My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
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My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:15 am

I've been lurking this forum since the summer, and the information here has been invaluable. I'm heading into my third hunting season. I started keeping a journal at home but thought this thread would be a good place to mirror that, as I can get input and tips along the way.

So 2018 was my first season, I sat in the same spot and entered the same route about 15+ times. I didn't know where to go or what to do so this was the only property I was hunting for the year. It was a spot my bro in law sent me to. My in laws have 20 acres of prime land butting up against a river, and he has killed plenty out of this spot. I was proud of myself for hunting hard in my first season but I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the season reading and learning, and eventually figured that wind and entry routes paid a key role. In November during out gun week here, I picked a day, a new entry route, a spot on the ridge with a better vantage point. And within 20 minutes a 3 pointer came across my path and I dropped him. I was proud as all heck, but my wife and my mother in law laughed when I euro mounted my first buck... So I set out to stuff it in their face the next year.

What did I learn from 2018? I need to find my own spot. And I need to learn about deer.

2019 was the start of the obsession. I had 2 big goals.... a bow kill on public land, and smashing a good buck in my mother in law's backyard (just a heads up we have a great relationship, I'll be talking smack about her and I talk smack to her because she's pretty cool). The first beast tactic I gravitated to was bucks bedding on oxbows. Their property sits on a wicked oxbow. They have great bedding with corn all around. So I essentially stared at aerial maps of the property for several months, but didn't really do any boots on the ground work. We know historically that deer travel the river bank but there's other travel routes through the property that had not been explored yet. So I essentially narrowed everything down to like a 5 acre chunk that people never walk through. I set out a couple times with my bow but they always skirted around me. We knew there was at least a nice 8 point around, my bro in law had it on camera and there was some obvious buck bedding on the river bank. After a couple sits in early November, I went for a walk into the quiet area with my bow and bumped out a big buck on the bank, further up from where I was anticipating. I never saw his rack, but that wide patch of white was unlike any of the does or smaller bucks I had seen to this point. So I backed out and let it sit until gun week.

During gun week, I got on top of a ridge overlooking the floodplain and sent my bro in law for a walk. I was expecting anything he bumped to travel the river edge. I was setting on a ridge that leads through a swamp, along a line of oak trees, and into some heavy cover with 3 different routes off the property. I didn't know this at the time, but this was the buck travel route. So I hear commotion, and I'm hiding between trees, and spike wanders up on me and stops 10 ft away from me... we standoff for a bit, he snorts, bounds 50 yds away and stands there watching me. This is my first encounter with a deer less than 50 yds away. He turns to run, but what sounds like a freight train in the bush sends him running in circles not knowing what to do.... And a giant (to me) 10 pointer came hammering down the same path as the spike. He stops in the same spot, but his heavier weight causes him to stop like 2 feet further than the spike did, exposing his vitals to me. I see his eyes pop, and then I put one in the vitals. He runs down to the river bank and dies there.... and I sprinted to the house to tell my mother in law to eat it. It was a dynamite experience, and following these bucks trails back taught me a bunch about how they are moving on the property. I've already scouted it 3 times in January, so I'll be more prepared for next year.

My 2019 Bow season wasn't as successful. I did zero boots on the ground scouting, only google maps prior to the start of the season. This set me far behind, and was the biggest lesson of the season: scout more. My hunts turned into 75:25 scouting to hunting, with more still hunting than ambush going on, and I had 3 good encounters with bucks that were blown by rookie mistakes. On the second last day of the season I stalked up to 48 yards on a nice buck, only to have 2 does flank me and blow the whole herd out. There were a lot of ups and downs, but really I knew if I got a deer it would be luck, and I didn't earn it yet. I had to scout more, and learn how to shoot properly.

I gotta wrap this up and do dad things, but my next post will be about the start of my scouting for the 2020 season and what I've learned by actually getting out in the woods and making mistakes.


