Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Hunting With Huntography: The Plan

by Chris Larsen
This is the 2nd post in a multi-part series on Huntography: Filming America’s Hunters One At A Time.

When I saw the map detailing the Huntography 2011 Deer Tour I immediately noticed the route went right through my hunting area. After a quick email to Rudy from Huntography to confirm dates and the route, we were all set. If you don’t know about Huntography, check out my last post. To put it simply, Rudy is traveling east from Colorado to film hunts with 19 different hunters in 12 states. The idea is to capture what hunting is all about from regular hunters, not the guys from big budget TV shows.

My location and timing were perfect for a quick stop on the Deer Tour. Rudy plans to arrive in camp on the evening of Saturday, October 15. He will likely be coming off the road after 12 hours of driving, so I don’t plan to work him too hard. We’ll have dinner, tell stories, and perhaps shoot some interviews. My dad will head off for his favorite turkey field Sunday morning as Rudy and I sneak into the woods for a rendezvous with a whitetail. My dad doesn’t bow hunt so chasing whitetails outside of the gun deer season is off limits to him. He’s more than happy to wait for fall gobblers.

Up until this season, that was my game as well. I am rookie bow hunter this year. The opportunity to chase some of the giant whitetails on our property for more than 10 days a year is just too much to pass up. I’ve watched them move through the woods confidently as I sat still with a turkey gun on my lap. Two years ago I sat in the woods for two days during the rut. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. A few weeks later, one of the bucks I saw that weekend hit the ground. They are out there. I just need to put in the time to get my chance.

I recently purchased a Parker Trailblazer XP from A1 Archery in Hudson, Wisconsin. Dan Ellyson has put together an awesome package with the Trailblazer XP. First off, the bow originally retails for $499. He has a deal on this bow right now for $250. This single cam arrow launcher is IBO rated at 310 fps. It’s an incredible bow at a great price. This deal is good for all readers of foremosthunting.com. Dan ships anywhere in the US. He has an accessory package that is just as good. For $109, I added on a 3 pin Trophy Ridge sight, Trophy Ridge whisker bisquit rest, Bohning quiver, Truglo Stabilizer, peep, and string loop. I also picked up a half dozen Easton Carbon Storm arrows for $35. So for under $400, I now have a certified deer-to-venison conversion machine. I’ll have more details on my equipment in a future post. By the way, Dan has helped me go from newbie to competent archer in no time. Over the weekend I grouped three arrows inside of 3 inches at 30 yards. It was the first time I have shot at thirty yards and my bow is shooting tacks!

Back to the hunt… I have chosen three stand sites for this season. In addition, I have recently acquired a climber so if I need to switch it up it’s not a problem. This is the third season of hunting this property and I feel confident in these spots. The three blue triangles on the map represent my stand sites. The red lines are the property boundaries and the yellow lines are fence lines within the property. The white lines are roadways. The yellow triangle is our cabin. I have two refuge zones. The north one gets driven on the final day of the season. The east refuge has never been walked in by anyone in our hunting party, ever. That doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t. But it gets very low pressure. The corn is still quite green and probably won’t get picked until November. There will be some standing corn well into mid-November but usually a few rows are cut by then. This would logically be a big hindrance for our hunting success but so far, it has not been. Deer use the forest as safe travel routes from field to field. There are cattle trails along the fence lines that deer frequent as well. I plan to utilize these as ambush points throughout the season.

The southeast stand sits on a small funnel going into the main valley. This point is the top of a small ridge. On the map you can see a little brown spot in the field just below the stand site. That brown spot is a wash that forms a bowl. There is a lot of space below the barbed wire fence for deer to cross under at that point. Deer then use this crease to walk into the main valley. I have also seen deer cruising the trail that runs parallel with the fence line. Bucks are probably scent checking the does in the field along this trail. The road to the west of this tree line is down in a valley and vehicles can not see the forest edge. Deer feel safe here. There are several benches just inside the forest from here and the orchard across the road offers good eating for deer with a sweet tooth. Baiting is illegal in this area, making natural food sources dynamite. This is the main entry point into the woods from the property to the west of us.

