Friday, November 25, 2011

20 Doe Parade, Only 19 Standing Now

Today, I hit my local small plot of land for the last bow hunt before our gun season comes in tomorrow, the 10 acre one.  I was in my tree well before first light.  I wasn't up there a half hour and I heard deer coming from all directions right to my tree, from behind, from over my right shoulder, and from straight ahead.  They hung around my tree stand for what seemed like a dark eternity.  I sometimes heard them run, wondering if they winded me.  Later, when it became lighter, I could see that they were chasing each other, a pecking order of sorts I guess.  In my mind I kept wondering why the sun was taking so long to rise.  Hurry up, dang it all!

A short time later, that seemed like a long time later, several deer worked their way back to me, lingered around my tree, then moved off.  More followed.  Light was approaching.  I could make out forms, and eventually could see enough to determine that they were does and no racks among the group.  I couldn't see my sight pins yet, so it wasn't legal for me to shoot yet.  Hurry up sun!

A few minutes later, the four does moved away from me, in the 11:00 direction, about 50 yards away.  Then, more moved down the hill from behind me heading towards the four.  Two, then two more, then three more.  All of these were 40-50 yards away not in my shooting lanes.  I could see my pins.  Then, the weirdest thing happened, they bunched up around this one huge oak tree, almost as if they were in a football huddle. 

They were grooming each other.  I could hardly believe what I was seeing, having never seen that behavior with so many deer before.  More deer moved around behind me, but I had to be careful as the 11 deer were in plain view 50 yards away.  That's 22 eyes facing me.

Not long after that, a fox moved in from the East, heading their way.  They were on high alert, and then four more does followed the same trail as the others.  There were more deer mulling around behind me.  I wondered if one was a buck.  With this many does around during the rut, there had to be a buck.

Fifteen minutes later, a six point came from the direction of the original 11 huddled deer, chasing a doe heading East back into the field.  The huddle followed them, followed by the last three.  That's seventeen deer so far.  What the heck?  You'd think it was January, with them yarding up, on a Southern slope with so many deer around.

They all followed the buck, way out of my shooting lane about 50-60 yards away.  The fox was long gone by now, or maybe not.  I was focused on the deer, like a predator searching for that weak link, hoping to take advantage of Darwin's law.

All of a sudden, two of them broke off and headed down the hill straight to my stand, downwind of me.  I had three scent bombs wedged in a tree, in a zip lock bag, that I meant to put out and forgot.  Maybe that made them curious?  I don't know.  But, one stayed high on the hill, alert, sniffing, searching the trees, searching the ground, and occasionally stomping. 

Ms. Alert, moved across my right about 20 yards away, but too alert to draw and not in a shooting lane anyway.  But, the other "doe", was now directly in front of me giving me a broadside shot.  I can't draw or Ms. Alert will spot me and blow my cover.  Just then, she went behind a tree.

I had to act quickly, but the other "doe" turned broadside and then quartering away and stopped, 15 yards away.  I drew, found my spot on "her" and released.  I followed through on my shot as I saw through my peep sight the arrow hit the spot.  "She" jumped, and took off straight ahead crashing and falling about 30 yards away.  Then, "she" got up again, and ran another thirty yards past this huge deadfall and fell. 

I knew that "she" was dead.  Meanwhile, three more deer bolted toward the field snorting all the way, all does.  These were the ones mulling around behind me.  Ms. Alert was still standing on the hill, now stomping and snorting.  I actually almost thought about shooting her too!  But, she worked her way behind me not giving me an opportunity.  I knocked an arrow anyway, just in case, but she moved out into the field and snorted for the next five minutes.

I pulled out my cell phone and noted the time, 7:30 AM.  I texted my wife and told her that I killed a doe, then texted the land owner and my buddy Steve who was also hunting today a couple hours away to give him the news.  I knew the hit was good, and I knew that "she" was down, but still decided to wait a bit before climbing down.  I sat for 45 more minutes.  The neighbor opened her garage door and kicked out yet another deer.  Up to 20 deer now.

As I sat there, watching where I last saw my "doe" fall to make sure it didn't get up and walk away, wondering why time seems to stop during this process.  It's always the same thing, taking forever.  What ever happened to the phrase, "time flies"?  I played texting tag with my wife still keeping an eye out for a buck.  If one came by, I'd take it given the chance.  

Meanwhile, I envisioned my deer getting up.  I knew I put a good shot on "her", but still, doubt began to creep in.  I'll sit for 45 minutes, then climb down to find my arrow.  I won't push here until I know that the trail is good.

After two long grueling hours (well, it seemed that long, but it was actually 45 minutes), I climbed down.  I walked over to where "she" was when I shot, and immediately found blood.  Along with the blood were a few clumps of white hair.  I started to doubt my shot again, but with so much blood, I still felt good about it.  I ceremoniously broke a piece of orange tape off and marked the trail.  The trail was good, but I marked the trail anyway.  You never know when you might have to start over, or if it rains, or if some clod hopper comes along and stirs up your trail.

