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Creamer's 2021-22 Season Journal

Creamer

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Athens
Copying this post over to kick off my journal since it was on Sit 1 of the year.

This is a weird one to write up. I'm still not exactly sure how to feel about it. Things went right, things went weird, things went wrong. I hunted private ground where I have a feeder on opening night because I had a large number of does using the area in shooting light. I got settled in the saddle early, around 3PM. About 6PM, I had does working my way. They bypassed the feeder and skirted me for the field edge above me. I passed up a shot chance at 28-30 yards. The woods were dead calm and she seemed a little edgy, I waited it out.




They worked their way, ironically, right towards my Jeep on the field edge (it's a small property). They got a little nervous and single-file walked back almost exactly the route they came from. A few minutes later, three more does came down through the field coming right to me, two adult does and a fawn. I had the fawn nearly under me, and I held out for a shot at one of the bigger ones. One bigger doe finally gave me a slight quartering-to shot at about 14 yards. I inched the bow back, anchored, and released what I thought was a really good arrow. I watched the arrow impact her just behind the lead leg and bury to the fletchings. In my head I said "she's dead."

I did not see her fall, and I couldn't hear her after she sprinted just out of sight. Confident she was hit hard, I slowly put my gear away and climbed down. I gave her 20 minutes or so and took up the trail as light was fading. Blood was easy to follow at first, but not obscene by any means. As she slowed down, it got better. I found the arrow, it had been snagged on brush and pulled out the exit hole. The arrow was not painted, and that gave me my first concern. I'm thinking one lung, liver, exit through guts possibly. The blood kept getting better, then it just stopped.




I marked last blood in fairly thick cover, and tried to grid slightly out in the direction she was headed. Nothing. Now I'm thinking maybe the hit wasn't as good as I thought and I don't want to bump her. At that point I had not jumped her. I backed out and decided to come back in the morning. I went to where I marked blood, continued to grid out in the direction she was headed, still no sign. The only thing I hadn't checked, what if she doubled back? Sure enough, I found blood.




It was fairly easy to follow, and I went maybe 25-30 yards and thought "I smell her." I smelled deer. A couple more steps, and I found her. One issue, someone else had found her first. Several someone else's, from the looks of it.




Coyotes did that in less than 12 hours. I was shocked, she was GONE. No meat was to be found or saved. You can see the entrance hole on the rib cage there. I hit her about where I thought I did. When she doubled back, I just couldn't figure that one out in the dark. I walked maybe 25 yards from her leaving the woods last night, and she died inside 60 yards from my Jeep. I spoke to the Athens County game warden because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to tag her or not. He said I was fine not tagging her because nothing was able to be saved from her.

So it's a weird start to the season. My setup was good. I got close, got drawn, executed a pretty good shot, did the smart thing (I think) when I lost blood, did find the deer...but come home empty handed. The song dogs ate well last night, that's for damn sure.
 

Creamer

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Athens
Sit #2 of the year.

With the weather not looking great for me for Saturday (highs in the low 80's) I decided to take advantage of the cool morning and hit a public land spot that has produced well two years in a row. It's a subtle little saddle in the ridge that connects bedding to an oak flat with white oaks. It's also a natural travel route from distant ag on private that leads towards the oak flat and then the bedding area. Two years ago, I shot my first deer with a recurve in this spot, only to bump her after a marginal hit and not recover her. Last year, opening morning I stuck a big doe in this location.



I got in clean and was set up in the tree a good 20 minutes before shooting light. It was a painfully slow morning, but my trail cam I had in the area a few weeks back showed a lot of late morning movement. Sure enough, 10AM sharp, I see movement heading down the logging road. It was a big doe with twin fawns in tow. I kept checking the wind and knew it was going to be close. I was supposed to have a south wind, which would have been perfect, but the currents were swirling a bit towards the shooting lane I had into the logging road. They kept coming, the lead doe was at 10-11 yards behind this tree circled in red. I drew and anchored, ready to stop her and shoot when she cleared.



Aaaaaand she winded me. I was trying some new stuff a buddy got me started on, Carbon Synergy. My clothes were clean, I was clean, it was a low impact walk in and I wore as few layers as possible. She still pegged me. I think it was likely from my pack, which I hadn't been storing too smartly. It had been hanging in the garage where I work on wood projects and spray finish. I sprayed it down well multiple times with Dead Down Wind but I suspect it wasn't enough. The Carbon Synergy stuff turns you black, so that's fun.



