Drenalin 2020 Season

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Drenalin
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Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:53 am

Going to try and keep another journal on here for the 2020 season. My journal last year was helpful to me for referring back to for scouting notes, even with limited details I'm willing to provide online, so at the very least I hope this year's journal can do the same.

These are my current goals for 2020, some deer hunting related and some not, which are subject to change as we get along in the offseason.

1. Get my family out camping, at least twice. My daughter is 4 and my son is 1, so it could be...interesting. But my little girl still talks about the camping trip we took when my wife was pregnant with my son, so getting her back out there is a high priority.

2. Get my daughter out trout fishing with me. I only fished a few times last year because I was trying to scout every chance I got, but this year that scouting time will have to come from someplace else. There happens to be a campground near one of my best fishing areas, so I may get two birds with one stone on this one.

3. Take a 3.5 year buck off public land. Easier said than done, and I don't even know the last time I saw a no doubt 3.5 year old on the public I hunt. But I'm certain they're there and it's just a matter of me getting into the right areas and applying the right tactics.

4. Better tactics, including continuing to learn and apply bed hunting tactics. If I'm not able to identify more buck bedding to hunt this year than I did in 2019, I need other options on the table so I don't overhunt the bedding I do identify. So my scouting won't be focused as heavily on finding bedding this year, and just about everything is on the table to get me on deer.

5. Take at least one deer - buck or doe - with my bow. It's been a few years since I killed a deer with my bow, and I gotta fix that.

6. Put at least three deer in the freezer.

7. Go on my first western hunt. Barring something unforeseen, I'm pretty much set on a rifle elk hunt in CO, hopefully first rifle so it doesn't get in the way of the whitetail rut back home.

8. Go on my first bear hunt. This is more something I'd like to work in than something I'm extremely driven to do, but if I get the chance again I want to try it. I was invited to hunt bears with dogs this year with some folks I know, but I didn't do it because I was so wound up in deer hunting.

So, some tricky stuff going on with my goals for this year. While I want to become a better deer hunter (especially as it relates to mature bucks), there are also some things I want to do that will interfere with both scouting and hunting seasons. And that's without accounting for anything my wife may spring on me like she did in 2019...a new house to remodel right on the cusp of archery season, a wedding opening day of archery season, and another wedding during muzzleloader season. Hopefully 2020 will be a little quieter on that front than 2019 was, but it's hard to know what she'll come up with.

Excuses are the enemy...gotta figure it all out and make it happen. Good luck to everyone else this season!


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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:13 am

January 18th - Observation & Scouting

I headed out this morning to the same area I left off hunting near the end of the 2019 season. I hunted outside of a doe bedding area I found in this area a couple of times, saw does both times, and heard what sounded like chasing activity both times. But I didn't lay eyes on a buck during either of those hunts because I was too far away to have a good view of what was going on in the thick cover. Of course, it's possible that I didn't hear what I think I heard, but I'm not willing to go there just yet.

I started off the morning with my binos up on a tripod, glassing the side of that ridge. I was hoping to see deer moving along it as I did the two times I hunted it so I could choose a good ambush spot. I figured with the glass on a tripod I'd be able to see more of what was going on, and that I may even glass a buck up there. It was extremely windy and I didn't see anything at all, probably because with the wind direction I had this side of the ridge was really getting hammered. After a couple hours of this, I hiked up that ridge about mid morning and did some poking around. Ground cover is higher than I remembered it being, up to about my armpits over a lot of that ridge side. I found a few rubs down slope from the bedding area, and found several well defined trails. Actually, I found so many trails that it's hard to say I found anything especially useful, other than the area is obviously heavily used by deer. It's worth noting that there is more vegetative edge in this area than typically found on the public land I hunt, and that's something I'm really trying to focus more on in my scouting this year. It's also worth noting that I didn't see any sign of other hunters back here, other than some screw in tree steps that appear to have been there for a decade or more.

