Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When your hunting pants don't fit



This past fall, my routine became almost comical.  I would leave my backpack on the ground, climb into my treestand, get settled and unbutton my wool pants.

Four years ago, I wore base layers with monkey-thumbs to hide the Queeze-Away bands that I wore around my wrists.  I never got sick, but those early morning breakfasts and treks to the Sky Condo were a little more challenging when I was trying to hide a pregnancy.  Dad makes sure that I am always secure and comfortable when I am sitting 10-16 feet up in my treestands but if he knew I was pregnant, I was not sure how far off the ground he would allow me to be. So, I kept my first pregnancy a secret during the entire season.

I hunted, hiked and pulled the same 10 hour days with Dad that we always did.  I would fall asleep right after dinner, but the fresh air and adventure of being in the woods kept me going.   Hubby shot his first buck ever that season; a small crotch horn and for me, the pressure was on to get one myself.  The next day, I shot my own crotch horn, which weighed more and had more bone on his head (I am slightly competitive.)  The best part was that I had had a successful season while pregnant with my son.

Fast forward to today and I have a kiddo who out eats me when it comes to meat, loves to fish and has informed everyone that he plans to shoot a Black bear, Grizzly and Wildebeest with his bow and arrow.  He overheard me talking about turkey hunting this spring and eagerly said that he wants to go. He is anxious to get into the woods and we are excited for him to start sitting and watching for wildlife.  

I did the same thing last fall that I had the first time; Dad didn’t need to know I was pregnant until it was necessary, which turned out to be half way through the season when I got sick.  I had proven that I could hunt while pregnant the first time around so I continued to climb into my treestands to hunt.  I was not dying, just pregnant.

Hubby shot a nice 6-pointer on opening day of rifle season and Dad and I continued to hunt. I had my routine and made sure to keep myself hydrated as I climbed in and out of stands and buttoned and unbuttoned my pants to keep my growing mid-section happy.  I also kept my backpack filled with snacks with me, which is something did not have four years ago.   But just like back then, I matched Hubby with his deer, shooting my own 6 pointer on the last day of rifle season.  And again, (see slightly competitive comment above) my deer weighted more and had more bone on his head.

 
I’ve successfully gone 2 for 2 for deer while pregnant and I am happy with that. No more babies for me, but hopefully a lot more deer! 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Early antlers

Since the neighbors feed the deer, the small herd of 7 had stayed close by throughout the winter.  Now that the snow was melting, they were moving back to their more biologically appropriate foods sources; grass, shrubs and trees.


I had suspected that one of the twins born last spring was a buck, but until this point, I had not been able to get my camera zoomed in enough to make sure. But, there they are!  The start of little pedicles on his head.



I hope that he sticks around throughout the summer so that I can watch his antlers grow but I have a feeling that he will leave this group and we will have only does to watch.  Maybe he will come back in the fall when the rut hits!



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Circle of life: roadkill edition

"Did you see that?" Staci had noticed a large bird in the woods while we were driving down the road.  I stopped the car and slowly reversed.  Like normal outdoor women, we parked the car on the side of the road, grabbed our cameras and started walking across the road, taking photos of dead animals and the predators that were taking advantage of the food.

A dead deer in the woods makes a great meal for scavengers

There was no bird on the deer carcass when we got a clear view of it, but there was a bird in the trees angrily squawking at us.  At first, I thought it sounded like an osprey but when I saw this eagle hiding above us.  He was not happy to have his meal interrupted. We snapped a few more pictures and left him to go back to eating. 

An immature Bald Eagle




Saturday, April 29, 2017

We may never find a shed

At this point, Staci and I just say that we are doing shed hunting but in reality, we just walk through the woods and see what we can find.  Our latest trip was quite the adventure.  I took Staci to T3 and showed her where Dad had shot his doe.   The trick was getting there without getting hurt.

There was enough crust on the snow to be able to walk on it in the morning.  We debated bringing our snowshoes, but ruled that we could handle the crust with the occasional inch break through. 

The amount of deer tracks right from the start were nice to see.  They had been checking the old apple trees and following a lot of the same trails that they had been taking during hunting season.  We started off at the Sky Condo, then traveled through the woods to T3.  There were a handful of deer beds close, which is not typical for them at this point in the winter.  It looked like the herd was staying closer to the Sky Condo then they typically did. 

Staci and I made our way through the woods and into a clearing.  We were talking and I happened to look up and see deer standing nearby watching us but not worried that we were there.  Something else was catching their attention more than us.

One doe never stopped watching us but the other two either didn't care that we were there or never realized it.  We kept walking to T3 and made sure that we were not getting too close to the deer.  There was enough winter left that we wanted to make sure that the deer were not using too much energy thinking that we were a threat. 

We made it half way across the clearing when I saw what the deer had been looking at; one lone deer walking along the small ridge line. A buck possibly? Maybe the big one that has alluded us for the past few years?

 
I was never able to get a clear picture to confirm that he was actually a he, but I like thinking that it was.  He slipped a little on the crust as he waved his tail and bound off into the woods.

Staci and I continued on to T3 and kept looking for sheds.  If that deer had been a buck, his antlers had dropped and maybe we could find them.  We walked and walked and walked.  Every once in a while we would break through the crust but overall, we were ok.  There were plenty of deer trails to follow so we kept an eye out for bone and more deer.

We easily crossed the stream and walked along an old skidder trail.  Staci found some chaga that I will need to go back and harvest but we didn't find any sheds.  The snow was starting to get softer when we crossed back over the stream.  Pausing for a snack, we could see the opening where we had left the deer a few hours before. 

I am sure it was comical if you were not the ones having to do it, but for every two steps we now took, we sunk and sunk a lot.  It was not uncommon for us to sink up to our knees or thighs.  What should have taken us a few minutes took us an hour.  We were exhausted and sweaty when we made it out of the woods.  We had lost one crampon; it wasn't worth trying to go back for it (Dad later found it and brought it back home) but we had been able to see some healthy deer and get a good trek through the woods in.

We are batting 0-3 in looking for sheds but maybe we just use that as our excuse for getting out into the woods and walking around.  It will be sheer luck when we do find one!