Friday, December 31, 2010

Here We Go Again!

I reflect upon this past year and all the adventures I've endured. What went right and what didn't. My plans for 2011, well, I'm going to grab it by the horns and own it.

I want to thank everyone for making Eyes Wide Open such a success. Without the readers and fans what I do just would be the same. There is nothing more I enjoy doing than sharing my experiences with all of you. Having someone relate and perhaps take something from an experience I had is the most rewarding thing I could possibly get.

Big plans are in store for the new year with Eyes Wide Open. New experiences and more critters. Eyes Wide Open will be elevated along with how it is presented to you, the readers. With your continued support the sky is the limit, so, lets blow this thing out of the water!

I look forward to new times and adventures to share. Happy new year to all and be safe. Remember, one season closing just means another is beginning.

Thank you to everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The End is Near

The archery season is slowly coming to an ever so dreaded end. There is still a few days that remain. I decided to give the recurve another shot. I know, I know. I did say, however, I wasn't putting it away for sure. It keeps drawing me in. So I shot and rebuilt my confidence. I dealt with what had happened and was ready for another opportunity.

My first evening turned out to be one of those evenings you live for in late December. It was 30 degrees! It felt ridiculously great on stand. My knees weren't banging together and I could actually feel my fingers. Bonus! I decided to film my last few days. I had almost forgot how much work it really was filming everything yourself. You have to do everything twice in order to capture the whole story. That's fine, because luckily I enjoy it.

It was early when the deer began down the trail. I was getting some landscape video when it happened. Doing everything I could to get the camera back on the arm and grab my bow all at the same time. The shot was there and I took it. My arrow hit behind the diaphragm. I knew this was going to be a morning recovery. I noticed something wrong the minute I climbed down. At the base of my tree was a fletch from my arrow. Not good. I found the sign and it only confirmed that I must wait till morning as to not push the deer.

I arrived shortly after sunrise. Getting back on the trail was a piece of cake. Having only a speck of blood and stomach matter here and there was going to be tricky. My main concern was to not jump the deer. I entered the second section of woods to the welcome of crows. I looked up and saw the deer dead. She had only gone 100 yards. As I approached, I couldn't believe my eyes. The deer was reduced to only a skeleton. Coyotes had devoured the whole thing over night! Winter has been rough on all critters.

As for me, back to the drawing board. This time, I only have a couple days to fill my last tag and with nasty weather coming I'm not sure what the future has in store. I will continue to film my final days. This is why I don't have may stills to share with you. I am working on editing the footage I have and will let you know when I'm done with the video. It is sure to be entertaining!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Booner Doe

The one good thing about more snow is that it means more and more deer. What seemed like a great short evening turned into a great long evening.

We were let out of work early, so for me, this means heading to the stand. I switched cards in my camera on my walk to the stand and couldn't believe it. The cam was telling me that it had taken nearly 100 photos in only three days!

Needless to say, I was excited to see what the evening would bring. Sighting 5 deer, my eyes were fixed on a giant doe. She worked right past my camera and up the trail behind me. One soft grunt and my arrow was in the air. Looked good and felt better. She buckled and bolted.

I gathered myself and headed for the truck. Grabbing my light, knife, and my sled. Walking through that deep snow is real work, but not to worry. I know she didn't go far. When arriving to the scene it confirmed she wouldn't be far. My arrow was broken and there was blood spray everywhere. You could follow her trail without the light. I got to a point where she had stopped and it looked as if you dumped a pail of blood, but where is she? I pressed on.

A noise caught my attention, but didn't think much of it. Shortly after, I found where she laid down and running tracks leaving the bloody bed. I thought to myself, this is not good. Between how much blood she was losing and the deep snow she couldn't last long. I was wrong again. I pressed on. Her tracks slowed to a walk. By now I was completely sweated and exhausted. Please, please don't go much further. Dragging her out in this ocean of white would really not be fun. Suddenly, my eyes were looking right at her about 100 yards away. So I sat and sat and sat. Finally! She tipped over.

Keeping on her tracks to about half way to her is when the unbelievable happened. Her head went up and she was gone. Just before she entered the woods she blew at me 3 times. I was speechless. I had an event to be at this evening so I made the decision to keep pushing her. I did just that. She entered the landowners hard and into the wind row pines. Suddenly, I heard him call out to me. I went into his house to give her time. We chatted and he have me a ride to my truck that was parked at the next farm. We figure I had followed her over a mile in the deep snow. I was SHOT!

After having my truck back at his house we gave her more time. I must say that this landowner is absolutely a great person. Without him I would still probably be out there. Thanks for everything Jim! I pulled my truck to within 20 yards of her last tracks. Getting back on them, I looked and there she was. Expired in the pines. Thank you! I could not believe the shear size of this beast. One of the larges antlerless deer I have ever taken.

It all turned out really great in the end. I got to build a better relationship with the landowner and I only had a short drag! Although it was getting rather late and I would miss my even. This is, at least for me, the way Christmas should be spent! One tag remains and I am getting pics of the buck I would like to shoot. He did not shed his left side, it is broken about 8 inches up and I am making the decision to shoot him if he comes in within the next 8 days.
Stay tuned...

I would like to dedicate this deer and this hunt to the Cook family. The are going through something one could not image. Living with breast cancer. They have three beautiful children. I wish them health and happiness to come. They are truly great people. Stay strong and I am here for you.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Deep snow, ice, and sub zero temperatures. Thick frost and numbing winds. Conditions are tough, or are they?

Unfortunately, I had a short weekend. None the less, it was time to hunt. Reality keeps us from being in the woods as much as we would like. Making use of every available minute is not always too easy either. Especially with the holidays fast approaching. I must say, I had one of "those" weeks. You know what I'm talking about, right? Everything you attempt unfolds the wrong way and stress is heightened. Blah, blah, blah.

Anyways, I checked my cameras. Happy with one and disappointed in the other. I pulled them all but one now. The one I left showed me something great. Movement was up, big time. There are a few trees that the deer have been pounding acorns. I try to enhance this with minerals, such as a Trophy Rock. It is very hard for the deer to get anything and will take all they can get now. The minerals helps heighten the feeding frenzy and is rather beneficial to the heard. The pics showed movement at all times of the afternoon into the early part of the night. They were feeding hard, real hard.