This appears to be an area with a lot of doe activity, but not a tremendous amount of buck activity. There will be bucks here during the rut I'm sure, but I need to find out where they are the rest of the year. Next trip into this area, I'm going to go in a different direction to check out some good looking transition lines and a couple of points that might have buck bedding on them.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:21 am

February 8th - Speed Scouting

Today's goal was to hit a few different areas and quickly determine whether or not they warranted more attention. The plan was to walk each area quickly and if I saw something I liked, I'd stay and scout it more thoroughly rather than running of to the next area. I had cyber scouted each of these areas in the past few weeks, and I planned to walk cover edges first, then if I saw good sign I would walk terrain edges and other specific spots I had marked on OnX. There were about two inches of snow on the ground up there, which I really liked for scouting. I carried my pack loaded with about 40 pounds, since I'm also trying to get in better shape for my elk hunt this year.

The first area had a good mix of cover and terrain edges, but it was not very difficult or far to access it. My intent was, if the area looked good, to have it set aside for those hunts that I didn't have much time to get out. This was also a small area that backed up against a reservoir. I walked the cover edges first and then scouted terrain. Pretty much across the board, I saw more hunter sign than deer sign. I really liked the looks of the area, and it's exactly the kind of place I would have hunted multiple times in a season a couple of years ago, based mostly on the terrain features. But the only deer sign I found was a handful of average sized tracks. I spent about an hour in this area and moved on to the next.

The next area was a power line cut with some steep and deep terrain (for the area). The hunter sign petered out about 100 yards from the road, but the deer sign never really showed up. I hit the edges of the cut first, then the edges of an adjacent laurel thicket. Really surprised I didn't find more sign in here, but glad to have finally checked it out since it's an area I've had marked since last off season. Maybe an hour and a half in here before moving on.

The last area for today was an active logging operation. There's gated gravel road that runs for a few miles, and they've been timbering specific small areas along that road. There's also an abundance of laurel thickets and water here. A lot of the logging has been done in the last year, so I was mostly trying to identify what has been logged before it shows up on maps and people flock to it. I walked about half the road, marking the cuts as I went. I will probably hunt one or two of these cuts next year, and until they start getting attention, but I primarily plan to use this road to access other spots I've marked that are difficult to access from other directions because of either water or private property. There are three in particular that need to be checked out, but that will have to be my next trip. I found myself considering the possibility of a bike back here...a mile and a half bike ride, and then a half mile hike off-trail would get me into each of the other areas and probably get me away from anyone else. Not that this area gets much hunting pressure anyway - it's awfully thick and steep.

All told, I marked two of the three areas off my map, identified a few timber cuts to monitor, and figured out access to few specific spots that I still need to scout. And I was home by early afternoon so I could spend a good amount of time with my kids. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Another interesting development over the past couple of days: I was talking to a landowner who has property adjacent to some of the public I'm working, and he's got trail cam pics of some very good bucks for our area. His place is within a couple hundred yards of two specific spots I have marked that need to be scouted, and he and I spent a little time looking at maps and scheming. He was pretty familiar with the bedding the deer up there are using (some on his place, some on public, and some on another bordering property). I refined the two spots I already had marked based off our conversation and plan to get into both of them pretty soon to scout and nail down a hunt plan. Depending on what I turn up on my scouting trip into that area, this may be my best chance at finding a mature buck on public around here. It's at least a promising lead.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:41 am

February 15th - Scouting Trip

Got out this morning to follow up the lead from earlier this week. Access into the area I wanted to check out isn't very far, less than a mile, but it does get steep and thick a couple hundred yards after you leave the road. There are two ridges, or large fingers, running generally north-south off a large main ridge, with the top of that ridge being the property line between public and private. There's a large steep drainage formed by those two fingers high up before it eventually flattens out into a wide bottom that runs out to the gravel road. A lot of patchy laurel in this area, as well as good mast in oaks and hickories. I have hunted small game in the bottom and have seen a handful of others doing the same over the years, but haven't seen many people running those fingers.

