Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grave Robber


Nick, Greg and I met up Sunday afternoon and burned some boot leather scouting the property we were selected for a MDC managed hunt on in mid-December. We found several good areas with a lot of deer sign as well as some areas to scout this weekend while hanging our stands.

After our scouting trip we headed up to north KC to hunt our urban hot-zone. This particular piece of property is surrounded by neighborhoods, but it's covered up with deer and the owner wants a lot of them thinned out....so we try to oblige him.

I hunted a stand on the top of the hill overlooking some of the nasty bedding cover on the east side of the property. At 4:45pm I spotted seven does and minis working through the cover and headed towards a small cemetery plot about 90yrds north of my setup. Several minutes later the entire group popped out up top and headed into the cemetery and started eating flowers off of headstones, which I took offense too.

After surveying the lay of the land I decided I could get down and sneak around the low side of the hill and up to the edge of the cemetery plot. There is a large cement monument on the left side of the plot entry gate and that was going to be my ambush point. I was able to get up to the monument undetected and the waiting game started. There is a decorative 3' fence around the cemetery and even though we have permission to hunt it, I wasn't going to shoot into the actual cemetery. After a couple minutes of watching the group devour flowers and grass in the plot one of the minis decided it was time to move on and started heading for the cemetery gate. The monument allowed me to get drawn without alerting the deer and when the mini exited the cemetery it was 3-4yrds from the tip of my arrow. He was walking at a casual pace and at that distance I wasn't going to try and stop him, so when his front leg stepped forward I touched off the shot and the little grave robber tore out across the asphalt parking area and into the thick cover. The shot was on the money and the little guy only held it for roughly 50-60yrds before giving up the ghost. It wasn't a textbook hunt by a long stretch, but when you're hunting an urban setting sometimes you have to improvise to get the job done.  

2012 MO Firearms Business

Scott rolled into town from MN on 11/9/12 for the start of Missouri's 2012 firearms season. Like years past, we'd planned to hunt the Macon Co. property for the entire week.

Opening morning the wind was wrong for some of our best stands, so Scott hunted the Graveyard and I climbed into the Poachers Pond stand. There wasn't a lot of movement, but we both saw a few deer and were able to pull several of our camera cards. Saturday evening Scott hunted the Gash and had 9 deer out in the field, but no shooters. I hunted the ground blind about 300yrds north of him and only had a single doe come out in the meadow, no shots fired. 

Sunday's forecast called for heavy rain moving in early and settling in until 4pm, so we made the decision to sleep in and get rested up for the remainder of the week. The rain started around 8:30am and it poured most of the afternoon. The radar showed the front moving through around 4pm, so we headed to the farm and slid into the ground blind to wait out the storm. Someone forgot their rain gear, so we had to improvise a little bit in order to stay dry on our walk in. The only deer we saw were two minis feeding in the cut beans.
The temps dropped off with the weather front pushing through and Monday morning was cold and clear. I was hunting in the South Meadow stand and at 8:30am I heard deer coming down the hill from the south. A doe and mini made their way into the bottom and milled around for a while. I waited for about five minutes to see if her boyfriend would show up and then it was going to be doe killing time. The doe worked her way into 18yrds and was standing directly in a large scrape when the .06 barked for the first time in 2012. She held a solid neck shot for 40yrds before the lights went out. I had a couple small bucks work through after that, but nothing mature.
Tuesday morning was once again cold, clear and there was a light layer of frost on the ground...ideal conditions for deer to be moving and we weren't disappointed. Scott rolled into The Beach stand and I slipped into the North Ridge stand. There were several deer in the draw east of my set and I could here bucks grunting and chasing prior to legal shooting light. At 7:40am Scott's .06 barked for the first time, followed up shortly by another shot...two does down! Just after 8am Scott touched off another round and his third doe of the morning was piled up. Shortly after that I heard the Ruger bark again. After killing the third doe a nice 3yr old 8 point worked down the ridge behind the stand. He was inside 50yrds when Scott shot, but the buck just stood there looking around before finally running off to the northeast untouched. We're not sure how he missed that chip shot, but there was no sign of  hit and Scott was pretty disappointed with himself.