Small bucks, family groups, and one shooter. Unfortunately, the shooter had already shed his left side. It is still nice to see a good one make it this far. Without his right side, he is safe from me as well. I even got a pic of a mature doe kicking a smaller deers butt. Pecking order is in full effect. You can see the pics in my 2010 Trail Cam Pics page.

I sat only two short evenings with sightings of about a dozen deer. The numbers are going up, which is promising. I'm not too fond of tag sandwiches and things are looking good. Some of my hunting companions have a couple left as well. Perhaps some more tag teaming might be in store. When this week ends on Thursday, I have the rest of the season off. I'm very excited for that! Christmas will be spent in a tree for me. Wouldn't have it any other way. That is the best gift of all, bowhunting. I will keep you posted on how it all unfolds.

No matter which way it goes!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter is Here

The snow fell sideways being driven by the strong winds. Drifts grew by the minute. Old Man Winter has made his arrival official.

My weekend had been cut short, on the hunting side of things. Needless to say. It started Friday night. It was getting late and I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, they were wrong. Nope. First, it rained for a couple hours. Coating everything with a thick layer of ice. Good way to start out a snow storm, you know? Then it opened the gates and down came the snow. The harder it snowed the harder the wind blew.

I could hear the snow hitting the windows. How strange is that? I shoveled and blew the drive only to have it seem as if I hadn't moments later. My dog could walk up the snow banks and go right over the fence! In my area we received near the 20 inch mark of snow. In spots it's only a few inches deep but in other spots its shoulder high. I don't mind getting the snow, but the wind messes everything up. The rain, I would have to say is the worst thing you could get in the winter. It kills more birds than anything, besides domestic cats. The critters will be hurtin' now. It's a rough start to winter for all.

I plan on leaving things alone for the next few days. The deer should be back to feeding like mad again. Temperatures are suppose to be well below zero the next couple days as well. Their tracks will tell the story.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Traditional Quest - final chapter

My heart is heavy and my mind is filled with disappointment. There has been highs and there has been lows. My journey has been memorable and I leave it with honor. I will face the Quest again...

The weather is going to get nasty again. Forecasts calling for over a foot of snow, gusting winds, followed by below zero temps. This means one thing to me. The deer will be on their feet. Everything is set up for me to have a repeat. Checking my cameras didn't reveal a whole lot for me. Only a few night photos. This didn't discourage me in the least bit. I knew they were going to be moving. During my daytime travels I had observed deer out feeding through out the day. This evening was lookin' great.

Choosing to sit the same stand I experience my last success in seemed like a no brainer. Upon arrival, there seemed to be a lack of past traffic. Yes, there were trails and tracks, but not quit like I had expected. No worries, I was confident in my choice. Shortly after settling in, turkeys skirted the field. They slipped back into the timber and went about their business.

My evening began to fade and the deer began to move. Three deer were heading right through the funnel directly to me. A doe yearling, a buck yearling, and a good shooter doe. The little ones passed right in front of me as I waited for her. She followed. Broadside at 17 yards. I stopped her, drew, and released. My arrow had gone off coarse and passed just underneath her. The deer scattered along with my brain. I couldn't believe I just did that. They didn't go far. The gathered their wits and calmed down. One of the yearlings got back on the trail and head back in front of me. Am I going to get another chance?

It was sure going to seem that way. I had planned to pass the yearling and try for her again. The yearling got to my arrow just off the trail, gave it a sniff and spooked again. Now, it's not looking like it. Again, the calmed and went around the arrow. Maybe I'll get that opprotunity after all. She passed threw my lane at about 26 yards this time. Standing broadside, this was my chance. I released another arrow. This time, I made contact. The shot was high. She let out a grunt and bolted. I could see the arrow on both side of her, which gave me confidence. The deer went along with her which could cause problems if I don't get good blood.

When I decided to to exit my stand I found nothing but where they bolted. I went home to get lights, a sled, and to give her some time. Returning, without any snow falling yet, I was worried. She carried the arrow, but I had that knot in my stomach. I found hair and nothing else. I followed only tracks through the snow, giving me not as much as a speck of blood. I would most definitely see it in the snow with the light, but nothing. Nothing high and nothing low. Poor blood trails are common with a high hit. I walked and walked with nothing for my efforts. The tracks and trails all met up and crossed over leaving me helpless. I back tracked again and again.

The snow has slowly started. The new 12 plus inches that was coming would more than cover everything. I believe I hit the "pocket". Below the spine and above the lungs. With a bit of luck I can only hope she makes it to see another day. I'll see what tomorrow brings, but with the weather starting, things don't look promising.

This is reality. The dark side of it. It is plain and simple a part of hunting, especially with traditional. The percentage of a missed placed shot is greater than any other way. This is why I tend to shy away from it and at the same time what draws me to it. Everything is intensified. I clearly need more practice, not because it happened, instead, to rebuilt confidence. Traditional archery is archery in its purest form. The animals, in my eyes, deserve the best of me. I plan to shoot and shoot some more. Will I bring the recurve on stand with me this year again? More than likely not. I have a lot of work to do so I am ready for the next Quest. A bear. This is my ultimate dream and have a lot to do before it comes.

My mission is still to fill my tags and I plan on doing so. As for doing it traditionaly, probably not. It was a great Quest and will still have deer adventures to come.

The purity of what is real drives me to become better. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow Birds

The frosted landscape surrounded us as we marched through the new white powder. Fresh tracks of all kinds outlined the protruding cover. We lost ourselves in the white prairie.

I had taken the day off from The Traditional Quest. Dixie and I had a date. Not a movie and a dinner date, rather, a snow and a rooster date. While we searched for birds I couldn't help being amazed by the landscape. Every handful of steps gave way to a new view. One of calendar quality. The grass may be flat, but life was amongst us.

Fresh tracks gave away the movement of all critters. Winding tracks crossed to and from any and all cover. You could see where the deer and birds had stopped and fed on berries. If you look at a spot like this long enough you can almost actually see them as if they were still standing in their tracks.

Surprisingly, the birds didn't hold as well as I had expected. We experienced blind flushes, the kind you hear and don't see. I love the momentary pandemonium they bring. Difficult shots make for great retrieves. This is exactly what we endured. Our faces were frosted and our spirits were high. The landscape was filled with, Dixie and I.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Traditional Quest - Success

Research, practice, and practice some more. You hunt and hunt more. Then, everything comes full circle.

