Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bad JuJu

This is one of my "perfect" spots for a shot out of this stand.


I know some folks are waiting for me to write this, sadly as a hunter it is one of the worst stories you can tell. Truth be told I had to make myself write this one. When I started writing I tried to keep things pretty light for the most part, I also told myself I should be honest and tell both sides when something goes tits up. Well last weekend, our archery opener, it happened.

I have a spot I love to hunt, full of deer to the point the landowners just want some gone. I had my stand in place, conditions were perfect and I was ready for my season to get going. Saturday I sat and watched more does in that spot than I have ever seen but something had them spooked. No matter what direction they came they blew, ran, stomped or froze then backed out the way they came before they were anywhere near me. I had several within shooting range, only one of those busted me when I moved, the rest fed by without looking. I ended Saturday feeling good since I had seen so many while wondering what had them spooked. I packed up, walked to the house to spend the evening talking with friends over a good meal. I finally got to sleep ready to give it a go Sunday morning,

Back in the stand just before shooting time I sat waiting for the sun. About 7:15 I saw a deer tail twitching about 120 yards away in a newly cleared area on a hillside. As I looked another deer stepped out while the first one started to make a rub. Buck! About then #2 lifted his head to show a nice rack as he headed downhill toward me. Bucky #1 followed along as they headed for the tiny creek I needed for them to cross. I heard the first one jump the creek into some laurels then watched them shake as he made a rub. The second buck jumped behind him and then one, not sure which, came out headed my way.

I knew the spots they would come out and was already talking myself through the shot, this spot is 24 yards, this one 28, this one 31, breathe, pick your spot, wait for him to get broadside. He stepped out then turned into my 28 yard lane, perfectly broadside, head down, stopped to feed. I had drawn when his head went down, set my pin and shot. I was using a lighted nock and saw the arrow hit a little back but still a decent shot. Nick a limb, my fault, I will never know. I watched as he ran about 40 yards then bedded down. I sat down to wait keeping an eye on him then after 30 minutes he gets up and starts walking off. I couldn’t believe it even a liver/partial lung hit with the broadhead I was using should have done it. I waited a little longer then went to find my arrow. The first thing I found was half of my nock. The hit was so hard it broke it in half on impact.

This is the first sign I found. My arrow was a couple of feet away.


I went about 20 yards then found a good blood trail, actually better than  good along with half my arrow. As I went to where he laid down I heard a deer blow but I was thinking it had to be the other buck since he had been hanging around, I was wrong it was mine. He ran just out of sight and I heard him fall. Game over. I waited a few more minutes then slowly went to check and bumped him. He could only go about 60 yards or so then would slow down and later I found would lay down. So I waited again only to bump him as soon as I did I sat down to wait. Whenever he was walking he bled but when he laid down he stopped. I have had a couple of others do this and found them. They would lay down, stop bleeding then get up and it would pour. Same with this one.


This is what I was finding on the trail.

I picked up his trail again only to notice which way he was headed. There is a bedding area on the property next to where I hunt that you absolutely cannot cross onto. In Tennessee you have to have written permission to even trail an animal onto someone’s land. These people are worse, you don’t dare go up their driveway. In total the deer had 3 hours to lay up but he was determined to get to that thicket and I guess he did.





While I hate losing one I know it happens which makes it not one bit better. For those of you that might think I don’t know tracking, you would be mistaken. I’m one of the guys people call when they can’t find a deer. I have driven for hours to get to a location to find one no one else could, so when it happens to me it is sickening.

I have no idea how this deer kept going but he did. While I didn’t get to bring him home I also know by the next morning he was gone. The coyotes in that area would see to that. I think for me not knowing what went wrong makes it even worse. Playing it over and over in my head and not being able to correct it is tougher yet. I know I’m not alone in this story, even this year or this week for that matter I have talked to several people that are good hunters that lost deer. We try to do our best when it comes time to shoot, sometimes it goes wrong despite our best efforts. This was one of those times.

Well there it is the story you never want to tell but I don’t want to try to act as if it didn’t happen. Hopefully you never have to go through the same thing. Be safe everyone and good luck, I know other states are about to open. Thump a good one for me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seemz Technology Review



This weekend I had time to get out to test more of the Seemz Technology scent control system. I had washed all of my camo with their detergent, before heading out I used the body wash got ready and headed out for opening day.

