it wouldn't leave the young doe's tail. After several minutes of running around the buck worked his way east without offering a shot. Here is a pic of the 8 pt earlier in the summer. Nice deer for sure!
My end of the woods was like the dead sea until just before 9 a.m.. I was freezing by that time and I was counting the minutes until 9:30 a.m.. I heard something running in the woods to my south. I couldn't see into the thick cover very well, but it sounded like deer running. A minute or two later a coyote showed up to my east and was coming down into the swamp. My guess is the coyote cut off the deer coming to the swamp and was chasing them back in the woods. Either way the yote was going to get a sabot shot its way if it offered me the opportunity. The yote hopped onto a trail and walked directly towards me. I let it get to 30 yards before settling the sights of my Omega on its neck and touched of the shot. Once the smoke cleared I could see the yote laying on its side with one of its little paws sticking up in the air twitching. The dirty mutt was trying to act like it could hold the .50cal....please!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Icing on the Cake

After leaving the north MO property Friday afternoon I made it back to KC in time to hunt the archery only property in north KC. I wasn't anticipating a whole lot of action with high winds and temps pushing 70, but a cold front was going to hit over night and I wanted to have my decoy in there and ready for the morning sit. Right before dark a little 8 point worked in from the east and checked out "Ralphy", he decided it would be best not to scrap with a buck of Ralphy's stature.

Saturday morning I settled back in the Quarry set and "Ralphy" was rocking it about 13yards over my right shoulder. It had cooled down considerably from the night before, but there was still a pretty good south wind cracking. Right after legal shooting light a young 8 point came in and skirted "Ralphy" to the north. The buck was very curious, but just wouldn't commit to coming in and checking things out completely. About an hour later a nice 6 point worked in from the west and gave "Ralphy" as serious once over, he worked inside 25yrds before going on his way. Just after 8am I picked up movement coming out of a draw to the southwest of the set. I didn't need the binos to tell it was a decent buck. I flipped the can call a couple times, but the wind was covering the noise up, so I pulled out the VECtor grunt call. I let out two loud grunts and the buck briefly stopped and looked before continuing to walk away. I let out three more loud and aggressive grunts and in mid stride the buck made a 180 degree turn and started coming right to the tree.

At about 30 yards you could tell the buck finally noticed "Ralphy" and his entire attitude changed instantly. He pinned his ears back, puffed up all his fur, and started the sideways...I'm about to kick your ass gait towards the decoy. The buck actually cut upwind of "Ralphy" and literally walked directly under my set and around the tree. He was totally focused on the decoy at this point, so I swung around the tree and came to full draw without him even knowing I was there. The buck postured all the way in and when he was about 3yards from "Ralphy" I touched off the arrow. Instantly blood poured out of both sides of the buck and he bounded about 20yards past the stand. He had no idea what just happened and he turned to look back at "Ralphy" one last was the last thing he saw because he tipped over right there, with Ralphy giving him the stink-eye!

I was pretty rattled after the shot...I kept my cool the entire time he worked in, but after I smoked him the adrenaline took over. I literally couldn't stop my legs from shaking, so I just sat down and relaxed for about a half hour and took in the experience. It's my first archery buck during the MO firearms season and it was icing on the cake for our week! I'm sold on decoying deer, what a blast!!

Getting Down to Business...Minny-MO Style

Scott made his way down to Missouri for our annual week for hunting the north MO property during the firearms season. I managed to get one last archery hunt in Friday evening before the firearms opener and had my first encounter using "Ralphy" the decoy. The buck that came into the decoy was a three year old six point that would have got an arrow if he had brow tines.

Saturday morning came early and the weather conditions were far from ideal with temps in the upper 40s and expected to hit 65 by mid-day and strong southwest winds; little did we know this was going to be a common theme for the week! We saw a few deer moving around in the morning but held off on cutting does right out of the gates. Saturday evening Scott headed into a new set I hung this spring that hadn't been sat in all year and I slid into the Illinois set. Right before 5pm I spotted a shooter buck cutting up a draw to the northeast, but he was about 200yrds out and going away. Shortly after he disappeared I heard Scott crack off the first round of the week and promptly received a "doe meat" text from him. He had two does and a mini come into the south meadow pond and after waiting on antlers for several minutes he put a mature nanny down in her tracks.

