Despite my recent close encounter with a nice buck here at home my confidence was still pretty low in my hunting spots. Late season seems like it's always hit or miss and given my trend of misses lately I figured it was time for a change. So I packed my truck and headed down to West Central Illinois for another shot at some of the bucks Mike and I had seen back in November. With nobody pressuring our hunting spot since we left last month I was hopeful that a few bucks may have called this place home in order to avoid the firearms hunters that no doubt invaded the countryside recently.
That first morning I headed for a tree that Mike and I hunted earlier this fall, close to where I missed my one shot at a mature buck so far this year. After hanging my Lone Wolf climbing sticks and Lone Wolf Alpha Assault treestand before light I got settled in for my Saturday morning hunt. Having a lightweight setup like this Lone Wolf gear is essential for hunting this way as it affords me the ability to move around from spot to spot quickly without moving bulky climbing ladders or screw-in steps that take forever to set up. Temperatures were mild, in the mid 30's, this morning with strong South winds. Fortunately given the terrain in this part of the state I was able to get down into a ravine and out of most of it. I was set up right on top of a good bedding area, hoping to catch these bucks coming back from their nightly feeding areas. Again, a lot of guys would avoid these types of spots in fear of spooking deer but with a limited amount of time to hunt and knowing the deer were pressured less than a week ago with firearms season, I know they wouldn't be moving much and my best chance was to get as close as possible to them.
Shortly after I got settled into my stand I glanced over my shoulder and saw a buck headed my way. I immediately stood up and grabbed my bow before taking a better look at the buck. As fate would have it, this nice 2 1/2 year old just wasn't what I was looking for and as he made his way past me at a mere 12 yards and gave my every opportunity to shoot him, I just couldn't do it. I would rather eat both of my tags than shoot a deer I'm not going to be happy with so I watched him meander off further into the ravine, looking for a spot to lay down out of the wind.
I believe this is the buck that I passed on, although since this photo was taken last month he appears to have broken off his right G3 as well. A nice buck, but just not the one I'm after. This particular photo was taken with a Moultrie I-40 trail camera which is one of our top sellers and has a great flash range and amazing battery life.
Later that morning I did spot a better buck working his way up the ravine from me, however either he didn't hear my grunts in the wind or didn't care as he eventually worked his way over the hill along with a 1 1/2 year old buck. Then shortly before I was set to climb down for the morning I spotted two does running over the hill away from me. As I was wondering why they were running I spotted a beautiful blonde coyote that came running almost to the base of my tree, but spooked off before I could get a shot at him. Even as I climbed down that morning I knew I made the right decision to head back to this spot as the deer were still in there and moving during daylight.
The evening hunt was rather unproductive as I only spotted 4 does far off in the distance and that was all. I was set up near a CRP field that held a lot of deer earlier this fall, but I have a feeling after the pressure of firearms season they are sticking more towards the thick security cover and out of the open areas until well after dark.
At least the cool sunset gave me somthing to look at since I wasn't seeing any deer!
A new piece of gear I tried out for the first time on this evening hunt was my Lone Wolf Foot Rest, which I recently installed on one of my hang-on stands. It took me about 10 minutes to drill some holes into the platform and install the rests, and I'm glad I did! I only sat for about 3 hours this evening but they definitely made it a more comfortable sit, that's for sure. I'm planning on installing more foot rests on all of my stands during the off season in preparation for those longer all-day sits next November. If you're looking for a cheap and easy way to make your Lone Wolf stand more comfortable, check these out. We have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com for only $17.95 and there's still time to get them before Christmas! Click here to get yours.
Sunday morning was my last hunt of the weekend as I wanted to get home early on Sunday and keep the wife happy. (I'm sure many of you can relate!) I headed back into the same stand from the morning before and with 55 degree temperatures I worked up quite the sweat! Once again not long after daylight I had another nice 2 1/2 year old buck working up the ravine towards me, however this one got downwind of me before he came into range and headed for the next county in the blink of an eye. The funny part is that during our November hunts we had deer downwind of us all the time and none of them reacted as badly as this buck. I guess it just goes to show what a lot of pressure will do to your deer!
An hour or so later I had two small 1 1/2 year old bucks come by and I was able to snap a few photos of the closer one as he crossed 20 yards behind my stand and made his way into the bedding area.
I sat until about 9:30 this morning before calling it quits for the weekend and climbing down. On my way out of the woods I put out my new Cuddeback Capture IR trail camera. This is a brand new camera that was just released in the last few weeks and is an infrared version of the popular Cuddeback Capture that was released this fall. I've had great success so far with my two regular Capture cameras, so I'm hoping to continue with this one. Unlike the standard Capture the IR version is 5.0 megapixels during the day (standard Capture is 3.0) but only 1.3 megapixels at night with the infrared flash. My only worry is that the flash range is only rated for 25 feet, which is pretty close. For this reason I purposely kept the camera close to the area I'm hoping to monitor which is a well-used trail that connects two good bedding areas. If you'd like to pick up a new Cuddeback Capture IR we have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com. At $229.99 they seem like a great camera with a lot of great features. Click here to purchase yours.
When Mike and I return in two weeks to hunt after Christmas I will hopefully have some images to share with everyone. My hope is that a few of the bucks from our November hit list are still around including Big Rob, Stickers, Dope Ear, Lieutenant Dan, Curious George the 2 1/2 year old buck we each passed numerous times that we couldn't get away from! I feel good about our chances of connecting on a buck before the season is over, and with 2 1/2 days to get it done I think we could end the season in good fashion if we play our cards right.
The new Cuddeback Capture IR digital trail camera. Will it perform as well as the standard Capture? We'll find out in two weeks!