We'd planned to meet on the road at 9am and get his nannies pulled out and hung in the barn, but at 8:57am I heard footsteps coming out of the east draw, so I grab the bow and got ready. A mature doe and mini worked up the saddle right in front of me and when the doe got to 12yrds I sent the arrow on it's way. The hit looked perfect, but she didn't react like normal and after bounding off to 30yrds she just stopped and stood in place for about 90 seconds. I could see the entry wound right behind her shoulder but didn't see any blood, so I nocked another arrow and dumped a second shaft into the boiler room. Ol' Girl wasn't holding both shafts and she went down inside on 40yrds. We had a little bit of work to do, to say the least.
That evening Scott slid into Poachers Pond and I climbed back into the South Meadow stand. I had only seen a couple squirrels and birds all afternoon and shooting light was fading fast, when I heard a buck grunt over the top of the hill. I immediately grabbed the VECtor grunter and can call and responded with several grunts and doe bleats. The response was immediate as I spotted a huge bodied deer tear over the top of the meadow and start thrashing trees and working a scrape in the the bottom corner. I couldn't tell much about his antlers, but his body size absolutely indicated a mature deer. With only 2-3 minutes of legal shooting time left I got aggressive and let out two more challenging grunts on the VECtor and the buck had heard enough. He grunted one more time and started coming down the meadow edge with his ears pinned back and all stiff legged looking for the competition. I quickly threw up the binos and all I saw was mass and big brow tines....for sure shooter. I tired stopping him in the first two shooting lanes, but he kept coming. He finally pulled up after I "muuurrrpped" loudly at him, the only problem was there was brush covering the lower 3/4 of his chest. As badly as I wanted to bow kill him I wasn't going to let him walk, so I quickly swapped the bow out for the .06 and let it do it's thing. The 22yrd shot was on the money and the buck tried making up the meadow hill, but after 25yrds or so the lights went out and he rolled back down the hill towards me. I knew he was a mature buck, but really had no idea how big he truly was because it all happened so fast. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked up on him and saw that he had everything...huge body, mass, big brows, and tall g2s and 3s. He's the biggest buck we've killed off the farm to date both body and antler wise. 
 What's cool about this buck is that I'd never seen him on the farm before then, but when we got back to the hotel that night and checked the camera cards he showed up Sunday afternoon and worked a scrape right by Poachers Pond. It's a good thing I turned the camera to video mode for the first time all year on Saturday, when I pulled the card.

We hunted until Thursday afternoon but the deer movement slowed down considerably and we had a lot of venison in the freezer already, so Scott headed back up to MN that afternoon and I rolled back into KC to prepare for the Smithville Lake Disabled hunt I was guiding at that weekend.

I met up with the disabled hunter I was going to guide; William Hall early Saturday morning prior to the safety meeting and check-in at Smithville. We were hunting blind 13 to start with and we started seeing deer as soon as it was light enough to see. Around 7:30am a mini came hauling out of the draw in front of us and William wasted very little time laying the smack down.

Saturday evening we hunted blind 13 again and saw several deer, but no good bucks and all the mature does where over 200yrds away. Sunday morning William decided to change blinds and selected a blind overlooking a cut corn field. The action was pretty slow to start the morning, but around 8:15am I spotted two does that had slipped in on us. William got his gun settled on the shooting sticks and dropped #2 in her tracks. It was the perfect way to close out another great Missouri firearms season. 

I've still got one MO archery buck tag,  a managed archery hunt in December, and several antlerless tags in my pocket so I'm hoping to add some more meat to the freezer and bone on the wall in the next month. I just hope the good luck continues!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Logan's 1st Deer

11/3/2012 - Opening day of the MO 2012 Youth Season

Logan and Scott made the trip down from Minnesota Friday afternoon and met me at MWT member CallaoJoe's cabin. I'd made it up to the farm earlier in the day and setup the Double Bull for Saturday morning's hunt and pulled a couple trail camera cards. We had a big spaghetti and meatball dinner and got to bed early in preparation for the following morning. 