This is what you'd like to see, but the tuft of fur worried me.
Thirty yards later, I found my arrow.  I examined the arrow and, like Gil Grissom, determined from the forensic evidence that the shot placement was good.  There was something else troubling about the arrow.  I use mechanical broadheads, Spitfires, which have always been reliable for me.  Normally, you'd see at least a couple blades open if not all three after a shot like that.  But, the blades were completely closed.  I couldn't believe it.  Did the broadhead fail?  Oh no.  I put the arrow in my quiver and continued to follow the trail.

The trail was quite large now.  No more orange tape needed.  30 more yards later and I was amazed at the trail, and I looked up and there was my deadfall.  I could have walked straight there, because there "she" was.

There "she" was, just up ahead.
I moved around her and noticed that "she", wasn't a "she".  It was a little devil of a button buck.  Had I known that, I might have passed.  Still, such a youngster will be nice and tender.  I snapped a few pics and stopped, took a drink of water, and readied myself for the work part of all this fun.  I examined the entry wound and noticed that it had that classic triangular shape, indicating that my mechanical broadhead worked as designed. 

Brown and Down
Since houses were close by, I decided to drag my young buck back towards my stand and dress it out there, out of any possible view.  I figured that, even though they know that I'm there, that they probably won't want to see me dressing a deer out of their bay window while they ate breakfast.

He's little, but gonna be tasty!
After dressing the deer, I noticed that this deer had been feeding heavily on corn.  Man, this little guy is going to be a tasty feller.  I dragged him out, and later took him to a local butcher to be made into sausage and burger, about 10 pounds each, with the tenderloins and backstraps whole.  What a great hunt, and it all happened so fast.  Now that I have some meat, it's time to hunt for a rack.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You from Fat Boy's Outdoors Blog

Thanksgiving Day is a day of reflection for me.  Many people celebrate this day as people have for hundreds of years by having a feast of turkey, stuffing, and many other Thanksgiving cuisine.  My family will also gather to celebrate this day.  Even though I'd love to be outdoors hunting and fishing, this is one of the rare times throughout the year that I get to see and enjoy the company of my family, where we can all get together.

In 2007, Thanksgiving turned out to be particularly special.  My Sister-in-Law, Ellen and her husband Pierre hosted a wonderful celebration and feast.  They had always extended invitations to my side of the family, and that year, my brother Kyle joined us in giving thanks.  Kyle lived about four hours away from me in Charlottesville, Virginia.  And, even though it really wasn't that far, we only saw each other a time or two each year, although we corresponded several times a week over the phone.  We both had busy schedules, me with work and family, and he with coaching swimming for a club team, summer teams, and a high school team.  We both had the same passion for the outdoors. Even though we both love to hunt and fish, he tended to love hunting more, and me a bit more on the fishing side of the equation.  Today, however, I'm particularly thankful for that Thanksgiving Day in 2007, as it was the last time that I saw him before he passed away.

My brother and all time best buddy, Kyle.
Since then, Thanksgiving Day has been particularly hard for me, yet, rather than look it as a day of mourning, I think of it as a blessing to have spent such a fine evening with my brother.  We had some great times on the water and in the field together, but the time that stands out most in my mind was that quality time that we spent together four years ago today.

I'm thankful to have had such great parents, both of whom had passed away several years ago, for guiding me throughout my life and keeping me focused on the things that are important in life, especially knowing right from wrong.  I'm also thankful for my sisters, Kathy and Karla, for all that they do but most importantly for their love and support.  And I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, for having such a fine and loving family all of my life, for his guidance and love, and inspiration.

There are other things that I'm extremely thankful for, and one of those will be the pleasure of spending that same quality time with all of my family.  Because, you never know what the future will bring.  It's a happy time for me, a chance to share my outdoor stories with them personally, to exchange jokes, to reflect together about our lives, and to share thanks together.

I'm so thankful to have a loving and supporting wife, who not only puts up with all of my antics at home, but gives me the encouragement and freedom to persue my passion for the outdoors.  Thank you to her Sister Abby, and her friend Carol, for without them I would never have met the love of my life.

My daughter attends college just twenty minutes away.  But her studies keep her so occupied that I only have the opportunity to spend time with her a handful of times throughout the semester.  This is a time when I also get to see her for the weekend, not just Thanksgiving Day.  I have a great passion for the outdoors, but none of that time compares to the time that I get to spend with her.  Although, it's much better when we're both outdoors together looking for sharks teeth or fishing!

