deer hunting

Feeder Pen Fail

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.

It Was Hot

Feeder Ped From Tree Stand

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.

Trucks Packed With T-Post, Fencing, 4-Wheeler and Corn

Having A Little Fun While Getting It Done

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.

Bait Site

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.

1 Of The Fews Bucks That Showed Up

We Had More Pigs Than Deer Show Up

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.

What Our Bow Stand Looks Like

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.

No Matter What, You Have To Keep Your Spirits High

Categories: camping, deer hunting, Hunting, outdoors, road trip, texas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire and Fauna

Date:  February 16-17, 2013

Report By:  Tommy

Team Members:  Tommy, Chris, Craig, Justin, Josh, Chad

Weather Conditions:  Clear and cool

I stepped off of one of the longest helicopter flights I’d ever been on, on Thursday around 2 pm.  The rest of the day was a blur, from getting off of the rig to my wife picking me up at the airport. I was filled with anticipation for the upcoming weekend trip to the deer camp to celebrate Craig’s birthday.  Friday could not have been any different; the work day dragged on while all I could think about was getting up to camp and hanging out with my best friends.  Josh swung by the house around 5:30 pm to pick me up.  I kissed Brit and Baby Reagan goodbye and loaded the truck.  The long drive to camp was full of Josh and I pumping each other up, preparing ourselves for how much fun this weekend would be.

As soon as we arrived, we hopped out of the truck, greeted Chris and Craig, and each took a draw on the bottle of “Crown Maple” that Chris offered-up.  Craig had the fire raging, and we all had our spots around the campfire discussing the fate of the world and life’s bigger problems (like what color sharks are most attracted too).  We got straight to work spreading corn, sugar, and Hog Wild underneath the feeders that we planned on hunting, all the while keeping a keen eye out for hogs and rabbits.  After an hour or so of driving around the woods, with no luck, we decided to retire to the campfire again.

Inside our “cabin”

Chris and Justin fixin supper

As the night went on, Craig got the fire burning even larger and hotter.  We were all beginning to feel the effects of too much whiskey and wine.  Josh dragged a large piece of plywood out from the side of the bunk-house and set us up a beer-pong table.  Craig dragged another piece of plywood out from the side of the bunk-house and threw it on the fire.  We joked around and played beer-pong through the night and into morning until about 3 am, when Craig tried to play “flaming beer pong” by lighting the ping-pong balls on fire.  With two hours until we were supposed to wake up for the morning hunt we packed it in and called it a night.

Flaming Beer Pong

Tommy and Justin in Deep conversation…

I woke up groggy, and slightly disoriented.  I stumbled outside to relieve myself and heard the rest of the guys stirring around inside the bunk-house.  It was way too late for the morning hunt, we had missed it, so we agreed to go into town and gorge on some jalapeno boudin for breakfast.  As it turns out, we slept in so late that the donut shop was closed and we had to go eat at the local café.  In case you don’t know about the local café, it accounts for one third of the restaurants in town and serves food that can be bought at your local grocery store freezer section.  The nasty, greasy, garbage food from the café is exactly what we needed to get us back on our feet for the day.

We killed some time in the afternoon setting some anthills on fire

Back at the camp we decided to follow the guidance of some wives and friends and get crazy with a “Harlem Shake” video.  We knew that Justin and Tom would be joining us later in the day and thought that this would be the best way to kill some time before their arrival.  While filming one of the videos Justin was incessantly calling us telling us that we needed to head out to the stands, and that critters were stirring all over Trinity.  We were just having way too much fun acting like kids to heed his advice.  After we reviewed the footage and laughed at each other for a good spell, Justin had finally arrived.

We suited-up in camo and talked about who would hunt which stand.  I would be hunting with Justin, and was excited because I had never hunted with Justin before.  We started down the road to the stand in Justin’s truck and realized he needed his jacket, so Justin used his expert driving skills to reverse all the way back to camp and grab a jacket.  Off we went, again, when we realized that we should bring a video camera in case we encounter any action, so Justin put his driving skills to test one more time and reversed back to camp one more time.  No camera was at the camp so we set-off, finally, to go play in the woods.

We parked deep in the pines and began our trek through the muddy trails towards the stand.  Justin and I were being so careless; I forget what we were talking about, but was probably something about how insulated coveralls make the back of your knees sweaty when you walk, pretty insignificant, un-muted, conversation.  Justin was looking back towards me when I froze and smacked his arm.  We were just inside the tree-line, walking towards the pipeline clearing when I spotted a few hogs rooting around the clearing.

