Sorry for the delay between journals, things have been pretty busy around the office lately! As you may have read, we are in the middle of a big conversion for HuntingNet.com which will allow lay the foundation for some pretty major changes to the website in 2007. I can't tell you about all of them, but suffice it to say that the voice of the HuntingNet.com community will really be heard this year!
At the end of my last journal I mentioned that Justin and I were going to attempt a whitetail harvest on film before the end of the year. Our original plan was to accomplish this with a bow, but with the 2nd half of the Illinois shotgun season upon us we figured we would head out with the slug slinger and see if we couldn't make something happen. Justin had a spot scouted out where he had seen a nice buck during the bow season so we headed out in the rain to reposition our stands for a better shotgun shooting opportunity.
Here Justin works on clearing out trees the day before our hunt.
As much as we all hate moving stands in the rain, it proved to be the right thing. We had a massive snowstorm moving in later the next day and we just knew the deer would be on their feet trying to get some last minute food before the weather hit. Our stands were on a cut corn field directly adjacent to secluded woodlot where the deer were bedding. The wind was out of the NorthWest, which was perfect for our choosen ambush point. It was a picture perfect scenario, in our heads at least.
The view from our stand setup - a cut cornfield.
Unfortunately we got to our stands a little later than we wanted to and spooked about 10-12 deer off the corn field on our way in. We guessed right that the deer would be feeding, we just didn't realize it would be so soon! But luck was on our side as by the time we got settled into our stands the deer were already filtering back into the field.
Here I make sure that my rest is solid and my shooting lane is clear.
Justin manning the camera for our hunt.
With me being a novice on-camera hunter and Justin being a beginning cameraman we we're always operating on the same wavelength this night. As I prepared to shoot a healthy doe that had come onto the field, Justin wasn't filming, and as he was filming I wasn't ready to shoot. We enjoyed a quick laugh over our miscommunication and continued our hunt.
30 minutes or so before dark with a half dozen does already on the field but out of range we spotted movement in the woods. One by one, four bucks came into the field. Two button bucks followed by two year and a half olds entered our shooting lane and the two racked deer began pushing one another around. Justin and I watched as one of the bucks suddenly turned and went on alert, staring back into the woods.
As two guys who have spent our fair share of time in the whitetail woods, we both knew what was coming and we got ready. Within seconds the same buck Justin had spotted during archery season stepped out from the woods and offered me a perfect 40 yard shot. I quietly asked Justin if he was on him, and once I got the go-ahead I dropped the hammer.
The buck immediately jumped straight into the air and took off running. I followed my first shot up with two others and on the third shot the buck did a summersault in the field and was down for good. We did it! Our first kill on video! To say we were both pumped up would be a huge understatement. Both Justin and myself spent a lot of time in the woods this year chasing whitetails and with this one perfet hunt our season ended on a high note.
The video didn't turn out quite as well as we had hoped, but for our first time it wasn't terrible. The loud noise you hear afer I shoot, and after Justin nearly jumps out of the tree, is the shotgun mic hitting the tree as Justin tried swinging around to follow the deer in the field. These guys always make it look easy on TV but take it from us, it's not as easy as you think!
Justin, my son Craig, and myself with our first whitetail harvest on film.
To top it all off, our good buddy Steve Marti shot his first buck ever just several hundred yards from where we were at on the same night. Like many of us, Steve hunted hard all year during some pretty severe conditions and just couldn't seem to connect with a buck until this night. Congrats Steve, you deserve it after the season you had!
Even though Steve isn't one to smile, he was one happy hunter with his first buck!
Now that our seasons have officially ended I've had the opportunity to get out pheasant hunting a lot more with some of my great friends, including Muhsin "Moose" Muhammad of the Chicago Bears. We've been having a great time and we're just gettings started! Once Moose and the guys beat the Saints this weekend I'm sure we'll have a lot to celebrate! I'll get some pictures posted in my next journal.