The best part of owning the property has been showing my kids how to deer hunt. Luke turned twelve in August and has begun to really understand the process. This fall once the Indiana gun season started, I shifted my efforts from hunting for the Wilson buck to getting Luke his third deer in four years. He and I would not be disappointed.
We hunted the first weekend even in bad weather and logged some serious hours without seeing anything older than a 1.5 year old. Our agreement was simple, he had to target a deer 2.5 years or older.
It is August again and the season is fast approaching. Soybeans are not as green and lush as they were in mid June, evident by the silver color the leaves present as the wind gently blows across open fields. You can visibly see the natural forages are beginning to be less optimal as they were in the spring. The deer start to sense fall is coming and they want to pack on the pounds in a nervous feeding frenzy.
Along with this time of year comes a level of frustration for me personally. For the past several years, I've struggled to make sense of the summer months on our property and the lack of buck photos. What are we doing wrong that keeps me from capturing photos of bucks in velvet? I personally feel I've been cheated seeing bucks in velvet during the summer months. What is always interesting is how they suddenly appear after the velvet falls off, normally right at the beginning of October. That has always been the saving grace for me. They do show up, but I don't get much time to study racks and other features before the start of the season. So let's dig into my theories of what has caused this unusually phenomenon, or at least what is unusually to me as a single property owner. And I will reveal if this cycle has repeated once again this year.
Time continues to fly by and here it is June once again, well over six months since I last sat down and blogged. A lot has changed over that time period, but I now sit and ponder what is next? What will be my approach going into the 2017 hunting season? How much preparation will I need to get the next mature deer in front of me? What is the next level for Luke as he enters this fall at age 12? How do I carve out the time needed to work at the property, while keeping some life balance with the family?
As hunters, we hear all of the time about a hit list buck being shot by someone else or a neighbor. For the past several years, this was a fear of mine. I've had targeted bucks simply disappear and always wondered what happened or if they would mysteriously show up a year or two later. Odds have always been that someone did harvest the buck I was after, but never learned about it. November 17th that all changed for me and I joined the ranks of many reading this blog. I received a text that included a photo of the buck I was after and finally felt that sinking feeling illustrated in so many social media memes.
While camping with my son and his friends I wrote this rant on Facebook and wanted to capture it for the blog. You can find other postings I've had in the past by selecting the "Fall Protection" category on the right side of the blog page. Spread the word....
Another deer season is here and with it comes the unnecessary injuries to hunters falling from tree stands. We are already seeing postings on social media with guys in hospital beds in critical condition and it is only Oct. 2nd. It will not be long until I read about a senseless fatality.
Buck beds have been somewhat controversial over the last few years, with many opinions and viewpoints on effectiveness and how they should be constructed. My personal experience since 2011 is that I wouldn't have a structured hunting program without them. Not only do we have evidence of regular use, but this was the first place the buck I shot in '14 sought refuge. These are the cornerstone to how we have established our property and habitat management plan. In this blog, we break down the anatomy of a buck bed and try to simplify the process.
Change is constant, especially in life and the natural world we live in. This was recently emphasized when it comes to habitat management by Dr. Craig Harper during the Wired To Hunt Podcast #103 when he said..."Habitat Management is not an event. It is a way of life. The vegetation is going to continue to change until Gabriel blows his horn. And you've got to be there to manage that and get that steered in a direction that is suitable for that species." Not only is that a funny quote, but absolutely true. What always amazes me is how much change can occur in such a short time. As I reflect over the last 12 months and contemplate the future, what comes to mind first is....how a year makes all the difference in the world!
Winter was coming to an end in early March, which signaled time for another Property Walk & Field Day at our 63 acres. March 12th was our third try at this event drawing a crowd of 60 whitetail habitat and hunting fanatics from eight different states. Hard to believe it, but attendees traveled from all over Indiana and others states including: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. If memory serves, one group car pooled from 14 hours away!
The 2016 QDMA National Convention just finished last Sunday in Louisville, KY and I was fortunate enough to attend again this year. If memory serves, this makes my sixth convention and it was great to see several acquaintances and make new ones.
As in the past, I wanted to take a moment and highlight the positives and the opportunities for improvement of the convention. I truly believe in this organization and what it stands for. Without the QDM principles I have learned since purchasing my property in 2006, the journey would have been more difficult along the way and definitely less satisfying.
Here it is, the middle of the 2015 deer hunting season I've dubbed "The Drive For Five". Simply put, I'm striving to harvest my fifth shooter buck in five seasons. When I say shooter buck, I'm referring to 150" or bigger at this point in my hunting journey. To say the least, the season to date has been difficult. I thought I would take a moment and outline some of the obstacles and what I have learned the past several days.
Andy Hayes is a devoted husband and father of 4 kids living in West Central Indiana. Outside of his family, his passion is hunting whitetails. He does not claim to be a professional hunter, but simply wants to share what he learns during his quest to improve whitetail habitat and hunt mature bucks.