I'd setup the DB just off the main farm road on the NW side of The Beach, the knoll provided us good cover and an excellent shooting window into the bottom. We were settled into the blind by 6:40am and anxiously awaited legal shooting time. Around 7:20am Scott and I spotted movement down on The Beach at about the same time. Three does were working through from the east, but we could tell they were being bumped and acting nervously. They all quickly cut up the hill next to our rifle stand and never stopped to offer a shot. In six years of hunting that area I've never seen a single deer cut up that hill and was a little dejected that they decided to that morning. About 45 minutes later Logan said "deer" and Scott and I focused on the area he was looking. Sure enough a small buck popped out of the drainage following the same trail the does used earlier; only moving slower. Logan got settled on the shooting sticks a said he was on the buck good. The adrenaline was starting to kick in and for a second we thought Logan was going to hyperventilate, but he got his breathing under control and touch off the shot...only problem was that his head was off the rifle nanoseconds after squeezing the trigger ask "did I kill him?", it was a clean miss.

Logan was pretty disappointed in himself and he was trying like the devil to hold back tears and be tough about it. We may or may not have noticed a tear or two while he was turned away looking out his side of the blind for the next 15 minutes. After talking about the miss and explaining to Logan that we've all missed his spirits improved and we had a great time watching all the wildlife and messing around in the blind for the rest of the morning. Around 10:45am we decided to go grab some lunch, but I wanted to show Logan more of the farm and pull the other camera cards I didn't get to the day before.

We pulled into the south meadow and headed down the hill to a camera I'd set up on several scrapes the week before. I'd literally just turned the engine off when Scott looked over and said "is that a deer?". Sure enough there was a deer feeding up the hill about 115yards away, but it was in a drainage dip and we could just see the top of it's back. We got Logan out and moved down the hill trying to get a better angle, but the dip in the field was still preventing Logan from getting a good sight picture. We were moving further down the hill when the deer finally picked it's head up and looked at us. We got on the sticks quickly, thinking the deer was going to run up or down hill but to our amazement it started trotting right at us. Logan was on the sticks and said he was on the deer, but it continued to close the distance without any sign of slowing up. Finally around 30yards out the deer angled downhill and stopped giving Logan a great shot. Wee-man touched off the round and absolutely hammered the deer! It made it out of the meadow, but it wasn't going to hold that shot very long and the celebration erupted!!! Logan, Scott and I were all kinds of wound up and several hugs and knuckle bumps followed in the aftermath.

After a couple minutes of waiting I quietly slid into the timber and spotted Logan's trophy laid up in the bottom of the draw. I knew it was a button buck once it started towards us in the meadow, but Logan thought he'd shot a doe so I didn't say anything to him. His reaction when he found out that he'd killed a "BIG BUCK" is a memory Scott and I will go to our graves with, it was priceless!!


Tagging his first deer and helping drag it out....

That evening CallaoJoe had several MissouriWhitetails.com members over for an antelope, pheasant, gator and jambalaya feast and Logan got to tell his 'Big Buck" story to the whole crew...it was the icing on the cake!

Logan reflecting on the day by the camp fire with his trophy
The Walkers invite Logan out to their farm the next morning for a coyote hunt and he was all-in on that adventure. Unfortunately I told Scott I'd drive his new Explorer and when I looked down and noticed I was doing about 68mph in a 55 zone right about the same time I spotted the MO Hwy Patrol car, I knew it was going to be another first for the weekend. The cherries came on and I proceeded to get my first ticket ever. The officer was very nice and congratulated Logo on his deer while telling me to slow it down. As I pulled away Logan said "Uncle Pete, I'm gonna call you The Ticket from now on" salt in the wound boy, salt in the wound. 

We didn't kill any yotes but Logan got to put a few rounds down range with CallaoJoe's .223 AR and Randy gave him a little driving lesson on the mule. It was a prefect finish to an amazing weekend with family, both blood and MWT!

