Friday, November 30, 2012

Deer Season

Well its been quite a while since my last post, but that is mainly because I've been using as much spare time as possible to put a few deer in the freezer. Frustration and bad luck has been the theme of my hunting season for most of the year.

I am participating in the Morgantown urban archery season, which started in early September. The purpose of this season is mainly population control, so each hunter is required to take a doe before harvesting a buck. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a necessary and useful regulation for this hunt, but even though I persevered and put in plenty of stand time, I was unable to harvest a doe. I missed out on a few early opportunities to take a doe in October, but otherwise I just was not seeing many, if any, deer within range. The major kick in the pants came the second week of November when I had to watch as this guy fed within 10 yards of me for about 10 minutes. I was in the tree just above watching as the trailcam snapped this picture, and then had to watch him walk away. To note, this was by far the largest buck I have ever seen while hunting.

Even with the frustration of dealing with cows, the October "lockdown", and just generally bad luck, I was able to take a small doe on the last day of a bow hunting trip with friends to Ritchie County. After doing all my bow hunting up until that point inside of city limits, it was nice to get away and to see deer more apt to move outside of dusk/dawn. The urban deer have seemingly been conditioned to avoid midday movement for the most part as they avoid human interactions. On this trip, I saw several deer exhibiting natural movement, and even had a near shot opportunity at a nice 8 point. That deer was at 40 yards and heading directly toward me when he crossed a trail where some does had came through about an hour earlier; needless to say he took a 90 degree turn and took up that trail.

The opening of traditional buck rifle season was uneventful for me. I opted to hunt the first day in the urban hunt rather than face the mass of people that inundate all the areas where I can hunt on this day. After not seeing anything from the urban stand I decide to give rifle hunting a shot for a while. Again, I was persistent in my efforts, but saw no deer at all. Finally on Thanksgiving Day, my luck changed. After a wonderful afternoon meal with my wife's family I decide to run out to hunt. I only had about an hour and fifteen minutes of daylight by the time I reached my father-in-law's treestand. The woods were dead calm and the sound of even a falling leaf seemed deafening. Shooting light was nearly gone, but I heard the tell-tale crunch of an approaching deer. I was unsure if it was going to appear before legal shooting light ended or not, but as luck would have it, the mature doe appeared out of some brush and presented me with about a 30 yard shot that I took right before the clock hit 5:29pm which was the shooting light limit that day (legal shooting hours is 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset). The shot was nearly perfect: right behind the shoulders, taking out both lungs while preserving every ounce of meat in the front shoulders.

My luck had finally changed, and I attribute that to my good luck charm (Brooke) with me on this day! I'm very thankful for the large doe I was able to take on Thanksgiving Day. We rely heavily on venison, so the burger, steaks and roasts will be a staple of our cooking through the winter and into the spring.

This big doe provided about 30 pounds of boneless, tasty venison

While the season has been frustrating for different reasons, I'm thankful I've been able to put a few deer in the freezer. There is still some time to hunt as well. Next week begins a weeklong either-sex muzzleloader season, where I hope to at least have a shot at another doe. There are few more "sessions" of doe rifle season as well, and I still have until December 31 to try to take a deer in the urban hunt with a bow. It would be great if I were able to get a nice buck during muzzleloader season or in the urban hunt, but I really just would like some more meat for the freezer. Brooke informed me last night "we need at least another deer or two....we just eat so much of it."

Good luck to those still after them, and congrats to those that took nice bucks this season.

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