The stand site just north of this one sits on what we call “The Hot Corner”. Nearly every time I walk into The Hot Corner I see deer. There are several fingers leading into this area from adjoining properties and ours. Nearly every deer trail in this woods eventually leads to The Hot Corner. It stacks up. I don’t think there is a bad wind or a good wind for this site because deer literally come from all directions to get here. There is a 90% chance this is where the opening day of the 2011 Huntography Deer Tour will take place.

The stand to the east sits along a fence line overlooking a cornfield and a corner of the woods. Probably not the most ideal place to hunt when the corn is standing. But in reality, the standing corn makes this place what it is. There is a crease that runs from the creek on the southeast boundary through the center of the refuge directly to the northwest corner of the refuge boundary. You can also see the clearing in the woods separating the refuge woods from the main woods and my stand site. Deer walk along the fence from the refuge right to my stand site before jumping the fence into the other refuge area. I have seen several large bucks run this path and found two dead bucks this spring in this area. When bucks are injured, they usually go where they feel safe. This is the spot. The fence should serve as a natural speed bump. When they stop before jumping the fence, I’ll launch an arrow. The corn serves as a natural buffer. It is planted right up to the fence and prevents deer from jumping over until they walk in front of my stand. It is all part of my diabolical plan! Muh hah hah hah! If we’re going to see a trophy buck at any of these stand sites this is the place. It is also a great doe site. That little clearing in the north refuge is known as “The Cave”. Deer load up in there. During last year’s season ending drive I pushed at least two dozen deer out of The Cave. As Ferris Bueller says, “I highly recommend it.”

I can already envision our day on the stand. It’s a crisp autumn morning. Just before the morning dew greets the rising sun, a flash of antler appears. A thick wide ten pointer is walking the saddle of the ridge on his way to destiny. Rudy has the Huntography camera pointed in his direction, recording this big fella’s every step. As he walks below my stand and into range, nothing happens. I watch him walk in and out of range with a wide grin on my face. It is exciting to see deer like this walk below your stand. But I never lift my bow. No reason for it. This Sunday morning marks the final day of the antlerless deer season in our area. We couldn’t shoot a Booner if we wanted too.

Yep, I read the 2011 deer regulations a few weeks ago and was not a happy camper. I planned to hunt Friday and Saturday before Rudy arrived to scout. I would only shoot if a “can’t pass it up buck” walked under the stand. I would wait until Sunday’s Huntography shoot to take anything less. Now I will still be in stand Friday and Saturday. But only to film. I have no desire to kill two does in one weekend. If I’m going to take a doe that weekend it will be with Rudy. Unless something crazy happens, I know we can get a doe in range in The Hot Corner within a few hours. I’ll let Rudy decide how long we wait. We can sit all day and get some great footage of deer moving through the area or kill the first one in range and relax a bit before he hits the road to Green Bay. We’ll play it by ear and enjoy the day. Even if we can’t kill a buck, it will still be a great time.

If you’re trying to figure out what this “antlerless” season is all about, here is the skinny. Chronic Wasting Disease was discovered in Southwest Wisconsin in 2001. Since then, state deer managers have worked hard to reduce the size of the herd in the area. They essentially put a target on every deer in the state. Their efforts to reduce the size of the herd worked great, in the northern part of the state where there is no CWD. The southern portion of Wisconsin is primarily privately held. Most people continued to hunt with the attitude of more deer is better.