I got home, showered to clean off the carbon, and headed to the place I hate the most: WalMart. I got a pack of the huge Hefty sealable bags that I thought were big enough to hold my Kuiu pack. I got the pack inside, ozone'd it, and did a dry shake with the Carbon Synergy. The pack will live in that sealed bag from now on. That spot has good early season vibes for me. Three years in a row, an early season morning sit put does in my lap. One more step and I'd have been cutting up meat over the weekend.
 

Creamer

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Sit #3 for the season.

This weather sucks. The overnight lows are where the daytime highs would ideally be. Thoughts of skipping this weekend were real and I didn't want to risk going into one of my better locations with such warm conditions. I decided to give the same stand site as last weekend another shot. It had been a week since I got winded at close range and I took a chance that some does would read that script again (minus the wind issues). I got in quiet and clean, but the sit was a bust. Lots of squirrels, no deer. It was my first skunk of the season.



The first arrow out of the bow was good when I got home, just need a deer to slip up.

 

Creamer

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Sit #4

On Saturday, after popping by the TOO gathering at Strouds, I hit some public ground. It was a combination hunt/camera hanging mission. With such a long hike in, I figured I might as well hunt it while I'm there. The hike in was well over a mile, so I packed all of my camo and base layer stuff in my pack and hiked in wearing shorts and a t-shirt to keep sweat down as best I could. About 200 yards out from the stand site, I stopped and got a few layers on.



Having hunted this tree last season, it was a quick and quiet setup. I found this location last year after some e-scouting and mid season scouting trip on foot. I found deer that were using a ridge saddle to move in both directions between a nose off the main ridge and a brushy bowl. Where the saddle and nose met pinched the deer down a bit. I was hanging my platform when I heard something below me. A small doe had snuck in on me and saw me hanging gear. She bounced but didn't seem super alarmed, I don't think she knew what I was.



I was only in the stand for maybe 45 minutes and spotted another deer. A big doe appeared on the main ridge about 50 yards out and slipped back out of sight in a few minutes. Two more does came over and worked towards me after she disappeared, I think they were the first does' fawns. They fed above me for almost an hour, and shortly after this picture, they bedded down inside 35 yards.



One of them got as close as about 18-20 after they got up but I never had a clean shot due to the brush. They fed off up the hill and back towards the main ridge. Closer to dark, I had two more deer walk the nose and skirt above me, out of range and too dark to even tell what they were. I assume does. I hung the camera and got out of there. I'm anticipating some bucks traveling through there in a few weeks. If nothing else, I feel like it's a great location to slip into to try to kill a doe.

Sit #5

I had the rare opportunity to hunt twice on a weekend, but the wind direction ruled out a few spots I had really wanted to hunt early in the year. I settled on heading to the private chunk of ground where I have a feeder just to see if I could get a crack at a doe. The sit was pretty uneventful. I had deer below me on the opposite side of the ravine for sure around 5:00PM. I could hear them, I just couldn't see them with the foliage still on. They eventually worked their way off towards the neighboring property's field. In the last half hour of light, a single large doe worked the field edge above me. She ignored the feeder and headed across the bottom edge of the field. It would have been a good night to be sitting the field edge 50 yards from where I was. I was in between the deer with nothing in range of the stick.

 

Creamer

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Sit #6

This week was pretty much a "toss-out." So much family stuff going on, busy work week, very limited time to get into the woods. I had time for a short morning sit on Saturday only, and didn't have a great spot that fit the wind forecasted. I settled on a spot that I scouted and the play was catching deer coming back from private ground where there's bait (seen it walking the border of private/public) on their way to bed on public. It wasn't supposed to rain...but it did.



It was a bust. Tons of squirrels, no deer. On my way out I walked up to the saddle in the ridge I was expecting deer to use and saw fresh tracks, I assume from overnight Friday. They didn't move through it in daylight. Something I have come full circle back around to is smoking my clothes. I felt like trying to go "scent free" was a fools errand on long hikes in on public. Just too many holes in the system that can't be solved practically, like a sweaty backpack. Maybe the smoke will give me a chance. We'll see.