We were down to upper 40s for temps so heat wasn’t much of a problem, still after a morning in the stand when the old system I was using would begin to fail Seemz was still working. I walked out for lunch then headed back to the stand for the afternoon hunt after spraying down with the scent elimination spray. By now the day had warmed up to the mid 70s with no wind to cool me off. I walked in and spent the afternoon watching does get as close as twenty yards downwind of me. That one busted me but it was because I moved. Until I did she had no clue I was there even with a light breeze blowing to her she was coming right in.

The next morning the temps were up to 58 so I sprayed down again before the morning set. About 7:30 I had a shot which resulted in a long tracking job in rising temps. After three hours of sweaty walking you still couldn’t find much to say I had been walking all morning. My clothes, while not perfectly scent free, were still close. There was no way to tell that those had been worn through those conditions. No smell of sweat at all. Again not completely scent free but I am talking hours of walking and sweating that would have left my old system completely gone. When I went in for the afternoon hunt I wore the same clothes. Simply spraying down again. As soon as I did there was no smell at all.

Seemz says that their products hold up over time better than others and I found that it does. Even after 2 days on stand along with hours of sitting and walking I still couldn’t find much odor on the clothes. As a final test I bagged everything for the trip home to keep it away from anything that might add odor. When I took them out I could tell everything was due a wash but normally my clothes done this way would have smelled BAD but not this time. They did need washing but we are talking after 2 days of hard hunting and being packed away overnight they still weren’t bad at all. I honestly think if I had needed to hunt another day before packing them up I could have after spraying them again. I can see now that Seemz has become what I will be using for my scent control.

While Seemz was good enough to send me their products to test don’t think for a second a good review came from that. If it sucks and you send it to me I promise I will tell people exactly that. If it works then that is what you will hear. In this case it does what is advertised. I will be doing more tests as the season goes along and will let you know what I find but after this weekend I can’t think there will be anything bad to report on a system that does what the maker says. Good work Seemz.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Preview Seemz Technology

Here is a review preview. I just got a great care package in from Seemz Technology and wanted to show you what was coming up as soon as I can do more testing.





Our friend Josh has been more than great in his sponsorship of the Huntography Deer Tour this year. He is providing scent elimination products to the hunters and to try and give back a little I am going to do some testing and post what I find.

The box I opened contains a body wash, detergent for clothes, scent elimination spray for the field in two different sized spray bottle, along with a big bottle to refill the sprays and a spiffy sponge thingy for the shower. All come in nicely labeled packaging titled T.H.E.E. KRUSH powered by their Odor Fusion technology. I will get into more of the specifics in my next post to explain how their system works but I did a couple of quick tests to see how some of it did. Here is what I found.

After talking to Josh I knew the detergent was much different than what I had been using. It pours like water, is colorless and scent free. I put in a load of camo to give it a go. When I took it out I gave it the old sniff test which turned up nothing and what was different was the way the clothes felt. What I was using you could feel on the clothes after washing but with Seemz that is gone. I will be wearing shirts and pants washed in Seemz on opening day to see how it holds up.

For the spray I decided to go over to the farm to try for a yote. Instead  of changing into clean camo I wore what I had on which was jeans and a t shirt that I had worked in all day. Add to this my everyday hat and you have a less than odor free hunting ensemble. I sprayed down with the cool invertible spray bottle and sure enough it worked. I sprayed a spot, gave it a bit to work and tried to smell anything. It worked. Wherever the spray hit the scent was gone. Not too shabby for a tough first test let me tell you. Since I didn't take the time to completely cover myself it wasn’t a fair test but proved that it did what it says. This weekend it will get the "time in tree after walking through the woods" test to see how it holds up.

There it is a quick preview of Seemz Technology scent elimination system. Tomorrow morning I will be testing the body wash, donning camo washed in their detergent then spraying down when I get to the field. I will post a better review next week after a long weekend of testing.

Good luck to everyone this weekend. Many of the states are opening. Be safe and wear your harness. If you need me I will be on top of Monteagle mountain .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Big Deer Hunters Lures

Time to introduce a new sponsor of the Huntography Deer Tour. Since the tour was announced we have been lucky to have several companies come on board with products for the hunters. From cooking to scent elimination and now lures we have goodies to help us out this fall.



Our latest sponsor is Big Deer Hunters, that makes solid stick deer urine lures. These are all made and packaged by the owner without human hands ever touching the lure. You can order either buck or doe in an easy to use stick made from 100% premium urine which can be used in a variety of ways. Introduced at the Atlanta Buck A Rama last year this is my first chance to try it out.