Sunday morning was a repeat of Saturday with a few deer spotted but nothing to write home about and the weather was even warmer and the wind was still cracking out of the southwest. After the morning sit we slid into the east side of the main sanctuary area and hung the "Graveyard" set. Sunday evening Scott headed down to the Highrise stand and took up post in the Bedroom set. Around 4:30pm a blue F-150 came rolling up the road and parked about 80yrds in front of my. Shortly after the engine shut off I saw a rifle barrel slide out the driver side window. I immediately got down and went to confront the trespasser. It was an elderly neighbor that knew he wasn't supposed to be hunting there and I kindly asked him to get off the farm. I was pretty PO'd when I climbed back into the stand, but I quickly forgot about it when I heard Scott's .06 bark at 5:15pm...and another nanny was put to sleep.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow movement wise. We were seeing deer just nothing big and very little rut activity was taking place during daylight hours. We did meet up with several of the boys from Missouri for dinner and drinks, which is always a good time! We had been waiting for Wednesday all week because there was a cold front forecasted to move through and we were hoping it would get the deer up and moving and we weren't disappointed.

Wednesday's morning temps where in the mid-30s with a steady north wind. I didn't even need to ask Scott which set he was hunting, because The Beach set had been sitting all week; waiting for a north wind. I decided to slip into the new Graveyard set and see what was shaking. Just before 7am I spotted three deer about 150yrds north of me and headed my way. I watched them through the binos as they continued their approach, but there was no bone to be seen just a couple of slickheads and a button. They ended up coming all the way down the fence line and when the lead doe crested the ridge top I was on she was inside 15yrds and directly downwind. I was hoping she'd just slip by but when I watched her stop and take in a deep inhale the safety was clicked off. She looked right up at me and stomped twice...I didn't wait for the third one. A perfect neck shot put her straight down, but now the second doe was locked on to me. She was stomping and swinging her head trying to figure me out and I wasn't about the let her blow out of there, so she got a case of lead poisoning also.

Scott took this picture while walking into the Graveyard to help me get the nannies sorted out

Doe #1

Doe #2

I had several more deer work through the area including a shooter buck, but he'd broke both his brow tines off so he got a free pass..lucky SOB!!! Around 8:30am I heard Scott fire off three shots in quick fashion, which isn't normal for him. Before I could get a text fired off to him to see what was going on I received "9 point down...I"m happy as hell" from him. His buck worked into from the west and was trotting through the Beach and wouldn't stop. Scott's first shot hit him a touch low, his second shot spine busted him, and the third put him down for the count. It was Scott's second biggest buck in MO and well deserved after all the hours we'd been putting in on stand.

Just after 9am I received another text from Scott saying "little doe coming". I heard the report of his .06 shortly after that and knew he'd put her down. I was pretty taken back when his next text came in and all it said was "MONSTER". Right after he shot the doe another one popped out across the farm road. He hit his can call a couple times and a giant 150" class freak came running down a side hill and right into Scott's lap. It was the biggest buck he's had an encounter with and he just had to sit and watch, since he'd filled his buck tag about thirty minutes earlier.

This is the buck Scott had in front of him...

That evening Scott headed over to the northwest pond to do some scouting for me and I hunted the North Ladder set hoping the freak from earlier was still around. Beside the four point I had cruise through around 1:30pm the only thing we saw was a spectacular MO sunset!

View from the North Ladder Set

Sunset on the Northwest Pond

Thursday morning was pretty slow deer wise, so we butchered up all the deer we had hanging and got them on ice. We saw a few deer that evening, but I was still looking for a mature shooter.

Scott was heading back to Minnesota Friday morning and I headed back to the farm looking for bucky. I sat in The Beach set and had a lot of action early on. Four does milled around the set for about twenty minutes before heading into the bedroom. A couple small bucks wandered by throughout the morning, but still no shooters.

