Monday, November 22, 2010

Hunting Report

This weekend was our annual hunting trip to Fort Knox.  Girlie Bear accompanied me again this year, so she's officially part of the tradition.  My hunting/shooting buddy also brought his daughter, and they hunted in the same area as us.

Saturday morning was clear, brightly moon-lit, chilly, and had almost no wind.  After finding our way to our hunting area and checking in, Girlie Bear and I picked a place on the map and hiked in.  We were assigned the area next to where we hunted last year, so the terrain was pretty similar.  We were at the top of a ridge, with multiple draws and spurs running down to very steep valleys.  This area had been spared the fires at Fort Knox last month, but was relatively clear of the heavy undergrowth and blown-down trees that we ran into last year.  After a quick hike into the woods, we found a small spur looking down to the convergence of two small creeks and set up our blind.  We settled in about 45 minutes before shooting light, which gave time for things to quiet down.

About 10 minutes before shooting light at 7, I noticed two small spike bucks pawing and huffing at one another in a patch of scrub about 50 yards from us.  They were too small to shoot according to the rules at Fort Knox, but it was fun to watch them for a few minutes.

About an hour later, I heard some noise in the woods behind us.  Girlie Bear looked out and quietly but excitedly told me it was a doe, and she was coming our way.  I took a quick look, and she was coming down the creekbed to our left.  If I waited, she would pass about 30 yards or so from us.  I eased myself out of the front of the blind to try and get a broadside shot on her, and Girlie Bear watched her from the blind.  Just as I was able to see her and bring the scope up to my eye, Girlie Bear made a small sound of excitement.  The doe noticed both my movement and the noise, and off she went. 

Girlie Bear was almost in tears, but I comforted her and got control of my own emotions.  Remember, this is only the second time she's been hunting.  Luckily, she learned her lesson. Unfortunately, that was the last deer we saw all weekend, unless you count the doe we almost hit half a mile from home on Sunday morning at 3 AM.

Saturday afternoon we left the blind at the truck and went a little further back into the area.  We set up under a huge old oak and watched a couple of game trails for several hours, but no soap.  While we were sitting there, I noticed a difference between our area this year and the one we hunted last year.  Last year the area was covered up in rubs and scrapes.  This area, less than a mile from where we were last year, had none.   There were lots and lots of trails running through it, mostly running east to west. 

Sunday morning was markedly warmer, and even more brightly lit by a full moon.  We set up at the same draw/spur we were at on Saturday, but didn't see anything.  At about 10, the wind really started coming up, and it got warm enough that we started to sweat.  We packed up and had lunch at the truck.  Hunting Buddy and his daughter decided to call it a day after lunch.  Girlie Bear and I walked down the road a piece and climbed to the top of a knob to watch a different part of the area.  It was warm enough that we took off all of our jackets and extra shirts.  I never thought I'd hunt in late November in a short sleeved shirt.

The afternoon was a bust, but Girlie Bear enjoyed herself by using my binoculars to spot along the multiple trails that led to the meadow we were watching.  She especially enjoyed watching a pair of huge red squirrels play tag across several oaks and hickories.  We packed it in at about 2 and took a long route back to the truck.  I made sure to make a lot of noise, but we didn't even see deer to spook. 

When we were checking out, the Fish and Wildlife representative said that no-one had gotten anything on Sunday, but Saturday he'd checked out a lot of does and two bucks that he estimated would score 140 or better on the Boone and Crockett scale.

Again, I love going out to Fort Knox.  It's a treat to hunt such well-kept land that's not crowded.  The staff is very professional and the area guides were, as usual, very friendly, informative, and helpful.

One change this year was that before being drawn to hunt on-post, we had to submit to a criminal background check.  Our guide told us that so many long-time hunters were eliminated for prior DUI's, domestic violence, or whatever that everyone who applied and passed the check got drawn for the hunt.  My guess is that this security procedure will bring in a lot of new hunters.  I also feel bad for the hunters who lost a chance to hunt in a wonderful environment because of something they did years ago. 

As for the area we were in, I think that we were sandwiched between a bedding area and a feeding/nighttime activity area.  All of the deer that people saw in our area were moving to the west in the direction of where we were last year, with a lot of bedding areas, rubs, and scrapes.  The area to our east was rich with oaks, hickories, and what appeared to be some sort of persimmon tree.  Maybe with the abnormally warm weather and nighttime illumination from full moon got the deer to move through our area to their bedding area.  Since they could move easily at night, my guess is that the three we saw on Saturday were the stragglers, and we missed the last of them on Sunday.

Girlie Bear has begun to learn how to walk in the woods without sounding like the pachyderms on parade and to sit quietly and listen, or at least read her book quietly.  I plan on getting her a muzzleloader of her own for next year.  Maybe she'll get a deer at Knox before her old man does.

One last thought:  Technology rocks.  Saturday morning, after our incident with the doe, I got the iPhone out and saw that I had 3G coverage.  I was able to email and Facebook with my hunting buddy and other folks who were hunting 6 states away.  I didn't even know how to imagine doing that 5 years ago.


Old NFO said...

Well, at least you got quality time with the daughter! :-) I'd chalk that up in the win column!!!

DaddyBear said...

That is the main point. If she or I never harvest game, I'm still satisfied. I'm mostly out there to have time with her. I'll hunt hard when I'm out alone or with friends.

Julie said...

sounds like you and girliebear had a great time!

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