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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Deer Hunting Success At Last (Blog One hundred-five)

Wednesday I finally killed my first deer of the season, arrowing a fine mature doe right before the end of shooting light.  The blood trail was bountiful and short, and I had heard the whitetail fall earlier, so it was an easy matter to find her.

I didn't go Thursday and Friday, preferring to take Elaine out to dinner on Friday and spending Thursday cleaning up from the Wednesday hunt.  One of my long time deer hunting goals has been to kill a deer in Virginia and West Virginia on the same day, so I spent the morning in Roanoke County in the former and the afternoon in Monroe County in the  latter.

And struck out in both states, even though I had deer within 20 yards of me in both the Commonwealth and Mountain State.  In both cases, I was preparing to go to full draw when a trailing deer spotted me moving on the whitetail I was preparing to shoot.

The West Virginia trip was particularly upsetting because I had gone to full draw, the lead doe had moved behind a shrub and her head had already appeared around the other side.  I was waiting for her to take one more step when she turned around and bolted away - no doubt because the trailing doe had snorted and danced about at my movement.

In this heat, I am having a terrible time keeping the deer from winding me.  Comments on how to avoid that issue would be welcome.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Red-headed Woodpeckers and Bowhunting (Blog One-hundred four

Virginia's urban bowhunting season continues to be an abysmal experience for me.  I went out four evenings this week and saw a grand total of one doe - and she was 60 yards away and heading in the opposite direction.  If there are plenty of deer in Roanoke County, I surely have been unable to find them on the four properties I have visited.

My incompetence at finding whitetails aside, there are charms of the season.  One evening I watched a flock of night hawks "hawking" for insects.  It was the only time all year I have seen this species.

As great of an experience as that was, the highlight of my bowhunting and birding has been on a Roanoke County farm that possesses red-headed woodpeckers in great numbers.  I have been to two woodlots on the farm and both have healthy populations of this woodpecker, which is a threatened species in many states.

The red-headed woodpecker makes a very interesting sound, its "scream" is similar to that of the red-bellied, but the former's noise is higher pitched and not as loud.  On one outing, I watched two males fighting over turf while a third individual, presumably a female, watched nearby. Both males were shouting non-stop at the other.

I have been looking for my first kinglets of the season, but so far none have shown up, just like the deer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bowhunting Struggles (Blog One Hundred-three)

I continue to struggle during Virginia's urban archery season.  This morning (Saturday) I was on stand an hour before shooting light, hoping to make sure that I did not bump any deer coming to my Roanoke County stand.  I succeeded in that task and then spent the next hour in the dark not hearing any deer and the first five hours of daylight not seeing any.

I decided to go home for lunch and a nap and was back on stand shortly after 3:00 P.M. I had moved the stand about 10 yards and felt like I had make the logical decision as I was right where two travel lanes crossed with food along both of them.

However, the deer were not impressed with my logic and I spent the evening watching whitetail after whitetail pass by me, seven in all, just out of shooting range.  Finally at around 7:15, a doe and a fawn came within shooting range, I drew back, but could not release the arrow because it was simply too dark to attempt an ethical shot.

After the duo departed and I climbed down from my hang-on, I moved the stand to the tree where all the previous deer passed by.  I am hoping this little change will pay off on Wednesday when I return to the property.  I am very, very frustrated.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Bowhunting Week (Blog One hundred-two)

It was not a good bowhunting week, continuing the unsuccessful start profiled in last week's commentary on opening day.  On Labor Day Monday, I went afield before dawn at a Roanoke County farm.  However after a buggy morning of multiple insect bites and no deer sighted, I retreated home.  Before leaving, I scouted the farm and could find no deer sign at all.  I won't be returning there this month.

On Wednesday evening, I finally saw my first deer of the season.  Around 7:30, just before shooting light would start to wane, a four pointer led four does and fawns toward my stand.  But at a distance of 60 yards, the wind changed, the buck detected my existence, and the entire quintet fled back the way it came.

Friday evening I tried again on the same farm as the Wednesday misadventure.  This time a mature doe led her two fawns toward my stand.  I drew back, feeling the doe would soon come within the 20 yard shooting range that I have.  However, for some inexplicable reason, my bow string chose that moment to come off, sending the arrow falling to the ground and the deer fleeing.  I have never had such a thing happen.

Right now as I write, the weather is rainy and breezy, and I am doubtful of being able to go hunting Saturday evening.  Next week has to be better.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Deer Season Begins (Blog One Hundred and One)

Today was the first day of deer season and the whole thing was rather surreal.  I have never hunted this early (today is September 1) except for a trip I took to the South Carolina Low Country in 1989 where the season begins in mid August.

But this year, Roanoke County has an urban archery season that began today.  I arose at 4:30, drove 20 or so miles from my Botetourt County home to the next county over, Roanoke, and climbed into a tree stand and affixed the safety harness.

At 6:30 A.M., I could glimpse a rabbit 35 yards from me and a few minutes later, squirrels started cutting on oak and hickory nuts.  But as the hours passed and the temperature continue to rise, the heat definitely became oppressive.  Meanwhile, no deer showed.

Finally at 9:50, I descended from the tree and walked over the Roanoke County suburban lot that I was afield on.  A series of houses, all on approximately five-acre lots, surrounded the property I was on and none of them had deer on them, or least seemed to have any from my vantage point.

By 10:30, I was on my way home, totally baffled about how to go about this suburban deer hunting exercise.  I will try again Monday, weather permitting.