Today was a day I will not soon forget. My day started by checking the weather well before daylight. Several times. My mind was made up to go get on stand. Like I had said in my last post, the wind was marjinal for the stand I had chose to sit. I figure on a shot being presented before I would get caught. All settled in and my mind was wondering about what the next couple days would bring. I seen 2 deer in my morning sit. A small 5 point and a yearling doe. Both passed down the same trail only minutes apart 17 yards down wind of me. They never knew I was lurking in the trees. My standards are set and I passed.

After the morning unfolded it was time to check my cameras. I had moved them into different locations and couldn't wait to see what they had seen. Nothing. On both properties I had these cameras and not a single picture. I was more than bummed. How could that be? Well, I learned where not to sit. I'm not going to let it change the game plan.

The big snow storm hadn't began to unleash just yet so I made a quick rooster run with Dixie. The fence line on our farm held several rooster, but in this location getting a shot isn't too common. As was the case this time also. The little bit of soft snow that was left exposed large amounts of pheasant tracks. Should be good. Nope. The ice on the slough was surprisingly thick, which means hunt the cattails. I noticed the coyote tracks were extra thick. Sure enough, we pushed him right out of his brown grassy bedroom. He was a dandy. The first good midnight sun and he will be mine. A very cool encounter. I headed home.

With the snow now coming down in full force, I headed out to practice some shooting before my sit. I have to admit, it was really good practice in that snow. Real conditions for real practice. Time to clean up and light out. Several inches had fallen already and there was no sign of letting up. In the tree and ready for action. As evening set in I was worried about not seeing any activity yet. Then, to my left, I caught movement. The deer had appeared as if they came up from the ground. Silent and graceful. They were grouped up pounding down acorns about 50 yards away. Holding my bow with fingers made of ice. I did try to warm them by taking turns holding them under my ultra thin orange vest. Didn't work so hot.

Finally, they began working towards me. I had my eye on one that was rather larger than the rest. I want her. Fortunately, she was the first one to come down the trial. She stopped just under 20 yards broadside. I wish she had been a touch closer, but it's now or never. I drew and released a meat missile. Jackpot! The arrow crashed into her and off she went. For about ten yards she was pushing with her hind legs only. Her front shoulder were pinned by the arrow, making me feel even better about shot placement. The arrow was sticking out of her dinging off every tree she passed. Out of sight she went and the other deer slowly scampered off. I was shaking like I just whacked a booner! I LOVE THIS STUFF! Slithering out of the tree and picking up on her trail. She only went about 80 yards. With no exit she didn't leave a drop of blood. I followed only tracks.

As I walked up on her I knew I had done it. She was Mrs. Hog. A big ol' girl. My shot was great. One arrow, 2 lungs. The arrow was bent like I had never seen. The broadhead hit the opposite low shoulder and made a mess out of that front quarter. That's the nice thing about when a deer carries the arrow. It makes a mess, but it puts them down.

I can honestly say that this is truly one of, if not the most, amazing whitetail harvest I've had. I made a goal, practiced, and succeeded. Raw archery. My flame is burning hot now. I still have several weeks of the season left and the Traditional Quest is far from over. Party sits, party sent nudges, and I still have a tag left. Let the games continue. Thank you all for being a part of what I love and letting me share this with you. It's been a great day and also a long one. From sitting, walking, to yes, even shoveling. I'll be back at it tomorrow! Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated on....The Quest!

The Quest continues...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Traditional Quest

Well, it's Thursday evening and I'm all geared up for my weekend to start tomorrow morning. This is going to be an interesting one, I believe. We are scheduled for a pretty big snow storm starting mid day Friday. No worries, I'm gonna ride it out and hunt. I'm mainly concerned about the wind direction for the morning. Winds with any East in them are not too great for me. We'll see, I might have to sit out in the morning. Now, evenings are the prime time for me. I can't wait to check my cameras. I moved them last weekend and I'm really curious to see what we've got! No matter how this all pans out, it will surely be interesting! I'll keep you posted and share trail cams pics if I get some good ones.

The Quest continues...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Traditional Quest

No gadgets, no crazy technology, no nothing. Just me and a bow. The way archery was.

A handful of years ago I became interested in traditional archery. I purchased a Martin recurve and began testing myself. I couldn't believe the world I had entered. When you start removing cams, wheels, sights, let off, and so on, you're left with nothing. Except for a bare bow. I had no idea what was in store for me. I shot and shot. Then I hunted and hunted. My success hunting with traditional gear was minimal. I have harvested a few deer with my recure, two of which were with cedar shafts. The deer I harvested were yearlings, none the less, trophies.

Last season I never even brought the recurve on stand. Mainly because of my lack of confidence in my shooting ability. My groups were very inconsistent. Feeling like I gave up on something I loved, I have began shooting again. Researching shooting methods and learning them has boosted my shooting confidence. Gap shooting is the method I have been memorizing. I wouldn't say I'm going to be winning any tournaments, but I have never shot this good with a bare bow. Ever.

The time is now. The weather, as we all know, is getting nasty. The deer are transitioning back into feeding patterns and herding up. I have began to sit with my recurve beside me. A fear that haunted me was the fact that if Mr. Large and in Charge came along I would be devastated not to have my compound. Let him come. I would love to take a hog with traditional. If he passes out of range, do to my even shorter shooting range, then that's life. If you don't do it, you won't do it. One of my biggest goals in life is to take a bear with my recurve. I've been too afraid to blow an opportunity to use the recurve. I just need to let it happen. This will be another story come next September.

This past weekend, my recurve and I, had some encounters. A doe fed her way to me at sunset. The wind was suppose to switch from SW to SE. It did. At the worst possible time, like always. She was 40 yards and then her nostrils filled with human funk. She stood like a statue for all of 10 minutes until she turned and gracefully headed away. All the while, a spike buck was on my right side at 25 yards. He didn't like her body language and began to leave slowly as well. I passed him. I have never shot a buck of any caliber with my recurve. A would like something a bit better than a 4 inch spike. I would honestly be happy with a 1 1/2 year old 6 or 8 point. I say let'em go and let'em grow if you won't truly be 100% happy with your harvest. I truly would be happy with a good 1 1/2 year old at this point in my traditional quest.