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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby Huntress13 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:33 am

I love this! Thanks for posting. Congrats on that buck and will expect you to close on a bow buck this year. I got my first one this season.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:00 am

Alright, now that I got a couple moments I should probably set the pace for 2020. I put 2/3 of my vacation time into October and November. I realized near the end of October that I was just throwing darts at a map and hoping for the best... I had a couple cool encounters but no deer in my field of view. First, I bought the swamp bedding DVD and watched it almost 10 times. I was hunting the biggest swamp I could find within an 90 minutes of home, because Dan Infalt says hunt swamps. What I'd put together closer to the end of November was that Dan, Andrae and Cody D'Aquisto, the hunting public guys.... all these guys I have been listening to constantly the last 6 months, and I finally put together that they weren't saying "Hunt X". What they were saying was find where the deer are in your area, and hunt there. I was going onto paternity leave by the end of November, so my hunting time for the rest of the season was going to be super limited. For this reason I had to switch gears and hit all the public lands within 20 minutes of home. If I wanted to have more time hunting, I had to find an area closer to home. Also, if I was going to not get much time to hunt, I'd just commit the rest of the season to checking out properties for next year. If they had good deer action, and our gun pressure is over early in December, I would focus on it in my spring scouting. I went through a couple properties with only small buck sign, which was few and far between. I'm at a stage where I'm not looking to harvest the biggest deer in the woods and willing to eat tag soup, I'm looking to put some meat in the freezer for my family, so I will take anything. However, if I chase the big bucks, I figure I'll see plenty along the way and maybe get lucky once or twice, but I'll be giving myself my best chance at learning the most I can about deer to make up for lost time.

I didn't come from a hunting family, or even know anyone who hunted growing up. I grew up in the city, and I spent all my time either in a hockey rink or doing homework. I started fishing a few years ago because it was cheaper to start, but once I got addicted to that and found myself with more than 10 different rods, I figured it was time to finally start hunting, which brought me to the 2018 season. Unprepared but willing to take the beating of making unguided mistakes. Something I learned from fishing though, was if you're trying to find fish, replicate where you find them. And I usually find fish in the spot of the lake/pond/reservoir thats different than everything else, something that sticks out like a sore thumb. So the first thing I did was find public land that looked like where I had seen success with 2 bucks already.... running water, high ridges, and thick cover. Thistles and thorns, vines, and lots of various sized fallen trees. When I found it, I went for a walk. This is 2 days after our last gun season ended. Less than 500 metres into it I found a giant ground scrape, and plenty of fresh doe trails. I was thrilled, I think I found what it is I'm looking for.... so I put 2 trail cams in there to see what's going on before I'm able to get out for my next hunt.

When I went out a week later, I had over 500 pics. The first camera had lots of travelling does, I had put it at a choke point by the big scrape I saw when I first went in. But it was the second camera that held 400 pics. When I went out, I went looking for the weird spot. The thing that looked like it didn't belong. There was fresh snow, so it wasn't hard to find it. After I almost fell into the creek a couple times, I stumbled into a spot that had a knob on the top of the ridge overlooking the valley with horsetail grass all over it. I hadn't seen horsetail grass on the ridge yet, only on the bottom of the valley, and I set up a trail cam. I had actually watched a THP video that morning where Zach was scouting a river bottom and keys in on horsetail grass, so I was like heck ya. Well, turns out it was a pretty nice buck bed. I attached a couple pics I liked off there, but I got plenty more. I debated posting all this heavily the last couple weeks because of the lurkers, but I had an experience in the season that made me not really care. In the swamp I was hunting most of the season, another hunter made a kill in an area I had been working in on and seeing bucks in. He/she quartered the deer, took all the meat off the carcass, and hung the remains in the trees around the area. If you're lurking this forum, you missed the big heavy framed 10 pointer that's living in that area. So anyways, between that and a rabbit hunter following me into my tree on a hunt blowing his dog whistle because he lost one of his dogs, I realized I can't control how other people are going to hunt. But if I find deer in areas that require some dumb maneuvres and unnecessary risks, well at least they will work for it if they rip off info.

