Well, the first weekend of my 2012 whitetail season is in the books. It was a typical hunt in the sense that it involved some highs, some lows, an exciting encounter, and a lot of ‘down time’. That is quite a bit to experience – especially considering the fact that all that came with no deer sightings to speak of.
Opening Day – The Morning Hunt
The conditions on opening morning were great. It felt amazing to step outside and really feel fall for the first time. (If you didn’t catch my last post, be sure to check that out for some deeper reflections that I felt as I started my season that morning.)
The one thing that wasn’t right on opening morning was the wind. I had a pretty good idea of a treestand location that should show me some morning activity, but the southern wind just wasn’t right for that setup. I didn’t want to risk disrupting any behavior in that spot, especially since I have also seen some great bucks in that area during the evening.
I decided to set up near the high spot of a finger ridge. I hunted this area a few times last year, but never this early in the season. I didn’t expect much activity from this spot for a morning hunt, but I wanted to check this area out for one reason – acorns.
Although my morning hunt passed by without a single encounter, I still counted it a worthwhile time because I gained some valuable intelligence on this area, including which trees were producing acorns. Overall, it was just an absolutely wonderful morning in the woods. It felt great to be back in the hunt!
Opening Day – The Evening Hunt
The afternoon and evening winds were still coming out of the south, which was perfect for my plans. I was heading to the edge of a very steep, thick bedding area, which opened up to a water source and led further down a timber funnel to a hay field. My hope was to catch some deer movement as they were transitioning out of the bedding area and on their feet to browse in the late evening.
This was the spot where I got photos of the Bigwoods Bruiser, and though I hadn’t been able to check that camera before this hunt, I did pull the card before I climbed up for the evening and it had 200+ pics on it. Would I see him tonight?
I’ll save you the extraneous details from a long, frustrating story – but let’s just say that getting setup in this area was extremely difficult and I came incredibly close to giving up this evening hunt. But in the end, I am glad I stuck it out. Sometimes the most difficult spots to reach and hunt can be the most rewarding!
I settled in for the evening and awaited ‘prime time’. Right about 7:00 I heard some movement behind me, coming out of the bedding area. I couldn’t see anything through the thicket, but whatever this was, it was coming – slowly, but surely.
I finally caught a glimpse of some movement, just 10 yards away, but I still couldn’t make anything out. After another minute, and much to my dismay, a coyote stepped out. He worked his way towards me, reaching the base of my tree, and then began to step out in front of me. Just as he was clearing the bottom of my stand he caught me and busted out of there.
Darkness fell as quickly as the coyote fled, and just like that my hunt was over.
After the Hunt
Once I got home that night I reviewed the photos from the card that I pulled and confirmed two things.
1) I made the right call in avoiding this area on opening morning. It looks like I would have had quite a bit of activity, but it was all coming in from what would have been the upwind direction. As much as I wanted to hunt this spot that morning, I am glad I made the right call in waiting for better conditions.
2) I have more photos of the Bigwoods Bruiser visiting this area in shooting light, as well as another quality buck. In fact, they were both right under my stand at 7:10pm, just 2 nights before the season opener.
This is the first full season that I have had access to this property, and the first time that I have hunted it before late October. I’m really enjoying the process of learning this new ground and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I can’t wait to see what this season brings!