Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just Another Day In The Woods

Well...I'm am beginning to get a little desperate. The past few nights in the stand I've been seeing alot of deer, but they are all does and small bucks. The bucks are chasing, but I have yet to see my Mr. Big. And, I'm beginning to wonder if he's still alive.

Tonight I'm going to check my trail camera one last time before I leave on my trip for Illinois, and I'm hoping to have some picture of Mr. Big on there. I've been hearing of big bucks shot in the area, and I'm starting to get a little scared that Mr. Big is one of them.

In reality, I'm beginning to wonder if shooting Mr. Big will just be a dream.

I'm not giving up my search, but lately the odds haven't been in my favor. Should I pass up another big buck in hopes that Mr. Big will show up? Though I would like to take any big NJ buck this year, Mr. Big is really the deer I would love more than anything to shoot. The rut activity is starting to pick up, and the small window of pre-rut activity where the bucks are easier to bring in to your stand with calling and rattling, is beginning to close. All season I have been looking forward to the day that I will finally walk over to my bloody arrow and see Mr. Big laying in the field 60 yards away. But is it realistic?

I have three days before i leave on my trip. And if I don't get my chance in the three days, the rut will be in full swing when I get back. I'm guessing that my week in Illinois will give me time to think about it and decide what my next move will be...

He sure is the NJ buck of my dreams....

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I pull into the road where I hunt and see 3 does in the cow pasture with the Holsteins. I slow the truck down and watch as the does walk away and cattle stampede towards the fence that separates my truck from the pasture. They lean in against the wire, mooing loudly until I pull away. I drive slowly the rest of the way, keeping an eye out for any more deer. It’s still raining out and I hope it keeps raining. Since its about 75 degrees out, the rain is the only good thing about the weather. I pull in the drive and park my truck in the field.

Trace Adkins “This Ain’t No Love Song” comes on the radio and I have to stay and listen to it.

I get out of my truck, change into my camo and raingear, then spray down with scent killer. Then I make sure I have everything I need for the sit in the treestand. Grunt tube, range finder, binoculars, knife, Tinks, camera, cell phone, hat, gloves, release, arrows, bow, flashlight, headlamp. Yup, that’s about it. I rarely use anything but the rangefinder and cell phone, but it makes me feel better to know I have everything I’ll need. Since its raining I don’t worry about bringing my video camera and remote. 

Weighed down with about 30 pounds of gear, I walk to my treestand, stopping on the way to change the memory card in my trail camera. The LCD screen reads 129 pictures. Probably all does and small bucks is my guess. I haven’t got a picture of Mr. Big in almost 2 weeks but saw him about a week ago in the field.

I climb into my ladder stand and get put an arrow on my bow. I take out my camera and look at the pictures from the trail camera. Mostly little bucks and does, but there is one picture of a nice 8 pointer, though of course it’s at midnight.

I see a doe walk into the field about 100 yards away and start to get excited. Maybe the deer are moving after all.

It stops raining and the doe disappears into the woods. Disappointed I sit back and wait. Looking up at the trees I see that the rain has knocked off all but one leaf from the sugar maple in front of me.

I get a text from my boyfriend telling me the weather forecast. For the next 20 minutes I’m occupied with my cell phone.

The sun is coming out as it’s going down. My butt is starting to fall asleep and I’m beginning to think that by the end of the season I’ll have a permanent imprint of the metal bars of the treestand seat imprinted on my butt. I take off my rain jacket and sit on it.

I send a picture of the 8 point to my boyfriend, then take some pictures of myself with the camera. They come so stupid looking, I promptly delete them all.

The wind is starting to pick up. I see a few does come out in the field again but they’re acting skittish and I have a feeling that they aren’t going to come under my stand. I see a deer at the edge of the field with its head down. I take out my binoculars and watch it for ten minutes, until my binoculars fog and my eyes blur and the deer finally picks up its head. It’s a doe.

They don’t come under my stand…Instead they bed down at the edge of the field about 160 yards away.

Dusk is falling. The woods have gone almost eerily quiet and I’m almost afraid to breathe. I sit as still as possible and listen for the sound of a deer coming through the leaves.  The last leaf from the sugar maple comes spiraling down, gets caught in the brook and is swept downstream. A squirrel races across the clearing in front of me, rustling the leaves loudly and making me jump.

