By now whitetails are as nerved as a cat in a dog kennel. They feel trapped, uneasy and weary. They’ve been through nearly 120 days of pure torture and deer vs. hunter education. Considering the rut is over and done, the only thing big bucks, and deer in general, have on their mind is food and staying alive. There are two factors that play into killing a mack-daddy buck: food and weather. This week here on the panhandle of Texas in the small town of Mclean, the weather is on our side for a change and the amount of food is literally endless.
I am deer rifle hunting with Magnum Guides. I enjoy hunting Texas because of the extended deer season, amount of land to hunt, beautiful landscape and most of all the quality and quantity of deer! Throughout the season the owner, Steve Rortvedt, and his guides have been putting Moultrie game cameras to work and have pulled off some grand snapshots of impressive gnarly-horned bucks. Implementing the cameras on the property has been a huge success in detailing the age, structure and quality of their deer herd. It has also been a great tool in showing hunters what type of bucks they may see, or at least the ones in the vicinity. Most importantly, Rortvedt educates his clients by showing photos of bucks that are shooters and those that are not.
Aging deer is as critical as antler size to Rortvedt. A successful deer management program takes action culling deer that don’t have the potential to grow big. An important factor to remember is not antler size, but age in general. A monster mature buck is going to be 4 ½ to 6 ½ years of age. Aging deer off the foot is another blog in itself, but basically body size and characteristics play into judging the age of a deer.
I began hunting yesterday afternoon with Rortvedt’s gun, because mine was mistakenly sent to North Carolina . . . good ol’ airports. In fact, this was the 4th time that I’ve had this happen to me. If you ever book a hunt, please be sure to ask the outfitter if he has extra guns to use just in case your gun is lost along the way.
With thousands upon thousands of acres to hunt, we’ve hunted only a small chunk so far, but we have already seen more bucks and does than my cameraman and I have seen the entire year on all our hunts combined. Reason enough to love Texas deer hunting!
The first morning hunt was in the travel corridor of a creek bottom. There aren’t many trees in the state of Texas, so when you find one with good deer trails leading near it, it’s a golden stand in the making. We filmed 10 bucks our first day and had two shooters that were out of camera distance.
I’ll be here for a solid week until the season here ends, January 7th. With the abundance of trail cam photos and deer feeders, there’s no doubt that we will have our opportunity. It’s simply a matter of time, before we hit it right. Time is what we have and it usually depicts the probability or odds of your harvest success. You know as well as I do, hunting is a practice of patience and persistence.
We couldn’t resist sharing this video with everyone. Tyler captured this 350-lbs. black bear taking a close look at his Game Spy I-40 in Marble Falls, AR. Moultrie has dedicated this month to bears with a “Bears Only” Photo Gallery, check out more incredible images at Moultrie's Trophy Room.
“Wish me luck honey; I’ll be home by supper.” Tragically, that’s the last words some wives ever hear from their husband. As more and more people go to the woods hunting each year we’re starting to hear of more accidental shootings, falls from tree stands and even the more bizarre events like 4-wheeler wrecks and hunters getting lost.
I usually hunt alone. My wife is always concerned, but has come to understand that I take my safety in the woods very seriously. I’ve said it before in my entries but it bears repeating: I love my wife’s husband and want to see him come home safe and sound to hunt again another day! I take a pretty commonsense approach to my safety by using some tried and true methods I’ve learned over the years of hunting with clubs and on private land.
On clubs that I’ve hunted with, we have a sign-in box that everyone has to use before they can hit the woods for a day’s hunt. Inside the box is an enlarged plat of the property complete with the road systems, property lines and all major drainages and creeks running through it. Every hunter has to mark his or her tree stand location with a colored dot and their initials on it. When they sign in, there is another board where they write their name, date and time in. When they leave the woods they are to sign out. If someone doesn’t come out within a reasonable time after dark, we have enough information on the sign-in board to know where to begin searching for them. It’s safe and effective. We take it so seriously that if a hunter fails to sign in or out three times in a season, he is refunded his prorated dues and told to go somewhere else to hunt.
Many times because of my work schedule, I’m hunting alone during the week when no one else is at the property. When I hunt the club I sign in and out but when I’m on private property, I tell my wife which stand I’ll be hunting and what time I intend to come out. I also call the landowner and let them know the same thing. I insure my safety by charging my cell phone and keeping it with me in my pocket instead of in my backpack. If I were to fall and be separated from my pack I wouldn’t be able to call for help. I pack a whistle because it is effortless to blow and makes a lot of noise. You can become hoarse to the point that you can’t talk if you have been yelling for help. I have bottled water and trail mix bars in the event I get hurt and have to spend a lot of time waiting on help.
Simply, you need to anticipate the unexpected and prepare for it. Some items you need to keep with you include: a rain suit, lighter and fire starter cubes, paper and pen, extra clothing, headache medicine, fluorescent surveyor’s ribbon for trail marking, a sharp knife, rope, a flashlight and extra batteries, commonsense and a cool head. It only takes a second to get into deep trouble. Give yourself, your wife and your family the feeling of security by taking steps to be safe in the woods.
I use a full body harness when hunting from a tree stand. When the sun gets to hitting you in the back of the neck on a cold morning, especially when you haven’t had much sleep the night before, it’s easy to dose off. I’ve caught myself on several occasions leaning over after I’d passed out and just like I’d planned, the safety harness tether caught me. That thing is worth its weight in gold. It’s a good idea to take along a first-aid kit with the basics in it. A GPS unit is an amazing tool to have along to lay down a way point that will show you the way out of the woods if there is any doubt or you get turned around.
Take some good advice and do as the Boy Scout motto says: BE PREPARED. Your life may depend on it.
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