The next evening a small fork buck passed 8 yards broadside. This was so so hard to pass. The shot he offered was as perfect as I could have asked for. I will not reset my standards in which I have set. A buck I would be happy taking with the recurve or my tags will be filled with antlerless deer. Even at that, I would really like to shoot a tank of a doe also. I still have tags and plan to hunt as hard as ever.

The weather is suppose to smooth out and warm a tad by the weekend. Deer movement should be good and I'm excited to check my cameras and prepare for the week. My traditional quest continues. I will keep you posted on my camera results, encounters, or lack there of, and if the moment happens. You will know how it all pans out. To all my readers, shoot straight and give'em the shaft!

To be continued...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Walk

Thanksgiving is over and I'm feeling a tad bit large.   Not to worry.   I usually take a trip north to do a little grouse hunting which means a lot of walking.   A fresh coat of snow and cool temps had me thinkin' it was going to be a good trip.

As far as flush numbers goes, it didn't turn out to be so hot.   We only flushed a group of three birds.   They held until we passed them.   Watching Dixie I asked myself, "Did I just hear that?"   Yep.   Looking around to see where the flush came from I heard another.   Running frantically to get a shoot, but I was too late.   One glimpse of the last flush was all I got.  

Regardless of the birds, it sure was beautiful up there.   I was in the Hinckley area soakin' it all in.   There's something majestic about being in the middle of no where.   When you stop, the only thing you hear is the breeze tickling the tree tops.   If not for the cool temps you could curl up into a ball and sleep for days.   It is so relaxing.  

The squirrels and song birds where doing their best to stay one step ahead of old man winter.   Not sure that anyone really ever succeeds in doing so.   Now days it seems like spring and fall no longer exist.   Summer into winter and winter into summer.   We seen some amazing country and lots of classic rub lines to watch.   We even shared lunch together, Dixie and I.   Grouse or not, the walk was well worth it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Time to be a Nancy

My last precious day of vacation. I'm not talking about sitting under a palm tree sipping a cold one either. Instead, 25 mph winds and hard frozen snow. It's the kind of wind that makes your eyes water and your chin numb. When the weather is too crumby for being on stand, you can bet my dog is 20 yards in front of me and I'm sporting a sexy orange vest.

I felt like I was in a NASCAR race driving to my pheasant ground. The wind would whip my truck around like it was made of cardboard. The driveway back into our family farm has a long brushy field line alone it that usually hold birds. Not today. It's to open and the wind is beating it up pretty badly. If they are not there, they are somewhere else. This actually is a good thing. The line is super hard to get a close flush out of. The snow is rock hard so they now can run like the little roadrunners they are. They've been pressured now for a month or so and holding tight isn't in their agenda.

This wind will take care of that, I was hoping to myself. As we began and got our first flushes, things weren't lookin' so hot. Positioning myself as best as I could to the side of the cover I was thinking would produce the flush wasn't working. The birds were not holding all too tight to my surprise. Didn't really matter though because we were there and so were the birds. That truely is what it's about. Being there.

So I'm watching my suddenly birdy dog like a hawk just waiting for it. Then, I see him. Head down and running through the brush like he was in the wide open. Sprinting, ok more like stumbling, to get around to the back as fast as I can. Come on, come one. Nothing, and no dog. Off I go. Running down the trail scanning for Dixie. Suddenly I spot the orange collar and she is BIRDY! Staying in check with her we worked the back side of the dike. Finally. A perfect flush. Bead up and bird down. Couldn't have done that sittin' on the coach.

As I was putting my chaps on and switching boots I thought to myself,"What am I doing? Seriously!" I'm not going to lie, the wind sucked, bad. You know what though? It's hunting season and there is no time to be a nancy. Tough conditions can make for a great hunt, like mine today. Sometimes I have to push myself. Like today, I don't know who was in worse shape. Dixie or me. My face felt like if something touched it it would shatter. Her pads were so beat up and bloody from the icy snow it looked like a double lung shot when she walked. Before you know it, it will all be over and I don't want to miss a day. Too many great things could happen to be peaking out the window.

I want to wish everyone a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm sure many of stories will be told over a turkey in the days to come.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flat Grass

As far as rooster huntin' goes, snow means one thing, flat grass. With our first good coating of snow on the ground I had to go see what the birds were up to. The snow was of the heavy wet kind. You know, the stuff that makes your back crack and pop while shoveling it. It's more like white mud than snow.

Sure enough. At the arrival to my hunting destination I knew what I would be dealing with. All the tall native prairie grasses where as flat as a pancake. This situation can really make huntin' rudies a blast, literally. When you get enough, or heavy enough, snow fall it takes the majority of the pheasants habitat away. Now they are confined to small brushy patches that protect the undergrowth. This specific situation is super awesome and I'll tell you why. One of the pheasants biggest habitat during the winter months are cattails. Well, it hasn't been cold enough to freeze the wetlands up nice and solid. So, with water still under the cattails the pheasants wont be there yet. Now you have birds concentrated in these dry brushy patches of cover that the snow can not take down. Flat grass and wet cattails are rare and fantastic.

Another super awesome thing the snow does for a pheasant hunter is that it takes their legs away. Running birds that don't hold can really cause headaches. Especially this deep into the season. The birds have endured some hunting pressure and tend to be loose and not hold really tight causing out of range flushes. I'll put it this way, a rooster without legs is like a car without tires. Not so good. Wet snow or deep snow keeps the birds from running simply because they can't walk on top of it. This make them hold super tight which allows for some ultra awesome flushes.

My dog, Dixie, and I always let the wind decide what are approach is going to be. I want the wind swirling right up her beautiful nostrils. Helping her detect birds more efficiently and it also helps you guess the direction of the flushes. Birds generally try to flush into or across the wind.

Our first patch of cover was full of birds. As soon as Dixie entered the cover the birds started flushing instantly. Unfortunately, I had picked the wrong side to be on. Kind of always seems to work that way. In complete pandemonium, I sprinted to the side of the flushes. I didn't even make there and I already had a rooster beaded up. Both of the roosters legs dropped with my first shot. I watch him keep going in disbelief, while others will still bursting out of the brush mind you. With my jaw at my boots the rooster continued to gain altitude. I know whats going on here. Heart or lung shot. Typically you see this climbing with this type of shot. Sure enough, the rudie folded up and began a long long fall, right into the middle of our largest slough. This is going to be interesting. We camped out for a half our waiting for the wind to drift the "floater" into range. One really kick butt blind retrieve and the soaked rooster was in the vest. We pressed on for another.

