Saturday, October 17, 2015

Legends of Fall

Not a whole lot to say here, two weeks worth of running this camera on a field edge scrape captured (pun intended, Cuddeback Capture) some excellent pictures.  Needless to say I am excited to hunt the rut at my parents and know exactly where I need to be to find these boys.


Pushing 150 I'd say

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Experince

A friend recently asked me what a 'dream' hunt would consist of.  I mentioned someday I would love to head west and hunt my cousin's ranch in Wyoming for whitetail or mule deer.  When I stop to really think about it, I truly only care to head to SW Wisconsin and hunt the farm I grew up on.  It has everything I want in terms of scenery, habitat and the animals who roam about it.

It's the place where I learned to hunt small and large game, learned about trapping and how to care for the land.  I never really realized it when I was growing up but my Dad was and is a true conservationist.  For example, I am now aware of the benefits CRP grassland can bring a property.  CRP is not only beautiful to look at from my treestand, it provides a comfortable sanctuary for our wildlife. America is losing CRP grassland.  Can you blame landowners for taking land out of CRP? No, not when you can make a pretty penny opening a field for a farmer to plant corn.

It's the place where my brother and I have woken up many a Thanksgiving morning to take in the crisp air and tread lightly on crunchy leaves on the way to our ground perch (NEVER shot a deer with a gun from a treestand yet). It's the place where I learned hunting strategies and was able to test them against nature.  It's the place I hope to take my son to do the same things I was lucky enough to do.  Some Saturday we will take to the woods and enjoy the fall colors while chasing squirrel, and no matter how much his Dad cares about his big bucks being spooked, on this Saturday he will not care because he knows his son has waited for this day for a over a year. Maybe someday I'll take my grandson or granddaughter out for a morning deer sit, lean up against a tree waiting for a familiar scene to unfold before their grandpa's eyes.  After a successful morning, we'll drive into the check station and some old fella I recognize will tell my grandkid how great a job he or she did.  I can't wait for these moments and I hope many of them occur on the farm I was born and raised on.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Daydreaming in July

I recently bought the new Cuddeback camera, and per usual I am not disappointed with it.  I was going to go with another brand but you just cant beat the quarter sec trigger speed...when the camera goes off, I want a deer centered in the picture and more times than not that is what I get. I was also excited because this camera has time lapse mode and I had just the place in mind for it.  I've been daydreaming of a few monarch's feeding during an orange sunset.  I haven't quite gotten such a picture, but I know if I leave the camera out there long enough, I will get one.  For now I will keep daydreaming of the boys of summer.
Probably some good ones, too far away and not enough growth to confirm
Sometimes the dreams turn into reality. Photo of my Dad's 2014 buck

While searching through my parents camera chip for random pictures worthy of keeping, I found the above picture.  It pretty much sums up gun hunting.  I'll let your mind wander from here...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Suns out Cameras out

A recent trip back to SW Wisconsin included me bumming in the woods and trout fishing. My Dad and I managed to move a ladder stand to a hopeful location, while my brother promised rain would stop and trout would bite. It was true, the trout did bite.  We sat around the house for an hour or so eating breakfast and sipping warm drinks waiting for the hard mist to subside, Luke (without reading a weather update) was convinced it would end soon.  It did end, but I'm not sure how he predicted it, I suppose when you spend enough time fishing like he does you just kind of have a dog's sense of weather patterns. So we finally made it out and had a great day with our Dad.

Fishing was fun but I was extremely excited for trail camera season.  Although it's very early, I just had to get a few Cuddeback's out.  By late June mature bucks' racks will be exploding so I will definitely need to do battery checks in a few weeks before leaving them all summer.
Entry to a ravine head leading to a trail camera location for year round pictures

Friday, April 24, 2015

"All over the country, we're learning to put an "I" in conservation."

Clay Schoenfeld wrote those words in his 1979 book titled "Down Wisconsin Sideroads."  I am extremely thankful for those generations who took initiative and put themselves in the middle of the conservation forefront.  You might be wondering what putting the "I" in conservation looks like. Well, I don't believe there is an easy answer to that.  One thing is for certain, you have to take personal action and see it through to the end.  For example, land management is a long process which should parallel the lifetime of land ownership.  However, not all of us own a piece of dirt so this isn't possible for everyone.  Just because you don't own land doesn't mean you can't have an impact on conservation. I personally do not own property but have recently joined a conservation committee related to deer management in my county.  It is a special feeling to be a part of a committee founded by and based on the principals of Aldo Leopold's land ethic.  Small committee's and even local grassroots movements can have major impacts on conservation.

