Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Nose Knows

Around the Nimrod home range the weather has been unseasonably warm. A mid winter thaw had lasted for well over a week and most the snow had melted. Carpe diem!! Time to beat feet to the secret honey hole I had found during the late late late season. To late to hunt correctly really.

With the snow melting and a good portion of the ground bare it should reveal the sign from the late season. Not the sign I had found in the late late late season. Once Monkey was off at the place of higher education, kindergarten, I jumped in the sled and sneaked out to the honey hole for scouting and hoping to maybe find a shed antler or ten. Murph asked if he could come and I reluctantly agreed knowing I was going to be walking a lot and he tends to be lazy.

I should have known it was gonna be an adventure when we found 13 bags of trash and a guitar case dumped in the parking area of the honey hole. Why some people feel the need to dump their trash on our public lands is beyond me. I doubt someone of that minimal intellect reads the diaries but if ya do, give me a shout... Nimrod has a place to stuff all 13 of those bags, you useless slob.

I took a couple photos in case the officers need them later for prosecution and then stepped off for the secret honey hole. The walk back was short but fun. The weather had turned from the last few days and the wind and snow were making sure we knew it was still winter. I only carried the camera today. The day before I took the old Fred Bear Kodiak Magnum out for a walk and attempt at some squirrels. I found no squirrels but stumbled on some turkeys.

As we approached the honey hole the snow really started to come down. We started following the deer trails here and there, to and fro, hither and yon. I meandered about the hole and I finally got a decent understanding of the deer did what they did... and why they didn't do what the didn't. I quickly realized I had been hunting the wrong section of the honey hole. Chances are I will forget by the time the late late and the late late late seasons come around next year. Murph decided his feet hurt and went back to the sled, and I told him “Bye, hope you get lost, again.”

I continued following the deer trails around the hole. I worked our way further back where the majority of the trails lead. I had not been that far back in the area of the honey hole but knew it held some potential. A place the deer may escape the hoards of hunters closer to the road. The sign left behind seems to agree with that but how do you hunt some of the thickest, nastiest, thorn infested, impenetrable thickets that have no trees big enough to climb? Time will tell.

The middle of the thickets were a gold mine of buck sign. If I did know better, which I don't, I would say there is an elk or moose hanging out in there too. I found one tree about six inches in diameter that have been tore up by antlers. Since everyone claims there are no big bucks on heavily hunted public land there is no way a whitetail attacked a six inch tree...

Knowing I had to pickup Monkey from school, and the yoopmobile is still not running right, so if I was late I would have to answer to Yoop and Monkey I kept a good idea of what directions were what as I wandering amongst the depths. The time came to head back out and I walked in what I knew was the way out.

After walking the same direction for a few minutes nothing looked the same as I remembered on the way in. I thought real hard and realized if I took the same way I took on the way in I would be backtracking through the thickest, nastiest, thorn infested, impenetrable thickets I had come through on my way in. The sky was hidden by a thick layer of clouds and the snow falling kept me from seeing anything to give me an idea of direction. I went back towards the creek and tried to see what direction it was flowing, and found it frozen over. I have studied the map of the area over and over so I figured I could figure out what bend I was near... but then realized I never paid attention to the hundreds of bends it makes in the half mile it runs in the area.

Thinking Murph was playing a trick on me I decided to go the opposite way I was going. I walked for another five minutes and started to think I was heading west instead of east. I found the end of the walking trail a few minutes later... which is at the furthest west end.

I turned around and started to hoof it back to the east, the way my nose knew was right. I made it back to the sled in time to see Murph there laughing his fool head off. I asked him what he had done and he gave me the “who me” look.

We made our way to Monkeys school, quickly but legally, mostly, just as the final bell was ringing. I meet Monkey and his teach at the door and told him do I have a story for you. On the way back to the Nimrod homestead, I started to tell him what had happen and he interrupted me...

“Dad whats for supper?”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mud, Murph and the Creek

Sorry for such a long delay in between diary entries I make no excuses, just I have not posted anything. I am going to try to catch up on the end of my 09 deer season, and attempt to keep the hunts in the order they happened. If ya have been reading any of the past diary entries, nothing goes anything like it is planned, even after the fact. So here is my next entry, it wasn't the next hunt of my year, but its the one on my mind.