When it snows, go shoot some rudies. The can hide, but they can't run.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Home Away From Home

One Oak Tree Southwest Corner, Ground Blind, MN. This is my new address. It my be a downsize from my current home, but no TV's and no ringing phones. Just me and it. It's all about being there and not being there at the same time. Seeing it the way it is when I'm not there, only, I am there.

Tip toeing through dried leaves and limbs desperately trying to avoid making unwanted sound. It never seems to work and you end up sounding like a drunk elephant. Oh well, got to get there. Upon arrival to my new temporary home covered in a tangle of dead branches the worst is yet to come. The entrance zipper. Why is that thing so unbelievably loud? Again, keep on keepin' on.

Settled in, arrow knocked, and pack off. My favorite part. I get so lost in the common things. Birds, squirrels, leaves, and the breeze. Normally a person wouldn't pay two cents of attention to these things, but out here, you have to. It's funny. When we don't have much we make the best of what we have, and those things we do have are just that much better. It's kind of the same thing here. I'm forced to listen and watch. Not really forced because I love it but you get the point.

Staring for movement and listening to every sound. It really is amazing what you see and hear. The strange thing is, we see and hear a lot of it all the time. We just don't pay much attention to it. Out there, you have to. I still can't figure out how when you hear a squirrel he sounds like a rut crazy 150 inch buck and then when you do see a deer you didn't hear anything. I'm calling Mythbusters! A wood pecker was blasting the blow down tree my blind is nestled in. He was only a couple feet away from my head just on the other side of my thin blind wall. Sounded like a hammer drill. I never new such an annoying sound could make me smile so much. I'll bet wood peckers wish they knew what Advil was.

It amazes me how the leaves change color right along with the setting of the sun. Seeing my breath more and more with every passing minute tells me the bewitching hour has come. The last hour of light. I wish it lasted for more than an hour. Some are getting tucked in for the night and some are just arriving for the night. Yep, another question. How is it that no matter what a deer stands in front of it takes on that very same color? I'm convinced that if a deer stood in front of a red barn the darn thing would in fact turn red. So sneaky. Does and fawns milled around bobbing for acorns amongst the leaves. The antlered boys never showed up. Guess I'll just have to spend another day in my home away from home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Weekend of Tales

Snaking through prairie grass highlighted in fire orange by the sunset creates a picture one thought only exists in paintings. Watching every movement your dog makes anticipating a flush with each and every step taken. Roosters calling out in the distance seem as if they are testing your nerves. There is nothing like looking for a feathered needle in a prairie hay stack.

With the slow, to say the least, duck seasons I have really turned to the almighty rooster to cure my desire for a good wing shoot. Spending time with my dog isn't much different, in my eyes, as a father spending time with his children. By no means am I a professional dog trainer, but I do put a lot of time into doing just that. I have self trained my dogs and the satisfaction I get watching Dixie, a female black lab, work the grass, force a flush, and sitting at heal with a mouth full of rooster is humbling. The fruits of my labour, or shall I say, our labour.

With minimal clutch sightings this summer I had much anticipation as to how the pheasant season was going to pan out this year. On our family farm we have planted nearly half the property in native prairie grasses. Constant up keeping and scheduled burns have make this some of the most beautiful prairie ground I've seen in Minnesota. It is part of our wetlands habitat. Grassland is essential to wetlands based on its nesting ability for waterfowl along with its filter qualities. The benefit to wetlands is that it does not just pertain to ducks. The pheasant relies on this habitat as well. Two birds with one stone sort of speak. With the continual improvement of grassland on our farm pheasant numbers inhabiting the land has increased. Again, if you build it they will come. Habitat is everything.

Especially early in the season I don't hunt the mornings all to often. Mainly due to standing crops. If you have a standing corn or bean field near your hunting ground it can make the hunt rather slow. The birds spend the majority of the day in the crops causing mornings to be much slower than the evenings. Leaving the areas of interest alone and keeping them fresh for that last hour of hunting time before sunset make for the best early season hunt you can have. In that last hour or two the birds begin to creep out of the crops and start heading for their nightly roosting areas. That's when you and your dog can catch them off guard and sneak in a little shooting. Low hunting pressure isn't just for the deer, it really helps with baggin' some purple heads as well. Wait till the time is right.

With a large corn field still standing bordering our north property line my hopes were not all too high. To my surprise we got our two roosters both Saturday and Sunday. We, by no means, saw nor flushed large numbers of birds. We were able to capitalize on the birds that were there. Straight shooting and a super dog along with high quality habitat were the key in our weekend of success. It seems I've taken my pheasant hunting to the level I like to use in my bowhunting. We form strategies due to the wind direction. Yes, by we I mean my dog and I. The wind determines our route. I want the wind blowing through the cover right into Dixie's nostrils. You can run, but you can't hide.

Watching a dog work the grass is always motivating to me. Its like watching your bobber. Intensely staring at it knowing it's going to go down just waiting for some movement. When your dog does a ninety degree turn and picks up on a bird is truly amazing. Their tail is whipping around like a shoe lace caught in weed whipper. It's all about being birdy. I think I even get a little birdy, if you will. Tightly gripping my over and under getting ready for a swift clean shouldering. When Mr. Rudy finally exposes himself in blast of wing beats and a streamer of tail feathers your heart literally skips a beat. Instinct kicks in and you bead up and knock him down. With dog only steps behind and below. After securing the bird in your vest and belly rubs are given you march on with hopes to repeat the moment. I can only hope the rest of the season continues along this very same path.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Evening in Heaven

The speed bumps of life can be so overwhelming and even knock us off coarse at times. When it rains, it pours. Racing thoughts fill your mind with how am I going to fix that, where am I going to get the time, and blah blah blah. You know the rest. When I find myself congested with a negative vibe I know just what to do. Instead of letting this nasty funk grow I put a lid on it by spending an evening in heaven.

I've never been one to sugar coat things so I'll say it like I think it, life can just plain old suck at times. It seems like when one thing breaks three more things follow. Why is that anyway? I was on my way northbound when it all began for me. I found myself sitting on the side of the freeway just south of the Twin Cities in a vehicle that just wouldn't go anymore. Yep, that's as far as I made it. Without sounding like a sob story we all have heard, I'll just say the rest of my weekend followed that very same road.