When I got back from hunting I took a broadhead cold shot from 14-15 yards, it was money.





The one important thing I was able to take care of was replacing my horribly squirrel damaged feeder lid on private ground. two years ago a large limb fell on the feeder and beat up the lid. Squirrels took advantage and chewed massive holes in it, leading to wet corn issues. We repaired it with some scrap sheet metal but there were still some plastic portions the squirrels chewed out. This was long overdue.

 

Creamer

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Sit #7

I've felt a little snakebit early on this season. Things haven't fallen my way and it's felt like there was some bad juju. I tried to cleanse the bad juju by rewrapping and fletching the arrow I shot the doe with on opening day.





Then its flight had to be verified. Yep, it shoots.



I took the afternoon off yesterday with the cool temps hoping a doe would come into the feeder on private and give me a shot to put meat in the freezer. The N-NW wind was perfect, it was windy on entrance so I didn't make much noise, and I got in clean. I was settled into the saddle by about 3:30.



My hopes of a doe coming in early didn't happen, and it was starting to feel like I was going to get blanked. Then I heard movement below me and spotted a set of legs between the leaves moving towards me. About the same time, I saw a group of three does above me in the field, entering the woods and coming my way. Darkness was coming fast, and when they were all about 25 yards out and converging on me, a group of coyotes sounded off a few hundred yards away. This seemed to put them on edge, and they slowly proceeded towards me. The doe from below got almost underneath me, but finally took a few steps out away into a shooting lane. At this point, all 4 does were inside 15-17 yards, with the closest being about 5 yards. I knew my chances of getting drawn weren't good but I had to try. I inched the bow back, got it about halfway drawn, and one of the three above me caught me. Game over. Snorts, gone. :mad:

I've had deer in my lap several times this year and just haven't sealed the deal.
 

Creamer

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Sit #8

Cell cams have made a big difference in hunting for me. Knowing what's coming and when in (almost) real time is pretty valuable. Even after a few sits on the small private piece with the feeder, deer just keep coming. The wind forecast was perfect for yesterday and deer were coming in shooting light, so I decided to give it another go. One good buck was there in shooting hours the day before, but I knew I'd have a tough time passing on a good shot at a doe.



Just like on the previous sit, no action until near dark. Just like the last sit, I had a deer coming up from the bottom that I was pretty sure was a doe. She was creeping in, and all of a sudden (with my focus down the hill), I heard deer run in on me from behind from the cut hay field. I'm nearly sure it had to be the same cast of 4 from the last sit when I was busted on the draw.



The lead deer was at about 12-13 yards but the next deer, a bigger doe, I think caught me trying to make a slight move to get in position to shoot. She was locked on me, stomped once, then turned and nervously walked back towards the field. The doe behind her followed her. The doe (turned out to be a button) closer to me turned to walk towards them and I figured "now or never." I drew back, it was quartered away maybe 15-16 yards, and I sent it. I watched the arrow enter mid ribs and bury up into the vitals to the fletchings. Just as the deer got out of sight, I heard a pause, then the tell-tale crash. The blood trail was decent, not a lot of blood while she was sprinting hard but it really opened up once the arrow came out and the deer slowed down.



I was optimistic that the deer stayed high on the bank when it crashed...it didn't. It crashed right as the bench broke over into the steep hollow below, and slid/rolled a good ways down. It's a miserable drag out from there, and I've done it many times on that property. You can see the entrance here, mid-ribs.



It ended up being a button, which did disappoint me. I simply couldn't tell. I didn't see them at all before the shot. Oh well, it happens. This was my first deer with the Black Hunter longbow (2nd if you count the opener deer the coyotes destroyed). I started shooting it again the past few days and shot it really well, so I carried it last night and the decision was a good one.



Side note, after that opening day deer, I wasn't real happy with the lights I had for tracking. I picked up this little Bushnell Trkr off eBay and finally got to use it last night. I was impressed. For a small, light weight light it was very bright and useful. I don't personally like the "blood tracking" mode on these lights, I prefer a bright white light for tracking, and it did really well.

