Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Secret weapon..

I was sitting on a small folding seat behind a friend's home early one November morning. It was chilly and the wind was in my face. I had hunted this small"honey hole" for a number of years and had taken deer with the bow and arrow. This spot is basically an archery only situation due to the proximity of a number of homes. No one really knows that I hunt in this spot except a couple of homeowners who welcome the reprieve of having their gardens ravaged.

I walked in the dark after donning my Ranch Safari ghillie suit to the spot. I carefully negotiated the woodlands and found my seat. The spot had me against the base of a large white pine overlooking some transitional woods bordering a large swamp. I had sat still with bow in hand overlooking a cut shooting lane and a trail that crossed in front of me. I knew deer would negotiate this trail but I did not know when. My Dad hunted off the ground in a spot nearby with his crossbow and witnessed a large buck walk by. I don't know why Dad did not shoot but I suspect that he let it go. This is my spot, so to speak and he would allow me to have the first crack at any deer. That is his nature. He is a very heart- filled and giving man.

I sat in the predawn darkness and felt the breeze from the west into my face. Soon I spotted something. It was about 6:20 AM when I saw a deer. It was a nice buck walking towards me. What was odd was his manner. He had his nose to the ground and walking down the path very methodically. His tail was wagging back and fourth like a dog. I suspected that he was on the trail of a doe in heat. I guess that is the downfall of all males on this earth. The weakness for the opposite sex. The buck went behind a tree at which I seized my opportunity to raise my bow and draw back. I was in full draw of my old Jennings Buckmaster with a carbon arrow and a Magnus broadhead recently sharpened.

The buck walked and was in the opening that I cleared. At that point I blew a kiss. The buck stopped . It was enough of a moment in time for me to place the sight pin on the deer's chest and release the arrow. The arrow sliced through the air and I saw sparks. It was the broadhead hitting some stones behind the deer.

The deer jumped a little but that instinct in a buck to mate is very powerful. He dropped his nose back to the ground and followed the trail. Again, his tail wagging back and fourth like a dog. He came to a log and tried to step over it. He stumbled and that was the signal that my arrow hit the vitals. The buck got up and again assumed the tail wagging gait.

He went over a small knoll and then I heard some thrashing. I was excited and praying that it was a clean kill. I called Dad on the FRS radio and told him what happened. I picked him up at his stand site and then we went to look. We found the blood trail where the deer stumbled and soon spotted the buck lying on the forest floor. He went about forty yards altogether. A nice clean kill and one that I said a prayer of thanks.

This deer was something special. It was the first deer I killed with the bow on the ground. As a rule I deer hunt exclusively from treestands . That includes rifle, shotgun , muzzleloader and handgun in some places. I believe the reason I did well was two fold. One was that the buck was in the rut and was completely preoccupied. The other was what I call my secret weapon.

About three years ago my fiance Mary and I went across country to the Dakotas for a short vacation. On the way back we stopped at Cabela's in Hamburg Pennsylvania and perused through this huge store. They had a sale on Rancho Safari ghillie suits and bought the hat, jacket, face mask and pants. I have read a great deal about these but this would be my first one.

In addition to deer hunting with the bow I also use it for hunting wild turkey. As you can see, it works well. The suit helps out with my run and gun style of turkey hunting. Generally I do a lot of scouting and try to locate various places where birds have been seen or known to have roosted. I like the fact that this suit acts as your own personal blind.

That turkey too fell for the greatest weakness of all males. I shot him on the last day of our season on some public land in Massachusetts. In a nutshell I basically walked up on him and we were both surprised. I walked around this abandoned barn and across this clearing. As I came up a small rise I looked up and spotted the gobbler in full strut facing to the side of me but totally oblivious to this blob walking quietly within thirty yards or so of him. There was a hen that was near him and that blurred his sense of caution. The hen spotted me and soon he looked in my direction. I raised my shotgun and placed the red dot on his head. My mind calculated that if the dot covers the head he is well within range. I cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger. The 12 gauge 3 1/2 inch magnum load of no 5 shot careened across the opening and anchored him securely.

I went to retrieve my prize . Again a prayer of thanks and the obligatory attachment of the turkey tag completed the process. I walked down the steep hill to where my Dad was waiting at my truck. He was tired and didn't want to climb up this steep hill. I am glad I walked up the hill. Soon he spotted me crossing the pasture and was surprised to see me with the gobbler. He was even more surprised when I told him how I walked up on the bird. Again, I think the secret weapon had something to do with it.

I have learned some tricks to using the suit. What I like to do is take the suit and keep it rolled up in a waterproof canoe bag. I keep a cleanly washed sock with hemlock tips in it as a scent mask. When I get to my stand site I will don the suit over a set of sweatpants and shirt if it is somewhat cool or a polar fleece outfit if it is cold. We can get some bitterly cold weather during our archery season in Massachusetts and find this system works the best. Another thing I do with the suit is I treat it with tick killer. Sawyer products makes a liquid treatment that lasts six weeks. Since I hunt Connecticut archery, which opens September 15Th, I will take the suit and prepare it a day or two before that opener. I keep the suit in the bag except when hunting and then when I am finished I take it off and put it in the bag . At home I will take the suit and allow it to hang up overnight after I spray it down with scent killing spray. I find this method works well .

The suit does have some limitations. The strips of cotton that are attached to the mesh sometimes get dislodged and you can shed some of the suit if you walk through some brushy areas. Since I hunt in stands or pre-scouted locations I generally am able to avoid some of that as an issue but I would not want to wear it going through anything thorny.

Soon, our turkey season will be starting. I have been preparing and getting my permission slips lined up. Hopefully this spring I'll be able to take the secret weapon out and score.

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