So this buck has been essentially haunting my dreams. I learned last year that I don't have the knowledge of the seasoned deer hunters out there who can read sign and set up, but I can obsess, and I can take a beating. I threw my cameras on a variety of properties for January hoping to see what the late season deer were doing, and hopefully find some other bucks to get on to.... but I just kept thinking about that big 8 pointer with the broken brow tine. I had him on camera in 2 different locations, and I had some great shots. Also, I had plenty of daylight pics of him in one of his beds. I went and grabbed my cameras that were on other properties, and decided to throw everything I have into this area. I'm not going to pass on a buck waiting for this big 8 because there's plenty of bucks in there, but I knew he made it through the hunting season because I went out on January 4th to set up a camera nearby to try and pattern him, and saw some unmistakable fresh scrapes and rubs. Right now I got 3 of the better pics of him printed out and on the fridge, along with 2 maps.

Looks like I got an obsession for 2020.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby greenhorndave » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:18 am

Yeah, I enjoyed this as well. Your story isn't a ton different than mine. Of course there are some differences, but as a whole, it's embracing the struggle up the learning curve. :dance:

Edit: That's a great buck. I hope you get him. As far as what other people do and how that affects planned hunts...well, that was a source of frustration and learning for me too. For me, it was general activity in the woods, nothing that I think was malicious. I'm happy for the other people taking advantage of our great public lands, but it through monkey wrenches into my gears on several occasions. I'm still posting stories like you have (which are great, BTW) and any pictures are cropped heavily to limit landmark ID.
Last edited by greenhorndave on Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby Huntress13 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:24 am

Relax, your pics aren't showing the location. I just checked.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:25 am

Thanks I appreciate it! If anyone at any point as any recommendations for learning material (books videos articles magazines, whatever), please let me know. Currently I've read most of this forum, pretty much every beast or THP episode, I have a stack of QDMA magazines going back 15 years, a couple eberhart books, and right now I'm working on a Jeff Sturgis book. Always looking for the next thing.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby greenhorndave » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:30 am

You're on a similar path to me. Dan's DVDs are great. Podcasts are huge. Don't get the visuals but the info can be really helpful.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:57 am

Alright I figure I'll throw one more post out there because my scouting trip yesterday was what led me to finally recording my season journal-style here.

So setup, I met Charlie Wray at a fishing show a couple spring's ago. If you don't know who Charlie Wray is, he's a Canadian fishing legend, and all he knows is big fish. But of course you all know who he is, he's Charlie friggin Wray! I asked him how to find fish on a new body of water, because it is something I struggled with. His advice was break the lake down into 6 parts, fish the main feature, and move on.

So this new area I found, I broke it up into 8 parts, but for the purposes of making it easier, let's say I broke them up into 4 (let's ignore the median line for a second, but that's a creek running through). I based my zones off of natural features, 6 was an unrealistic number for this section. Let's say West to East is zone's A, B, C, and D respectively. On the west side of A is road access, on the East side of D is road access, and then the north and south borders are just private farmland. This year was mostly corn in the area but there's some other cool crops around. A dude I met on the side of the road one day said he's seen a white doe come out of there so who knows, maybe I'll see something rad one day.

So the zones that border public access (A and D), I've just kind of written off. I have seen signs of other hunters, and the deer sign is spotty at best. I determined through cam placement that both zones are just nocturnal movement. I found the big 8 pointer I mentioned earlier in zone B. I knew things would be dicey because I walked through his bed twice, so I figured I'd just leave that area for the rest of the season and make a plan for next year. Getting to that area though, I almost fell into the creek at least once through each one way trip.

I didn't get to go out much from like last week of November until Christmas, but my wife was able to cover 4 days in the last week of season for me. I figured I'd find something in zone C and enter from D so that I could take what I had learned about zone B and use it for next year when the same conditions present themselves in December. I didn't find any human sign in there so I was confident I could just leave it.

