Monday, June 12, 2017

It's trail cam time!

It is one of my favorite times of year – time to put out the trail cameras. I realize that some people leave them up year round but for us, July is usually when we pack up the cameras, limb clippers and head out into the woods to get some predictors about the upcoming season.

Dad putting out a trail camera

Only hunters understand the excitement that comes from pulling those first memory cards and finding out how many deer are around and which bucks made it through the winter. Of course, with this comes to need to deal with ticks and for me, how many bottles of deet I need to spray myself down with before I feel adequately protected.

We have our usual spots where we will stick a camera or two but over the past few years and as our collection (or addiction) of trail cameras grows, we are finding new spots to hide a camera. This has led us to seeing all kinds of interesting things; a random dog, a nearby property owner passing through, folks on a four-wheeler, a fisher and a few coyotes. The best are those photos with does and fawns and bucks with decent velvet growth.



It’s nice to start seeing the deer that you have come to ‘know’ over the years. We have a doe that I think has only one working eye. I say this because in all of the night photos with her, only her right eye reflects and it doesn’t matter which camera catches her for the photo. She has been a regular deer on the property for almost four years now. Hopefully, we will see her again.

There is always some breath holding until those bucks start showing up. I anxiously await to see the first buds or some nice antler growth early on but I usually end up getting mad and having about thirty turkeys taking up all of my memory card. Dad usually reminds me that it doesn’t matter what we see this early, especially for deer because we all know that the fall/rut/hunters will move the bucks around and as was the case with the 10 pointer that I shot, we had no idea that he was around our stands until I dropped him in the snow the day after Thanksgiving.

We still have plenty of time left this summer before we make the full switch into deer hunting mode, but being able to see great trail camera photos makes that transition to fall a little easier.





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