There is only about 15 minutes of shooting light left. I feel my cell phone vibrate in my pocket but I don’t take it out since the light of the screen would be too obvious. I look across the brook at the worn deer trail, the same trail Mr. Big always travels in my trail camera pictures. I start daydreaming about what would happen if he came down the trail now and I had my chance at him.

It’s too dark to shoot so I gather my things together and quietly climb out of my tree. The does are still bedded down in the opposite field, and the hill between us prevents them from seeing me. I walk a little dejectedly to my truck and load everything back up.

I pull out onto the highway, already looking forward to my next time in the stand. Next time could be it. The weather is supposed to start cooling off and rut activity should pick up. This time of year, anything could happen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home Is Where The Treestand Is

Last night was the 44th night that I sat in a treestand this season. It was about 80 degrees out, and raining, which is disappointing for the end of October. I saw only a few does come out in the field about 200 yards away, not even any small bucks showed up. This weather is killing the pre-rut activity, and I'm not liking it one bit.

Early season bow is nearly over. This Saturday permit bow starts, and the rut will soon be in full swing. I shot my antlerless deer and put some meat in the freezer, but in the 44 days I still have not had a chance to shoot Mr. Big. Close, but not quite. Desperation is starting to creep in. I just make it a point to stick with it and hope and pray that I will get my chance soon. I’ve been putting a lot of hours in the treestand.           

“I have no life,” I told my boyfriend on the way to my treestand one afternoon.          

“You have a life,” he answered reassuringly, “it’s in the tree”. How true.     

Have you ever paused on the way to the woods, or during one of the hours in the tree, to wonder:  “how many hours do I spend in the stand a year”? I have. I even calculated the number of hours I spent in the stand just this year. 200. That’s the approximate number of hours so far this season. Not counting the hours I spent hunting elk in Colorado in September.  By the time this deer season is over I will have spent about 660 hours in the stand. Who would have guessed?    

Think of all the things you could be doing if you weren’t in the treestand. I thought about that too. I rarely see my family and friends. Really, the only one I see on a regular basis is my boyfriend, and that’s only because we hunt together pretty often, and he lives only a few minutes from me.

But the point is, if I wasn’t hunting I’m sure I could be…I could be…um well I’m sure I could be doing SOMETHING else, I just can’t think of it.     

I do know that there is nothing else I would RATHER be doing. This time of year I spend more time in the treestand, and in the woods scouting, than I do at my house and I love every second of it.     

Tonight will be night number 45. I'll be spending another 3 hours in the stand in the wind and rain. My boyfriend was life is in the tree. But I'm not complaining!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It was one of those cold bleak days in late October, the kind where you didn’t know if it was going to rain, snow, or just be cloudy. One of those days where you just know that there will be big bucks out, you have to get in your stand a little early and sit until dark.  

Last night was one of those nights. I climbed into my ladder stand at about in the afternoon, and sure enough there were already does in the field.  All I had to do was wait for my buck to come out and I could shoot him.    

He never did come out. I sat there in my treestand and waited and shivered as a cold wind blew down into the valley and right through my three layers of clothing. I had also forgotten my gloves. Taking my hat off, I tucked my hands inside the warm fleece.    

Sitting there in the biting wind, I remembered another little girl, a long time ago, who had also forgotten her gloves. Her dad had taken off his hat and told her to put it over her hands for warmth. Once, she had even forgotten to bring along shells for her shotgun, and had to walk all the way back to the house to get them. On the way out, she had spooked several deer but couldn’t shoot since she had nothing to shoot them with.         

That same girl at the age of 9 had watched in envy as her older brother came back from his hunters safety course, and she wished that girls could go hunting too. For her 7th birthday her dad had taken her turkey calling, and she had never forgotten it.  When her dad asked her if she wanted to go along when he took her older brother duck hunting, she jumped at the opportunity. Dawn at the pond was like magic hour, when everything came alive. She felt lucky to even be there.        

Coming back from duck hunting in the evening, her hand clutching a handful of cattails and her coveralls wet with swamp much, her dad asked if she would like to go hunting next year when she turned ten. There was no need to ask twice.       

She turned ten the next April. Her dad asked her if she wanted to shoot the shotgun to get ready for turkey season, and she shot until her shoulder was bruised and tears came to her eyes. Still, she wanted to prove she was ready. Turkey season opened in mid-April, and the first week her dad had promised her older brother that the first week was his. The second week was hers.     

But, the first day of the first week, she woke up early in the morning, just when the sun was coming up, and looked out her bedroom window to see her dad and older brother carrying a dead turkey down the hill to the house. This meant, she would be the one hunting for the rest of the week.      