First day, I worked my way in to zone C doing more of a scout, and placed a camera where a feeder leads into the creek. I saw some fresh rubs and scrapes leading off of the point there and plenty of tracks. All I saw was a turkey. 2nd hunt, I decided to pick the best feature in the zone and hunt it. Being late december with mild temperatures, I worked my way around the back of the fields on top of the ridge until I found a field with green in it. There was oak trees on the flat behind it before it dropped off into the valley, and it faced the southwest... there's a knob here that looks just like the buck bed in zone B. As I'm working in, I notice a couple deer about 75 yards ahead of me.... then I notice 30, and a giant beaming rack in the middle of it. So I drop my gear and proceed to crawl to within 48 yards of a nice big 8 pointer, and when I realized I was 8-20 yards from a shot I got blinders and didn't see the 2 does flanking me. They blew, and the herd took off. But they only ran around the corner, using the milkweed I was able to keep myself downwind of them ( is it downwind? They couldn't smell me. I can never seem to get that right.) Either way I stalked in again. A doe spotted me from like 20 yds but couldn't smell me and I hit the ground, then we played cat and mouse until she was within 7 yds of me and my impatience caused her to see me move. They blew, that was it for deer action that day. But what a thrill. On the way there, I almost fell into the creek twice, so it was a litte tougher to get to. The next night I saw the herd in a field of cut corn in zone B just before sundown but could never close the gap, and on the final day, a snowstorm rolled in and the deer disappeared. I got so far from my vehicle that day I decided to walk the country roads back. A fella picked me up on his moped and gave me a brisk ride back to my vehicle, telling me about his extensive record of DUI's, and how every time theres a storm the deer cross in front of him out of these woods heading south when he is coming home from work at 2 am. So there's public lands a couple concessions over I'll check out this spring.

Yesterday, my plan was to go in with my laptop, check the camera in zone C, if I liked what I saw swap the cards out. Then I was gonna look for a big communal scrape and set another camera up on that. Yesterday was the day I fell in the creek.

I scouted new access yesterday so I was entering from the other side of the creek. I was trying to find the driest way across the creek I could. There were spots that were shallow enough that it would never go higher than mid thigh but I took my waders on a hunt once this year, and they made it 100 yds from my vehicle before I decided they were more of a harm. I did get em for cheap at Canadian Tire, so I think I know the solution to that. We just had our first baby last summer though so I can't really afford to just go pay for a top notch line of waders, I'd rather buy a canoe to take the little guy fishing this spring, and so I can scout some water access only public land. So anyways I found a couple of deadfalls across the creek I decided I'd try, it was too cold to get a boot full of water. First step out, I'm like dude this is a roll of the dice... second step I'm like man that was too big of a step you can't go backwards and this tree is bouncing under you... steps 3-5 are cussing, and step 6 is when I dropped into a pocket that went up to my armpits. Good news is that the creek is crossable with appropriate gear or not being soft and dealing with cold feet, also 2nd piece of good news out of that is my backpack kept the water away from my electronics long enough to get them out of the creek and then keep them in my pack back to my vehicle. 3rd piece of good news, this was about 50 yds from my camera, so I could just swap the card and head home. I know as soon as you get wet like that in 2 degree weather, no matter how fired up you feel after a dunk like that, it's not up to you how long it is before frostbite or hypothermia sets in. So the there was a ton of fresh tracks in front of the camera, I adjusted the camera angle swapped cards and headed home. I was in rough shape when I got home, but I know enough about cold injuries to have become fine shortly after getting home. My body was bright red til about midnight though.

So on this camera I found the most diversity of any camera I'd put out since I got them. Most saw 1-3 species, but on this card I had turkeys, raccoons, 2 types of squirrel, a coyote, a fox 4 times, and PLENTY of deer. There were 3 individual bucks I could identify on this camera, with this buck being the coolest. He has a similar rack as the one from zone B, with the opposite brow tine broke off... it's like looking at a mirror image! Super excited to explore the area further.

I'll be staring at these photos for the next week or so and comparing them with historical weather reports, and I'm pretty excited for that. There's a doe/fawn group that darn near lives in front of the camera, they were there for like 6 hours one night. Hot dog!
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby Ghost Hunter » Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:27 pm

I'm going be following your progress. There is nothing like getting in woods and letting things slow down and listen to what sign you see is telling you.
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:00 pm

I had a wicked surprise today, my wife took the afternoon off work. We had some running around to do but before hand, she let me sneak out to get the other camera I had placed near where I found the original buck's bed. I'll get into the details of that in a hot second, first I think I'm onto something from the other camera.

