Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Recap of 1st 2011 Bowhunt
Finally made my first bowhunt of the season. It’d been a long time coming – the longest I’ve had to wait in like 12 years. Per tradition, I failed to sleep the night before and had high hopes I’d bust that bruiser buck. The lock-on stand was in a prime location; I expected wheel back to the check station like a pro.
I’m not going to repeat the last couple of years and write about every unsuccessful hunt I embark upon. No need. Who wants to really read about someone NOT shooting something? Heck, anyone can do that! Even if I have just about mastered futility with a bow, that doesn’t mean I need to share with everyone.
Still, there are always lessons to learn, stuff to report, and experiences to chronicle. When the time is right, it’s probably OK to relate a few of these expeditions. So I do want to review last weekend’s hunt at Duette Park in Manatee County, though I once again came home with a full quiver and a cooler full of excuses.
- I know better, I know better, I know better than to take unproven gear afield. My regular release – the one I’ve used and loved for ten years – crapped out on me Wednesday. Long story short, I broke open the package to the new one Saturday morning and tested pulling back the string before I headed off to my stand. While lowering the string, I don’t know if my finger or a leafy flange off my suit tapped the trigger, but the string popped that dull, hollow thunk of a dry-fire. Panicked I’d jumped the string off the cams and ruined the hunt, I noticed my peep sight had come free. The release needed to be tightened – and was eventually. It could have been disastrous, however.
- A cold front that was supposed to push through the state hung up over south-central Florida. The switching winds made deer sightings in my hammock rather improbable. But my scent control really shined through. First, a very large boar splashed and rumbled out of the swamp and fed behind me. Later, a spike walked practically under the stand. Finally, a button buck fed unalarmed in front of me for 30 minutes while a wind blew on my neck and up his nostrils. Say what you will about small, young, dumb deer, the hog proved something was working. I’d argue they have the best olfactory senses in these parts.
I showered with scent-eliminating shampoo and washed my clothes in scent-eliminating detergent. I wore camp clothes on the ride down with the hunting garb in a trash bag. After suiting up, I sprayed down with Scent Killer and put one of those delicious Scent Wafers on my ballcap. You can’t always control the weather and wind but you can go a long way towards minimizing its attempts to scatter your stink throughout the woods. It's not fail-safe but worth the efforts.
- Speaking of the deer. This is the spike. It’s hard to see since I recorded this on the iPhone. And the video quality really ate it when uploaded to YouTube. He’s actually a little 3-point – naturally, Duette has a 4-point minimum. You can tell he caught me moving while I fiddled with the phone. He did calm down, circled back in front of me and ambled away feeding. By the way, I’m shaking because I’m turned around trying to film. It is NOT Buck Fever.
- And here’s the button buck. This guy was legal but he might have weighed 50 pounds. The Rage would have cut him in half. As badly as I want to fill a freezer, I gave him the pass. What a swell guy I am. Note he’s eating on the gallberry bushes. This is important...
- ...because there are very few acorns down here this year. I haven’t been kicking around too many properties yet this fall but noticed the same thing in Sarasota County earlier in the week. It is gonna be another one of those crazy years, I feel. Anyone else want to offer up an acorn report? Still time to adjust stand locations – but not much time.
- Saturday morning I felt something crawling up the inside of my facemask. I figured it was just another bat-sized mosquito that slid through the Therma-Cell’s defenses. I swiped it away and that was that. A couple minutes later the same sensation returned on the right side of my face. I slapped it harder this time and was rewarded with a sharp, burning pain behind my ear in that spot people put seasickness patches. I struggled to free myself of the mask as a scorpion fell onto my lap, tail lifted and jabbing, claws extended. I flicked him off - I hope he fell to his death and is burning in Arachnid Hell.
Scorpion stings feel like someone extinguished a cigarette on your skin. It burns and aches for about 20 minutes; then, thankfully, peters out. Being a marvelous physical specimen, I am not allergic to these bites. If you are, an Epi-Pen or antihistamine or notepad and pencil to record your last will and testament should be in your daypack.
- The biologist at the check station said the deer are just a tick off from a full-blown rut. Hunters have reported bucks seeking does, but few have been brought to the check station during archery. Dad did say one young man took a fine buck a couple weeks ago. Smaller bucks were taken this weekend. By the time I return with a muzzleloader, it should be on like Donkey Kong.
Hopefully we’ll have a success story, then.