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Posts Tagged ‘deer camp’

2016 Deer Hunting

November 23rd, 2016

Successful Deer Hunter

Deer Hunting.  A northern Michigan tradition.  Many years of history, stories, and hunting adventures passed down in the generations of family hunters. Another year of tradition within my family has passed, and it has been a very memorable one.  This year, the weather was warm through opening day and a few days though the hunt.  I talked to several folks with mixed reports of deer movement activity; some reporting lots of movement, and other reports of little or no movement. Whichever your experience or theory, plenty of deer were harvested this season in Michigan.  Winter came in quickly by Saturday, and I’m sure that held up some of the movement for the next couple of days after that.   

I started my hunt this year two days late.  That’s not unusual for me, I was unable to make it a four-day hunting excursion away from work and falconry responsibilities.  So as I arrived on Wednesday eventing to a temperature of 58° F, there was nothing on the buck pole.  Not surprising, given the warm temps.  The two deer that had been taken at deer camp so far were hung, gutted, and processed as quickly as possible to save the meat. My first evening was filled with laughter and stories with family and friends, as we packaged up some of the bounty harvested the day before.  Always a good time.  

I awoke abruptly out in the camper to the sound of a started pick-up truck.  It seems that my alarm did not go off as expected. No worries, I had plenty of time to get a cup of coffee, pack up my lunch, and head out to my blind.  The preparations this year were very easy, as I had planned everything to make it especially easy.  I suited up halfway and drove out to the *NEW* Death Valley deer blind that had been restored the previous month.  

The morning started like every other one: dark. The exception to this morning was the left-over “SuperMoon” was waning and still brightened up the landscape a little.  The beauty of sitting out in a deer blind so early in the morning is the solitude that you get when you finally get your gear settled.  The silence of the woods early in the morning is incredibly peaceful and it’s one of the few times where you can hear the trees whisper. As the morning progressed, a few deer crossed my viewing area across the meadow.  Typically, a doe, followed by her yearling were the usual visitors through the valley.  Occasionally, there was a spike-buck following the pair, or a larger 4-pointer.  The key to watching deer cross the valley is to be keen to the bucks trailing the does a few minutes later, after they pass. Always be ready for them, for they are walking with a purpose.  So with a total of 10 deer spotted before lunch time, I was satisfied with the activity and movement in the area,  and still hopeful to be successful on my first day.  The lunch period was slow, and there was no activity until about 2:30 pm.  A pair of does ran up the valley from behind the blind and veered off to the right.  I was ready for the buck following them, but he never appeared.  I waited intensely with my gun to the ready, holding out for the buck that should have been pursuing them. After a little while, I heard some rustling off to my right.  The river runs through the area, about 150 yards off to the right of the blind, and I noticed a deer browsing.  It wasn’t until he lifted his head up that I could see the 8 points above his ears.  I lined up the shot, and waited until he showed me his shoulder, and I pulled the trigger. 

I gave him enough time to lie still, dragged him about 30 yards or so out of the woods and drove back to deer camp with an 8-point buck on the trailer. What a great day of deer hunting!  The next day,  a couple of us drove into town for some provisions at the local market.  We stopped by the DNR office the next day, even got my successful deer hunter patch! 

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Barred Owl

November 18th, 2015

Barred Owl

It’s not too often that I get to see a Barred Owl, let alone two of them.  The story is fascinating for sure, but it was over within two minutes and I was fortunate enough to catch this pic of this guy sitting down in the meadow, just in front of my deer blind before dark.  One owl called to the other, and one of them flew over my deer blind and tackled the other out of a pine tree.  They tussled and tumbled to the ground, making amazing sounds the entire battle. It was over in a few minutes, with one owl bouncing out of the brush and taking a breather out in the open for a minute.

After a brief rest, he jumped back up into the pine trees, in pursuit of the other intruder.  The chase continued in another part of the forest.

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Deer Camp 2012

November 17th, 2012

Deer Camp 2012

The local northern hunting experience that comes once a year is upon us once again. On a large portion of acreage in northern Michigan, Deer Camp is set up with a main lodge and hunters choice from fourteen different deer blinds strategically placed throughout the landscape. Each hunter has their own special preference as to which deer blind they choose to hunt from. These typically don’t vary from year to year, but occasionally hunters trade spots, or give up their blind after they have had a successful hunt.

Weather is always a factor in the hunt; too warm and the deer don’t move as much as they do when it’s cold and a  slight covering of snow always helps too. The weather for this year was picture perfect, cool fall weather with all day sunshine and clear, starry nights. I can’t remember a more pleasant stretch of fall days for deer camp in recent years. A few years ago It was too warm, reaching a high of 55 degrees in the afternoon, and then there was that one year when the early morning temperature dipped down to -9 below. Each of these weather patterns brought their own set of issues that contributed to the hunting success ( or lack thereof) for that year. This year it was nice to spend time in the woods and forest for a few days and the terrific weather that made the experience all the more enjoyable.