So I stared at those photos whenever I had free time. First; the does, fawns, and spike bucks all seem to be travelling through when the temperature is mild but not extreme, and when the wind comes from the east, and as the snow is melting. The pictures of the shooters are on a N/NE wind, but one night only and they're making fresh tracks. Each time there's the same conditions in the 5ish weeks the camera was out there, it's a blackout for 2 nights. There's a finger shooting north of this spot I think they're sniffing, but I'm gonna dig into it further. I suspect there's at least one buck bedding on the ridges to the northwest, there's some really nice features in those. I got lost in there once this year, it's a trickier area than I anticipated. My plan is to make one more adventure in there, place a camera, plan a couple areas to hunt, and leave it until hunting season. Something I noticed at my camera today made me think I was spending too much time in these specific woods.

So if you remember the zones I had earlier, zone B is where this buck was found. Across the creek from this point was a ground scrape, multiple licking branches above it, and the trails going out from it looked like the spoke of a wheel. So I figured I'd get a look at the camera and see if it was getting good action before I moved it or left it for a while. It's on the south side of the creek, with the north side being where I've concentrated my efforts. I decided to walk in on the south side because I hadn't really looked through there.... And it was the easiest walk yet. I had like 2 tricky spots to climb over but other than that my hands were in my pockets and I was just taking it in. Nice for a brisk winter walk, but the deer sign was about what you'd imagine in a wide open, easy to travel area... few and far between. I did get onto a nice set of fresh tracks early that I managed to follow to my camera. They were 3 fingers wide, but when they got to a spot to where my camera was in view, they veered 20 yds to the left and continued on. As of now I think it's a buck because of how it moves off the camera (I saw similar movement around preset treestands on other public properties this year as well). There's a treehouse on the private border above it though so I won't be hunting this spot in the fall anyways, doesn't matter.

I only saw one fresh (from this year) rub on my way out to the camera. When I got out to the camera, there were 2 old bridges across the creek within 100 yds from it that kids had built at one point and were fallen and rotting Interestingly enough, I was still within view of the original buck bed, even though I had walked past it a fair bit. I didn't see historical or fresh deer sign that made me say to myself "add this to your short list for next year," but it definitely looked like a potential entry route. If the bucks are travelling on the North side of the creek, as long as I can stay out of sight, I figure I can enter on the south side and cross the creek near where I wanna set up. I'm not great at keeping scent trails to a minimum because I'll chase butterflies, but that might be a solution.

The camera had about 100 photos from the last month, and it's all the same doe group. They travel in and out, often stopping at the licking branch to give'r a taste. They come through in day as much as night. I haven't gone through the historical weather yet because the time was off on the camera, so I have to do a little manual math before I can get into that. But man, what a lesson that is about making sure your cam is operating properly before you set it out. There's one night with 2 photos that are too black to see anything but there's a definite movement in the screen, so I'm gonna try to brighten the image up somehow and see if I can find a rack. I Included a couple pics from the licking branch. I decided to swap out the camera for a better one and leave it there for the year. Although I didn't see a ton of stuff that made me want to hunt it, I've kinda figured that it leads to a doe sanctuary. On one of my hunts, I had a particularly rough walk that led to many nasty falls. However, at one point when I was on the top of the ridge I noticed cattails and lay spots in an area that was only accessible from the top of the ridge and down, or from across the creek. I've kind of pinned this area to be between where I've found the mirrored 8 pointers, so I want to be super careful with how much time I spend in here from here on out. I know it's a great spot, I just have to make a plan for next year and let it sit.

At this point, my plan is to get in to zone C one more time and explore those ridges. I plan to leave a camera up there. A fair amount of deer noticed the flash from that camera I picked up earlier this week, and after seeing the fresh tracks veer off the camera today, I think I need to plan my pressure a little better. Hide the cameras better, don't let it flash in their eyes/keep it to their backs, and spend less time in there because they know what I'm doing. I have to get back into B once more, but I haven't figured that out yet. Beyond that, I'm gonna swap cards and batteries in the cameras in July, and let them marinate until after hunting season. My intention is to put together a short list of spots to hunt, and let the fresh sign guide me when I show up.

