Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PostHeaderIcon It's Been A Long Time

by Chris Larsen

After a two month hiatus, I made it back to the cabin this weekend. I loaded up the car with a few Edge by Expedite predator decoys, some guns, and my daughter. She’s just a few weeks shy of her first birthday and has already become a hunting camp veteran. Thankfully, Grandma is more than happy to get some time with Emma and graciously tends to the little one while I’m off gallivanting in the woods.

The plan called for some product testing for Edge by Expedite, venison sausage making, shed hunting, turkey scouting, looking for new deer stand sites, and pulling down a few stands that were left up from last season. But perhaps the best part of the trip was something that wasn’t planned at all. My dad has been cleaning up some of his buildings over the past few months. He made a few discoveries that I found incredibly interesting and I think Foremosthunting.com readers will too.

It turns out I’m not the first in the family with a passion for filming hunts. My grandfather hauled a film movie camera to Wyoming for several years. We pulled out a reel from 1968 and were shocked to find the film to be in incredible condition. What we were watching was nearly 45 years old. My dad turns 60 in less than a month and there he was… 16 year old him… shooting a mule deer in Wyoming. I don’t remember my grandpa with anything but grey hair. It was cool to see him as a strapping 40 year old man. He pulled deer up and down the Rocky Mountain foothills with ease. As the reel begins to grow small, the men of the camp start stacking deer on the roof of the camper shell. A half dozen mulies and a pronghorn were tied down. This was the norm in these days. No one worried about someone being offended.

Before heading back home, the crew paraded through Douglas, Wyoming with game on the roof and their camper in tow. I have to give Grandpa some credit for shooting these scenes. It took a visionary since there were no 24 hour outdoor cable networks to study 45 years ago. They stopped to do some fishing too. The cast-and-blast was complete with a bucket full of rainbows. My dad said these never made it back to Illinois. The fellas fried them up right along the shore. McDonalds was a long way from becoming an empire at that time. A heart-attack-in-a-sack wasn’t available. See that strapping fellow in the picture? That’s my dad at 16. If you look closely you can see the film projector we used. I will be sharing the movies with you in the next few months. It’s an incredible look back at a different era of hunting history.

This past deer season ended with just two deer on the pole all season, both killed by me. I took a young buck during archery season and a doe during the gun season. My dad and my friend Jason decided against shooting a deer this year. They still had venison in the freezer from the previous season and decided it would be a big buck or nothing this year. My supply was exhausted but I didn’t need that excuse. The way I see it, deer season is for getting a deer. If I find myself with surplus venison, I’ll go into hyper venison eating mode! Last year we made 125 pounds of sausage. This year, just 45 pounds. Not bad considering we cut three roasts out of the buck’s hind quarters.

Our deer season ended abruptly and there were a few stands left trees. The stand in the photo was dubbed “The Rut Buster”. I spotted five bucks from that stand this year, but just one came close enough to put an arrow through. After pulling it down, we found a perfect tree closer to where the elusive bucks walked past. If they follow the same path next season, we’ll be putting meat in the freezer and a mount on the wall! The two hangers were in really good shape but my ladder stand had sunk deep into the mud. The ladder pulled away from the seat section making it a little exciting to take down.

Of course, the main even of the weekend was coyote hunting. Edge by Expedite is headquartered just up the road from my house and I’ve made a few contacts there. They have a new management team and were more than happy to allow me to test some of their new products. Look for reviews on our coyote hunting site soon. My dad & I hunted two different sets on Saturday without seeing a coyote. Jason arrived Saturday afternoon. We presided over three more sets before calling it a day. Again, no coyotes. We scoured the area for sheds as well. No dice there either.

Sunday morning I spotted something on the horizon that I thought could be a coyote. I soon realized it was a gobbler in full strut. Moments later, his entourage appeared. Thirty turkeys passed through the field. A spectacle for sure. I dozed off for a quick power nap and was awakened by Jason in short order. A dozen deer burst from the woods into the field. Three bucks were in the group, all with their antlers intact. Nutrition is a big factor in the timing of sheds dropping. The farmer who tends our property lost a lot of corn this year. A wind storm knocked the stalks down in late summer and they were still crooked when the harvester went through. A warm winter and plenty of corn left in the fields squashed our shed hunting efforts this weekend.

Our next coyote setup was deep in the woods right between two areas I’ve seen coyotes before. Nothing showed up but we did see a Pope & Young class buck retreating from the ridge. Again, both antlers were secured to his head. It was fun to see four bucks we’ll be hunting next year survived the season and most of the winter. We did spot a yearling and a doe carcass in the woods. The northern edge of the property skirts a major highway. Unfortunately, finding a dead deer or two in the woods is a yearly occurrence.

We ended up with eleven total coyote sets for the weekend. We hunted field edges and deep woods sets with the same lack of success. I guess 45-to50 degree weather in mid-February isn’t conducive to successful coyote hunting. Or maybe they just know why we’re in the woods. During archery season I had several nice bucks well inside gun range. During gun deer season two coyotes were in the scope but I passed on both. Deer season has been closed for a month and big bucks are running all over. I was confident we could get a kill on video for the guys from Edge. We’ll keep going for it. Maybe those coyotes I passed on fell to the neighbors. Hopefully, the turkeys can make it through nesting without being harassed by yotes. With a year round season, we’ll be at it again soon. Either way, the weekend was a blast. It was nice to be back in the woods again.

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