 Schoenfeld begins a chapter by saying, "You don't have to be a world-famous ecologist writer to contribute to conservation.  I want to chronicle here the contributions of people who have made major dents in the sweep of environmental degradation: a forest ranger and his wife, a hermit, a small-town postman, a minor state bureaucrat, a housewife outdoorsperson, and a very young representative of a new generation." --I hope to be the latter

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weekend in God's country

God created all country, but I believe Southwest Wisconsin's canvas received a little more attention from the maker.  While wandering through a trout stream with my brother on Saturday afternoon, we both agreed Richland County is a sportsman's paradise.  See evidence below...
A few familiar faces survived the winter
After covering several hundred acres of land in search of sheds, it was time to snatch a trout rod and head to the stream where I learned how to fish (although an unfamiliar section).

I told my brother I would be happy if I only fished trout streams the rest of my life.  He replied "nah, you'd get sick of only trout fishing."  While it's possible I was exaggerating, I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if all outings yielded nine landings like Saturday did.

Focused stroke, firm fish and fun times
Views that make a man rich

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Don't find them all

My Dad was out bumming in the woods last weekend and stumbled upon this nice shed.  It was a beautiful day so I couldn't blame him for wanting to get out a little.  However, I told him not to find them all.  I am leaving tomorrow afternoon for a much needed weekend in the outdoors.  Shed hunting and trout fishing are on the itinerary.  More sheds to come hopefully.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Connecting The Dots

My Dad is a self proclaimed minimalist when it comes to technology, especially when it comes to combining technology and deer hunting.  He heads to the woods with nothing more than his bow and the occasional thermos of coffee.  In a lot of ways I agree technology can drown out some of the natural experiences of a deer hunt.  I find myself mindlessly sifting through apps on my phone while on stand quite often.

However, using technology prior to hunts can be really helpful in terms of predicting deer movement.  Using topographical maps and aerial photos have helped me think about where deer might be at a given time.  These maps have also help me understand why I saw a deer in a specific area.  This summer, I plan to print multiple Google Earth images of properties I hunt and start marking where I have those buck sightings, and hopefully start connecting some dots to pattern and intercept certain deer.

Aerial photo of the home farm. Nice bucks taken, but have yet to master this piece of land.
 Once I acquire multiple photos of a deer I want to harvest, it'll be time to predict bedding areas and move in for the kill.  But first, I need some more trail cameras...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Filling the Freezer

After harvesting a deer, running out of freezer space and getting sick of store bought meat, my wife and I decided to buy a chest freezer.  Growing up, I was really spoiled to have the option to buy meat from my Uncle, who's farm was right down the road.  When I moved to the Green Bay area I quickly realized getting meat from the farm wasn't so easy, and we were forced to buy store bought meat.  To be honest, there is no comparison. The venison sausage isn't bad either...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't sleep in November 1

A couple nice bucks I missed out on. This is a property I hunted quite hard early in the season.  I decided to sleep in on November 1st.  I set my alarm, but woke up to a persistent west wind, which would blow my scent to a nearby river bottom where I had predicted deer would come.  I was very particular all season long about wind direction, it turn outs I should've just hunted anyway.  Of course, then there is no guarantee I would've seen them.  All I know is, I would have loved to release an arrow on one of these two boys.  On this property, I saw four deer on stand (all does) up until late November, it was quite depressing. Besides these two bucks, I had three other bucks pass through on sweet November.  When action has been slow, its easy to convince yourself to stay home because you 'guarantee' it'll be slow again...well, there are no guarantees in bow-hunting, and it's a major reason I find myself heading back to my stand.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Late-season survey

I had a trail camera recently pulled at a property I hunt and was pleasantly surprised by buck movement in the absence of a large food source.  Neighboring properties have some picked corn but other than corn the only major attraction is thick cover and steep hillsides receiving lots of sunshine.  Knowing deer use easy travel routes when snow falls, I figured this was a perfect location for a camera.  This ten point seemed to agree...

Another solid buck from the survey

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's a brutal world

This is a picture from a buck I had to finish off this past November.  As you can see he didn't have much of a right side, this proved to be deadly for him.  I'm sure the right side grew in weird due to a previous injury. As I was out the door for church on the last day of my hunting trip, my parents' neighbor knocked and asked if I have an archery license.  I replied yes, and asked him what was going on.  He told me there was a buck in his backyard that appeared to be sick, so long story short I had to strap on my boots and grab my bow to finish off this buck that was badly hurt from a fight.  The buck had scratches on his back and an unprotected right eye which had almost been bulged out. As he laid there in an open field, head tucked in his belly riving in pain, I couldn't help but think how brutal the whitetails world can be. As a sportsman, I was sure glad I could end his misery.