The state instituted what is called “Earn-A-Buck”. Basically, it means that you are not allowed to shoot an antlered deer until after shooting an antlerless deer. This rule applies to archers and gun hunters. To make it more appealing, the state gave gun hunters an opportunity to kill an antlerless deer before the regular gun deer season by creating the early antlerless season. Ten years later population densities are still high, CWD is still present, and people still hate Earn-A-Buck. Bowing to political pressure, this year the DNR is allowing hunters to kill either sex for their first deer. However, if you kill a buck first, you must kill an antlerless deer before killing another buck. It really didn’t matter to me, but this has made a lot of folks pretty happy. Personally, I would rather have seen deer managers manage the herd, not the hunters. The DNR allowed the previous year’s doe kill to count for the following year if you didn’t get a buck. There are plenty of does around and most property owners don’t manage them unless they are forced to. This was clearly a political maneuver.

The unfortunate part is that even though the antlerless requirement is relaxed, they still kept this stupid early antlerless season. I’m usually a guy who applauds any extra opportunity to hunt. However, it’s usually so warm that people don’t want to shoot deer. And secondly, and more importantly, this season imposes a blaze orange requirement on everyone who hunts. Ever try to hunt turkeys wearing blaze orange? It doesn’t work. I’m firmly convinced that deer can not see blaze orange if you take the glare off of it. I’ve had deer literally walk right up to me when wearing blaze orange, even when sitting on the ground.

Remember the big buck I talked about at the beginning of this story? Here he is. He came within 15 yards of a hunter sitting on the ground wearing a blaze orange jacket & cap. But do we really need this season anymore? It literally cancels four days of turkey season and puts an unnecessary burden on bow hunters. The middle of October isn’t exactly prime time for hunting. But I would guess more people are negatively affected than take advantage of the early hunt, especially after the EAB restrictions have been relaxed.

So when you get your Huntography 2011 DVD next year remember, the guy bow hunting in blaze orange isn’t stupid, his state is.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Hunting With Huntography

by Chris Larsen

Like it or not, social media is becoming an increasing popular way to communicate. I am firmly in the “like it” category. Sites like Facebook and Twitter help me stay in contact with friends and family. What is just as amazing is the new relationships fostered on these sites. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me how I met a new contact or interview and I’ve answered with “Twitter”! One of my Twitter pals is Rudy from Huntography.

Rudy is an internet professional originally from New York, now residing in Colorado. He has an interesting way of burning up his vacation time. 2011 will be his second season of filming America’s hunters, one at a time. We’re not talking about big budget hunting television on ranches with tens of thousands of acres. Rudy films real hunters on family plots and public property. His goal is to capture the experiences, traditions, and lifestyle of hunters across the country.

The theme of this season is “Getting Social With America’s Whitetail Deer Hunters”. Rudy is filming 19 different hunters in 12 states, all of whom he met through social media. I will be the first stop on the tour. Rudy is filming my hunt Sunday, October 16 in Southwest Wisconsin. From there, he will travel to the Green Bay area to complete the Wisconsin portion of the tour. Rudy is also filming hunts in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. It’s a four week adventure covering 5,000 miles.

At the end of the saga, Rudy puts the entire experience on DVD. He has the 2010 inaugural trip on sale now for just $15. This is not your average hunting video. There are no staged shots or retakes. Rudy lets everything happen naturally. “If you are as passionate about the experience of hunting whitetail deer, the outdoors, archery, the shooting sports and the lifestyle, then you just might like what you see.”

Huntography is a raw look at what makes a hunter tick and how the hunting lifestyle is changing. You’ll see hardcore bow hunters, a mother-daughter combo, and upstate New York brothers keeping the tradition alive. Ever thought about visiting a Georgia deer camp? You’ll see a nice Peach State buck hit the ground and witness field dressing a deer Georgia style. It’s an eye opener for a northern hunter.

The great thing is you won’t have to wait until the end of the year to see what is happening on the 2011 tour. Rudy offers live updates from the tree stand via his iPhone. You can also check in if you’re on Twitter or Facebook. Visit the Foremosthunting.com blog next week as I review my game plan. I have just one day to make magic in front of the Huntography camera. I’ll need to bring my A-game!

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