The forecast was calling for temperatures in the upper 60s by noon and sustained 30mph winds out of the south...well I can tell you the winds hit around 10am and the temps followed soon after. With the lack of daylight movement we'd been seeing I cashed in my chips and headed back to KC around 1pm. I couldn't get the giant out of my head that I had an encounter with the Wednesday before opener and I was going to give that property another crack.

All in all it was another awesome week of hunting and hanging out with Scott. We put a lot of meat in the freezer and Scott killed another dandy MO buck. I'm already looking forward to next year...FOR SURE!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Timer!

Heading into the second weekend of MO's firearms season I was up in the air on where to hunt. While talking to my cousin who owns about 1000 acres in southwest MO, he basically said the farm was empty for the upcoming weekend except for one other hunter. That pretty much made up my mind on where I'd be hunting.

I arrived at the farm around 5:15am and briefly talked with Jim about which stands I could hunt. He gave me the green light to hunt Blind 1, which is usually off limits because of the blinds owner. Right off the bat I had deer moving through the area as a doe and mini were headed right at the blind. The action remained steady all morning as smaller bucks chased does and minis all around the timber. Around 8:30am a spotted a big shooter to the north but couldn't manage to get a shot off.

After grabbing a quick lunch I headed back into Blind 1 hoping that the evening action would be as good as the morning's. With the warm temp and high winds I decided to take a little nap, so I'd be ready for the late evening action. I woke up around 2:50pm and immediately spotted a doe to the east of me. I watched her for about five minutes and no other deer showed I so figured it would be a good opportunity to fill another antlerless tag. I settled in and let the .06 do it's thing and she dropped in her tracks. I got down so I could get her gutted and pulled into the shade and while looking for a creek crossing I spotted a big set of antlers. It was a big mid-130s nine point that had been shot by an archery hunter during the 2010 season and obviously not recovered. I saw eleven more does that night, but no bone in pursuit of them.
Sunday morning could not have been more of a drastic change from Saturday. It was 24 degrees out with winds out of the northeast and a light drizzle. I headed back into Blind 1 again because of all the doe sightings. I had deer moving through all morning again but still no real shooters. Around 8:15am I spotted two does way up north and right behind them was a giant 150-160" eleven pointer. I heard a shot about fifteen minutes later to the northeast and just hope the poachers across the fence didn't kill him.

Around 9am I caught some more movement to the north and spotted a decent buck working his way through the thick stuff. I was starting to panic because there is a big tree top down that obscures a lot of my field of vision and shooting windows and the buck was headed right towards it. The buck was broadside at about 180yards and my only shot was to stand on my tip toes and try and free hand a shot...I can assure you shot #1 didn't connect and I felt my heart sink. The buck briefly disappeared but he popped back out about 35yards farther away. I let shot #2 rip from my tip toes again and thought I may have hit him, so immediately got down and headed up there. As I approached the area he was standing when I shot I saw the buck and doe staring right at me just before they bolted. I took off running to the north and caught them crossing an opening on the property line. I cut shot #3 loose and nothing again...shot #4 same results, NOTHING!!! I realized I only had one bullet left so I settled in and let shot #5 go.....and down he went! I was pretty wound up after all the commotion and elated that I put a decent buck down. This was by far the best hunt I've had on the farm the the biggest buck I've taken off it. It was a great close to my 2011 season....I'm out of contract days!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MO Firearms 2011 Season Kickoff

Leading up to the Missouri 2011 firearms opener I was pretty excited to get to hunt with Pete and Scott up at the Macon property. That was up until the weekend prior when I get the call from Pete saying that the landowner had family coming in from Texas to hunt and he was concerned about the number of hunters for the first weekend. After scratching my head to figure out where to go I decided to let Pete and Scott hunt Macon and I would head over to the Marshall farm I have permission for; which turned out to be a mess in it's own right. The landowner decided to bulldoze several tree lines the week before and the pushed deer onto the neighboring farms, but regardless I was going to roll the dice and see what happens.

Opening morning dawned and I was settled in a ladder stand on the northwest corner of the property. I was sitting there in the morning darkness and just before legal shooting time I see movement to the northwest of my set. My excitement quickly disappeared when I realized it was the neighbor and he decided to set up less than a 100 yards from me on his side of the fence. At this point I was pretty dang upset but there is nothing I could do. Looks like when I rolled the dice I ended up rolling snake eyes because I got skunked and didn't see a deer. And after the neighbor decided to yell out and say "the deer hunting sucks this morning" I had enough and I left to grab lunch and figure out where to hunt for the remainder of the weekend.