With my undies in a knot and a bad attitude setting in on me like the plague, I needed some peace of mind. A great friend of mine has been letting me in on some top secret covert fishing intel. Never have I hooked up my boat and headed for the lake that fast after work. With sunset crawling in earlier and earlier I felt so rushed and that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Again the funk continues. I just had to though. I needed it so very much. When all was said and done and my jig began to find it's home in a tangle of submerged limbs is when the plague began to fade. Lost in the moment and away from the madness of life, I was at home. Spending more time soaking in my surrounds than fishing. Wood ducks jumped from their acorn buffet gracefully missing every branch on their way up to clear skies. Geese sang their song to me as if I put money in the jukebox and requested it. Crunching leaves on the bank gave way to a long sleek mink who seemed to be fishing the same banks as I was. Lost, completely lost.

To make matters even better, that's right I said better, the unmistakable thump of a billy bass engulfingmy jig. Shortly after my home run hook set a small fish was released and I was back at it. Further down the bank, wouldn't you know it, it happened again. This fish was even shorter, but who cares! I don't know if the leaves where floating by me or if I was floating by them, but the evening was one of the most beautiful I have seen in some time. Wait a minute, my line is swimming off the the side. Batter up! My rod doubled over and big Bertha surfaced. With the fish in the boat and the camera clicking away my outlook had been once again cleaned by mother earth. The setting sun made this fish glow as if it were dusted in gold, which was one of my best all time bass, only a handful of ounces short of 7 pounds!

The release wasn't just the huge fish swimming back to her home, it was me finding mine again as well. High hopes and big dreams all in tact. This thing we all fight through call life can indeed, suck, but don't let it. We are not here long enough to ponder questions that have no answers. Nor are we here long enough to not spend every opportunity we get doing what we love. These things we love feed our souls and drive us in life, whether its a hog bass or a long tined buck. When life gets heavy stem back to your roots and you will find yourself along with many other promising elements. The next time you feel like an angry wasp buzzing around the nest of life, spend an evening in heaven.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Empty Skies

As legal shooting time crept in on opening morning of the 2010 Minnesota waterfowl season my anticipation grew. Not because I was so excited about how great it was going to be, instead, I was curious about just how bad it was going to be. Preparing myself for another poor, at best, duck opener never seems to do the trick. Even when I know it will be slow the disappointment never lessens. If I were asked to describe Minnesota's recent waterfowl seasons in one sentence it would go something like this. Cold shotgun barrels, bored dogs, and empty skies.

You can blame the weather all you want, but if there's ducks around on opener they are in the sky no matter what the conditions. The weather conditions usually play the role of how high the ducks are, not if they are around or not. I have grown up in a waterfowl based family. My grandfather, Dr. Paul John Komarek, has done more for waterfowl in Minnesota than any one man I had ever heard of doing. He has created over 120 Minnesota wetlands and has recieved conservation awards as well. Ducks are his thing. We have an 80 acre tract in our family that was designed and is managed for waterfowl. This is were it all started for me and has been a complete duck factory. It breaks my heart to say this, but that seems to be in the past.

Mainly wood ducks, some teal, and the occassional mallard were the ducks we harvested this opener. If you got your 2 woodies, you were pretty much done. I remember better times. At one point or another we all have heard someone say to us the old line of ," This is nothing, you should have seen it when I was young." In my short life of 31 years I to can say that already. Hundreds of ducks and geese singing the best songs you have ever heard on our family farm seems to have become just a memory. Numbers were high and limit numbers were low. Three ducks was all you could shoot then and you really took your time waiting for those nice vibrant drakes to set in.

Like my Grandfather says, when you went into town for lunch all the hunters would say it was a great morning and they took their 3 ducks. Now when you go into town for lunch everyone is complaining of how bad of a morning it was because they only got 3 ducks. It really makes me think of what some have become as outdoorsman and the people who make the rules and regs for them. Having a 6 duck limit is the most ridiculous thing I have ever encountered. Why and what would a hunter need 6 ducks a day for? Last year was tied for the worst opener I have ever experienced along with most other hunters that hit the marshes. In the last issue of the Ducks Unlimited magazine it stated in the 2010 forecast that just about all puddle duck species were down from last year. And still the 6 duck limit remains. Why? Some species, like the pintail, even had their limit increased. Again, why? A slight rise in numbers is no reason to push those numbers right back down. The ducks need recovery time.

I have been educated in what it really takes to have good nesting qualities for waterfowl, but nothing is as important as habitat. My observations have been drying wetlands, tile being used everywhere, CRP turning into fields, and so on. Our habitat is vanishing along with our waterfowl numbers. What good is a leather couch if you don't have a home to put it in? The bottom line is, if you don't have the habitat you don't have the ducks. Do to the quality of nesting grounds, or lack there of, the flyways shift little by little away from Minnesota. It sounds rather strange to me that the land of 10,000 lakes has a lack of ducks.

If the people making these regulations, who obviously have little respect for waterfowl, continue on this trend we will be left with nothing. If generating revenue for the state is the main concern then perhaps some of these people should slide over and let some true outdoorsman in. Sacrifice is needed and no one is willing. When duck numbers were high limits were low, and now duck numbers are low and limits are high. You don't have to be a bio chemist to figure that one out. I'm not saying that it's the cause, but it's sure a good start. The numbers of duck hunters has dropped dramatically in the past decade as well. These generous regulations don't encourage the hunters to stay, it pushes them away. They are out in the mud and see what it's like out there. Spending hard earned dollars to stare at empty skies is not on their agenda and does not encourage nonresidents to join in.

We need to focus on the reality and the true problem. We need to bring the ducks back. After that, everything else will follow along with hunter numbers and higher revenue. We need regulations that are strict and more beneficial habitat programs to make for a good start. Habitat is everything. If you build it they will come. Trees may be a renewable resource, but the land they grow on is not. Once it's all gone, it's gone. We have done our share of taking and it's time to do a little giving back. Let's make Minnesota, Minnesota again.

Special thanks to my Grandfather, Dr. Paul John Komarek, for caring enough to ensure that I have a mash to stand in with my dog and stare at the sky and for giving back to waterfowl for what they have given to us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Our Choice

Who's going to shoot the big one this year? We all think to ourselves under our own breath, I sure hope its me. Lets turn this hope into reality. As outdoorsmen we have choices. It will take time, discipline, and patients. I love the land in which I live and see huge potential in it. Great things happen when people work together, and I believe in my fellow outdoorsmen. The outcome of our decisions reflect and dictate our success and future.