Reading the instructions the lure has a slower evaporation rate, stays airborne longer than aerosols and maintains its strength even in rain. All with no mess or spills. It can be used in a variety of ways which makes it easier to use to me than other products. Here are the suggestions for ways to use your new lure.

  • Simply take off the top, turn the dial on the bottom, apply to your boots and walk to your stand.
  • Rub on trees, bushes or rocks around your stand 
  • Place the container on the ground with a small bit of lure exposed to let the wind carry the scent.
  • Cut a small sliver and place in a scrape or mock scrape
  • Cut a sliver and wrap around a string or small twig to make a hanging lure
  • Use the hook hole in the container to hang the lure from a tree or your stand
  • Use the hook hole in the container and string to make a drag lure to your stand.

To go along with his lures Charles also has his Dirt Soap. A way to get clean, eliminate human odor while only leaving the smell of earth behind. A cleaner and cover scent in one.





I will be using the lure during my hunt on the Deer Tour in November which is just about the time our bucks are out looking for love. Can’t wait to see what comes in to check it out.

Check out Big Deer Hunters online or contact Charles at
678-469-6467

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sandbagged

Here is one I ran across years ago in a hunting magazine and I know everyone can not only use but do themselves.

I was chucking things out when I found some old jeans so torn up they had to go. When I was about to throw them out I remembered reading an article about making sandbags for the range from the legs. I had a few minutes, some old jeans and some sand outside so I decided to make a couple. This is all it takes.

Cut the legs off of your jeans a little below the knee. You can make them a bit longer if you want but any shorter makes them hard to sew. Next turn them inside out and sew one end closed. I didn’t have a sewing machine so I just ran two rows of stitches across by hand, be sure to use at least 2-3 rows. Next step, sew the other end about ¾ of the way closed, leaving a section to add your sand. Turn the pouch you made right side out and you are ready to add sand.

It is best to use play sand rather than contractor’s sand since it has all the small stones removed or you can run the contractor sand through a screen to get most of them out.
Add sand until it is close to full but leave yourself enough material to finish sewing it closed. Stitch the opening closed with at least two rows of stitches and there you have it a sandbag for almost nothing. If you have a sewing machine these take just a couple of minutes to do but even by hand they don’t take long. The technique is exactly like making a pillow for those of you that know how to sew, well except for the sand which would make a rough pillow.




There you go, another on the cheap useful item to add to your goodies. These work great on the range, out chasing yotes or ground pigs.

P.S. Just for fun I made one full of bubble wrap to see how it worked. Hoping it does since it is super light weight and easy to carry in my pack.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Murphy's Law vs. The Blind Hog

Over the last few years I have lost almost all of my private land I had to hunt. I was down to 2 spots, one 18 acre spot over an hour away and a 30 acre spot about 10 minutes from my house. I still take deer regularly but it is hard to think about almost 2000 acres I have lost in different locations. Through a variety of reasons years of work were gone almost overnight. Last year I spent my time on these two small spots and had decided this year would be the same. Murphy’s Law it seems was in full affect.

Then the blind hog stepped in.


A huge oak I found walking the Beasley farm. Full of acorns and squirrels.


I had a truck in the drive and someone stopped by to see if it was for sale. As we talked I found out one guy lived just down the street but we had never talked. I found out he not only hunted but deer hunted on a farm 30 minutes away that had 320 acres on it. He hunts alone and talked about how he couldn’t find any more land to hunt near us. Permission is just hard to come by. We talked about deer for a bit, the truck some and before they left I had gotten invited to hunt a couple of times this year on his spot. I was thrilled and told him I would take him to one of my spots to trade hunts. He loved it because no one else would take him. Now I had almost 400 acres to hunt this year just from a random conversation.

Then came blind hog acorn number 2.

 September 1st is the opening of dove season. I don’t go on opening day anymore since I can shoot them in the backyard living as I do in the dove capitol of Tennessee. While I was talking to some folks on Twitter I was asked to check on some shoots near me. I said sure since the fields are just a few minutes. Easy way to help a friend, saves them some gas and time on opening day.

I headed over about 5 since there is usually someone around the barn about then. Sure enough they pulled in just ahead of me. I walked up and introduced myself again since it had been a long time since I had dropped in. Don Beasley and Josh were happy to talk dove hunts and what days they were planning to shoot. In a few minutes Josh’s boss (wife) pulled up and he headed home. Don and I hung out and talked for a bit more.

