Monday, February 16, 2015

The Hilochee Osprey Unit Buck

Way back in early Fall my friend Mike Higman invited me to join him as his guest on a quota permit hunt he drew for Hilochee Osprey Unit near Lakeland Florida. It was a hard to draw tag (one of only ten) for a late archery hunt; I mean really late (Feb. 13-15). I happily agreed to join him and then kind of put it to the back of my mind as I pursued deer from September till the end of December. It was a deer season filled with tough breaks and failures as I detailed in my last post. By the time January had come I had conceded defeat in the deer department and turned my attention to hogs and predators; but come the second week of February I was reminded of my guest privilege for the Osprey hunt.

As I began assembling my deer hunting gear that I had packed away, it almost felt like I was doing something wrong. February is supposed to be that lull month; that time in which you wash away those haunting memories of deer season failures with thoughts of gobbling Toms in Spring. But here I was, getting ready to hit the deer woods with my bow once again.

The most difficult thing about this hunt was the timing. The Saturday of the hunt was on Valentine's Day. I took my wife on a Valentine's date four days early, complete with a card, flowers and chocolates and hoped it would suffice. I was really glad when I talked to Mike and discovered that we would be driving back home every evening. I had been a little worried about checking into a hotel in Lakeland with another dude on Valentine's day.

Mike picked me up at 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning and on the way he showed me three bucks that he had gotten on camera the week before, two big 8 pointers and a nice 7 point. That gave me a little bit of hope. I am well aware of the low success rates on Wildlife Management areas, add on archery and buck only, with a six point antler restriction, and you might as well be buying a Powerball ticket.

When we arrived Mike pointed me towards an area he had found some rubs at. I picked a random tree in the dark and had an uneventful morning. The FWC had been burning the entire area the day before so the landscape was freshly charred gall berry and brier fields separated by fingers of swampy cypress stands. It was difficult to find a tree that was big enough for a climber stand.

I did a little scouting in the afternoon and found a spot that was like a cul de sac of burnt brush surrounded by a cypress swamp. In the back corner, there were a couple fresh rubs and a pine tree just big enough to use my climber stand. I set up for a long afternoon sit. It was warm when I got up so I left my heavy jacket in the truck, thinking a light sweater would be fine for the evening, I was wrong. A strong North wind picked up and brought a chill that cut right to my skin. I began to shiver as the sun got lower in the sky. I remembered the old saying about if you keep your hands and head warm, your whole body will feel warm, so I began rummaging through my backpack. I found a pair of gloves for my hands and for my head I found a pair of red underwear that I put on like a ninja mask, with my face sticking out a leg hole. Yes, they were clean. I looked ridiculous but at least I felt a little warmer.

My boredom was soon interrupted by the sound of splashing coming towards me along the edge of the swamp. I stood up and readied my bow. As I began to see movement, my heart began pounding hard. For a second I thought I saw the head of a big buck, but then it morphed into the face of a mother raccoon, followed by three little ones. Long hours of staring intently at leaves and being freezing can make your eyes play tricks on you. They sniffed around the bottom of my tree for a few minutes and then began playing a game where they would climb the trees behind me and see which one could shake it the hardest. They continued this for the rest of the evening, eliminating my chances of hearing anything else that may have been coming.

As the sun set and last light approached I began looking towards the road to navigate the best path out of there. In my peripheral I caught something shining in the last gleams of sunset. There was a buck with tall light colored antlers walking majestically across the burnt field in front of me. This time my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I was hoping that he would turn my way, but when I saw that he was cutting straight across the field, I made a noise to stop him. He stood there broadside with his antlers held high looking in my direction, I could see brow tines so I knew he was at least a 6 point and legal to shoot. I struggled with my gloves on to pull my range finder out of the pocket on my safety harness. He was still standing there broadside when I ranged him at 46 yards.

That's a far shot. I've never shot a deer that far away with a bow. But I do practice shooting a lot and a couple years back I switched from a 3 pin sight to a 5 pin. I practice out to 60 yards for fun and I can put an arrow in the kill zone consistently. I drew on him and settled my 50 yard pin a little low. I was steady and wasn't rushing. It felt so good that I thought to myself, "I'm going to take this shot." I released and it felt like forever as the arrow flew through the air. This slow motion moment was interrupted by a loud noise, "Thwack!" My arrow had found its mark. The buck jumped up and ran a little ways into the brush to my left. As I gathered my things together I heard crashing, then all was silent.

I got down from my stand and walked to where I had shot. Immediately I found some blood splattered on a leaf. That was all I needed to see. I marked the spot and went straight to the truck. The shot felt and sounded good, but being so far I didn't see where the arrow went in. When in doubt I will always back out. It was plenty cold to let him lay overnight, as evidence by the underwear on my face, which I remembered to remove before I met up with Mike and informed him that I had shot a buck.

It was a long night. I was too skeptical to get excited, especially after shooting a buck earlier in the season that I didn't recover. I knew this buck would either be the cherry on top of a bad season, or the nail in the coffin.

We arrived back early Saturday morning and Mike was so nice that he decided to help me find my buck instead of taking advantage of his limited window of time to hunt this area. We walked to the spot I had marked and there was my arrow sticking in the ground, covered in dried blood. I was a little surprised to get a pass through shot at 46 yards. We found a few more spots of blood before they led us into a stand of burned gall berry bushes that exuded a red substance from their charred stalks that looked just like blood. To make it more difficult, all the leaves were covered in a thin layer of frost that was beginning to melt, washing away any evidence of a blood trail. After an hour and a half of trying to pick up the trail, we began to grid search the area. With most of it searched, I was losing hope fast.