The Minnesota archery season is well on its way. Year after year I put hours upon hours in a tree and watch as these small bucks with huge potential pass by. Thoughts of how they would look in 3 years flood my mind followed by a slight head shake. I am not perfect in my passing of deer by any means, but as I mature so do my standards. I wish I would have started long before I did. One of the very top traits a person needs to learn, especially in the hunting category, is self discipline. After hunting your butt off with little success you have a 1 1/2 year old eight standing broadside. It can be very hard to pass up this opportunity. You need to stop and ask yourself, will I be 100% happy with this deer? No one needs another small rack being kicked around on the garage floor. You can come up with reasons to justify taking this deer yes, but will you be totally happy with him? Remove yourself from the moment and be honest with yourself. Chances are, you wouldn't be. For some maybe you would and if that's the case, shoot. Any animal taken on their home turf is a trophy in my eyes and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Every deer we shoot doesn't have to be a monster, no, but I believe, most of us, would really like to start seeing more of a higher age class on the deer where we hunt.

Minnesota is a melting pot for habitat. Look at the surrounding states and what's going on with them. The Dakotas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Canada. All well know for the established age class of whitetails. All the habitat from these states comes together in Minnesota. So why the small bucks here? These other lands are managed so well not only by the law but by the landowners and more so, by the hunters. They have seen the results and want to preserve them. If the law and the people who make them are not willing to sacrifice and implement stiffer management on young deer, we can. As outdoorsmen, we have choices. We don't need them to dictate what we shoot. We can do it ourselves. When we have spent our hard earned dollars on that tag in our pockets it gives us the right of choice. The choice to take, legally, the deer we want to take.

I've been in some of these other states and the attitudes are promising. Even the young people learn these standards at a young age. Let the small ones walk. This gives me hope for my own homeland. People are people and we are those people. If I didn't believe we could do this I wouldn't be writing about it. We can. I say that with confidence. Imagine the amount of enthusiasm and motivation you would hunt with knowing you have a super chance at wackin' a big boy more than you ever have. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a long term plan pay off and pay off it will.

There are so many justifications I hear and at one time have said myself. This is the most common one, I believe. If I don't shoot him my neighbors will. Lets break that one down. Yes, this may be so, but if you take the deer he has a zero chance at making it. If you pass him, at least he has some chance. Boom! You just did it. You just gave that deer more of a chance than he normally would have. If everyone did that I could only imagine how many shows Minnesota would be on. Shooting a deer just because someone else "might" doesn't sound like a reason to becoming happy with your harvest. Say this deer does get shot from the next guy, take pride in your growth and doing your part and continue to do so. Hard work is always rewarded, in one way or another. One person can make a difference. Each and every one of us is only one person. So, in all reality, one person makes up all of us. Yes, it will take time, but if we can make this a mindset and a standard to follow, in time, I assure you, results will be seen.

By no means am I saying to be perfect right off the bat. Nor am I saying to never slip up, but instead, just make it an effort to at least think of my words. Minnesota is a special piece of the world and we can make it even better on our own by our decisions. For the most part, I believe it's something we all would like to see happen. So lets start! We don't need anyone to make the decisions for us. We can use our right of choice to our benefit and make this land and the animals that inhabit it, what it and they deserve to be. So this fall, please, lets work together and let'em walk.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Startin' It Out Right

When the alarm went off in the morning it was the best sound I have ever heard. It was officially opening day of the archery season. My anticipation for this day started the day it closed last year. Getting everything in line and prepped the night before is when it all really sank in. All I have to do is get this night out of the way and it's on. I was in store for a picture perfect morning.

My mind was made up to take a nice doe and get one in the bag. So, I set out to one of my favorite funnels. My truck said 48 degrees while on my drive to the stand. I can't remember an opener this cool. It seems as if it's usually 85 degrees and buggy as heck. Not this year baby! The wind is a little strange in this particular funnel. Deer go through it in both directions in the morning and evening. This is good and bad. You can hunt it in just about any wind, I love this spot. It proved itself once again.

On stand and ready. There is a small marsh to my west and the woodies were talkin' up a storm and the squirrels were chewin' up the acorns as fast as they were falling. Oh how I have missed this! A nice overcast with a soothing breeze. No skeeters either! I was just sitting and soaking it all in. The light crept in and it was now under way. My opener morning. Then, the sound we all wait and strive to hear. The grass was coming to life and making sounds that I was certain wasn't from no nut munchin' tree rat. Right I was. A year and half six exited the woods and skirted the edge of the corn field about 15 yards away. Then another little buck from the other corn field edge. They were small yes, but my satisfaction was huge. They stagedup right by me and then it got even better. Next thing I know they were face to face. Time for a little sparring. They rubbed foreheads and tickled tines. I got so lost in the show and reminded myself, this is why I do this. The larger of the two buck decided enough is enough. He showed a little attitude and the other was at his mercy. I can only hope this deer makes it a couple more years. He is a baby hog. At a year and a half he is even with his ears. He really could have a bright future if given the chance and that's exactly what I did. They fed off and I sat back in shear serenity.

About a half hour or so a deer began to come into the funnel from behind me. It was the boys again. They walked through right after passing directly underneath me. So very awesome. Contemplating on deer movement and what made those deer pass through one direction and then come back through from another. This is what I came up with, an acorn snack before a nap. More deer steps are coming. I grabbed my bow and though to myself, NO antlers please. I want that old slickhead. Sure enough here she comes. She passed all of 12 yards in front of me and was perfectly broadside. I was already at full draw and stopped her with a little soft grunt. Can you guess what happens next? Red arrow! Double lungs and blood leavin' pass through. Shaking like a orange leaf ready to fall baby. I get just as excited sticking a juicy doe as I do anything else. Like I say, you're hunting their brain and senses and does are no joke. I have to be honest, my arm still hurts from fist pumps!

The recovery was just as expected. Simple. Entrance and exit were spitting out the red gold like crazy. With photos taken and my trophy dressed it was time to burn up the phone line. When it's all said and done is when I realize how amazing of an experience the world of archery truly is. I live and breathe this stuff and wouldn't trade it for anything. It is my life and alway will be. An arrow hitting its mark is like nothing on this earth. Until I take my last breath arrows will be flying. It's good to have a purpose again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

He Knew I Wasn't There

I've sweat, bled, carried, and swatted more bugs than I ever have. I poured my heart and soul into this hunt. I have never worked so hard to put an arrow into something in my life. No, I did not wack the Gorilla, but how is success measured?

