Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The BUCK Stops Here

What a great 3 days!!!!

Despite rain and sickness, Kate and I embarked on a great 3 day hunting trip on Friday.

After a fine dinner of Rudy's BBQ we awoke at 4am to 45F temps with mist and fog on Saturday morning. There was a 50% chance of rain so we decided to play it safe. With snacks, hot chocolate, an iPod loaded with movies, and Beverly Cleary books in the backpack, we headed in the dark to my 2 year old "box" stand that I made by hand. This deer stand is a 10' high elevated, carpeted, roofed cubicle on stilts overlooking a green carpet of clover and rye grass that I plant each fall for deer grazing. In the darkness, we got situated, loaded the rifle, turned off our headlamps and listened. A barn owl hooted to it's mate not 100 yds away. Coyotes barked at the moon and as the first grey twilight appeared, the woods came alive with red headed woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, wood ducks, grey squirrells chased each other and gathered acorns, and the distant mooing of cattle from JN Creek pastures echoed. About 5:30am Kate too an hour nap awaking just before daylight.
Dad & Kate in the box stand

For those of you that have not hunted white tail deer ever, the most amazing this is truly how a deer can slip through the woods silently. For eaxmple, every few minutes Kate and I would scan 360 degrees around the box stand looking deep into the forest for deer.........then SNAP....the same exact spot you had just viewed 15 seconds earlier, there stood a deer. This time it was a doe and a fawn at 7:30am, feeding on a corn feeder about 90 yards away. I grabbed the binoculars and Kate quietly watched the two feed and eventually move on. Unfortunately there wasn't a buck far behind. We hung in there untill 11:30 and headed back to camp for a lunch of hot chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese while watching the Hogs blast Miss St on TV.
At about 1:30pm we dressed again in our scent-proof clothing (now it was 65F and sunny) and headed to a new spot. This was a "ladder stand" located close to the location of my deer camera----where I had been capturing pictures of several nice bucks. My friend Scott helped me locate this hunting spot but the level of difficulty was higher. In a ladder stand, you wear a 5 point harness attached to the tree to assure safety. As with most things, Kate didn't complain, wore her harness, climbed into the stand and within 30 minutes, a small forked-horn buck snuck past us. Our hunting club rules encorage hunters to shoot only bucks with 8 points. As the sun dropped, Kate watched a movie and we rode the ATV back to camp where we planned our hunt for Sunday morning and had homemade King Ranch casserole for dinner.

Kate in the tree stand
Sunday-----has to be one of the best days ever.
Kate dined on pancakes and we noted that it was especially cold and clear Sunday morning. In the darkness we rode the ATV 2 miles to 1/4 mile within the ladder stand. We made our way to the stand, climbed the 15 ft ladder and settled in. It was 5:36am.....pitch dark with a million stars out and the moon had set already. Our stand was pointed west and right in front of us was Orion's belt (The Little Dipper). We looked at the stars and picked out Venus and Mars and saw 2 shooting stars on the horizon until Kate drifted off to sleep against me. Legal shooting time was 6:32am so at about 6:20am, I woke up Kate and we started listening. I stood up and watched behind us for about 15 minutes. Then I sat down and waited. At 7am fog had rolled in a little and as I scanned the fence bordering our neighbors property to the southeast and suddenly there was something.........A DEER. It quickly jumped the fence onto our side. I patted Kated on the leg and whispered....."deer". As I raised my scope, all I saw was horns.....lots of horns......a legal buck. But it was dicey........two more steps and he'd be behind a tree. Quickly I held steady and clicked the safety off.

The Winchester .30-06 boomed and Kate yelled, "Did you shoot him!?!?". My first reaction was not positive. I just didn't like my shot. I waited a few minutes and decided I had to go see if I had a deer. I unloaded my rifle, climbed down the ladder, reloaded and set off. As I got closer, my hopes dropped..........until I rounded the tree. At 70 yards, there lay a nice 8 point buck not 10 yards from where I shot him. I threw up a "thumbs up" to Kate and she shook her hands over her head and yelled "YEAH!!!!". I walked back to the stand retireved Kate and she ran to the buck. I think she was more excited than I was. Now the real work begins........

Kate holding her buck

I loaded the 200 lb buck on the ATV back rack, tied him down, loaded our equipment and ourselves and we headed to camp. After field dressing the buck, we headed to the hunter check-in station. In Oklahoma, hunters must register their deer. We arrived at the main Durant, OK fire station, weighed and measured the buck and headed back to JN Creek. He was 3 1/2 yrs old, weighed 132 lbs and was the 193rd buck taken in Brayn County OK this year. Back to work........I used 5 specialty knives to butcher the deer in 2 hours showing Kate the anatomy of it all. My buddies returned for lunch and complemented me on the deer, with the usual ribbing that your hunting buddies will give you. He's the 4th biggest of the 12 bucks weve taken in the past 5 years. We have a tradition of mounting the horns on a big 2x12 board we call the "JN Creek Board of Directors" with the hunter's name and Sunday evening we tacked up my new horns and surprised my friend Greg with a steak dinner and birthday cake for his 4oth birthday. What a great day........and the best part was Kate being there through it all.

