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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Opening Day of Virginia's Fall Turkey Season (Blog 161)

Today was opening day of Virginia's fall turkey season and is my custom I headed for a Franklin County farm where I often go to pursue these big game birds.  As I have written many times, I enjoy bird watching while hunting, and today was no exception.

One of the neatest birds I observed today was a golden-crowned kinglet that flitted by my position.  Soon afterwards, two more kinglets arrived and I was entertained by their "tinkling" chatter.  Another high point was three crows flying into my position as I was emitting turkey sounds.  No doubt, the crows were lured in by the turkey yelps I had emitted, as the trio probably flew in to harass the turkey they were sure was there.  When the crows saw my camouflaged form shift slightly, they flew away, rancorously protesting.

Later, I saw a phoebe fly by and then perch on a limb.  Phoebes now sometimes spend the winter in my area, something that used not to happen, at least from my experience.

Oh, a little while later, I did call in and kill a turkey -one of many highpoints of a day in the autumn woods

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fawn with Spots Observed (Blog 160)

One of the most interesting things I have seen this week while deer hunting after school was a fawn with spots.  Also of note was the fact that the deer still had its reddish summer coat.

Very little hard mast in the form of acorns exists in the Virginia and West Virginia woods where I have been afield and such staples as wild grapes and persimmons also seem to be lacking in the places where I have been as well.

Given the lack of food, I really wonder if this fawn has much of a chance of survival.  I observed it twice this week, once when it was alone and the second time when it was with a matriarchal doe unit.  Being part of such a group should certainly help the whitetail's chances of living through the winter.

On the other hand, Mother Nature is a notoriously cruel mistress, and a cold winter alone could spell doom for the fawn, let alone predators and a scarcity of food.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Morning on Deer Stand (Blog 159)

Tuesday, I killed a doe while bowhunting after school, but, by far, the most interesting day afield was Wednesday morning when I was able  to hunt until 10:00 A.M (school didn't start until 12:30 because of a conference day). That's because of the interesting things I was able to see.

For example, on that day I spent the morning on one of our properties in Craig County, Virginia.  I had never seen any grouse on this land but one flew by my stand around 8:00 A.M.  The ruff's appearance was likely made more likely by the clearcuts I have had done in 2009 and earlier this year.

Later, I observed three young red-tailed hawks in the clearcut below my stand.  They spent the morning chasing each other - for all the world it looked like they were playing some form of aerial tag.  The trio also periodically attacked gray squirrels, but they did not seem to have any luck in their hunting.  The gray squirrels were extremely agitated about the non-stop bombardments and chattered angrily all morning.

I was hoping to see or hear some early migratory birds such as kinglets or juncos, but none appeared.  I did note that the grackles flocked together in massive numbers and apparently have left the area.  Fall mornings on deer stand are often fascinating.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Opening Day of Virginia's Bow Season (Blog 158)

Although I had been bowhunting for four weeks during Virginia's urban archery season, there was still great anticipation in going hunting in Craig County this morning for the start of the regular archery season.

At 8:20, I saw my first deer, but the doe was 60 yards away and heading away from me.  But a few minutes later, I spotted four does and they were all heading toward me.  I began to breathe harder, positioned myself for the shot, and waited for them to arrive.  However, when they quartet moved to within 50 yards, they stopped coming and even bedded down.

And there they remained until 6:20 when one doe arose and headed away from me.  Where the other three went, I have no idea.  I had meant to go back to my XTerra for lunch, but I decided that doing so would spook the bedded whitetails.

So, counting the time I spent on stand in the dark, I ended up being in a tree stand today for 13 hours and 15 minutes and never came close to shooting at a deer.  Such is bowhunting sometimes.