On my way out, I followed the same tracks. I noticed something on the way out I didn't see on the way in... is that blood in deer urine? I put that pic on too. It looks bright so that's oxygenated unless I'm mistaken.

Edit- and now that I look at it, that's some stale pee
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:22 pm

I figured today was as good as any to post an update. I got home from scouting not too long ago, I'm still riding the high, I got some sick cam pics, and the scout went better than I anticipated. I've noticed a lot of people on this forum seem to have a moment when they realize deer hunting is for them and just lock in. I felt like I was on the outside looking in with regards to this.. I wanted it to click. Today, the banging my head against a wall finally became that moment of clarity.

So I have this super close friend who moved away to the big city a few years ago to become a super successful businessman, and boy is he killin it. I remember years ago when were younger we both talked about getting into hunting one day. Ever since I got into it, I had been trying to convince him to just sign up for his course. I made him a deal recently: Get your license sorted out. First year, all you gotta do is meet me at the woods, wherever I send you a pin on google maps. I'll take care of the rest. Just be ready to shoot with something you're comfortable with. It took me 2 years to be able to afford everything to comfortably and competently hunt whitetail in my mind, so I figured I'd just shorten that learning curve for him. It sucked and he's my boy. Plus I said in 5 years we will do a DIY elk hunt just to prove we can.

Not only did he sign up for his course, but he showed up today from 2 hours away to go for a walk with me. He brought the jet boil and the coffee, I brought the fresh jerky and the trail cams. So I texted him a pin, and we met up.

So I wanted to walk the entire section today that I had been focussing on, and I figured if we had 2 vehicles we could put one at each end and just go all the way. We started off on the East side, and my intention was to take him straight to where I had my stalk at the end of the season. I located a buck bed nearby and wanted to spend a while there when it would be furthest from hunting season, so I set the destination as our coffee/jerky spot, and away we went.

I showed him everything I had seen in the area since December when I got into the property first, and I didn't expect to have that much fun reliving my unsuccessful season. Typically, missing goals has been something that eats at me. But today it was different. Today, the past encounters with deer that didn't result in shots became learning opportunities. We just spread out and looked at the areas with different perspectives, but we were also able to trace deer routes in and out. Oddly enough, the entire way in we are walking up on fresh sign. And it's all exactly what I saw the day I did this stalk, so it's pretty cool too because hearing myself speak aloud about all of it makes me rethink everything in new ways.

Early on, and I mean like within the first 100 yds, he's looking at everything like it's a deer track. I show him something nearby that looks like a doe track, explain the idea of how measuring the width of a track with your fingers can tell you how big they are, and there's actually a ton of turkey tracks through the area. I mention how I see them a ton around here, and people say where there's turkey there's deer. My limited knowledge makes me think they're fresh because the edges are hard without signs of melting away, and we have had some warm weather recently. Then out of nowhere he finds a track that's 4 fingers wide and fresh, and there's a fresh pile of poop nearby, because he has eyes like a hawk. This poop was on top of snow and warm and soft but solid but big... I've read about this before.

I can't say we followed these tracks on purpose, because I had a preconceived notion of where I wanted to go, and it just so happen we got on a fresh track that went exactly where I wanted to go. Like the entire way. We kept seeing it, we kept seeing sings of fresh browsing, and we saw poop of all ages. We found some sweet elevated plateaus that were warm and somewhat green, which is what I had set out to find. Tons of fresh deer and turkey sign all the way up. He probably thinks I'm insane after watching me pick up every single pile of deer poop I saw, and thinking back on it? Probably hilarious. But poop jokes make up a healthy part of my repertoire so he knows what he's in for.