I accessed via the finger on the east because it's a little less steep and the thick cover is more patchy. I got onto a deer trail pretty soon after leaving the road, and then started running into rubs very frequently in one of the sections of this finger where oaks are more concentrated. Most of the rubs were typical for what I usually run into, low to the ground on about 2-inch evergreens, in this case pines. I did find a horizontal rub too, which I hadn't seen before, and a couple of rubs that were a little higher than what I usually see. Tracks and droppings were everywhere as I made my way up that finger. As things got steeper and cover got more patchy, a lot of the sign petered out, but the trails and tracks never really went away. I got to the main ridge and turned west to head into the area that I came in here to check out.

There was a very well worn trail on top of the main ridge, and the ridge itself is pretty thin up top with thick cover on both sides. There were a couple of spots where it looked to me like deer were coming off of the private onto this trail. The area I wanted to check was the highest point of everything around, and looked like it flattened out (relative to everything else) on the topo. I expected this "flat" area to have oaks and good deer activity on it. I was partially right. The flat area wasn't flat at all and there were very few oaks. But I did bump something on the way up and there were a few lightly used beds up on top. I am completely undecided on whether those are doe bedding or a buck potentially rotating between the three beds.

I'm having a hard time believing a buck would be bedded on the very top of the highest point in this little area, but one could potentially bed there in any wind and still be near impossible to get to without being heard or seen. There's not much pressure from the public to the south and east, but I'm not sure about pressure from the private. If a buck were bedding there with west to northeast winds, he'd be able to monitor the private, where I think there would be more human pressure, if not hunting pressure. The property to the northwest has been heavily logged and is extremely thick now too, and is very likely holding doe bedding. So he'd be in proximity to that, but a northwest wind is going to be rare here so I don't think the top of that ridge would be used specifically to monitor the doe bedding on that property, even during the rut. I'm not sure what's going on with this location, and am more just talking it out here than anything.

Given the location of those beds and the obvious buck sign I found on my way in, I picked an ambush location between those two spots. If a buck is bedding on top of that ridge, however unlikely that seems, then the rubs I found were very likely made at night. So the spot I picked is about 75 yards from the beds where the main ridge starts to rise again after dropping down from those beds. This should help keep thermals from getting me busted, and I'd need to hunt it with either a westerly or northerly wind. I prefer westerly because northerly could get me busted by any deer that pass by me, and I'd really prefer it to be a wet day to help with noise. I figure it's worth a shot, but there's a decent chance a buck would be dropping off into the bottom...if so, I should be able to see that with binos from the spot I picked to hunt.

As I was leaving this area, about 0920, three does crossed the gravel road in front of me and headed up the west finger that runs right into the beds I found. I wouldn't say I'm real fired up about this spot, but there appears to be a good concentration of deer, which is a big deal to find on our public. I figure it's worth a hunt sometime in the early part of the season, and definitely worth hunting when bucks start chasing since this concentration of does should pull one of the good bucks off private that my buddy's gotten on his trail cams.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:48 am

March 16th - Quick Update

Was out of the country last week and have spent the last several weeks preparing for that trip, so no scouting lately other than e-scouting. The new owners of one piece of private I used to hunt brought me a shed antler this morning. Said they picked it up right where I used to have a stand setup, before the logging started this past summer. It's a heavy beamed son of a gun for this area with four points on the side. Easily the largest antler I've held in my hands before. Sounds like they may not start building on this property any time soon, and there's a good chance I'll be able to hunt in there this year.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby backstraps » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:02 am

Great news Drenalin

Hopefully you can get in after him this fall
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:02 am

April 13th - Update

Been a while since I updated this journal, so here's a rundown. Doing alright on some of my goals for this season, not doing well on others. I'll touch on most of those.

The night after I made my last update in this journal, my wife developed a fever and extreme tiredness. So we self-isolated with me, her, my four year old daughter and my one year old son. She tested positive for COVID and by the end of the week every one of us had it and tested positive. We made it through fine, and everybody is back to being healthy now. Of course, I didn't get out of the house those two weeks to do any scouting or anything else. I've been back at work since the end of March - construction is still an essential activity - so that aspect hasn't been too hard on us.\

Since I was able to come out of isolation, I've been trout fishing maybe five times. I've smoked ten of them so far, and have another fourteen in the freezer. I haven't taken my daughter out to fish yet, but will when things warm up a little so still working on that goal. We also haven't been camping yet, but we're going to try it in the backyard this coming weekend just to liven things up for the kids a little.