The first year was a learning experience. The little girl didn’t kill anything, but she still loved being out there. The next year she shot her first deer with a shotgun, a button buck, and she also missed her first turkey. And her second turkey.  But her 13th birthday turned out to be something she would never forget. On that gray rainy morning, her older brother shot his second turkey, she shot her first turkey, and her younger brother shot his first turkey. It was the best birthday she had ever had.        


As she got older, she began hunting alone, and the deer population began to rapidly diminish.  But, it wasn’t until age 16 that she got her first bow. And then the real obsession started.         

And now here she is, many deer and years later, waiting on the buck of her dreams.            

It’s something I think about every time I kill a deer or turkey, how I got started on hunting, and the first time I ever picked up a compound bow. I am thankful that I had a dad who would take me hunting and teach me how to do it right. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Disguised as a Decoy

To add on to my previous experience with my decoy, something happened last night that had me decide then and there that if I went hunting in that spot, my decoy was going with me.   

I got to my spot usual time, got dressed, grabbed all my stuff including the decoy, and started the short walk to my stand. I had just got over the rise when I realized that there was a deer under my stand. I froze for a second, hoping upon hope that it was NOT Mr. Big. It turned out to be a little five point marking his territory.   
 Well, I really had no choice but to continue on to my stand if I wanted to hunt it that night. Quietly, I continued towards my stand. I got to about 10 yards of the deer and he turned his head to look at me. He seemed a little surprised to find me there, and took a few quick steps in the opposite direction. But then he stopped and looked back at me and waited. I continued walking slowly until I was about 5 yards from the deer. He continued to look at me, but he didn’t try to leave. Ok, this was weird. Then, I realized I was carrying my decoy. Did he think I was another deer that was just a little malformed?     

I moved back to the spot I usually put my decoy and set it up. As I stepped away from it and looked at the little buck, he turned and trotted away. I think he was still a little unsure of what exactly had just happened, because he didn’t go very far. I climbed into my stand and surveyed the field, only to find him grazing about 60 yards off. Well, that was certainly interesting.

It was a cold windy night, and the woods were literally MOVING with deer. Small buck after small buck wandered in beneath my stand to check out my decoy. A herd of about 20 does grazed in the field, then at dusk left via the path under my stand. I was SOOOO tempted to shoot one. I really wanted to just kill a deer, but I could see more deer coming down out of the woods and if one of them was Mr. Big, I didn’t want to scare the other deer.       

I watched the first small buck that had been under my stand, fighting with another small buck, then here he came, right under my stand again. He passed through the same exact spot he had been before, and continued on the way I had come in. Despite the fact that the wind was vicious, none of the deer had winded me.   

It became too dark to tell if the deer had antlers or not, and I waited for the deer to clear out enough for me to get down. Climbing down I picked up my decoy under one arm and started to walk back to my truck. Then, I saw a 6 point grazing in the field about 20 yards from me. He looked at me for a few seconds, then went back to grazing. Seriously?? Was the decoy all I needed to sneak in and out of my stand without being detected?? So far, that was how it seemed! I walked past the buck at about 10 yards and he just continued to gorge himself on the grass. He didn’t move until I started my truck.    

From now on, I AM bringing that decoy with me every time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twelve Days

Last night when I was sitting in my treestand, I realized I have only twelve days before I leave for Illinois. That means only twelve days to hunt down and kill Mr. Big, unless I have to wait to kill him when I get back. But by then the rut will be in full swing, and who knows if he will have been stupid enough to show up under someone else’s stand, or been stupid enough to get hit by a car or…

Is this going to be possible to kill him in twelve days? I’ve already been hunting him for over a month. But I do have a few advantages over him, I think.

Number one, pre-rut activity has started, so that gives me a small advantage over the Bucks. The disadvantage is that they are sticking close to the does, and unless the does move in, I wont get a shot.

Number two, if a big storm comes through, I stand a very good chance of at least seeing him since the deer will move earlier and most likely come to the corn under my stand.

Number three, I finally have this decoy thing figured out. Last night I tried a different decoy tactic than I had the night before. The night before, I had an antlerless decoy about 15 yards from my stand facing the field. Last night I an antlered decoy about 30 yards past my stand, facing away. I figured this way it would draw the deer past me, and having it face away would be to my advantage since the bucks would want to circle to see him head on.