Deer season is winding down. The weather is staying rather moderate considering some of the late season we have had in the recent past. Life is keeping me busy and largely out of the woods. Alas Mud comes over to baseops and you know something will be brewed up.

About five days before Mud arrived I was loading a few things up in the Nimrod sled when Murph jumped out from behind Grey Beards pick 'em up and pushed me into the sled. I twisted and bruised my knee and have been limping like a three leg dog since.

Mud came over looking to fill one of his tags and I hadn't been hunting in over a week so anyone should have known what was gonna happen.

We met up at baseops, dropped off Yoop, Monkey and Munda; picked up Mud and off we went. I had a new to me ladder stand strapped to the roof of the sled. With a bum knee I talked Mud into helping me erect the stand to catch the waning portion of the season.

I had scouted the swale a few times for the perfect stand location and have come up empty. On the fly I found a nice tree with in shooting distance of a few normally well used trails. Mud and I put it together and up the tree. Mud played squirrel and got her all strapped up and ready. Bingo.

I told Mud I would go park the sled and he could just make his way over to his stand. I gimped my way out of the woods and parked the sled back up by the road. I loaded up the front loader and gimped my way back to the stand. Not seeing any sign of recent deer activity, or activity in the last few weeks, my hopes were sky high. and having my knee throb the whole time I felt it was a good time to throw in the towel. Not wanting to ruin Muds hunt I stuck it out.

I nestled into my new penthouse view and tried to enjoy the night. I scanned the woods with the binos and found no fresh tracks. Not one to get down about anything I started to think about the snow fall we had received and made a mental note that we hadn't received any fresh snow in about 10 days nor had we any temperatures above the freezing mark. So based on my advanced education in meteorology and wildlife biology I determined there had been no deer around in the past 10 days or so.

While I enthusiasm for a fun filled night of hunting was at a fevered peak... my willingness to freeze the ol' can off while listening to my knee throb wasn't. About 50 minutes after climbing into the penthouse, I gave Mud a ring on the phone and told him I was going to head back to baseops. I explained to him why and told him I would be glad to come back for him in a few hours at dusk.

Surprisingly Mud said I will just go with you. I found it odd cause he had come over not to see the family, but to hunt deer. He said he didn't see one deer track on his way to his stand but figured he would give it a shot since we won't be shooting any from in front fo the TV at baseops, yet I didn't care, I just wanted to get a heating pad on the throbbing joint that holds most my weight every other step.

I slowly gimped my way out to the field. I took the curviest, hilliest, most unforgiving path tot he field line. Why take it easy when your gimped up? Pains is only temporary... the embarrassment of crying from the pain in public lasts forever.

While I waited for Mud to emerge from the woods, I stood around unfortunately taking him the winter evening. Some rustling in the thick brush next to me broke my self pity party. This thicket is where early last season both Mud and I had a nice 7 point walk by our stands (we were in two separate stands by the way). This thicket was between us and the deer cut right on through it.

I positioned myself as best as I could that if I deer came out, I should be able to take a safe shot. I knew where Mud's stand was, I knew where the road an houses were... as long as this deer gave me a shot that was not inline with the majority of obstacles around me I was going to be all set.

I knelt down on my gimp'd knee; waiting and listening. The critter had been running through the thick stuff and now was slowly moving to the edge. I think Mud had bumped the deer from its bed and it was working its way away from where he was moving.

As I sat very impatiently and the brown one never showed, the pity party started back in full swing. After another few minutes Mud emerged from where I had heard the brown one coming. I asked him if he had kicked up a deer and was trying to find it and he looked at me like I asked him if he was going to paint the Mud Machine Pink. I explained what I had heard and he said it was him.

Turns out while I was parking the sled, he and Murph were making their way to Muds stand. As mud crossed the creek, Murph pushed him. Mud crashed into the other bank, fall into knee deep water, filling his boots. He also landed his front loader on a perfectly placed rock, breaking off the tip of his front loaders loading rod. The water from the creek filled Muds boots and his feet were a wee bit chilled by the time I called him. Mud never helped explaining the noise I thought was a brown one. I think it was Mud chasing Murph for dumping him in the creek.

Once back at the sled we loaded out stuff and made way back to baseops. We arrived home earlier than everyone expected us too and turns out our normally cold dinner was still served cold. Baseops had eaten early and we didn't give them time to warm it up for it to cool down for us.