While I was isolation I got to shoot my bow some. It is absolutely killing my shoulder. I am quickly moving toward having to make the switch to a crossbow before I rip this tendon free again. I'm struggling with actually pulling the trigger on making the switch. I don't have anything against crossbows, just always saw myself as a vertical bow guy. But I also don't want to get to the point where I need a third surgery on my shoulder.

I got out scouting a couple of Saturdays ago, but didn't get a whole lot done. There were turkey hunters parked at most of the spots I wanted to check out, and most guys are probably turkey hunting the same spots they'll deer hunt later this year. So I ended up driving around for two hours marking places off the map. I guess it's good to get that done, but I was disappointed to see some of those spots being hunted and not actually get into the woods. Should make my next trip out more productive though - now I know which of the places I map scouted are still worth checking out.

My elk hunt may get postponed. My wife has been laid off because of the COVID stuff, so even if we get out of this and hunts are able to go on, I may not be able to swing it. We'll see - I'm still planning and prepping as if it will happen.

Not a whole lot going on for me on the deer hunting side of things, but I'm moving forward as much as I can with everything going on.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby backstraps » Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:49 am

Man Drenalin!! Glad you and your family are all well now

Glad you updated the journal. Sounds like those trout better fear you :lol:

Hey man, im just across the hill in Washington Co
Hollor if you guys need anything
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:39 pm

Thanks backstraps! Been a wild one for sure.

Trout fishing has actually been a little tough. There are a lot more people than usual getting after them, pretty much every day of the week.

Now that my immediate family is through the virus situation, this deal with my shoulder is the biggest bummer of the year. I always knew this would eventually happen, I just hoped I'd be a lot older!
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby seazofcheeze » Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:59 am

Man, scary stuff with the whole family coming down with covid. Glad to hear everyone is on the mend. Also, huge bummer on the shoulder. I had shoulder surgery in December 2018, and it was pretty depressing to think I might never shoot a bow again, but I'd much rather crossbow hunt, than not bowhunt at all. Good luck with whatever route you go.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:30 am

seazofcheeze wrote:Man, scary stuff with the whole family coming down with covid. Glad to hear everyone is on the mend. Also, huge bummer on the shoulder. I had shoulder surgery in December 2018, and it was pretty depressing to think I might never shoot a bow again, but I'd much rather crossbow hunt, than not bowhunt at all. Good luck with whatever route you go.

Thanks seaz! I had my first shoulder surgery in about 2003, and had it re-done late in 2004. Ended up out of the military over it. You're spot on - even if I have to make the switch to a crossbow, it's way better than missing October for the rest of my life!
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby 1STRANGEWILDERNESS » Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:50 am

Wow the whole family! I know they say kids are really good with it but I’d still be scared to death if my daughter got it. Glad everyone’s good.
How much weight do you draw back? I’ve known a few guys to drop back to 50lbs or so that were experiencing shoulder problems. Some of today’s bows even at 50 lbs are pretty darn sweet.
One other thing. What state you looking to bear hunt in ?
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Wed Apr 15, 2020 1:57 am

1STRANGEWILDERNESS wrote:Wow the whole family! I know they say kids are really good with it but I’d still be scared to death if my daughter got it. Glad everyone’s good.
How much weight do you draw back? I’ve known a few guys to drop back to 50lbs or so that were experiencing shoulder problems. Some of today’s bows even at 50 lbs are pretty darn sweet.
One other thing. What state you looking to bear hunt in ?

I was terrified when my son started showing symptoms, then I did, and I knew there was no way I could protect my daughter. But they both handled it great. My son is one and basically had cold symptoms - congestion, cough, and he ran a mild fever for 5 days. My daughter, who's four, had the mild fever for 5 days and that was it. Very grateful for how it played out in my family.

