Thursday, December 14, 2023

Deer hunting report

I spent five hours in a hunting blind with my fishing buddy "Shotgun".

We saw two deer as we walked in. They were bedded down and we spooked them. No quality shots there. Hitting the west end of an east-bound deer is not good.

Over the next five hours we saw two more small ones. The first offered a high quality shot which I passed up. The second did not offer a high quality shot.

Then, at very last light, we saw four more. Shotgun saw one first. "Its a small one" he said.

I put a scope on it and it did not look that small to me but it is hard to tell when there is just one deer and nothing to compare it to. Then three more popped out of the woodwork and the one I had scoped did not seem that small but she was walking away from me. In this case I would have been shooting the north end of a southbound deer.

It is "antlerless only" season in Michigan and you have to take a good look at them to ensure they don't have head-gear.

"Scoping" an animal while hunting is generally considered bad practice. You are supposed to use binoculars. However, I had already confirmed that it was a deer and I was using the magnification to determine if it was a shootable deer. 

The advice about not using the scope mounted on your firearm primarily applies to bushes that are shaking and you are attempting to ascertain what manner of critter is making the bush shake or when you see "blobs" and use your scope to get more resolution. If you are using your scope for that purpose then you are also pointing your weapon toward the shaking bush or the as-yet-unidentified blob...a bush that very well might be obscuring a human moving through the brush or a blog that might be your brother-in-law taking a dump.

No triggers were pulled today.

Cold water

I depleted Shotgun's supply of water to flush the toilets after we got back to the camp. I got to wade out into the lake and scoop up a couple of buckets of water. One thing about having cold feet is that you hustle to get back to a heated space. Even humping two, five gallon buckets of water I handily beat Shotgun back to the door. 

Predation of turkey populations

Shotgun was lamenting the decline in the local turkey population.

I suggested that it might be due to the fact that very few people trap any more.

I recall some research funded by Ducks Unlimited that investigated nesting success. They found that nests close to duck-blinds were far more likely to be raided by opportunistic predators like raccoons, skunks and possums. The premise was that duck-blinds were optimum shelters for that class of animal. Remove the shelters and the opportunist sheltered elsewhere.

Between the lack of trapping knocking back the population and the proliferation of deer blinds, turkeys and other ground-nesting birds have a tough row to hoe.

Turkey and pheasants lay large clutches of eggs and have the potential to rebound rapidly (i.e. a couple of years) IF the eggs don't get eaten before they hatch.

A third secular shift that hurt pheasant is the way local farmers treat corn stubble. Some chisel-plow in the fall which buries most of the grain and reduces the wind-break effect of the stubble. There also seems to be a tendency to cut the corn lower when harvesting. That also reduces the "cover" offered by a field of harvested corn with respect to avian predators and weather.

Any opinions?

Moral equivalence

I wonder why some folks think it is morally superior to eat 400,000 meal worms instead of one deer?

Is it because the deer has eyes and you can identify with it?

If so, aren't you guilty of a moral failure because you could not look at another life-form and think "Except for the grace of God it could have been me"?

Trail cams

I am having a lot of fun with one of my trail cams. Last night I captured pictures of many rabbits and one possum.

Tonight I have it pointed beneath a persimmon tree. I expect a big party.

Seeds delivered

I had a package show up from a friend in Kentucky. It is a care-package and undoubtedly a treasure-trove of seed-nuts.

I will open it tomorrow.

Fruitcake: The hidden menace


  1. Regarding the birds corn pickers are much more efficient than they used to be with less spillage. And the plants are cut shorter because most of it is used for silage made in pits covered with plastic or in huge plastic bags instead of silos and even in round bales wrapped in plastic. Much less waste to feed the critters. And you are sure right about trapping. When I was a kid I trapped and knew a lot of guys that trapped and there was a lot of competition for places to trap. I don't know of any young guys that trap now. Just not socially acceptable and no money in it anymore.---ken

  2. Smart move to 'check' the deer sizes and for antlers prior to the shot! :-) And nothing wrong with not shooting anything! :-)

  3. Binoculars are an indespensible tool for finding game and accessing whether or not they are suitable (especially with antlerless deer restriction - a 'spike' can be very hard to see even with a scope.) i like the focus-free binoculars, which do not require adjusting for sharp image. Although not quite as sharp as adjustable, you can lose an animal in foreground / background when searching that middle ground. Focus free saves time to let them drop and shoulder your firearm.

    And agree - going home with an empty cooler isn't a bad day. A bad day spent outside is my definition of a good day. :^)

    Hope you find something for your freezer soon.

  4. Classical trapping has been banned in much of the rural west, and the wildlife spectrum has changed significantly. Deer populations have shrunk in density as the coyote moved to more hunting in packs of 3 to 10 sweeping through areas driving the deer into a snaggable snack. Rabies is more common with the fox and wildcat cross contamination due to more feeding off of common kills. No one studies the changes or acknowledges it, but definitely different.
    (Son, grandson, nephew, etc. of pro-trappers until that ended - I was never any good, but got to tote bait, bury guts, etc.)

  5. Had a brother of a brother-in-law who was a Vermont game warden. He said it was not unusual to be scoped by someone in the field. And a bit nerve-wracking.


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