And whaddya know, it worked! A small buck came down the usual deer trail, caught sight of the decoy, detoured under my stand, and came walking sideways around the decoy with his ears laid back. I expected to see my decoy die a swift and painless death by the antlers of a five point, but instead the little buck just circled for a few minutes, then left for greener pastures.

The does on the other hand, acted as if my decoy wasn’t even there. Though the bucks would come out of the field to investigate and parade around it, the does would stay where they were and make my life easier for me by not winding/seeing/smelling me and spooking any other deer.

So, I’ll probably be carrying that stupid decoy out to the field again tomorrow night in hopes that Mr. Big will show up and come on over.

Twelve days, an even dozen. I have 8 different bucks coming to my stand, and I’ve had chances at every single one except Mr. Big…can he really outsmart me until the season is over?? (Don’t answer that).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Decoy Ploy

Well, the decoy seemed to work!! Sort of…

Yesterday morning after hunting I stopped by my parents house to see my youngest brother (age 10) and ask if I could borrow his deer target. It’s pretty much lived its life, and is falling to pieces, but it works for him. We made a deal; he let me borrow his deer target as a decoy (which he gladly did) and I would take him to my stand in November and let him shoot one of the little bucks that were showing up every night. He seemed pretty happy with the arrangement!  

 That afternoon, armed with my decoy-target and my bow, I headed to my stand. I set the decoy up and climbed into my stand to wait. Having never hunted deer with a decoy before, I was a little unsure of what to expect. My idea was that having the decoy would act as a “deer” under my stand and make all of the other deer come over. So I hoped.  

About 15 later, I heard something coming down the hill in front of me. Here came a little buck as if on a string, down the hill, across the brook, straight towards my deer target. Of course, once he figured out that it wasn’t a real deer, he wasn’t interested. But the important thing was, I could have shot him at least twenty different times and he never knew it.  

Now the decoy had to pass the true test: would the does buy it. Everyone knows that most girls tend to be more judgmental than guys when it comes to real versus fake. Deer are no different.  

As they always did, a group of about 12 to 15 does and fawns came to graze in the hay field about 70 yards away. The little buck was still under my stand near the decoy, so I figured that would only help to have a real deer there too.  

After about twenty minutes of browsing closer and closer to my stand, the “boss” doe caught sight of my decoy. She stood still as a statue and looked at it for about ten minutes. “Oh great,” I thought. “Decoy was a bad idea”.   
But after a few minutes of foot stomping and tail twitching, she went back to her grazing and her two fawns came out to play alongside my decoy. The rest of the does didn’t seem too impressed either. I think they know a fake when they see one.  

Then, I saw that a buck had come into the middle of the does; a big bodied six point with a small rack. He caught sight of the decoy, and in he came.  

Here’s my theory: male deer are a lot like male humans. If a guy walks into a bar and is suddenly surrounded by EVERY woman but one, he’s going to want to walk over to that one woman and find out what’s going on. It doesn’t matter that he has 10 or 20 others. Well, this buck was surrounded by does, but when he saw my decoy all by herself, he just had to investigate.  

It was an interesting experiment using the decoy. I have a feeling that it may work better in the rut, and I’m curious to see if there’s a different reaction if I stick antlers on my decoy. A bear came underneath my stand, and he totally ignored it as if it wasn’t even there.

Still not sure what I think of it, I may have to try it a second time around and see what happens. Sent my dad an email to see what he thinks of it, since he knows about this sort of thing!! (He has about a 30 year head start on hunting experience).  I wonder what Mr. Big would do if he saw my fake deer?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Love At First Sight

When I first saw a picture of him, my heart started to beat faster. I felt butterflies in the pit of my stomach as I thought of what it would be like to see him, to stand next to him, to be able to reach out and touch him  in real life. I knew right away he was the one. He made the others look small in comparison; the way he carried himself, the width of his shoulders. I knew then and there he was worth the wait. 

That was in early September when I saw the picture. I carried it with me in my wallet, had a picture on my phone, and set as the desktop on my computer. People would say “Wow! Where did you get that picture?” But I wouldn’t tell. Now, its mid October and though I have got quite a few more pictures of him,  I still have yet to meet him. The thing is, though I’m dying to meet him, and making every effort to make it on time, things just haven’t been working out.

Though for me it was love at first sight, I don’t think that he knows I exist. And if he does, I’m not so sure that he wants to meet me. Whenever I go to The Place in hopes of meeting him, he is always there too early or too late. Surely I’m not the only girl  (or guy) out there with this problem? I lay awake at night wondering if I am doing something wrong, or if maybe it all has to do with timing. If he met someone else, it would break my heart. 

