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Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Career as a Deer Hunting Guide (Blog 113)

I have experienced a very satisfying deer hunting season overall, so for the past week I have devoted myself to trying to help my son Mark and friend Doak Harbison kill a deer.  In short, my efforts at putting Mark and Doak on whitetails has been spectacularly incompetent.

Yesterday was typical of the week as a whole.  I took Mark afield to a Roanoke County woodlot where the landowner has complained about too many deer being present and where on seven previous trips this fall, I have seen deer on five of those visits and killed whitetails on two of them.

A cold front was beginning to pass through the area, so I told my son that he had a very good chance to experience success.  The result? We not only did not glimpse any whitetails but we also saw no game animals of any kind - not even a squirrel.  The big "thrill" was when I heard footsteps in the leaves behind a row of white pines.  I told Mark to prepare himself for a deer emerging from the evergreens, but what did come out was a feral house cat.

The day before we spend almost the entire outing at a Botetourt County farm where I have counted 45 deer sightings over the course of six previous trips, and where I have already killed three deer this fall, two of which were killed with a compound and a third with my Parker Thunderhawk crossbow.  Surely, a whitetail would come within gun range?

Nope, none did, although we did at least espy a few gray squirrels.

Mark can't go at all Monday through Friday because of his school schedule, so it is next Saturday or nothing for him.  I hope to put Doak on some deer after school this week.  Meanwhile, I am glad my job is not as a deer guide.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chickens Hard At Work (Blog 112)

Ever year around this time, I put the "garden to bed," digging up the weeds and removing the dead vegetable vines and plants so that no disease or bugs will carry over to the next season.  However, Elaine and I have now raised chickens for 18 months, and we have found there is no need to do anything except remove the dead vines.

That's because our chickens are quite willing to do all the "ground" work for us.  Every day when I come home from school (on days I don't go hunting) the chickens spot me and raise a great hue and cry.  I know what they want - to be let out of their run and into either the garden or the yard.

Of the two destinations, our flock of four clearly prefers the garden.  They will even line up to enter the fenced in garden.  Once inside, Ruby, Little Spotty, Tallulah, and Dot immediately begin sifting through the debris, eating just about every insect they encounter and inspecting every little clod of earth.

Any kind of bug - almost - is fair game.  Interestingly, only Ruby seems to like earthworms, as I have seen her target those specifically, whereas the other three prefer beetles and grasshoppers.  All relish stinkbugs, no one seems to care for ants or sow bellies.  Indeed, it has been very disappointing to Elaine and me that our birds won't eat ants, as we have had carpenter ant problems for years.

But all in all, we will give our quartet an A-minus on their overall bug eating skills.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Hunting (Blog 111)

Over the years, I have kept detailed records of every deer and turkey I have ever killed, including the day of the week.  Today, Saturday, I just returned home from muzzleload hunting in Franklin County in the morning and Botetourt County in the evening.  And though does were legal quarry in both counties today, and I went to the farms that have been most productive over the past few years, I never saw a doe the entire day.

With the peak of the pre-rut going on right now, one would think I could manage to see at least one doe.  I did glimpse one deer, a nice, little six pointer that was probably 1 1/2 years old.  I had no intention of shooting him, so predictably he came within 10 yards of me before he became alarmed and then ran off only 40 yards.  The youngster then continued his mad search for a doe.  The little buck did not seem to have any more skill at finding a doe today than I did.

My Saturday deer hunting this year has, in a word, been horrible.  I have not killed a deer on this day and many of those outings have resulted in me not seeing any whitetails.  Conversely, my Monday through Wednesday hunting has been outstanding.

Of course, one thing that needs to be written is that I have hunted far less this year because of my Lyme Disease.  I just have not had the energy to go afield as often as in the past.  In January, I will go to my doctor for another round of blood tests.  I am hoping that I will receive a good report.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday Evening Hunt Behind House (Blog 110)

One of the wonderful things about living in rural America, especially where Elaine and I do in Botetourt County, Virginia, is that I can go outside our back door and fish and hunt.  As I wrote about in an earlier blog, I have Lyme Disease and have hunted much less this fall because of the fatigue associated with LD.

But with the high winds that struck this area Monday through Wednesday, I did not do any hunting those days, so somewhat refreshed, I went bowhunting behind our house Thursday on our creek ridge.  The wind was still howling, but I wanted to enjoy the outdoors and had little expectation for success.

And that lack of confidence was justified as events transpired.  I saw three squirrels, one raccoon, and the deer that Elaine and I call Little Bucky.  He is a wimp of a 2 1/2-year-old buck with a disfigured side, making him a very distinct appearing five pointer.  Little Bucky wanders aimlessly much of the time and several people on our road have given me reports of seeing him.

At 6:35 P.M., I descended from my ladder stand, and stiff-legged from the cold and wind, I wended my way through the hollow to our house.  As I neared the garage door, I smelled welcoming wood smoke from our fire - certainly one of the most pleasurable smells to greet a cold bowhunter.

I think I won't hunt Friday after school and then go turkey hunting Saturday morning and deer hunting that evening, as Virginia's muzzleloader season begins that day.