Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I Love my Backyard Part 2!

This guy made the mistake of walking by my treestand yesterday afternoon. And while he's not big by even South Carolina's modest standards, he's my first buck with a recurve and I'm more proud of him than any buck I've taken.....other than my very first.

If you're interested, I was shooting a Stalker recurve built by South Cox. Stalker Recurves

Despite getting a doe every year, it's taken 3 years of hard hunting to get a buck with my recurve. All the close calls, missed opportunities and missed shots have be worth it. I'm hooked forever.

Something about hunting with a recurve reminds me of when I first started bowhunting. Introduced by a neighbor and his wife, who both hunted and shot competitively, I bugged the heck out of them for stories and advice. I can still remember the way my first bow, an old Jennings T-star with a metal rise, felt in my hand. That bow is long gone as are a lot of the woods I used to roam, but it hooked me on bowhunting. Not a year has gone by that I don't spend as much time as possible chasing whitetails with a bow of some kind.

From failing my first period algebra class in 12th grade due to absences (still made honor society much to my mom's anger) or taking a semester or two off in college, I never let the less important things get in the way of hunting. It's good I landed a job in the outdoor industry sinc no doubt I'm unfit for any other form of employment.

We all hunt for the same reasons, but those reasons may not always apply to the same deer. And that's fine. For me, this little 6 pt, taken no more than 100-yards from my back door, from a stand I hung, near a plot I planted and no less than 30-minutes afterI stopped hearing my son and wife playing in the yard, sums up the reasons I hunt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pike County, Illinois with My Bow!

For three years I have been going to the same deer camp to film for Archer's Choice TV. I swear, every year the trip gets better!

I landed in St. Louis and met up with my friend Katie from Ameristep. We drove to Eagle Lakes Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois. For one week, women from all over the country gather to share camp and bowhunt the legendary whitetails the area is known for.

Once Katie and I arrived at the lodge, we met up with our good friends from Archer’s Choice Media and Eagle Lakes. We got our gear settled and teamed up with ladies for the next day’s hunt. What made this hunt TRULY a ladies hunt was the fact that women were filming women hunt (prior years we would have guys film us). How cool is that?

I paired off with Jen Johnson from Archer’s Choice. Jen and I hunted together for the first half of the trip. We I had several encounters with the local wildlife that included a bird flying in our blind, being chased by a crazy groundhog and occasionaly being puked on by a squirrel. However, we hadn’t had a bow range encounter with a deer yet. Being superstitious, Jen and I went our separate ways and she shot a doe!

One afternoon my guide asked me if I was afraid to climb anything. Some of the women in camp didn’t feel comfortable climbing into stands. I told my guide that I would climb anything (lies, I was really only comfortable with ladders and low hang-ons). I figured he had a honey hole and I didn’t want to wimp out on it!

He took me to a stand that had the screw in pegs and let me tell you…it was WAY up there. Whoever put up the pegs must have been 6 feet taller than me! My camera guy scooted up the tree like a monkey. I was shaking at the bottom not knowing what to do. I took a deep breath started to climb and only focused on where my next step would be. Before I knew it, I was on the platform. I got my Hunter Safety Harness tethered to the tree, and took a breath. I was still shaking, but I was thrilled that I faced my fears and got into that tree. I felt like I was on top of the world.

I got settled in and looked around. I was in timber, and every tree within 30 yards of the stand was TORE UP. I got excited seeing all the rubs on the surrounding trees. My excitement was quickly overcome with boredom, as nothing was moving.

Just as the sun was going down, I heard my friend say, “BUCK.” Instantly my knees went weak. I got a glimpse, a nice 9-point. The next words my friend said broke my heart, “Don’t shoot, he’s a 120, maybe a 125.” We were hunting in an area where you must shoot a 130 or better.

I watched as he stood 25 yards broadside, his head behind a tree. I would have smoked him with my Hoyt! It was hard to watch him walk off, but I need to tell myself he will be even bigger next year! It was so neat to have an encounter with a good buck.

The week went by fast. It is hard to be back in the office. I would love to be back in a treestand and sharing camp with girls from all over the country who share the same passion: bowhunting and whitetails.