Granted, I hunt a very small property which is not in an area well known for a large and docile deer population, but opening morning was a little slow. My wife and I walked to my back stand about 5:30 AM and got set up, sort of hoping a big boar that has been visiting this spot just before daylight would show up. While it was nice once again to watch the world come into view from an observation post in the woods, not much really happened. Didn’t even see many squirrels, not as many birds waking up as usual. On my place at dawn it sometimes sounds like an avian orchestra tuning up at sunrise, but not on this morning. We have seen zero cardinals lately, and they seem to be our main song birds. I don’t think they migrate, and they are certainly not afraid of us, as they eat my corn as though it were meant for them and eagerly await my arrival. Another mystery of the woods, I guess. About 7:45 I announced to the wife that the deer must have not gotten the message that DEER SEASON was now here, as they forgot to show up. Just as I made that statement, I spotted a doe sneaking along the back fence line, on the wrong side of the fence. Just behind her came a yearling, hurrying to catch up with mama. Not that I wanted to shoot either one, but at least seeing deer was more encouraging than NOT seeing any.
After a period of no more action, I decided to toss out some corn on the trail leading up to our spot, in hopes a buck heading to his day bed would be distracted and attracted by it. While doing this, I “jumped” a deer that was evidently already bedded down in the thick stuff along the fence. Only got a glimpse of deer butt and flag tail, but it was definitely a larger animal than the small doe I saw earlier, might even have been a good buck. After this epic failure, I decided to take a quiet stroll back towards my first stand and feeder site. I have always had a little trouble being a strict stand hunter, like to roam about amongst ’em. As I approached, the woods seemed to explode just out of my view, then I heard squeals and grunts. The pigs had not seen me, as they came almost out on the road and I could see a couple through the first screen of brush. Didn’t want to shoot without a clean shot, and was hoping for a larger hog than the shoats I could see, so I decided to “herd” them towards the wife (or at least “shadow” them as they went in that direction), as she is always ready to shoot a pig. Unfortunately, they elected to go deeper into the brush instead of in the open area around the feeder.
When I rejoined my wife, she said that not long after I left a large hog snorted and crashed the brush just behind the stand, but never came out where she could see it. When we got home and checked the camera cards from the day before, we saw the doe and fawn seemed to have spent a good deal of time grazing on my rye grass in plain view of the stand. Nothing like live “decoys” to bring a buck or two in.
Although I haven’t gotten many reports in yet from other areas, I heard no shots fired opening morning, which is unusual. Could have been a number of things working against us. First is the overwhelming amount of acorns available. You can literally get beaned on the head several times just walking under oak trees! Hogs have almost forsaken corn altogether in favor of oak mast, and the deer in my area never seem to depend heavily on corn feeders. There was also a bright 3/4 full moon at night, encouraging night-time feeding. Couple these negatives with a cold front approaching late Sunday – even though it was fairly warm most of the weekend – and heavy rain Saturday night, and we did not have optimum conditions for a hunt. Should have gone this morning, and hunted the fog. I love to hunt in thick fog, for some reason. Makes the woods seem smaller, softer, and even more peaceful.
I sat in my tripod stand Sunday afternoon, watched lots of squirrels playing nearby, heard pigs squealing in the brush, even had one deer approach from behind me and spook before I could get a good look at it. Yes, I probably could have done better on a lease in “real” deer country, but it was peaceful on my place, no other hunters nearby, and I enjoyed my time in the woods immensely. These are the reasons I hunt, and if I get a chance at a good deer, that is just icing on the cake. By the way, it seems all of the sows that visit my feeders are in varying stages of pig production right now, probably the reason they are in the thicket squealing, and maybe why the aggressive boar is snorting behind stands. I’ll certainly take a pig if the shot is offered, and will not agonize over the decision as I will over shooting a doe.