After getting back to my friend's farm, I told him the issue he graciously gave me the green light to hunt his farm which I was thankful for. After lunch I was back up in a tree for the afternoon sit. Normally I would be excited to hunt, but with the high winds and warm temps I knew any deer movement would be later in the afternoon. As I was sitting there around 4:15pm I looked over my shoulder and I was surprised to see two deer standing there. One at 12 yards and the other at 35 yards. After glassing for a few minutes I could tell the closer deer was a button buck and the other one I thought for sure was a doe, so I decided to fill an antlerless tag. I settled the .06 and watched the little guy drop in his tracks. That was the only action I had for the rest of the sit, but I was elated I had a deer down!

Sunday morning I found myself back in the same set as the evening before. As the morning progressed I ended up having fourteen turkeys roosted close by and that gave me a good show for about an hour, but that was my excitement for the morning and no deer were spotted.

As the high winds and warm temps set in for the day I decided to cut out and head home to see the family. I will be back at it next weekend with hopefully get a crack at some bone. Good luck to Pete and Scott!! Hopefully they can lay the smack down on a MO giant or two. I know at the very least the slickheads are in trouble.

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 MN Firearms Opener

The MN Rifle Opener kicked off with clear skies, winds from east/southeast at 10-15 mph, and temps in the mid 30's. I started the season perched in my normal stand location and was all settled in about 20 minutes before shooting time. I was a little concerned what the weekend might bring because the wind was suppose to increase throughout the day and blow 25-35mph by afternoon.

The morning started very slowly in my neck of the woods. The squirrels even decided to sleep in. Finally around 8:20am I spotted a figure moving through some thick brush to my south. I studied the movement for a minute as it headed towards a small opening. That is when I saw a solid rack and a huge tank of a body. The deer was moving from east to west which was going to put him into some thick brush and not allow any type of shot. I grabbed “the can” and gave the buck one bleat. He stopped in his tracks and whipped his head in my direction. After a brief minute the buck put his head down again and I gave him a another bleat. The second call was to much for him to resist, he was hooked and started walking directly at me on a bee-line.

I picked out an opening in the timber the buck was working his way towards. I settled the cross hairs of the scope in the opening and waited. Seconds later the big fella stepped into the opening at a quartering to angle about 40 yards from my stand. I settled on the center of his shoulder bone and let the .06 bark. The big fella immediately face planted, but somehow managed to pull himself together enough to get back on his feet and make a death run towards my food plot. I watched as buck labored towards the plot opening, he was coughing up blood every step of the way. Once the buck got into the food plot I let him hold one more round for good measure. The second shot stopped him cold in his tracks. The buck stood up on his back legs, coughed up what looked like a gallon worth of blood and dropped to the ground stone dead. This was easily the biggest deer I had ever killed up in Northern MN.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful for me and the rest of the party after 10 AM on Saturday. Brian had killed a big doe, Wayne shot “ANOTHER” fork buck and his son Kevin killed a very nice 8 point buck all by 10 AM. Then the wind picked up and the deer movement completely shutdown.

On my way home Sunday afternoon I did scratch out a grouse and a pheasant on my way out of the woods. Pete got to enjoy the pheasant shoot live via phone for some added enjoyment. Nice little cherry on top of my weekend. Next weekend is Missouri's rifle opener. Pete and I will be getting after it for 9 days in Macon County!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ducking Rockies Style

This past weekend I was able to sneak away for two days of duck hunting in N.E. Colorado near Hillrose. The weather conditions were lining up for a perfect hunt on Saturday. As I was packing the rig for the hunt at 3:30am, I was surprised to see a 250lbs black bear in my neighbors yard. It was either a great sign or extremely ominous. Picture is tough to see, but trust me, it was there (to the left of light).

