First Bow Hunt of the Year
Date: June- October 19, 2013
Reported By: Craig Emmite
Just to give you a heads up for everyone to fully understand what happened on our first hunting trip of 2013 I will have to start at the beginning when the Lost Boys first started this journey. Every year we work so hard in the off season so our spot will be better than anyone else on our lease. We get out there when it’s the hottest part of the summer, putting stands up, filling feeders and for the first time ever building a feeder pen. We do all this well before the season opens so when we get close to the start of deer season we don’t have to be out in the woods disturbing the area we plan on hunting in a few months. Like we do every year, we try to improve our spot in a different way so we can have a leg up on the other hunters in the area. Our big plan this year was to supplement feed something besides corn and a protein block. The trick was that we have cows that come onto our place, as well as, hogs that in the past have emptied our gravity feeders. We decided to build a large feeder pen and put both a gravity feeder with a protein pellet and corn mixture inside and a spin feeder with just corn.
When we drew up this plan in our heads it seemed easy enough but boy were we wrong, this pen tested our dedication, being out in the hot summer sun, hammering t-post into the ground and clearing everything from bushes to small trees, all in hopes that deer would be the only ones to be able to get into the pen. After a day of blood, sweat and lots of talk of giving up, the pen was up. The only thing left to do was to put up the game camera and get back to some air conditioning and a much needed shower.
After a few weeks we go back to check the game camera and see how everything was holding up and the pen looked great, no cows or hogs got in for sure but something was missing and to our surprise the game camera was gone, a sucky situation. Nothing will make you hate mankind like someone stealing your game camera but once we accepted the camera was gone and forgave the people in our County, we planned another trip. We go back up to fill the feeders one more time and to set up another game camera, this time with a lock box drilled into a nice big tree, mow the grass down inside the pen and make sure the last of what we needed to do for the bow stands was done. We also set up another camera over a bait site just down a game trail leading to the feeder pen just to be safe.
But a worrisome thought started creeping into our heads. Since we have no pictures of deer in the pen we had no idea if they were jumping in and normally by this time of the year we can start to put deer on our hit list but besides some tracks inside and around the pen we really didn’t know how everything was working. We had to cross our fingers and pray that we would finally get some good news the next time we came up
It’s now just a few days before the big weekend, Justin and I are so excited we are not sleeping so we throw caution to the wind and decided we would make a night trip up to the lease to check the game camera. We get out there in the middle of the night, get the first SD card out of the feeder pen, camera reads over 4000 pictures, excitement at an all-time max, grab the second SD card over the bait site, camera reads over 200 pictures we literally couldn’t be more excited. We get back into the truck and check both SD cards and our only possible fear came true. The camera in the feeder pen took over 4000 pictures of squirrels and birds and only showed 3 deer actually in the pen. While the bait site had multiple deer running past it and eating out of the bait pile along with a bunch of hogs. We worked so hard to get this pen up only to find out we didn’t build a deer feeder pen but a squirrel sanctuary. The deer were going to the bait site behind the pen and we had pictures of them walking around it but only a brave few jumped in. With it only being days before the hunt there was nothing we could do about it. We decided to go up and hunt just liked we planned but we were going to have to cut the fence down if we wanted to save the rest of the season.
The weekend comes and all that is going through my mind is we aren’t going to see a thing because why would we, the feeder was what was drawing them in. The only hope I had was that they would come into the area for the bait pile. We get up to the lease, and after a little debating we decided to go out in the middle of the night to toss some corn around the bait site and open up the door to the feeder pen.
For the first time since we started hunting together Justin and I don’t pull an all-nighter, instead we get some sleep and wake up to early and get out there hours before the sun comes up. As we walk to the stand we nervously joke about running into hogs, it’s one thing to have a rifle with you but we had a bow strapped in a backpack and Justin had a pocket knife. To say the least it was a fast walk to the stands, insuring one another that what we just heard wasn’t bigfoot or hogs. As the sun came up and we started to see some action, we realized another problem that we were going to face, when we set up the lock on stands we planned on the deer walking down the main game trail focused on the feeder. The problem was the deer weren’t focused on the feeder, they were just walking around all willy dilly like, coming out of game trails we didn’t even think they were using which left us more visually exposed. And since we decided to throw out some corn the night before the deer could sense something sketchy and were very jumpy while walking in. At one point we had 2 does coming in and every little sound made them jump. They were about 14 yards away and before they came into one of my shooting lanes a squirrel literally chased them off. We ended up seeing around 10 does but only 2 of them came near us, the rest that we saw were out of bow range. Though the feeder pen was an epic fail there was a brighter side, the deer were there, it felt good that our area was so naturally good that even if we didn’t want to feed we would still see something. Our first hunt of the year wasn’t what I hoped it would be but at the same time it was a chance to escape from the real world, to take some time away from growing up and to chase an adventure.