Thursday, November 8, 2007

The "Thicket" Stand

Nov. 3, 2007

This was the day I was to kill Mr. Big..The plan was simple; sit all day in a stand that would take advantage of the rut activity. I had the perfect stand, the “thicket” stand, sitting on the edge a bedding area and at the intersection of two heavily used trails. The stand wasn’t used yet this season, I was saving it for the perfect conditions and today was that day..Except I had a problem, I called the landowner the day before and told him I would be hunting the farm and as always, asked if he needed any help. He said he could use assistance in moving a generator at 9:30..I asked if we could do it later in the morning and he said it was the only time that worked..I told him I would see him at 9:30..Now I had a dilemma, I would be leaving my stand at the Prime Time and needed to keep scent to a minimum which meant I needed to change my plan…The weather forecast was calling for possibility of early rain with high winds. Only two of my stands were set up for a NE wind, the thicket stand and my oak stand… Morning light came late with the high overcast sky..The weatherman was partially correct, it was windy but no rain.. I was sitting in the oaks again and was surprised that the canopy was still full. The oaks were holding their leaves late this year and they just started to change color. There was still enough cover to feel comfortable but the acorns were gone and the deer activity has dropped drastically from early season…Just before first light I heard loud snorts about 200 yards downwind from high on a neighboring hardwood ridge…The day started out slow and it was an hour before I saw my first deer, a spike buck moved through the oaks never stopping to feed. The entire morning I was hearing snorts from the ridge. I assumed, the deer were getting a noseful of my scent or there was another hunter in the area…I kept looking at my watch..When I had a half hour left in my morning hunt, I was disappointed in the lack of deer movement and figured the wind affected my hunt..That is when I saw movement on the far side of the gully..It was a small herd of does, about 6 in all and they trotted to within 30 yards and kept looking towards the ridge..I expected a buck to come into few but he never did..They continued to feed when I look down and it is time for me to leave but I didn’t want to give up my location so I stayed put until they finally walked off..I made double time out of the woods and was back at my truck putting my bow away when I see a big buck enter the top of the field..He had a wide rack with 5 pts on one side and just a main beam on the other. If he was a typical 10, he would score in the 130s..A shooter in my book..I tried to take a picture, but discovered my camera lense was broken..I watched him enter the woods going in the direction of the “thicket” stand….I helped the landowner and an hour later was back at the truck..There was another hunter parked next to me and he was leaving when I returned..He said he was hunting the neighboring ridge and had a nice 8 pt within range but couldn’t pull off a shot..He also had deer snorting at him all morning..As we were talking, another buck enters the top of the field, this time a shooter 8 pt..He started across, saw us and returned towards the marsh…We finished our goodbyes and I headed back in the woods and towards the “thicket” stand..While walking towards the stand, I kicked up a racked buck that didn’t want to run off and I saw why..He had a doe in the bushes along a creek..I continued and was in my favorite stand for the first time this season...I didn’t have to wait long before a doe with 2 yearlings fed through and looked like they were going to bed under my stand when a spike came in and ran them off…Not too long afterwards two button bucks fed on acorns that fell in the thick briars, about 20 yards away they decide to bed down. They bedded within clear view for 2 ½ hours and I was stuck standing at attention with my bow in hand..It got very painful trying make believe I was a tree for that long but finally they got up and left..Over the next few hours, I watched over a dozen deer walk by including a nice little 6 pt that will be a shooter next season.. A doe was entering my thicket when I saw antlers in the distance..A big 6 pt was following her..He had a wide, high rack with lots of mass..There is some weird genetics in the area that produce these big Y bucks..I was preparing for the shot and he was 2 steps away from a clear 25 yard shot when the buck jumps off the trail into a thick briar patch. I tried calling him in my direction with grunts and the Can but he saw another doe and took off after her and out of my life… I continued calling all day and had a solid response just before dark when a deer came in from downwind but must have caught my scent because he took off before he entered the thicket….There were deer around me most of the day and I saw over 2 dozen including 9 bucks and 3 shooters..A great, exciting day in the woods but I feel like my best opportunities may have passed..I have one more bowhunt before I leave for the Catskills and my annual rifle hunt..

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