Monday, November 22, 2010

Deer Camp 2011

Well, deer camp 2011 has come and gone and the “buck” pole (an old swing set minus the swings) remains empty. Even so, deer camp is always a time to remember. This year I once again concentrated on getting my daughter an opportunity to kill her first deer. We even pulled doe tags for that area to increase her odds.

With Opening Day on Monday, we ran into a lot of traffic heading north on Friday afternoon but we arrived at camp with just enough time to get changed, grab our bows and run to the stands I had set up weeks before. I’ll just say it was a nice evening to take a nap with all the deer action we witnessed… The next morning was a command performance of the previous nights. So far it was looking pretty scare at deer camp.

My buddy and his son arrived shortly after we had lunch. Deer camp is at his Mom and Dad’s place in Northern Lower Michigan. They’ve been taking care of me, and now my daughter, for over 15 years and it’s a tradition to spend the opener enjoying their hospitality.

After lunch we took a walk to an area we haven’t hunted in years called Cone Head (small hill looks like a cone head…). To get to this area we have permission to cross some private land we’ve hunted in the past and boy are there some deer sign there! As soon as we crossed into the state land, WHAM! Trees, not saplings nor twigs, all rubbed up… and right in front of my old blind, a nice fresh rub. …tempting but its a couple miles hike and getting a deer out would be a night mare… maybe next year.

Anyways, we all got geared up and headed out to the treestands for an evening bow hunt.. same song, same dance…deer someplace are having a grand ol’time.

Sunday started out with high winds and rain so we called off the morning hunt and caught up on some sleep (no complaints here). Did I mention the food served at deer camp? I brought a roast and my buddy brought steaks and chicken for the grill….even if we didn’t get any deer nobody was going home hungry!

Opening day;

Well, opening day was a new experience for my daughter, she got to find out what it’s like to sit in an open stand during a hail/sleet storm! I can only say I’m very thankful it was sleet and hail and not rain…wow! After the storm passed the day improved a little but our luck was still not changing. My buddy and his son saw a couple does and “claimed” the does headed straight for us…likely story (LOL)

Unfortunately, my buddy came to deer camp with a pretty nasty cold and his “drugs” were pretty rough on him. His plan was to hunt Monday night, Tuesday morning and then pack up and get back home as his son needed to be in school Wednesday. He decided that he wouldn’t be able to drive if he stayed any longer so he packed up and headed home. (he’s doing better which is good news since he’ll be hunting in a couple weeks in Michigans Elk season! Drew a Bull Elk tag!!! Lucky dog!)

Since he’d seen some deer in the morning, we decided to switch stands and see if we could improve our score card…

After sitting for a couple hours my daughter quietly says “dad! Deer!” I turn the camera on and look over her shoulder, sure enough, I can see a nice wide brown body coming through the trees. It angles to her right and I can see it’s a large basket spike. She get’s the gun ready and the buck stops broadside at about 25 yards. He still standing and no boom…at this point I’m in the whisper mode of “…shoot, shoot, shoot him, shoot, shoot……” etc. I think my daughter was about to smack me in the head. After what seems like an eternity the buck walks away. By this time I can see his belly is coated in red, he’d been wounded earlier. Since we’ve heard all the local shots, I know this buck has traveled a long ways and while it looks like a lot of blood, it could only be a grazing wound. He’ll be back.

Back to my daughter….After the buck walks away she turned to me and explained that she could not see the deer in the scope, it was just a little point of light… I know exactly what the problem is and explain that by having to turn her upper body a full 90 degrees and then try and hold the gun for the shot, it would miss align her head and the stock and prevent the proper alignment necessary to view through the optics. I am very proud she decided to not pull the trigger on a marginal shot even though that would have been her first deer!

In a future blog I’ll be going over how to train your self to shoot from the opposite shoulder. I’ve been shooting left and right handed for as long as I can remember and it’s natural for me to simply change shoulders when an animal crosses to my off side (even if it drove my coach nuts while on the rifle team! Sorry Sarge!)

After my daughter explained why she didn’t pull the trigger, she then proceeded to explain her thoughts about my repeated comments over her shoulder…so I get excited when deer are around…shoot me. She also wanted to know why her “seat” was shaking so much. I explained that it’s called “Buck Fever” and the day opportunity knocks like that and you don’t shake, is the day you need to stop hunting. Heck, I only had my camera going and my legs were shaking to mix paint. Oh, and in regards to the camera…note to self, make sure camera is ready before you press the record button. Oops.

We finished out the evening seeing 3 more does skirt though the woods behind too many trees and one other deer sniffing around our drag line of Mikes Magic…but he didn’t come in. A lot of talk that evening was about shaky behinds and opportunities…Excitement!

Tuesday morning was almost back to our first day except one lone doe trotted through the field where we could not get a shot through the trees at her.

Stories are made, New experiences are remembered and Deer Camp 2011 shows a win for the deer and great memories for my daughter and me!