My opening morning started off just like any other year. A good cup of coffee and a full thermos to take with, along with a sandwich and some cookies to help keep the munchies away. I dress in several layers of clothes to keep warm in the blind along with aim insulated set of camo overalls just for deer  hunting. I think of these as a wearable sleeping bag because they area quite warm and insulative against the cold. I took out my rifle and checked the magazine for enough rounds. I walked the long meadow from the lodge down to my blind which has a splendid view with a nice viewing area known affectionately as “Death Valley”. Deer regularly visit this grassy meadow browsing on the sweet rye shoots.

Once I arrived at my small northern woodland condo, I unpacked my gear and settled in to watch the morning unfold as the sun rose in the east and splashed the valley with sunlight. The experience of watching the forest come alive in the morning is one of the many pleasures that deer camp holds for me. I had a few four legged visitors close to the blind, but nothing to put the scope on. About 9:15 am in the morning I was enjoying my second cup of coffee and I noticed some movement out of my right window. A large deer was walking to the right of my blind and stopped, just out of sight behind a small group of trees. I opened the window and aimed my rifle out the window. I had to wait a few seconds for the buck to clear the trees to get a good look at him. I lined up the shot and pulled the trigger. The large 9 point buck lay on the ground a few minutes later. This would be the first deer on the buck pole this year.

This was the 9-point buck I downed on opening day 2012

The remainder of deer camp was very relaxing with card games, camaraderie, and some great meals. Cedar enjoyed her time out in the weathering yard as she came along for the trip. My fellow hunting crew really enjoyed having Cedar perched in the yard as well. Cedar also took to tolerating Wink pretty well, as he wandered around camp enjoying all the smells. Wink is an eight year old English Setter who really likes hunting grouse and woodcock in the fall.

Here’s the nice patch I received from the Michigan DNR when I stopped at the Deer Check Station in Mio.

 

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Deer Camp 2010

November 15th, 2010

Deer Camp 2010

Deer camp is a wonderful time of year.  Time to spend out in the woods in pursuit of a large prize that the woods may grant to a lucky hunter.  I was such a lucky hunter this year, downing a hefty 9-point buck at 8:45 am.  He was first one on the buck pole.  What a great way to start deer camp.

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Deer Hunting 2009

November 18th, 2009

Deer Hunting 2009

Another adventure at deer camp comes to an end with no buck to show for the time and effort in the deer blind this year.  Hunting deer is quite honestly a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time.  On Sunday morning, opening day, I packed up my gear and walked the awesome walk in Death Valley to the deer blind at about 6:15 AM.  It was a relatively warm morning (42° F) and the stars were clear and plentiful.  Seeing all the stars in the morning is quite possibly my favorite thing about walking out to the deer blind in the dark.  I love it!

Once I arrive out at the hunting hide, I unpack some of my gear, turn my flashlight off and enjoy the dark and quiet for a few moments before daylight breaks and lights up the sky.   The air is clean and the windows are dusty and covered in spider webs.  I’ll clean those off a little later when I can see with more sunlight.  The deer in the area are moving around slowly, and it wasn’t until about 8:00 AM that the first sign of deer in the valley were seen wandering to the south.  Three does walked around for about 20 minutes and then decided to take the South Trail out of the valley.  It wasn’t until much later in the day that they came back out to take another look under the apple tree for more tasty morsels.  I can’t remember a nicer opening day at deer camp.  The best joke of the weekend was that you could sit in the Deer Blind with khaki shorts, a hawaiian t-shirt, and drink margaritas while deer hunting this year. At the end of the day, no bucks were seen in Death Valley and my day ended without taking a shot.  Despite the lack of targets to line up the cross-hairs on, I still enjoyed my comfy spot in the woods that allowed me to watch the sunrise, the sunset, and all that happened in between. It was not a wasted day at all!

Monday morning came early and it was much colder than the previous morning (25°F).  Another hike out to the deer blind reveals more stars with the flashlight OFF and the grass is a little more crunchy today.  Ah, well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.  My feet ended up getting a little cold, but I was able to warm them up and make it through the morning.  The valley opens up a little early today, with a singleton Doe walking out of the aspen with a layer of frost on her coat.  It appears that she just got up out of the grass where the frost collected on her fur. A few minutes later, a small spike buck appears on the scene, and wanders down Death Valley too. He is a nice looking deer, but certainly not large, let along have the horns to be a viable target for the buck-pole. As the 10:00am hour arrives, I notice that I’m not going to be successful much longer as Tahoe is going to need some water and a hunt today. As I pack up my gear, I wish I could enjoy another day in the blind but the lure of hawking calls and I am off for another hunt. Another deer season ends unsuccessfully, but it is very enjoyable with the Uncles and Cousins that also come each year.  The big buck will have to wait until another time.

The buck pole was not empty, however. My Cousin nailed this 9-point buck early on opening day!  Opening day was a success for one hunter at deer camp and I await the final tally from the entire crew at the end of the week.

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