I had two of my students from our hunting club along and we arrived at the DOW state land at 5:45am. The temperature was 29 degrees with a SE wind, not ideal for our location. I got us signed into to our Youth Mentor pond, got our gear together and we started the fifteen minute hike back to our pond. After arriving at the pond I had Jaron and Eddie get some cover together while I set out our spread of 40 floaters and 2 Mojos. After we had the decoys set and the sun started to rise, hundreds of mallards filled the air around us.

As usual the boys were set up in the preferred shooting holes. I went over the rules for the hunt and got the boys settled in. Immediately at shooting time we had birds working the spread. The first flock settled into the wind and I called the shot. Jaron and Eddie each took three shots and one drake dropped, as the birds tried to execute their exit I was able to drop a drake gaddy. This pattern repeated itself with regularity as the morning went on. The next bird to meet it's maker was a bluewing teal that ran the gauntlet of three other ponds before banking right in front of Jaron, and with two shots he had his first ever duck in the bag. The wind eventually shifted to the East we were forced to adjust the spread and our blind locations.

Because of the land being closed for deer season the weekend before there were ducks constantly working our pond, which made the hunt perfect for the boys who had never been on a duck hunt before. They were throwing a lot of steel into the sky and birds continued to pile up. By 8:30am we had 2 drake mallards, 2 hen mallards, 1 bwt, 1 gady, and 1 shoveler. I was telling the the boys that the late morning flight should be pretty good based on the early action we'd had. I had no idea how right I would be....

Right around 9:30am flocks of 15-30 ducks started to enter the property and began working the spread. The first flock to settle over the decoys left with three fewer ducks in the group, 1 drake, 1 wigeon, and 1 hen pintail down. Unfortunately Yogi was freezing cold at this point, so I was left to do the dirty work all with a sizable hole in the my waders. Each time I made it back to the blind I'd immediately get on the RNT because more birds were already working. By 10:15am we had 14 birds down, which included 1 hen lost to the tall grass on the other side of the pond. Before we even knew what happened there were three hundred or so birds, in five different flocks circling the decoys. They all wanted into our hole so I decided to let the boys enjoy the show and we held off on shooting for a bit. As singles and doubles began splashing down into our spread I finally called the shot, as the boy's trigger fingers were getting antsy. I dropped two drakes and each of the boys dropped their last birds of the day; a drake and hen.

In total we ended with 7 drake mallies, 6 hens (1 lost), 1 bwt, 1 shoveler, 1 gadwall, 1 wigeon, and 1 pintail. It was one of my best days in CO and surely a day the boys will not forget for a very long time!

Sunday I had to hunt solo on the pond north of Saturday's actions after two guys slept through their alarms and missed the wake up call. I had a completely different situation on my hands. I set up thirty floaters and two mojos. Since I was by myself I set up in the middle of the pond and set up my ambush site in some waist high grass, and it proved to be a great decision. There was not much of a early morning flight to speak of. I scratched out a drake, a shoveler, and a bwt by 7:40am. At that point any kind of flight shut down and the sky was void of ducks.For the remainder of the day only two more ducks flew into my decoys but neither of them left. I ended the day with five birds on seven shots. It was a great first weekend for me and I will be back the second weekend of November to get after them again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Big guy and a little deer....MO mini down

I've been hunting the north KC management property pretty hard over the last ten days. I've seen a lot of buck movement, but I couldn't buy a doe up there lately. It was the exact opposite last year with nothing but doe sightings.

I had a couple of the hunters move their stands in on my Killing Station set and the deer movement has shifted because of it. So after my morning sit on 10/22 I moved my set over to the next ridge where I've seen most of the deer traffic shift to.

Around 6:20pm last night I spotted a deer working up the draw from the southwest. At first I thought it was the button buck I've seen in area almost every time out in the past week, but after getting the binos up I could tell this was no button so it was game time.

She worked all the way up the draw to around 20 yards before turning broadside. I'd ranged several trees in the draw, but she hadn't made to to nay of them yet so I guessed her to be about 23yards out. I drew, burned the pin on her vitals, and touched off the arrow. I could tell it was tracking a touch high and on impact the mini went straight down in her tracks. I quickly got another arrow ready and put a second shot into her just to make sure she wouldn't suffer. Although the first arrow hit her high and broke her spine, the drastic angle of the shot ran my first shot right through her off shoulder. The second arrow wasn't needed, but I didn't want to chance it.