Scott is headed back down to MO this Friday and we'll be spending the entire week hunting the Macon Co. property.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NW Nebraska 2012

Better late than never....I was invited to hunt NW Nebraska with several good friends from MissouriWhitetails.com October 13-19 and jumped at the opportunity. It was a DIY archery hunt on mostly public property for mule deer, whitetails and turkeys. We arrived at our cabins mid-afternoon on the 13th and took a little drive around the area to scout. The NW corner of Nebraska was ravaged by forest fires about two months prior and the damage effected several good areas the boys had hunted in past years. Despite the burned areas we still spotted tons on wildlife and found some promising areas to focus on for the week.

Sunday morning I headed out with Rob to glass at the Chisel Plow, which required us to hike back in about 1.5miles to our vantage point. The sunrise was amazing and it was great to finally be burning some leather and covering ground. We spotted several mule deer does (can't shoot them on public property) and a couple of whitetails, but no antlers were spotted in the flats and coolies.

That afternoon we met you with Dexter who is a local farmer and has allowed the group to shoot does and turkeys off his property the last several years. We got ground blinds set for the evening hunts and headed back to camp to get ready. On the way back out to hunt we spotted a large group of turkeys and Andy drew the first blood of trip when his arrow found it's mark. That evening Seth and Darrin doubled up on whitetail does early on and Andy torched his 2nd turkey, all while Rob and I watched roughly 100 deer and uncountable numbers of turkeys in every field but the one we were sitting in.

We hunted hard on Monday and Tuesday, but warm temps and high winds were limiting daytime movement. We all had good encounters, but sealing the deal was not in the cards. Andy and I were pinned down by 18 mule deer and several whitetails one morning, but none of them came to the water tank we'd set up on. Tuesday evening the temperatures dropped, the wind laid down slightly a deer poured out into the grain fields. Darrin and I were hunting the same blind him and Seth doubled up out of a couple nights earlier. The parade of deer started around 5:45pm and by 6:30pm we had another double on whitey does in the books. We both made perfect shots and neither of the animals made it over 85yrds. This was my first archery kill out of a blind as well as the first archery kill I got witness someone else make; it was a pretty memorable sit! Seth also killed his 2nd whitetail doe of the trip, but we decided to recover her the next morning based on the shot. She didn't go more than 150yrds and it made for a quick recovery.

Wednesday and Thursday were a sight to behold weather wise!!! We had sustained winds in excess of 50mph with gust up to almost 70mph and all of the dust blowing out of the burn areas created an cloudy haze that made it look like the hills were still burning. We all toughed it out and hunted, but movement was nonexistent after first light and the high winds required us to get inside close proximity to take a shot. Thursday Seth and I decided to go for broke and spent all day spot & stalking the big coolies. We got on a nice group of mule deer early and after working them for several hours. They walked by between 40-60 yards but never stopped moving. We were literally yelling at them, but with the high winds they didn't even look at us. 

Around 11am we moved over to Dexter's south canyon and immediately were pinned down by a small mule deer buck and does. After a couple minutes of glassing them inside 50yrds we spotted more deer in the bottom and a giant 160"+ 12point whitetail and a 140" 8point made their way right up to the mule deer and bedded down. We can't shoot bucks on the private ground, so it was cool and sickening being that close to a world class animal. We stalked the entire canyon system and about half way through Seth spotted a flock of turkeys working through the bottom towards us. Your ambush spot was ideal and we let the whole flock work with 18-28yards before making our move. I pinned the first bird and seconds later Seth's arrow in flight. The excessive winds actually helped mask our movements and we'd just double up on archery turkeys. Several hundred yards up the canyon we spotted the giant whitetail and his side kick bedded down and stalked within 60yards of them for the second time in under 2 hours. 


That evening Andy smoked his last turkey of the trip and closed out our 2012 NW Nebraska adventure. It was a cool experience and hunt and I'm already looking forward to 2013!!!