Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The wrong way and the right way

Here is the buck I took the right way Oct. 16.

Photo by Erin Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

In an amazing turn of events over the weekend of Oct. 16, I was able to pack the freezer with two bucks.

One was taken the wrong way, and one was taken the right way.

The wrong way being by the left front fender of my Jeep.

It happened as I was driving home from work early Friday morning down Interstate 94. There I was minding my own business and out of the mist appeared this giant whitetail. All I saw was rack.

The collision was unavoidable. I've often wondered why people blast into the darn things as I've always been able to see them in time. Now I know why.

After I discovered everything was somewhat OK once I rolled to stop along the shoulder, I knew I wanted that deer.

My first impression was that he was a brute 8-point. The reality was he was a mere 3-point but with a giant body. His rack on the right side was impressive in height, but the left was a 3-inch nub.

However, he was hefty. They grow 'em big around these parts that's for sure.

Kudos to the Michigan state trooper who went above and beyond to help me find the deer. He said he was also a hunter and seemed to understand my desire to track down the rogue deer that did in my Jeep.

Unfortunately, I forgot the incident report at the time of this writing otherwise I would be more specific than praising an unidentified trooper.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I had processed the deer and was mulling an evening hunt on public land somewhere in my St. Clair County neighborhood.

It was dependent on whether I would be required to make the orchard run with the family, which I thought was scheduled for the afternoon. But there was no sign of anyone after I got up and the wheels were in motion for a bow gig.

Right after the Lions' game, which ended pathetically I might add.

Anyway, this plot of land I hit is somewhat off the beaten path even though it's right around the corner from my house. I decided to go there after both parking lots at the other spots I drove to were packed with trucks and vans.

So I said what the heck? Might as well try this one again. I sought redemption here anyway because on the evening of the bow opener I got lost trying to find the truck in the dark. Mainly because I thought the GPS wasn't working right when in reality I had clicked off the compass.

With the wind kicking up from the southwest and the south, I was able to walk in undetected.

After finding a decent-sized maple with some leafy cover around it, I took the Summit climber treestand to the customary 22 feet and waited for prime time.

And just when I started thinking, there aren't any deer around here, two came shuffling through the crunchy leaves out in front of me.

Light was falling fast.

Originally, the plan was to hold out for something pretty nice since I was wary of cutting up another deer.

That plan was scuttled when a fairly large-bodied doe walked into one of the shooting lanes. It was a longer shot than I usually take but I felt confident.


Apparently I hit a tree limb since the two deer pranced away without showing any signs of ill effect.

So I sat back down and was content to let the darkness envelope the woods around me. Then a deer was headed directly under the stand. I saw four points on one side.

I didn't even have an arrow nocked. After what seemed like a minute of hit and miss in trying to get the arrow on the string, I stood up and in the same motion drew, picked out a spot on the vitals and released the Beman ICS Hunter to its mark.

This time there was no doubt I connected.

After a follow-up to confirm I indeed hit him, which I did when I found blood near where I shot him and later the arrow half covered in blood 25 yards from the stand, I tracked him to one place on a piny ridge where the trail ended.

It seemed like a good time to stop.

The next morning after taking the kids to school, I was back at it again.

After two hours, I decided there wasn't any other place he could have gone except straight ahead. So I munched on an apple, waltzed about 30 yards from that last blood reference point on the piny ridge and stumbled right into him.

A decent 7-point. Boy was I elated.

So now I'm up to my gills in venison and done cutting up deer for awhile.

Time to bird hunt. They take five minutes to clean.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staying up

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I don't understand why having one deer situation go awry has taken me off my game.

The mamma doe wasn't even a big one at that.

I was fairly high -- 22 feet -- to avoid detection yet she was nervous. No shot presented itself so I watched their white tails prance off into the woods.

Then another deer came behind me and bolted. I wasn't sure if I moved and was busted or if the scent I had out rattled it. But it cracked limbs and galloped on a 90-angle from me.

What's going on here?

I guess I'll go another two feet higher next time.

Has me wondering if it would be best to stay on the ground. I was having better luck with deer walking close to my set up behind the blind during turkey season.

Anyway, it's way too early to get irritated now. The best hunting is yet to come and I need to work out these kinks for when the moment of truth arrives at the end of the month and into November.

It was nice to see the deer in the public land spot by my St. Clair County house.

The mast is much better this year. For most of the day it seemed like the sky was falling. Crack! Pop! Those sounds were echoing everywhere as the nuts hit the ground.

Definitely is helping to bring game into my usual spots.

The deer action also gave me a jolt. Just haven't felt the fever so far with the temperatures hovering near the 80-degree mark.

In fact, Monday, I said the heck with it and went to the holy land in Gladwin County for a bird hunt.

Some days at this place, I would get the flushes into the 20s within two-hour blocks. But sadly this was not the case.

The three flushes and two shots during the four-hour hunt were hard work. Just goes to show what happens when you don't have a working bird dog.

Rusty, the mixed Lab, just doesn't have it but I will say this, at least he goes and isn't entirely gun shy. Keeps me company, I suppose.

And I suppose I still miss Henry, my springer who passed away in 2008. Now there was a working bird dog.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Update on hunts

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

The 2011 Michigan archery season ambushed me. It was here before I knew it.

Ordinarily, as OCD as I am, I would have had all the necessary equipment ready to go for pre-dawn Oct. 1. But I had to work the night before, and rain and wind was in the morning forecast, so I waited until the evening sit. This would have been unheard of even only a couple of years ago.

The wife even said ... I think it was last year, that I don't go no matter what anymore, which was to imply that I am getting softer in my old age.

I look at it as being wiser.

And a casual opening day bow hunt turned traumatic when I got lost in a plot of public land near my house. This has happened before in the same area a few years back but I became more vigilant about carrying and USING the GPS to find my way out.

But another lesson was learned: not only did I accidentally turn the compass off -- why it wasn't working, duh -- but I couldn't make out the damn waypoints in the dark without my reading glasses.

To be fair, had the compass been on, I would've just maintained my bearing and headed due south in the direction of the truck. Instead I walked out of the woods to the north.

I did run into a deer in my madness. It was likely headed for my setup but didn't start early enough. So that was enlightening, meaning I wasn't just sitting there for nothing.

The next day was much easier as the tree I climbed into was just off a trail. And it was an morning hunt, so no walking out in the dark.

Saw fresh tracks there but no deer.

Today's mid-morning hunt -- which is how I will have to do it most of the season now that I have Mr. Mom duties and put the kids on the bus every day -- nearly paid off in a nice, plump turkey hen.

Despite not taking the blind, I still had game walking right up to me where I sat next to a familiar tree by the house. So I dispelled those aspersions that I would get busted well before I saw the deer. Or turkey. But the same was not true once I went to draw on the old girl. She sounded the alarm and away the flock went without me getting a shot.

But whatever, I was hunting deer. I'll likely see those girls again. So maybe it'll work out better next time.

Notably, this fall, I feel tremendous. It's amazing the difference in climbing the tree to walking through the timber. The secret was dropping 25 pounds.

My attitude has joined up with this reinvigorated body.

The confidence level is at an all-time high. I believe I'm at a place where I can drop something of consequence this season in the deer woods.

And it's about time.

I'm tired of being "King of the Six Points."