It was a good to put another doe down, now it's time to get some bone on the ground!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Pile of Ducks In MN

Logan and I woke up to clear skies, a 10 mph wind out of the south/southwest and temp of 32 degrees on Thursday morning. We decided to hunt the Honey Hole slough since it hadn’t been hunted in nearly three weeks and a good number of divers had been reported in the area. I set out 3 dozen duck decoys and a few geese for the mornings shoot. The first duck to arrive on the scene was a hen Red and she took a hot load in the face for her kindness. For the next 30 minutes we had flock after flock of Greenwing teal dropping in and out of the slough. I put four of the little guys into the bag before the flight shutdown at 8 AM. After that the skies cleared of birds and we hung it up for the AM. The morning total was 4 Greenwings and 1 ginger head.

The wind switched to the northwest in the afternoon so Logan, Oshie and I picked up the morning spread and setup on the opposite end of the slough. The duck flight was almost nonexistent in the afternoon. We called in one flock of Greenwing and I scratched a nice drake out of the flock. Oshie made a very nice 60-70 yard retrieve on the downed bird after the wind blew it out into the middle of the slough. With that bird we had our limit for the day. We sat until sunset in hopes of a goose shoot but every goose that was in the area piled right into the north slough. A great sign for our Saturday hunt.

Saturday morning found us in the East Bay hunting with Joe and Tony P. The wind switch back to the south over night and was suppose to blow at 10-20 later in the AM. The temp was back near 32 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The morning started off very slow as far a shooting was concerned. There was plenty of ducks flying around put we got burned a couple times from people shooting on the state property as ducks were about to set into our spread. We made a couple setup changes and the wind started to blow around 9 AM and just like that the killing began. The air filled with geese and we pulled several flocks into our spread of 36 big foot floaters and 6 snow geese floaters. When the smoke cleared we had 8 geese in the boat and three of those where cackling geese. We also added 11 mallards (9 drakes) and 2 drake green wings to the bag. We called it a shoot around 12:15. We did hunt the evening but it was mostly a bust. I added one gorgeous drake wood duck to the bag and that was it for the afternoon hunt. Of course the ducks and geese poured into the slough 5 minutes after shooting closed. Another great shoot in East Bay!

Sunday was a very strange morning. We hunted as far east on the north slough as possible. We had a west/northwest wind at 5-15 mph, cloudy sky and a temp around 48 degrees. The bird movement for the morning was near zero. Logan and I left at 9 AM because we had to be home early Sunday afternoon. We left without firing a shot on the slough. Tony and Joe hung around until 10:30 and ended up killing one mallard. On the way back to the cabin Logan spotted a rooster pheasant sitting along side the dirt road the leads from our sloughs to the cabin (200 yards from the cabin). The bird was kind enough to sit within 15 yards of the car for a good 2 minutes while I got my gun, then stepped out the car and loaded up. As soon as I was loaded the rooster gave me a nice little chip shot and we had the first pheasant of the season and got the skunk off our back for the day. A great end to Logans duck season at the cabin this year .

Monday, October 17, 2011

#2 hit the dirt in MO

I headed up to my north MO property with a couple friends from (Nick & Greg). We arrived at the farm around 11:30am and headed in to pull my trail camera card....unfortunately my camera apparently grew legs, cut the cable it was locked up with, and walked away!!! I hate trespassers and really hate trespassers who steal!

For the Saturday evening hunt I sent Greg to The Gash set and Nick to The Bowl...both of them got skunked on deer sightings. I headed up and hunted the North River set intending to do more scouting with my binos and looking for deer coming off the hills or out of the river treeline. Instead I ended up being cover up with deer coming to the cut corn. The first four deer came off the hillside about 80yrds in front of the stand and angled into 45yrds, but there is no way to get a clean shot off in that part of the field. A few minutes later I spotted two more does following the same path as the first group. While glassing the approaching deer I spotted another couple of does working in from the north behind the set. They came right down the main trail and entered the field 16yards to my right. I let the lead doe feed out a little ways into the corn and when the second doe popped into the field I was already at full draw. I quietly grunted to get her stopped and touched off the shot. It was getting pretty dark, but I saw my arrow tracking perfectly and heard the tell-tale popping of the lungs. She bolted back towards the hill and the rest of the deer just stood there; having zero idea what just happened.