We worked our way into the buck bed I was looking for, and I took the opportunity to just soak it in while he made coffee. It was a beautiful spot, I gotta say. If I was king of the forest, it would be my home too. It was like 3 degrees warmer up there where it was facing the sun. There was grass (ya, in Canada, and in February). There was horsetail grass, ferns, and oaks everywhere. 5 elevated points met in a star formation, and this point we were on overlooked all of them. I looked down in the valley, and there was the spot where I fell in the creek! The trail cam there was in view as well. Also, back on one of my first walks there was an area I got spun around in, I could see that too. We took it in here for a bit. Coffee, jerky, and catching up with someone who's always been huge in your life was cool. The sun was casting long shadows though, and I wanted to get to the area where I had daylight pictures of that tall 8 pointer that shows up in my cam pics.

We worked our way down the main trail to the valley floor to grab my camera. I attached the pics... I don't think it's been 3 full weeks since I last checked it, but I got over 200 pics and 75% of which are in the day. Now, I understand we are out of season and in a different season, but I counted 5 distinct different bucks in the afternoon on February 5th moving through. I don't think I recognize the big 8 pointer, but there's a 10 pointer showing up that looks wicked. I won't be hunting this specific spot, but I know they're here. The fox is there because I like it and I been trying to get a good shot of it, so I'm jacked about that pic.

We worked our way back to where I had my original daylight pics of that big 8 pointer with tall left brow tine and the right broken off. I swiped my cam from the last spot completely and swapped cards, so I've got 2 set out there. We continued following all the deer sign and the big tracks the entire way, which was super cool. I set up a camera on a licking branch on the bottom, and another along a fresh well used route on a plateau below where that buck was bedding. There were a ton of lay spots around, which was great to get to see as well. The original buck bed was FULL of hair, and this was the first time I'd actually seen this. I was pretty happy with what we had seen and done here, and we were almost at the end at this point. The sun was setting, so I'm like let's get cookin' man.

Shortly after deciding to boogey we came to a spot that was pretty rough to get across while staying on public. Very steep. I went low and he went high. I thought I had the path through, so we half debate him coming down to me. But I'm like well you're 3 steps from the top of the ridge, so just see what's over there. He climbs up to the ridge, stands straight up. Looks back. And just ice cold, he goes "big deer man."

I FLOP my way up to the top of the ridge, and there's a doe on the next slope looking at us. He's like "there's 5-6 more". They move around a bit, and there he is... the big 8 pointer with the tall left tine, right broken off. He's with a smaller 8 and 4 does. They're all staring at us, but it's a crosswind so they can't smell us. So I tell him to get down super slowly, and he does. The sun is setting, it's golden, and this buck moves to the top of the ridge. Now he's skylined, but we just lay on the ridge and watch it for about 10 minutes. I'm like man, he'll outwait us.... try a practice stalk. We made a plan based on all the shows we have watched and podcasts we have listened to, and then as he takes his first couple steps he just slides right down the slope we are on, breaking every branch in the process. The deer are watching but don't really bug off, but it's not hunting season so I'm pretty sure they're like ok whatever you jerks. He managed to get about 60 yards from him tho, which was wicked to watch unfold in the setting sun. The cell phone pic I attached is something I tried to take while this was happening.... if you can see the 2 deer on the ridge, the one on the right is the buck.

We got out and on the way back to my vehicle, we found the deer in a field of cut corn. It gave me an idea for how to glass them in the fields through July/August/September, but I also think I'm closing in on this deer's core area. I'm going to let it sit for a bit, maybe go shed hunting and check the cams before turkey season.

In the meantime, I'll be shooting a bit and experimenting with my arrows. I bought the ranch fairy test kit... I'm stackin the odds in my favour.
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VaBowKill5
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby VaBowKill5 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:07 am

Hats off for taking the initiative to learn on your own and it sounds like you’re figuring it out. It takes encounters sometimes to learn how mature bucks will use a specific property. Congrats on the hard work and the 10 pointer!
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greenhorndave
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby greenhorndave » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:24 pm

That 10s going to be dandy in the fall. Hope you get on him!
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby KornfedKiller » Mon Mar 02, 2020 7:25 am

Time for another update.... I scouted some new property today, and am looking for a little advice on how to proceed if anyone has any tips for me.