 

Creamer

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Sit #9

I've been chomping at the bit to hunt one particular spot on public all year and forced myself to save it for November. The past few seasons, I've had a ton of buck encounters in this vicinity. One specific spot there's basically no trees I can hunt and I've always known (and resisted) that it needed to be hunted at ground level. Lately I've gotten the ghillie suit dialed in and trimmed to keep string interference from being an issue, in preparation for this location. I also had the Ultimate Predator Stalker decoy that I have been shooting with. Saturday morning was the perfect wind for it, so the dice were rolled.



I got to where I wanted to be, within shooting distance of a heavily traveled saddle and was set well before daylight. I'm catching them coming from ag on private, working back into public to bed. As the sun broke over the horizon, my view and setup I felt was about perfect. I could see down through the overgrown open area below me where I hoped to see a cruising buck that I could call to the decoy. This location has always been a "late moving" area for me with a lot of deer being spotted later in the morning. Early on was quiet, which wasn't all that surprising.



About 10AM or so I caught movement in front of me. A big doe and fawn were angling up the bank with a fawn in tow. When I first saw them, the lead doe was maybe 30 yards out. I was thinking "Any second, she's gonna see the decoy. Any second." At about 18 steps, she looked my way and saw the deek. Let me tell you...she did NOT CARE for it! She locked up and went on full alert. She stomped. And stomped. And stomped. The fawn was clueless. Thinking if she sees the decoy moving, maybe that will calm her down, I slowly turned the decoy (I was behind it, peeking over her head/ears). She stomped and head bobbed. She finally had enough, gave a half-ass snort, and turned and trotted back from where she had come from.



No, she didn't like it, but the one positive I can take from the encounter is I still could have shot her. She was on alert, but stayed inside 20 yards for plenty of time if I wanted to try her. With her that keyed up, I wasn't going to take a shot that far with a stick bow. Had she been closer or just less alert, I was going to try her. Ghillie suit, ground level, decoy, public land...she would have been a trophy. I sat until about 11AM and slipped out of there. I really enjoyed the ground level hunt, it was pretty intense. I do think if the decoy wasn't up she would have had no clue I was there. I'm thinking if I try it again, I will have the decoy on the ground so that I can slap it onto the bow quickly if I spot a deer at distance and want it to see the decoy. That would cover my bases if a deer pops up in my lap like she did.

I'll be doing that again.
 

Creamer

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Sit #10

Veteran's Day was a day off, so I made the hike into my favorite rut location again. I had high hopes. Up at 4AM, out of the house by 4:30AM, took a nice slow-paced walk to get to where I needed to be without sweating like I had been in a sauna.



This time, after the last trip having a doe get nervous with the decoy, I kept the decoy on the ground but had the attachments on the bow. This way, if I spotted a buck and wanted to call to him, I could quickly slap the deek onto the bow and be ready to roll.



I didn't see a damn thing. This was my first sit in this area in three seasons of hunting it that I was blanked. It's not been a great November for me thus far.
 

Creamer

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Sit #11

Dammit. I had been waiting for several days for the right wind to get in and hunt a public spot I was really looking forward to hunting this fall. I found this location late in November last year and figured it would be a great place to catch a cruiser this season. Where a large point comes up to a big ridge, there's a slight saddle to the west side. Lots of cover. And the bench that parallels the point and leads right in connects two bedding areas, one on the point and one in the bowl on the opposite side of the ridge. Saturday was the day. I was a W-SW wind (perfect) and cooler temps.



I've had a camera there for a few weeks and have a few small bucks and two good bucks on camera moving through the area. My hopes were pretty high because the day before a decent looking buck walked through in the middle of the afternoon. Hard to see exactly what he was but I can make out a fair frame.





I got started early, and took my time on the 1.6 mile hike in there. I was in the stand and ready to rock slightly before 1PM.



45 minutes later, I hear heavy footsteps behind me. I set up in the tree planning for my most likely shot, to the east, my left (strong side) in the saddle. Facing the tree, it's a lot more difficult to move the bow to the right side of the tree for a shot to my right. I look back and see a large chocolate frame coming up the draw right at my tree. He was 30 yards out and I needed to know which side of the tree he was going to be on. He veered a little to my right, so I quickly shifted the bow to the right of the tree. As soon as I got the bow moved, he veered back to the left and he was coming fast. I barely got the bow back to the left and had to quickly draw and stop him or he was gone. I gave a "maah" as I drew back and he stopped. I thought he was on the trail at 14-15 yards and let fly.