I'm pulling 60 pounds. I considered dropping weight, but honestly my shoulder screams now over such minor stuff - sleeping on my side, reaching for things, etc - that I'm not sure even that would get me where I need to be. I may check with some buddies to see if anyone's got a 50# bow I could try before I make up my mind.

Bear hunt would be in Tennessee. I know some folks who hunt with dogs and they've been inviting me along for a couple of years. It's more something I'd like to try right now than make a big commitment to. I haven't hunted with dogs since I was a kid and ran a few coons. I have visions of a smoked bear ham in my head :D
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby 1STRANGEWILDERNESS » Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:11 am

Drenalin wrote:
1STRANGEWILDERNESS wrote:Wow the whole family! I know they say kids are really good with it but I’d still be scared to death if my daughter got it. Glad everyone’s good.
How much weight do you draw back? I’ve known a few guys to drop back to 50lbs or so that were experiencing shoulder problems. Some of today’s bows even at 50 lbs are pretty darn sweet.
One other thing. What state you looking to bear hunt in ?

I was terrified when my son started showing symptoms, then I did, and I knew there was no way I could protect my daughter. But they both handled it great. My son is one and basically had cold symptoms - congestion, cough, and he ran a mild fever for 5 days. My daughter, who's four, had the mild fever for 5 days and that was it. Very grateful for how it played out in my family.

I'm pulling 60 pounds. I considered dropping weight, but honestly my shoulder screams now over such minor stuff - sleeping on my side, reaching for things, etc - that I'm not sure even that would get me where I need to be. I may check with some buddies to see if anyone's got a 50# bow I could try before I make up my mind.

Bear hunt would be in Tennessee. I know some folks who hunt with dogs and they've been inviting me along for a couple of years. It's more something I'd like to try right now than make a big commitment to. I haven't hunted with dogs since I was a kid and ran a few coons. I have visions of a smoked bear ham in my head :D


I’m glad they fared well through all that! I hear you on the bow 10lbs may not make a world of difference in the amount of strain you have. I don’t pull much either but the guys pulling 70-80 could really drop a lot of strain going down to 50. Not sure I’d wanna go down much lower than that. Carrying a crossbow way back in the swamp would not be fun though. I never hunted bear but I’ve got em on my land pretty good up here. Everyone here hunts over donuts and such. Idk it just don’t feel like much of a hunt to me but everyone says I gotta try it. My neighbor invites us over for bear ribs every September. Very very good eating! Good luck with the weapon choice and hope you get some bear meat in the freezer.
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Re: Drenalin 2020 Season

Unread postby Drenalin » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:18 am

This morning I woke up a few hours early with shoulder pain and it's been at a dull roar for most of the day. As I sat on the couch drinking coffee and reading, I started thinking that if I don't stop doing stuff that exacerbates the problem, my shoulder is going to become a really major issue for me as time goes on. So, I made the decision to go ahead and purchase my first crossbow today, found a good deal on one online, and pulled the trigger.

When I bought my compound in 2010 (I think), I figured I'd save up and spend whatever it took to get a great one because I wasn't likely to buy more than a couple in my lifetime. I'm the kind of guy that sticks with something after I find out it works, new technology be darned. At that time, I ended up with a Mathews Drenalin, and outfitted it it with what I considered near top of the line accessories. It's been an excellent bow, and I've enjoyed burning through strings and destroying expensive arrows with it.

I decided to apply that same philosophy to my first crossbow, and bought a Mission Sub-1 Lite. It's slow by today's standards, which I could care less about as long as it generates enough energy to put down animals reliably (I think it will). I has some features I really liked too, namely the de-cocking feature. It's fairly compact and lightweight, and I have read that it has a good trigger from the factory. Adjustable stock and cheek rest too. It comes as a package, so the only other stuff I needed to buy was some more bolts and some good broadheads. Sticking with the Mission bolts for now, and ordered QAD Exodus crossbow heads. Hopefully this investment works out as well as my last bow did and it's at least another 10 years before I even think about a change.

Looks like goal number five for this year just changed to take a deer - buck or doe - with my crossbow.


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