As I was getting ready to leave Don mentioned deer hunting, I perked up then. He said he had some people hunting but never saw them much last year and wished someone would come and shoot some does. I said I love to hunt does, only take bucks if I see a good one.  He thought for a second and then said that would be fine come on over and hunt this year. I about fell over. This is a 600 acre farm 4 minutes from my house. While not all of it is worth hunting there are plenty of spots that are.

I thanked him and thanked him some more then headed home still afraid to believe I had scored this spot. I honestly was waiting to go back and be told that they had changed their minds. Instead I went back and got invited to Don’s parents’ house where I now have a standing invitation to drop in anytime.


This will be a painting one day.


Without trying I managed to go from 48 acres to almost 1000. I didn't go out looking for a new spot but had them fall in my lap. It’s true a blind hog can find an acorn. I haven’t gotten to go check the 320 acres yet but got taken to a 150 acre section of the Beasley farm where we immediately saw a huge tom and then a flock of about 30 turkeys. It has woods, a creek, along with silage fields that are just cut or about to be. It has squirrels and doves all over to go along with the big critters. I can’t wait to get started there since I can hunt it during the week when no one else is around.


Hard to see but the turkeys are on the treeline.


For those of you that are like me (broke) and can’t afford a lease or only have public land to hunt, don’t give up. There are some nice folks out there that if you do it right will let you hunt their property. Try to find small places other people over look. I have had spots as small as 2 acres and as large as 750 all of them had deer. Hang in there and keep looking that blind hog is still rootin’.

Good luck to everyone this season and be safe.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Last Stand

The switch is thrown. For me September 1st is when the idea of hunting season starts to sink in. Weather is funny here, most years as soon as September hits temps drop by 10-20 degrees after our hot summers. This year we went from a record high on Thursday of over 100 to Sunday with a high of 57, a drop of 45 degrees. Not that we don’t have more hot patches but you know it is on the way out. Our bow season starts on the fourth Saturday of September so I am out getting the last things done in the woods, shooting more in the yard and of course checking equipment that doesn’t need checking.

Last weekend I made the trek to the mountain to put up my ladder stand that normally stays up all year. Last year I had one stolen nearby so the landowners went out and pulled this one for me and stored it all summer. This is a two man version that is the 15 foot size I think. Why don’t I know for sure how tall my stand is? Well, let me tell you.


Heading up Monteagle.


I see the “How high do I need to get in a tree to hunt?” debate all the time. I love seeing the folks that work in absolutes, “you HAVE TO hunt 20, 30, 50 feet off the ground or dire things will happen and you will never see a deer. You will be plagued by locusts and frogs, your children will be born naked, oh and you will NEVER see a deer. Ground hunters are wasting their time and shouldn’t be let out without adult supervision.”

Of course being me I love to poke a finger in the eye of the knowledgeable every chance I get and do with my stands, whether ladder or climbing, I rarely go over 10 feet up. Right now I have 2 ladder stands up in two different locations. The first is on my lease just down the road. It is a one man I picked up for around $60. I put it together like I do all of them then promptly took one section of the ladder and put it in the corner with the rest of the unused parts. Partly because of the area being so thick, partly because I didn’t want to be that high. Same thing with the 2 man stand, the top section of the ladder is sitting in the shop. Both of these stands I can almost reach the platforms standing on the ground and can standing on the first steps. 

Just about now I can hear the “got to get way up there” folks turning colors, which tickles me a bit. I have heard all the reasoning behind stand height but I kill just as many off the ground as I do from a tree, maybe more, so most of the argument is lost on me. But if their sets work for them that is great and I hope everyone thumps a bunch this year but me I will be low to the earth as usual.

Here are a few pics of my last one going up. I thought it was going to be more trouble than it was because I had no help but it went right up with only a couple of minor things getting in the way. After hauling it back to my tree I reattached the ladder, checked all of the straps, grabbed a handful of platform and walked it up to the tree. After a few adjustments getting the platform to the angle I wanted it was just a matter of tightening all the straps before climbing in to check everything.







I took the time to remove a couple of limbs but I have cleared this spot for several years so the lanes were in good shape. I did take a few minutes to pick a couple of trees for the camera to go in this season for the deer tour. Since I have never been on camera this was new to me. Luckily there are plenty of good trees in this area since it is mature hardwoods so if we need to move Rudy around it won’t take much.