We both, instantly, went silent and hunter instincts took over.  Justin laid out his jacket and crouched down.  I got into prone position and trained the rifle on a hog that appeared to be about 60 lbs.  Justin was spotting others and told me that there were about 5 hogs, one of which was massive.  The hog that I had in the crosshairs must’ve been only 20 yards away.  They were very active and moving quickly.  I felt rushed.  Justin was whispering quietly, “take it, take the shot”, so I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger as I exhaled.  I couldn’t believe it, but I had shot just under the belly of that hog.  They ran off into the woods and left the both of us with a bit of a care-free feeling, the feeling that we may have ruined the rest of the hunt.

Justin and I marched over to the stand, climbed in, and got settled.  It was a bit different than usual because we knew we had just made a ruckus taking a shot at that hog.  The best thing about missing that hog was that I was with Justin.  You may remember the post “Redemption is a Dish Best Served Cold” when Justin had missed a shot at a deer they called Thud-Butt and was able to harvest Thud-Butt the next day.  Justin’s experience on his hunt for Thud-Butt was invaluable to me at this time.  As the dust settled in my head, and my nerves calmed down, Justin finally turned this hunt around by saying, “I’m just glad it wasn’t me that missed this time”.  We laughed and joked for the next 3 hours, talking about dream exotic hunts, our travel experiences, and crazy ex-flames (Justin has got some serious crazies after him).  We were being so loud, but having so much fun it didn’t matter.

I think we were just about to call the hunt quits when Justin spotted a group of doe off in the distance to the west.  They must have been over 500 yards away.  The two of us got serious about the hunt.  We shut-up and concentrated our focus on the doe, as if we could bring them closer with our thoughts.  After about 45 minutes, Justin asked if I wanted to sit and wait for them to work their way towards us or if I wanted to try and get closer.  There was no way I could go back to camp after missing that hog, so I told Justin that I wanted to get closer.

Fate is a curious thing, because Justin had just finished telling me that one of his dream hunts would be a “spot & stalk”.  We got out of the stand as quietly as possible and crept out of the brush, onto the edge of the pipeline, to gauge how far we would have to go and what path we would take.  We would have to choose between sneaking down the edge of the pipeline risking being seen, or taking cover in the woods and risk being heard.  We both agreed that we would walk the first 200 yards on the edge of the pipeline and reassess the situation.

Map of the hunting area

In a low crouch, we slowly stepped closer to the doe.  My excitement grew with each step.  When we reached our way-point we took a look at the terrain and saw that the ground cover in the woods was a bit damp, which would soften our noise, and the wind-blown grass would crunch under our steps on the edge of the pipeline.  We cut back into the woods and made our way downhill towards a small creek bed.  We were able to use the soft sand and elevated sides to shield our scent and noise.  Justin and I were closing in on the doe.  We peeked over the creek bank and saw that the doe were about 175 yards away.  I crawled on my belly the rest of the way to the elevated edge of a second, larger, creek.  The doe were about 75 to 100 yards past the second creek.  My heart was pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear my movement.  Every time I stuck my head up to see if the doe had moved I would see a flicker of the white tails.  Justin was hanging back, so as not to double our noise, but in a position where he could see both the doe and me.  I had to cut back to the south and aim northwest so that I could be certain that I wasn’t shooting towards any other stands in the area.  I situated myself on the up-sloping creek bank and trained my rifle on the doe.  She was completely oblivious to my existence.  I looked back one last time at Justin, as if to say “we did it, buddy”, turned back, took a deep breath, and with a slow exhale I squeezed the trigger.

The doe was down!  Before I could take a second look Justin was charging me with one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen.  We performed a high-five/tackle/hug, in jubilation, as Justin was exclaiming that I had dropped her and it was awesome!  I was speechless.  I couldn’t believe that we had actually pulled off a spot & stalk in an area with some of the most skittish whitetail.  Justin called the rest of The Lost Boys and gave them the good news, while we hiked back to the stand to collect our belongings.

Tommy and Justin sporting some big grins

Obligatory shirtless picture

We walked back towards the doe and were met by a caravan of trucks coming from the opposite direction.  After we took a good look at the doe in the dusk light we loaded her up and brought her back to camp for dressing and celebration.  The rest of the night was spent talking about our hunts that evening, drinking, planning a type of prank known as “the long-con”, and sitting around the fire with my best friends in the world.

Happy Birthday Craig!

At the end of the day, it is quite apparent that it wasn’t the fact that we harvested a doe that made the hunt a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  To me, getting to hunt with Justin, using a unique hunting style, and sharing the experience with my best friends that inspire perseverance, allow me to be myself, and build confidence are the things that I will remember.

Categories: camping, deer hunting, Hunting, outdoors, road trip, texas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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