I met up with Nick and Greg back at truck and we headed back down to track the doe. It had been about 45 minutes since I shot her and we located the arrow and blood trail immediately in the corn field, all signs indicated that it was a great hit. We trialed her about 60yrds up the hill with great blood the entire time, but then we heard a deer jump up and run just ahead of us. It didn't move off very far and it sounded like it wasn't moving very well. We quietly tracked the blood another 15 yards and found her first bed pooled in blood, so we immediately backed out. I was extremely surprised she wasn't dead yet since we gave her plenty of time to expire. We decided to just head into town clean up and grab some dinner to give her time to give up the ghost on her terms. Around 10:45pm we headed back to the farm to continue the search. The temps were going to be in the upper 50's and I didn't want to chance having the meat go bad on a deer I knew was dead. We quickly got on the last blood and trailed in another 60-70 yards up the hill right to a very dead and stiff legged nanny. She had been dead for a good while, but we made the right call backing out and giving her plenty of time to die. The shot was a perfect double lung hit, so that was one tough girl to hold it for almost an hour before giving up the ghost.

Sunday morning was pretty slow on all fronts. I had a few coons walk through and I located a huge scrape in front of The Beach set. I set up Scott's trial camera he sent down overlooking  the scrape and main trail in front; hopefully it's still there next time I check! Sunday evening was slow for Greg and I with nothing but coon sightings again. Nick hunted the north meadow and had 6 does and nice 2 1/2 year old ten point come out. The buck made several scrapes along the north edge of the meadow and the does stayed out of bow range.

It was a great weekend with good friends; to bad some A-hole was trespassing on the south end of the property and decided to steal my Cuddy....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wood Duck Shoot!

Logan and I headed out to the hunting shack on Friday afternoon. We bucked a calm 50mph wind all the way to the cabin. The temp on Friday was 86 degrees, windy and not a cloud in the sky....perfect duck weather. We didn't make it out in time to hunt on Friday, so we hung out at the shack then went to the fields to watch for ducks late in the afternoon. Right before dark we noticed 3 or 4 good flocks of birds cresting a hill on the North Slough and dropping into a flooded bay. Since no birds where working the smaller sloughs we decided to give the flooded bay a shot in the morning.

Saturday morning we woke to cloudy skies, a light drizzle, and southeast winds from 5-10 mph. As we turned our boats into East Bay, hundreds of ducks erupted from their roost. We had picked the right area to hunt!

Hunting with Logan and I this weekend was Tony Peterson, Jason Preusser, Chad Lundberg and Tony and Chad's boys. The morning shoot started off with nothing flying for the first 10-15 minutes. For a brief moment I started to question my decision to hunt the big water. Then a pair of Wood ducks dropped into the decoys. Two shots where fired and two wood ducks laid tits up on the water. For the next hour we had several hundred wood ducks come into the decoys; what a show! The last 45 minutes we had to just sit back and watch because we already filled our 12 wood duck limit for the day. Below is a picture of the morning shoot. Take special notice of the gorgeous merganser in the spread!

Sunday morning was a bit cooler. The temp was at 50 degrees, it was cloudy, spitting rain and the wind had switched to the northeast at 5-10 mph. Because of the wind switch we setup on the other end of the East Bay. This worked out perfectly because there was less flooded timber for the birds to get through and we could setup in a standing corn field.....perfect cover for 8 people and a dog.

Once again it took about 10 minutes for the ducks to start flying, but once they did it never stopped. The first flock of birds to come over was a group of 30-40 Blue wing teal. I took one shot and brought down three birds. While Oshie and I picked up the triple Tony took a shot at another large flock of BWT and brought down two birds with one shot. Nice start to the morning. Once the smoke cleared we had killed a 4 man limit of ducks (12 wood ducks, 5 mallards, 5 BWT and 2 Gadwall), 1 more tasty merganser and Jason killed his first ever goose. Oshie also had a great day in the marsh. She made 14 retrieves including her first ever goose retrieve. She is coming along nicely for an 11 month old. What a morning!