Halfway there I thought the arrow had him...and it dropped just barely beneath his body. It hit dirt, and only dirt. My left-right was dead perfect for the quartering slightly away shot, it missed just low. The buck had no clue what happened. He only bounded maybe 10 yards and stopped but I had no shot in the brush. He flicked his tail and kept on about his day, walking out of my life. Best I could tell, he was a 3.5-4.5 year old 5x4. Beautiful deer. When I got down and retrieved the arrow, I looked back at my tree with my light and thought "no way was he only 15." He wasn't on the trail I thought he was on, he was about 6 yards farther. That 6-7 yards might have saved his life. He was standing about in the circled area here.





After that, I ended up having a pair of does spend the last two hours of daylight within 70 yards of me. No bucks came back through. I had multiple deer below me in the draw I would catch glimpses of, but I couldn't say for sure how many there were or what they were. The pair that had been near me all evening worked to inside 20 right at dark, and I was thinking about shooting the lead mama. She sniffed the arrow, got nervous, and backed away. I blew a coyote howler to clear the area and got down to begin the trail of sadness back to the Jeep.

So the chance at a solid mature deer I have looked for in the last 3 years presented itself, and I didn't deliver on my end. I honestly feel like it just happened too fast, everything was rushed. I released a good arrow but I do think my misjudging of the yardage played a huge role in that arrow not hitting him. At least he wasn't wounded and he had no clue what happened, and hopefully I can get a second chance. Damn struggle stick.
 

Creamer

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Sit #12

WTF just happened? That's what I was asking myself on Saturday afternoon. In the words of Dan Infalt, I hunted (dated) "the fat chick" on Saturday. One of those spots that seems ridiculous and you'd never let your friends catch you hunting there. It was public ground, and having hunted the spot before and knowing trees were not well-placed for a hunter, I went with the ground game. I was ghillie'd up beside a large forked tree and had a great view of the brushy bench out in front of me. The wind was perfect, in my face, as I looked out the bench towards private ground.



The walk in is short, and the damp ground and wind noise let me slip in quietly. I had a decent shooting lane to my strong side and could see pretty well out in front of me. I didn't have to worry about behind me much because surely nothing was going to come on the same trail I walked from parking. :unsure: The wind was finally starting to die down a bit around 4:30 and I thought I heard something behind me. I looked back over my shoulder and see a large chocolate framed rack coming along the bench on a fast walk. He was already at 25-28 yards and closing fast. I grabbed my bow and tried to get ready for a shot to my left but he was moving too fast and got through the lane. My only option was to try to shoot him through the crotch of the tree.



He was in a perfect little hole, 13-15 yards. I was 80% drawn when he turned his head and looked towards me. Game over. He caught me moving trying to get to full draw and he bounced about 20 yards and stopped to look back through heavy cover. He flicked his tail and kept on moving. I don't think he had a clue what I was but he saw a glimmer of movement in the fork of the tree. I hung my bow up and said out loud "What the F___ just happened?" I was in shock. I expected to see deer, I never expected deer to come from the direction he came. One of two things happened: 1) he walked across a large gravel parking lot in broad daylight or 2) he was bedded in a postage stamp of thick cover between that parking lot and where I was hunting. I'd lean towards #2.

I didn't even get a shot off but dang what a rush having a big mature deer in your lap on the ground.
 

Creamer

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Sit #13

I decided to head deep into public on Saturday afternoon, hoping the pressure of gun season hadn't hurt one of the more consistent spots I have hunted the past two years. I threw it back old school with the gun I shot my first deer ever with, a Remington 870 Express 20ga with the old smooth bore slug barrel. I shot the gun several times last week and it will still sling lead pretty well.



I saw no other hunters, heard no shots. I saw nothing until right before dark. I had two deer in the draw below me, I couldn't say what they were other than "deer." It was just too dark and they were too far. On the walk out, I did find evidence of other hunters. I hike in about 1.5 miles, and at roughly the mile or so mark in (on the walk out) I found a reflective trail tack that wasn't there two weeks ago. The location was really good late season last year so I'll probably head back either in the extended gun weekend, muzzleloader, or late bow.