Kate took this pic of Dad & deer

Monday------Kate, David Carroum and his friends Jon & Joe Dickson and I duck hunted in heavy fog taking 15 birds in 2 hours. Kate used the hunt to shoot 300+ bb's from her Red Ryder Official Carbine Action BB Gun......"she's a deadeye, ain't she"! We packed up and headed back to Dallas after dropping the buck off at famous Kuby's German restaurant to have salami and sausage made. Yum......
A great trip!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Waiting again......23 hours, 35 minutes.......

It's 6:58am, Friday, November 20 and I've been at the office for 45 minutes and it's pouring rain outside. I awoke 2 days ago with a mildly scratchy throat........fast forward.......now it's a full blown head cold and cough. To make matters worse, Kate and I are headed to JN Creek tonight because deer season opens tomorrow morning. My entire family knows that I am just a little grumpy when I'm under the weather. (picture Ebeneezer Scrooge with a toothache and a hang nail).

Correct me if I'm wrong here.........but I'm only guessing that the wiley white tail buck mating call is NOT the cough and hack of a portly 37 year old white male mixed with the effervescent scent of Hall's cherry cough drops!?!?

I'm not expecting much success but I'll keep my fingers crossed.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Robert Preston Blackford: Newly Confirmed Duckhunter

The future of Ducks Unlimited! RPB circa 2009 (with a mouth full of chips)

I picked up Preston from school last Friday for a much anticipated first duck hunt on the most sacred day of the year: The Opener: Nov 7, 2009. 6:28am

The Opener is an event duck hunters look foward to for 291 days each year, and this was Preston's first. I had stirred him into a frenzy for the previous nine months and now we were headed north accross the Red River into Oklahoma to JN Creek Hunting Club armed with hot dogs, smores, Capri Sun and a properly stocked cooler for Dad (read: ice cold Shiner Bock).

Stacey and Kate were also headed north....but to meet Cindy and Preston in Fayetteville and watch the Hogs thump the evil Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Fighting Chickens.

Back to the mission at hand......

We arrived first around 3pm. It's been warm----not exactly a duck hunter's ideal setting. Many many many things are wrong with the waterfowl hunter (as Stacey will agree). For example, the nastier, colder, fiercer the weather predictions get each winter.......the more excited a true duck hunter gets. Snowing with mixed sleet blowing 35 mph from the north = euphoria to a duck hunter. Instead, it was 75F sunny with a strong south wind......ugh. We unpacked, raised the stars and stripes to half staff (Ft. Hood), let Dixie the lab run around camp, prepared the RV, hooked up water, put the bbq dinner in the oven, connected the satellite dish and got the atv out and went for a ride. Preston loves the atv. It's a 700cc Yamaha Grizzly that will go way too fast.......Preston likes fast......think Ricky Bobby in Talledaga Nights ("I wanna go fast!!!").

Scott Cummings "Smoothie" and David Daniel "Horn Dog" arrived around 5 and Greg Whitteker "Half" and his 2 sons arrived around 6. We stuffed ourselves with Rudy's bbq and polished off a few adult beverages.

Alarms were set for 3:30am. I never sleep well before an opener. I awoke at 3:00am, showered, made coffee and waited. Preston ate pancakes, we dressed and headed out----it was a sticky 65F......ick. I put on hip boots and we headed to the pond with newly arrived Ron Geels "Shiner Dog" and Matt Mumper "Probiee" to launch the boat. I jumped in a kayak, and headed to the blind. As I got out of the kayak, what should have been 2 ft deep water, was actually about 3 1/2 deep......d*mn beavers!!!! My hip boots filled with water.....not a good start. So I hunted all day in wet soggy clothing. Preston loved it. He ate all kinds of bad food, counted ducks, watched the iPod, and was overall very well behaved----both days. We got 20 birds Saturday and 16 Sunday including 7 Canada geese. I rectified the beaver dam problem, twice, only to have it rebuilt by them each night.....a futile war. I swear, Roosevelt should have scrapped the plans for the Hoover Dam and just released about 6 beavers: problem solved.

Also, while walking the woods Saturday, I came face to face with a Muy Grande whitetail buck....he was huge. All in all a great weekend but most of all a great introduction for Preston to the world of duck hunting. FYI----he fell asleep before we even got onto paved road on the way home Sunday. I think I have a second hunting buddy now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Picking Something Off the Menu.....

.....with my Winchester Model 70 Springfield .30-06

Through the miracle of infared cameras I've captured these recent pics using my new game camera. Deer season opens Saturday, November 21.
(Derek----do you have buck fever yet?)

Nice 8 pt buck

Another Nice 8 pointer

Yearling spike buck


I estimate a 350 lb wild boar (Go Hogs Go!!)
Mmmmmmmmmm, bacon!!!!!