The highlight of the day was Logan shooting his first duck. About 30 minutes into the morning shoot I called a single drake wood duck directly into the spread. Everyone held off so Logan could take his first shot at a bird that wasn't wounded. The full dressed drake set in at 20 yards. Logan took careful aim and put a load of 6 shot right up the old Drakes head. Not one BB made it below the ducks neck, nothing but face and skull! Below are a couple pictures of the duck slayer and his first ever kill. I couldn't have been more happy and proud of him and I don't think he could be more proud of himself!

On our way home I stopped and picked up the wood duck I was having mounted from last season. I had the bird mounted by Flyway Taxidermy out of St. Cloud, MN. The bird looks great. A big thanks to Jerry Froelich for a job well done.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Got the ball rolling on the MO 2011 season

I've been putting in a lot of stand time so far this season with very limited results to this point. I've seen a lot of movement, but have yet to have a mature doe or shooter buck in bow range and present me with a clean shot opportunity. However I knew it was just a matter of time before that all changed.

I headed into the the "Killing Station" set on the north KC property I was asked to hunt again this year. Brian and I killed 7 deer out of this tree last year and it is possibly the best morning transition set I have ever hung. The bowl the stand sits in is a wicked funnel for deer heading back to bed on the property in the mornings. I was settled in the set by 6am and just sat back and waited for the woods to wake up. I spotted two does working in from the north at 7:20am and got myself in position. Every deer I've seen in the two seasons of hunting this set that came from the north have stayed on the main trail and worked right into my wheelhouse. Of course these two slick-heads didn't follow the plan and cut behind a giant dead fall to my east and worked down that ridge without offering a shot opportunity. I was beginning to think I was seriously snake bit this year, but when I caught more movement to the north about an hour later all those thoughts quickly disappeared. The nanny and her two minis followed the main trail into the bowl and right into my 20yrd shooting lane. I grunted at the doe to stop her and arrow #1 of the 2011 season was touched off. I watched the arrow disappear right behind her front shoulder and it was game over from there. The nanny only held the shot for about 33yrds before giving up the ghost; although she put on an impressive death run through multiple dead falls for the short distance she covered.

If the deer sign in the area is any indication of my season, there will be several more does that meet their maker when I'm perched in the Killing Station set this year, but it's nice to finally be on the board in 2011!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wyoming Antelope Opener

After an early morning two hour drive we arrived at our Wildlife Management Area west of Laramie, Wyoming, I was hunting Ed Nowalk. After going over our game plan for the morning we were off. Wyoming has a great system in place where they reward ranchers and businesses for allowing hunters on their property, and after this visit I will say it is going great. Essentially we had the run of the property from 7:30-9:00a.m.

As we drove around and scouted the property, we had a number of close encounters with a couple of young bucks and some small doe/fawns. At one point I considered popping a doe from that was about 20 yards away, but since it was my first antelope hunt I wanted to put in a bit more time before tripping the trigger.

As we worked our way to one of the windmills we noticed three large groups of antelope grazing and getting the rut started. After watching their movement through the binos for a couple of minutes we put a plan together to sneak up on them. We drove around the herds to a small depression about a 1/2 mile from the main herd. We parked the rig and got our gear together for the stalk. Luckily for us the land allowed for some easy movement for the first part of the sneak, we made up a lot of ground while the herd continued their morning business. To our surprise though a couple of does and big buck were bedded between us and the main group. After they popped up we were forced to take cover in the wide open, which wasn't easy. One of the does was pretty concerned about us, but after 3-4 minutes of not moving and cramping up they slowly started working away from us. After picking out the biggest of the does I set up the new Primos Shooting Sticks (thanks Scott) and settled in for the shot. She was quartering towards us and presented no angle for several minutes, finally she turned and the .300 ultra mag barked. Ol' girl was down for the count, I hit her slightly back but still caught the vitals. I had my first antelope on the dirt!

It was a great hunt and we should have finished the day with two goats, but as the temps rose into the mid 80's Ed had enough and we headed into Laramie to butcher up the meat.