So I wanted to get more of a full picture of how the deer in the area were travelling, so I zoomed out google earth and threw pins on every piece of public connecting to the original drainage I've been hunting. There's a couple swamps to the south, so that's where I started. I went to the furthest one, because I found what looked to be a couple sections of cattails in it. This piece of property is divided across the middle by a road, dividing it into a north and south parcel.

When I got there, there was a sign that the county uses the entrance of the south side for a pheasant release. I don't know anything about pheasant hunting, so if anyone has tips to plan for contingencies in the hunting season, please throw em at me! I got onto deer and turkey tracks very soon, which were all fresh (it snowed through the last 24 hours, stopped around midnight). I was heading to a big area of what seemed on the map to be cattails, and the tracks were heading left/right as I made my way there. When I got there, it turned out to be a bog. Nice large open area with short vegetation, some marsh grasses bent down under the ice, and a corner of canary grass. I walked the entire area, no old scrapes. I walked south of the opening following some fresh tracks and came to a long ditch or old dried up creek channel that ran left/right again. There was a spot in here where deer trails connected to form a triangle, and there was one old (small) rub on a tree in there. The next bog I wanted to check out was due east, and tracks went there, so I followed them. The bog is bordering an ag field that was corn last year.

I did a bunch of scouting over there in that area, still not finding any old rubs or scrapes. However I saw a really fresh trail that was used by more than one deer, headed north/south, and looked like they were travelling quickly but not busting out. I found a nice set of 4 finger wide tracks in this trail so I followed it south all the way to the private line (where it was headed), then turned around and followed it north to the road. I found a bedding area with fresh layspots downwind of where I entered near the road, so I figure I spooked the deer on my way in. I marked it on a map. Lots of horizontal cover in the area with fallen trees, vines, thorns, and all kids of shrubs, whereas 90% of the woods were wide open. I found beech, oak, and maple trees. The low boggy areas were redbrush, thorns, alders, and grasses. I could actually see where I was parked from this area, which was probably my first good experience with a bedding area watching hunter entrance. I spooked deer on my way in this year, but didn't quite understand how that setup worked. Today it made sense.

After that, I crossed the road and explored the north side. I found a couple rubs that were chest height, and its the area where the tracks came from. However, there was so much human/hunter sign in this area that i turned around pretty quickly and dismissed everything as nocturnal sign. There were no boggy areas for them to hide in but there was a creek I wanted to check out as a potential travel route. This is where the adult tree houses were thickest. So I backed out.

When I got back to my vehicle, I noticed a break in the alders that looked like an entry route into the parcel on the south side, so I went back in there. If the deer were bedding on the west side of where I entered, this was on the East side. I found another small boggy area, but what I hadn't seen yet today was rubs fresh from this year, and I found them there. They weren't as big as the chest height ones north of the road, but it was enough to get me re-excited.

So, here's where I need help. The bogs look promising to me for observation sits early in the season. I've located a feb/march bedding area that watches hunter entrance, I found big tracks, 2 tall rubs, but otherwise a huge lack in rubs compared to the other areas I've been in. Does this mean it's going to be an area not holding bucks consistently, or is it a possible spot to explore for early October? What I'm looking for is hunting spots for the first half of October when they're on their bed to food routines. I understand I won't find an abundance of rubs where there isn't rut activity, so I anticipate if there are bucks in there, they are gone by middle to late October.

Would I be wasting my time with these observation sits? Should I find an area with more buck sign, or is a set of big tracks amongst smaller tracks enough (there was also a set of 3 finger wide tracks in there)? Should I leave a camera on a ground scrape/licking branch when the snow melts? I understand plenty of getting on deer is just getting out there and seeing, but I also don't want to waste my time with areas like the north section of this property which is littered with old tree stands and flagging tape.
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greenhorndave
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Re: My progression as a hunter and the hunt for my first bow kill

Unread postby greenhorndave » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:36 pm

Sounds like you found a fairly quiet little corner with respect to human activity. That’s potentially great!

Maybe put a cam in an area just outside of the main activity area and see what’s coming and going when?
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