One choice for Rudy is the tree just behind my truck to the right of the ladder.


The other choice for Rudy is the tree just to the left of the ladder.


So, there it is, the last stand. I still have my two Summit climbers for mobility if I want to move around but this set has given up 9 deer so far and I expect to take several more from it this year as long as I can get there to hunt. I have taken several from my other ladder stand and deer are using that spot heavily already. Normally it is a late season spot but this year they are there before season starts.

I hope everyone has a great season and stays safe. Whether you are on the ground or in a tree high enough for a nose bleed, have fun, be careful and be sure to let us know how you are doing during the season.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mental Game





I just read a good post from my friend Mark on his site Sole Adventure about what is one of the most important parts of hunting. What he wrote was spot on and got me thinking about the fact that it applies to most of where we succeed or fail. Somehow his post got sidetracked a bit in the comments left to include martial arts which I happen to know a little something about. His thoughts were most people fail in hunting due to being less prepared in the mental part of the game not in the practice or prep area. Let’s face it anyone can go buy good equipment if they have the money and then go practice to the point of stacking groups this means exactly zero if you won’t stay in the stand or set up in the wrong spot.

As I read this I thought back on how many times I have seen hunters leave the woods so close to the same time I could almost set my watch by them. 9:00 o’clock would come and you could hear and see hunters headed to their trucks. Most were gone for the day but the few that came back would show up about 2 hours before dark, maybe, to trudge in and wait for the magic hour in hopes of catching a critter coming through. Over the years most of us learned to stay put waiting for this and letting them push deer to us. Worked far more than those early birds knew.

In martial arts it is the same, people that are quite capable of doing a technique will just quit when faced with it, not from lack of ability but what they lack mentally. They convince themselves that it is too hard, they aren’t ready, they will look goofy, whatever. Hunters convince themselves deer will only move earlier, breakfast sounds good, they didn’t sleep enough, on and on. I am convinced that deer pattern us like we do them and these hunters are a main cause.

Being old and having hunted with some true diehard hunters that knew their stuff we often had this conversation. It boiled down to how many times we sat in stands while others left after a morning of seeing nothing, then after the woods quieted down a bit here the deer came. It might be 10:00 or it might be 1:00 but deer were moving when most of the hunters were gone. The biggest bucks I have had a chance at were at midday, both right after lunch. The first one I had gone to the truck to eat and decided to walk back in as my buddy went to nap. I wasn’t there 10 minutes until a big 8 walked by checking a scrap line. A week later I made sure to be easing along a logging road on the same ridge when another big 8 stepped out at lunch time. Everyone else was at the truck eating or sleeping.

When I hunt public land this comes into play even more. The mental toughness to keep walking when I want to stop and hunt, the ability to stay on stand past when I would rather go home, the will power to stay there after some numb nuts walks in on you then goes stomping off. I tell people that hunt public land this one tip, if you are walking in to hunt and want to stop, keep walking another 100-200 yards. Why? If you wanted to stop there so does everyone else. We aren’t that different and we will all go to about the same lengths. So it is up to you to be mentally tough enough to go that extra distance, up the next hill, over the next creek, past where everyone else will stop. This, to me, is where success lies, up that next hill, over the next creek where the other guy didn’t have it in him to go.

Unlike shooting I have never found a way to really teach someone how to be mentally tough. It is one of the things you have to find in yourself and is a major achievement when you do. On Mark’s site I posted a comment about how it takes 1000 repetitions to learn a technique and 10,000 to master it. This doesn’t mean just muscle memory but the fact that you have to commit time, energy and even your mind to the process. To push past where most would say good enough or simply give up, there is where things will change.

This fall when you go to the woods try putting your watch where it isn’t easy to get to. Stop looking at it every couple of minutes which just makes things worse. Stay an extra hour or two past when you would normally leave, go back in an hour earlier, see what is going on in what is normally your down time. If you hunt public land take the time to get a bit farther from the truck, past where other quit and let them push deer to you. Plan ahead with some food, something to drink, maybe a book to pass the time, anything to help you push past the spot where most head home. Who knows maybe Mr. Big will come strolling though when everyone else is sitting at home watching some ball game. Which would you rather have to talk about on Monday, what you did and the big buck you dropped or what a bunch of guys playing a game that could care less if you are alive did? Me, I’m going to the woods.
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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.

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