IF ANY HUNTER alive or dead would ever expect to have a reasonable handle on the critter numbers on their own private hunting lands it would be me. I’ve been hard at it my entire life, never missed a season in 70 years and diligently explore, farm, hunt, fish, trap, survey and study my sacred hunting grounds nonstop throughout the year, all year long, every year.
When we were hit hard across the Midwest by the deadly EHD plague a few years back, we counted nearly 100 dead deer carcasses in our woods, fields, swamps, marshes and fen in a short few months period. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
Over the following five years we backed way back on doe harvests, and within just a few short years we celebrated God’s miraculous whitetail deer productivity creation as the numbers rebounded to nearly the good old days.
The hunting has been wonderful.
My deer expert son Toby reported herds of 50 to 60 animals wintering on our place this past year and we were excitedly looking forward to an action packed backstrap boogie come the October 2018 opener.
But alas, it was not to be!
I’ve hunted every day for 18 days, and with nasty hot temperatures I knew deer sightings would not be good, and they were indeed uninspiring and downright dismal to say the least.
I hunt the edges and leave the impenetrable sanctuaries off limits, but I can still see into them pretty good which gives me a bird’s eye view of deer numbers no matter what.
Or so I thought.
Now, I’m no newcomer to this right place right time deer hunting game, but just a few days ago I texted a very frustrating text to Toby exclaiming serious concern about our herd condition and population.
On many hunts in prime locations I was skunked day after day with either no sightings at all or a rare glimpse of a deer here or maybe there.
I’m not saying I was giving up my any means, but it was very frustrating day in day out.
The temperatures took a major drop overnight and everything changed.
That first day with temperatures bordering freezing, there were deer everywhere! And I liked it!
Same ground, same stands, same everything except weather.
The important lesson I was reminded of is to believe in your scouting and spoor reading, and that, as always, patience and perseverance are the most critical tools in our hunting lifestyle.
Another lesson in hunting frustration 101 happened last night on a big swamp donkey doe kill I made.
Two nights ago I drilled the pumper of a huge old matriarch she-deer with the most wonderful, short, ultra-easy walking bloodtrail a bowhunter could ever hope for.
But last night’s kill, though for all apparent indicators was technically an exact same hit with the same broadhead, same angle and same everything, we nonetheless struggled on hands and knees with our best flashlights for over 100 yards with nothing but the occasional pin-prick of a crimson spot across a green field.
When we finally found the old girl, we could not believe our eyes at the gaping gash of a broadhead wound that actually didn’t bleed for diddlysquat!
How can that be? How could blood not pour out of a heartshot hole that huge?
Well, all’s well that ends well but the spooky frustration factor tests a bowhunters soul to say the least.
The key lesson I take away is to always take a deep breath, slow down, envision the shot scenario (review the video footage in my case) and remain confident even when Ma Nature throws you a science defying curveball.
If you hunt long enough, you will surely experience various frustrating scenarios that make no sense whatsoever. Stick with it. Never give up and celebrate those hard earned memories and backstraps like you mean it.
If you truly love this incredible hands-on conservation, great outdoors lifestyle, be sure to check out HunterNation.org to help the most dedicated amongst us fight the out of control bureaucracies that have created a punitive and arbitrary landmine field of ridiculous rules and regulations for sporters across America that unnecessarily impede the enjoyment and recruitment into our beloved sport.
This sacred experiment in self-government takes fulltime participation by we the people who care the most.
Freedom ain’t free and is always worth fighting for.
Happy pre-rut across the hinterland my backstrap BloodBrothers! Get out there every chance you get. Aim small, miss small and celebrate the world’s greatest sport with family and friends at every opportunity!
Email Ted Nugent at [email protected]