“When the timing is right, He will show up,” My dad tells me. 

“Stay with it,” a friend tells me. “When He starts looking for a girlfriend, it will be sure to happen.” 

“Don’t give up, you’ll get Him!” My boyfriend tells me.   

Yes, “He” is a deer, but so what?? At least my parents wouldn’t mind if I brought him home.

It’s not weird to be obsessed with a deer is it?? 

My Moultrie Trail camera introduced us in early September. I started calling the buck “Mr. Big” for no reason except that he is BIG!!!! I always say that I hunt the “Pike County, Illinois” section of Northern New Jersey, and really, that it is true. Of course there are bigger deer than Mr. Big in the area…but not on my trail camera!! 

He has been frequenting the salt lick under my stand more and more often lately, as the rut rapidly approaches. The first week of October he showed up in the pouring rain during shooting hours. Idiot that I was, I didn’t hunt those days. As soon as I checked my trail camera, I made a solemn vow to sit out the next rainstorm.

Lucky for me, it rained a few days later. Unluckily, Mr. Big was a no-show.

Then last week Thursday it was about 45 degrees, pouring rain, extremely strong gusts of wind; it was the first time all hunting season that I actually had to put on a pair of gloves. I wasn’t exactly sure if I should go or not since it was so windy; whenever I cant decide I usually ask someone else to decide for me. Its pretty simple.

I texted my man “Think My Buck will be moving tonight?” His answer:  “Yes, its cold out!”

Decision made, I was going. And so I put on my rain gear, and went out in the wind and rain for 2 and a half hours, my Hoyt in hand, hoping that:

1. I wouldn’t get blown out of the stand
2. A tree or a big limb wouldn’t fall on me
3. I could figure out how to text my boyfriend without taking my gloves off.
4. I could put a Rage through Mr. Big
5. Next time I would remember my rangefinder

I was in luck when it came to the first three hopes, (although my man told me to get down immediately when I told him that there were limbs coming down all around me), but unfortunately Mr. Big was yet again a no-show. It was fun though! I saw a nice 8 pointer, some smaller bucks, and about 20 does. I passed them up since I already shot an antlerless deer this season and want to film my next one. (Rain=no video camera).

Last night it was kind of warm out, I wasn’t really expecting to see much. I checked my trail camera (rather loudly I have to admit) and climbed (yup, kind of loudly)  into my treestand. Standing on the top step of my ladder stand, I looked to my left at the hay fields. The farthest field was 200 yards away, and ALWAYS had deer in it. Unfortunately,  it was private land I couldn’t hunt, and I was as close to the property line as I could get.

When I looked into the field, I didn’t really expect to see anything. Two deer. Big deal. But wow…that one looked like a hog!!! Of COURSE I’d forgotten my binoculars…but not my rangefinder!!! I ranged the deer and very nearly fell out of my stand. It was MR. BIG!!!! At 5 in the afternoon! After I had made all that noise getting in! Talk about adrenaline rush!

Upon closer inspection I saw that there was a whole bunch of does in the field. I settled back in my stand to wait, bow ready, video camera ready. They stayed in the field for about a half hour, I watched Mr. Big chase off a few smaller bucks. Sure enough, pre-rut activity had started!!! A little early, but I wasn’t complaining!
Then, I saw some does appearing in the field I was hunting. They were still about 90 yards away, but it was still closer! I strained my eyes to see if Mr. Big was following, but I couldn’t see him. Another twenty minutes and the does suddenly scattered. There was Mr. Big, pushing all of his girls around. I had about forty minutes of shooting light left, and I was feeling optimistic….until Mr. Big decided to bed down…in the MIDDLE of the field…at about 70 yards…and NOT MOVE!!!

Now THIS was killing me. On the outside I was calm, still as a statue as my video camera took it all in. On the inside I was jumping up and down and screaming and throwing things…mostly at Mr. Big. Talk about FRUSTRATING!

He just laid there, happy and content. I wished I had a decoy to bring the does in. I had a feeling, where the does went, so would he. Sure enough, just at dark the does left the field and he followed.

On a positive note, I am VERY excited for the next few weeks! If I put in the time, all my hard work and long hours in the woods will pay off. With a little luck I’ll have him by next weekend. He may have outsmarted me, but I’m on to his tricks…he will be back…and so will I (With a decoy).

>>--->When all else fails…GO HUNTING :)