Carrying expired, and rather stinky, food deep into the big woods of northern Minnesota has become somewhat of a passion, make that an obsession, for me. I often wonder how such a thing could ever be so addictive. I guess it's because the ideal end result is an arrow hitting its mark and all the hard work is payed off with an experience like no other. A bear with the old string gun is one of the most incredible and rewarding accomplishments I have ever endured. I am an archery addict and will stop at nothing to get my fix.

The heat left my bait stations idol for the first week and a half of baiting. Frustrated and run down I waited for a cold front and got just that. On my next baiting trip I was pleased with the destruction of all stations. It looked as if some were bombed and I was nothing short of pumped. Hit baits and daylight bear pictures on the cameras, a certain recipe for success. The heat with falling acorns left my stations idol once again. Not to worry, another cold front was predicted for the first few days of hunting and it was going to be on.

Meanwhile, a certain bear really captured my soul. He was a giant or like the name I gave him, a Gorilla! He was the biggest black nasty I have ever seen, and he was visiting my bait station. More night time than daytime, but he did manage to show himself while the sun was still above the horizon. I wanted this bear in the worst of ways. He was anything but a regular and I did more than my best to pattern his appearances. I tried everything my mind allowed me to create. This didn't work so I tried that and when that didn't work I tried this. I sat seven hour shifts on stand and was completely devoured by the buzz of skeeters. They covered my body to the point that it was hard to even look at. So I didn't look and just focused on my surroundings. Awaiting the arrival of the Gorilla. On my last trip up my cameras told me he was here two out of the last three days. He was standing at my station at seven in the evening the day before I was there. I sat and sat and sat some more. He never came and I had to pull the plug. The picture I described is the picture above and is very difficult for me to look at. I stare at him with a void in my heart that only an archery bear could fill.

Day after day after day of nothingness takes a toll on a person. Do you keep getting up and heading out giving it your all? Physically and mentally, where do you find the strength? Please give me a sign, what am I doing wrong? These questions have haunted my thoughts for the past month. As a hunter you go through the roller coaster of emotions, but when the tracks straighten and the ride is over is when you learn what kind of an outdoorsman you really are. Success or no success, but how is success measured? I'll be honest, it hurts me beyond belief to not have harvested a bear again and being oh so close. The past few years have been a song all too familiar and this was going to be my year. Perhaps it is. Down inside I feel honored to have gotten a bear of this class into my station and to have only missed him by a single day. I don't have over a decade of experience chasing these majestic creatures which adds greatness to my accomplishments. A few days ago thoughts of new strategies for next year have already entered my ever evolving mind. This tells me I'm learning and in all reality that's what I'm out there tring to do. I feel more at home in a tent in the middle of no where than anywhere else I've ever been. I got lots of tent time and also managed to hook up with a few nice smallies on the river. When there isn't a roof over my head is when I'm at my best. This hunt gave me so much as an archer. Constantly strengthening my mental approach is number one and I have done just that and will continue to do so. Bear or no bear, my hunt was a complete success. That's how I measure success.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lady Luck

We are all looking for that big old nasty buck picture when checking our trail camera's, right? Ripping through the doe photos just anticipating seeing some big antlers on the next photo. Nope, not this time, maybe during the next set. Hold on a minute! Check out the ladies. When temps drop and testosterone levels rise, these girls are going to be as good as gold.

It may not sound as fun and fill you with anticipation, but learning about the ladies in your area is definitely key. For many reasons. The first and most important is management. Not only is it fantastic to have does in your immediate area you also have to keep them in check. We hunt in a state with a poor buck to doe ratio, so, keeping the doe numbers in check is a great tool to personally managing your hunting grounds. If you are experiencing an abundance of does, fill the freezer. Many areas offer extra antler less tags and if you got the does don't be afraid to harvest what you feel is adequate for your grounds. By doing so you are increasing the competition for a hot doe, which in return, will get the bucks cruising more. Look at it this way, if every buck had a doe or two for themselves the competition for reproduction would decrease. I know you're probably thinking taking a doe or two wont affect the big picture, but it really does help. Concentrate on your grounds and do what you can within your power to make it the best you can.

Another great reason for learning the ladies is, yep, here it comes, if you want a buck, hunt the does. So cliche, I know. Oh so very true though. Having a couple small family groups is critical. Does tend to have tighter home ranges than bucks which is good news. Most of us don't have hundreds of acres to hunt so this really helps us out. During your camera sets make sure to take note as to where your does are bedding and which routes they are taking as food sources change throughout the season. Find them, learn them, and stay away from them! Especially as the season progresses and daylight hours shorten. The females are what makes the breading seasons what they are. The only reason the bucks get so crazy is, indeed, because of the ladies. Bucks running around possessed like a mad man are looking for the does, obviously. So, if you have what they want and what they're looking for you're one, make that two, steps ahead of them. Be where they want to be, not where they are looking to be.

One of my favorite reasons for studying up on the does in the area is that it makes you a down right better archer. Learning our prey is what we do as archers. Anything and everything helps us. Learning the habits of a big old pot bellied doe is no cake walk either my friends. Realistically, when you're hunting a big nasty buck you're not hunting whats on top of his head, you're hunting whats in his head. A doe with some age on her is no different. Its challenging and improves your bag of tricks, why wouldn't you? Map the does just the same as you do the bucks. Also, if the season is nearing its end and you haven't filled your tag with a buck you would truly be happy with, shoot a doe! Don't settle for a young buck just because it has antlers. You can't eat the antlers anyways! I would rather give that young buck the chance to grow into something great instead of having another basket rack laying on your garage floor. There is no shame in filling tags with does. In my eyes, it means you are a more disciplined hunter who sticks to his or her game plan. Letting young bucks walk is honorable and filling tags with does is a whole lot tastier than a tag sandwich.

This archery season try giving the ladies a bit more attention. I promise, you will become a better archer, all the way around. Your freezer will be full along with your bellies. Learning the does in a given area will become as addictive as anything. Familiarize yourself with not only your key prey but also the ones he interacts with and the lands they inhabit. Lady luck may just lead you to the grand daddy.