Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Trophys and My Pholosophy

I was walking through my living room today and reliving the hunts of all the deer that I have on my wall and it made me think, I should share these pictures with all the folks following my blog. I mean after all, anyone can say they know how to hunt but can they really prove it?

It is such an amazing feeling to look at a deer and be able to just close your eyes and remember the day you harvested that deer and the excitement within your heart, the shaking and heavy breathing. That moment when you have to just stop, take a deep breath and regain yourself so that you can steady the cross hairs and not blow the shot. I don't know exactly how many deer I have harvested in my life but I am sure that it is somewhere in the 60-80 range. With that number in mind, let me tell you that even now, if a small yearling deer that I have no intentions of shooting walks out in front of me, I still get the same jitters that I did the very first time I ever seen a deer in the woods. The excitement of the hunt never goes away and it never lessens in my heart. I have always said that if that joy ever leaves my soul, I will hang up my boots and gun and stop hunting.

Some of my best moments in the woods and my most enjoyable hunts didn't even include a deer, in fact it didn't include any animals that I harvested. Hunting to me is not about killing, it is about my time with nature. The time that I get to spend in the woods that still stand, undisturbed by man. That moment when I was sitting as still and patient as was humanly possible and I had a squirrel come running down the tree where I was resting my back and he mistook me for part of the environment. And then, after bouncing off my head or jumping onto my boot he realized that I wasn't a tree. Now it's on! He freezes up, starts chattering and twitching at me, an occasional bark or bounce - me, I am challenged to see how still I can be. Can I not blink or breathe without my stomach moving? Of course, this is the only time today that my nose will itch or my eyes will burn but I will not lose this stare off with this squirrel, for I am hunter and I am in camouflaged and I am part of this tree! This my friends is a memorable hunt!This was an ultimate challenge between me and on of natures most alert and curious creatures. This was a close encounter that very few people will ever experience and in my eyes, an irreplaceable moment. This is hunting! 

Here is a picture of the two wall hangers that my wife has harvested. The deer on the right is a 14 pointer. He was an older deer and had many battle scars to prove his place in the herd. Almost ever tine on his rack is either chipped or broken and there were a couple of non-typical points that grew directly inward, but they were broken about a half an inch short. Beautiful animal by all means and an incredible first deer. The 8 pointer on the left was her first "solo" trophy harvest. In fact, I was at work while she was out hunting and she harvested this deer from a stand that she personally chose. I will get into the actual hunts and how the deer became to be harvested later on.

This next picture is a panoramic view of our living room and displays most of our mounts. I promise that each and ever one of these deer have a great story to tell and later into this blog, I will re-live these hunts with you. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get to know me before we move on!

I currently have 25 years of whitetail hunting experience under my belt, and with that comes 25 years of watching countless whitetail hunting videos. From the earlier days of VHS to now DVD, Internet and even numerous Saturday and Sunday morning television shows, I have watched, studied and tried to learn how to hunt like the pros. What I have learned in all these years is that the only way to hunt like the pros I watch on television is to spend thousands of dollars going to these ranches (or deer farms as I prefer to call them) and wait patiently for the 50 deer per day to walk out and then select the one that most provokes me. I have tried the horn rattling, deer grunting, doe urine and so on that they promote on TV but the real truth is, that stuff just doesn’t work in the “Wild Woods” that I actually hunt in.

What I have gathered is that deer can basically be trained same as dogs and horses. If a deer lives in a high fence property and has no opportunity to “broaden their horizons”, then they will adapt to their surroundings. If their environment includes someone feeding them every day – in the same place – and at the same time, then guess what? Yes, they will be there tomorrow at the same time. If you happen to be sitting there in a deer stand when farmer Joe is scheduled to feed then you are going to have a lot of deer to choose from.
Think about this: Have you ever seen a pond where the owner of the pond goes out every day and throws a scoop of cat food out to feed the fish? If so, then you know that not only are those fish fat but they are also accustomed to having someone feed them beside the dock. Now, when you show up with a cane pole and a bobber, you will catch fish like never before. Oh, and they will be bigger than the average fish you catch out there on the lake. In fact, if you go to the lake and fish all day long, you might get lucky and catch 3 fish that day – none which are even big enough to keep. This is the same philosophy that I have put together about hunting the whitetail deer in the wild. You just aren’t going to go out to game management property or even a private 50 acre parcel that the ole’ feller down the road lets you hunt, and see herds of trophy bucks just grazing freely in front of your stand while you zoom in with your binoculars and “pre-score” their racks before choosing which one you will harvest today.

In reality, hunting deer in the non-fenced, un-disturbed, un-trained and still wild environment requires an entirely different approach than what is being displayed and marketed on TV. In fact, a very large percentage of your everyday dedicated hunters will go an entire lifetime without ever harvesting a trophy whitetail and some will even go without ever harvesting a single deer. I have hunted natural woods my entire life and for many years, I went season after season without any venison in my freezer. After spending many hours, days, months and years trying, studying, practicing and failing, I have finally discovered tactics that do work. In the last 10 years, I have successfully harvested more than my share of venison to include having now 11 trophy whitetails on my wall. I have introduced many people to hunting, shared my experiences and knowledge with them and have watched them be successful as well. I can’t say that my way is best by no means but I can say that my way has worked not only for me but for the others that have leaned on me for knowledge and guidance.

The purpose of this blog is to share some of that knowledge with you and at the end of the day, hopefully hear that you were able to be successful as well. The greatest experiences I have had in the outdoors is being there to share the excitement of a youngster as the get their first deer, being beside my wife when she got her first deer (which just happened to be a 14 pointer)and being credited for their successes. In this blog, I will cover the dos and don’ts that have worked and failed for me over the years. Study tactics that have worked for me and ways that you can go out in the woods and do more than just watch the squirrels and birds. 

I need to be honest up front though, I am a “Deer” hunter; I am not a “Trophy” hunter. I hunt for food and it just so happens that the methodology I use gives me many opportunities at Trophy Whitetails. I don’t bait, I don’t lure, I don’t hunt fenced properties and I don’t train deer. I hunt the whitetail in its natural – undisturbed environment and I do so successfully. I do harvest does and I do harvest younger bucks as well as older ones. In fact, I am a diabetic and venison is my primary source of meat. Because it is basically fat free and not raised and treated with all the unhealthy preservatives, I am allowed much venison in my diet; as far as beef, I am allowed 6oz. per week. So, if you are a hunter and want to learn how to put more meat in your freezer and possibly/hopefully put more horns on the wall, then stick around and I will do the absolute best that I can to help you enter the woods next season with a better chance at being successful.