Mark with a Potomac largemouth.  That trip really got me out of my doldrums and back to fishing again after my car accident.  Thanks Mark!
As I write this post, I feel the need to extend my thanks to my friends who invite me to fish with them, or accept my invitations to have them fish with me.  I'm currently not a boat owner, so it's really special to me when I have an opportunity to fish with them on their boats.  It's not an easy thing to control the boat, often in adverse windy conditions and keep the guy in the back of the boat on fish, but all of them do it well, and I really appreciate their efforts.  The fishing is fun, but it's the company that's special.  For this year, I extend my thanks to Mark McWilliams, Bob Barber, Dave Roberts, Rusty Dillon (and also Donna) and especially Howard Boltz for not only inviting me on their boats to fish, but for being such good boat captains.

Thanks to my buddy Howard, for taking me fishing so often on his little Coleman Crawdad, and for his expert boat control that allowed the both of us to catch many nice fish and to have some awesome days on the water.
I used to be equally happy fishing alone, but over the years, I realized that it's not the fishing experience that means anything to me, it's the companionship.  This year, I've fished with several friends on and off the ice.  My buddy Kenny Land (and his son), and my daughter have shared some of my shore fishing spots along with Howard, and we had some great times and caught some pretty good fish.

I also have to thank my friend Steve, for allowing me to hunt at his hunting spots, and my friend Bob N. for allowing me access to his property to bowhunt whitetail deer.

Captain Dave Roberts with a fine Black Hills largemouth.
There are several fishing buddies that I'm thankful for their friendship that I didn't have the pleasure of fishing with this year.  Instead, I'm thankful for the fishing memories and the things that I've learned either from or with them over the years.  My thanks and appreciation goes out to Jim Cumming from Maine, Mark Sirko, Ken Askins, Carpcatcher Jim and Geoff Cirelli from Pennsylvania, Scott Freeman from Wisconsin, Jeff Redinger from Illinois, and Jay Dimig, Glenn Cumings and Mark Purisch from Maryland.  One more very good friend, who has been going through some tough times the past few years, is Bill May of Maryland, a great guy and I'm always thankful for what he's done for me over the years but also his continued friendship.  Bill, we have to get you back out on the water buddy.  Call me soon.

Bob Barber, not only one of the best anglers that I know, but also one of my best friends.
I'm thankful for the long term friendships too, like that of Brian Kopp, the best man at my wedding and a friend of mine for 45 years.  For that of John Bonchi, his Dad Al, for the many fine fishing trips and memories that we've shared over the years and will never forget.  If it wasn't for John, I wouldn't have taken up bowhunting.  And, if it wasn't for my friendship with him, I never would have met my wife!

I have made many friends over the internet of the years, mostly from fishing, hunting, and fossil forums, and now through the blogosphere.  I have three friends in particular that I've never fished or hunted with (but would be thrilled at the opportunity to do so), that have been a real influence and inspiration in starting and continuing my blog.  Thank you Bassjunky (Rob) for inspiring me to start this blog, and for promoting and following my efforts.  A big thank you also goes out to Tom Boyd, a.k.a. "Dad", for the same.  And for not only being a follower and for promoting my blog, but also for his expert advice on writing, and also his friendship, thanks go out to Gene Mueller.  The three of these guys write top notch blogs (and Gene also is the Outdoor Writer for the Washington Times Newspaper), and their blogs are linked on the right margin of my blog, so please visit them and post comments in appreciation for their efforts as well.

Thank you Gene, for all of your help and advice.
I've met many friends over the fossil forums too.  I've been collecting with a few of them, so thanks go out to Kevin May from Maryland, and the "Mikes" O'Shea from New Jersey, for spending time with me along the beach, and Kevin for taking me in his boat to some of his favorite collecting spots.  Thanks and appreciation for their on-line friendships to Daryl Sarafin and Mike Taggert, who is currently in Afghanistan serving our country (so many thanks for that too Mike).

I'd like to thank the administrations from the following web forums, for allowing me to promote my blog on their sites, Iceshanty; Myfishfinder; Myhuntingforum;; Riversmallies; Eastern PA Fishing Reports and a few other smaller forums that aren't currently open to the public.

Last but not least, I'd like to extend my thanks to you, the readers and followers of my blog.  Your continued interest in my posts inspires me to keep going.  Thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for coming back.  I really appreciate it.

Finally, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Fishing Pictoral Post

Rather than write my long winded posts, I thought that for this iteration of Fat Boy's Outdoors, I'd simply post a few fishing pictures that you may not have seen.  A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  There is no particular order or story to be told here.  Some of these are old, some are new, some mine, some not, some here and some there.  So, I hope that you get your fill of my speechless words.  Enjoy!

Gene Mueller with a Potomac sure to visit his fine blog at

Yours truly, notice the resemblance between the shape of the belly along with the wiskers between the angler and his catch.
Yours truly with a picture worthy pike...NOT!
Dang Edwin, when you said we were going trolling, this isn't what I had in mind...
This is one of my fishin buddies, Edwin.  He's a wacky rig expert...