Hilochee Osprey Unit Buck
Mike went to post a message on a hunting forum to ask if anyone in the area had a tracking dog and I continued to search. Someone actually replied to his message and gave him a call. Meanwhile, I came to a thick hedge of brush and peered in, there my buck lay! I couldn't believe it! He had run maybe 50 yards and expired. I climbed into the thick brush and as I untangled his antlers from the branches I let out a holler of joy. I had harvested a beautiful 7 point with my bow on public land in Florida. The shot was a few inches back, I had gotten liver for sure. I definitely made the right call backing out for the night.

Mike was in his truck talking to the dog guy so he didn't hear me hollering. I pulled the buck onto the road in front of the truck. Mike informed the friendly hunter that we wouldn't be needing a dog after all.

My 7 point and a 10 point that I Euro mounted for my brother Jonny
I took the buck to the check station as Mike headed to his stand for a late morning sit. I was the first person to check something in and, as far as I can tell, the last. Besides that one buck, Mike saw a doe. I did have a group of hogs walk past me that evening right as I was getting settled into my stand, but by the time I put my release on, they were gone.

I was blessed. When I thought my deer season was over and done, I got a chance to turn it around in mid February. With all the different deer zones in Florida there are opportunities to chase antlers 7 months out of the year. I still haven't felt brave enough to try a deer hunt in August in South Florida though. Maybe this year. I spent today processing venison and finishing up a Euro mount of my buck. Now I'm feeling a little more confident heading into turkey season.    


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Deer Hunting 2014: Misses and Failures

Tall 7 in Summer Velvet
It's been a while since I've posted anything here. Mainly due to lack of time and lack of interesting
material. It's not that I haven't been in the woods. I've done a lot of hunting, and had my fair share of opportunities too. I just haven't seemed to be able to make the most of those opportunities.

My first missed opportunity came the last day of muzzle loader season in Ga. I was sitting in a double stand with my two sons Israel (9) and Judah (7). We had two does come in about 35 yards in front of us. We waited for the perfect opportunity for us both to shoot and I counted a "one, two , three, fire." I shot first and Israel delayed a second or two. To my disappointment my powder failed to ignite and the cap sent both does running off, causing Israel to miss clean. That was my first time shooting a deer with a cap gun.

My next opportunity came the beginning of Nov. in Fl. I was hunting my property and I had a nice 8 pt. buck come in at 35 yards. As I drew my bow he caught my movement and became nervous. As he stood moving his head back and forth trying to figure out what I was, I released my arrow. In one quick motion he dropped his body and spun back towards where he came from; I watched my arrow fly right past the front of his neck.

My third missed opportunity is the most painful. I've been hunting a big tall 7 point buck all season.
Tall 7 Cruising During Daylight
I have a couple years of background on him from trail cameras. On a cold mid November morning he came following two does down a trail right behind my stand. I had plenty of time to draw before he stepped into my shooting lane and stopped. He was quartering slightly towards me and the thought that went through my mind was, "Don't shoot too far back." I should have waited for him to turn a little more broadside. I released and stuck the arrow in the back of his front shoulder. As he ran off I could see a lot of arrow sticking out. After giving it a couple hours I got down and found my arrow about 30 yards from where I shot him. I had only gotten about maybe 4 or 5 inches of penetration.

My brother and nephew drove up to help me track him and we spent a quite a few hours following a spotty blood trail. What blood we did find was very dark and red, no lung blood. After at least 500 yards it dried up and ended up calling off the search. I went back a couple days later to look for vultures or try to smell something dead; nothing. My hope is that he is still alive and well. Time should tell as he is a buck that has not been camera shy in the past.

It has been a disappointing deer season so far, but there's still a little time left to turn it around. I am actually going on a mid Feb. archery hunt with a buddy who drew one of 10 quota permits for a hard to get WMA in Central Florida and invited me to hunt as his guest. That will truly be a last chance deer hunt, and a cool experience, as I have never deer hunted in Feb.

I also drew one of 25 turkey quota permits for a Florida WMA that I have been trying to get for years. So even if deer season doesn't work out as hoped for, I'm already getting excited for turkey season.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Pair of Opening Weekend Georgia Gobblers

Turkey season always seems to sneak up on me. Just when I think hunting is over till next Fall, I'm like, "Oh yeah, Spring turkey season!"

In all honesty turkey hunting is probably the funnest hunting I've ever experienced; especially when the birds are gobbling and coming into the calls. That was not the case during our 2014 opening weekend hunt in Georgia.

I missed a hunt planned for the Florida opening weekend at Richloam WMA when my wife and three of my kids came down with the stomach flu. Instead of calling in turkey I was cleaning up vomit. But the next weekend I headed up to Georgia with my brother Jacob and his son Noah. We arrived late Friday night and headed to my brother's lease early Saturday morning. Without having a chance to scout, I started at a spot where I killed a big Tom two years ago; a dirt road that goes along the East side of the lease bordered by a 40 yards strip of planted pines that run along the property line. On the other side of the property line is a large field planted in rye that turkey love to feed and strut in every year.

I sat against a pine tree on the edge of the road as the morning light began to illuminate the woods. I heard a bird gobble once down the road from me and a little while later saw two birds fly out of a pine tree about about 80 yards down the road and head for the field. After calling for about a half an hour without hearing anything else gobble, I decided to climb up a tree stand along the road to get a look at what was out in the field.

As I sat in the stand I caught movement down at the end of the little dirt logging road. I watched as a large flock of turkey crossed the road in single file and headed onto the field. I continued to watch as the hens fed on the young green rye while one of the gobblers strutted without seeming to arouse much interest from the ladies. In past years the turkey have fed and strutted on the field until about Noon and then returned to the woods where the hens would nest and the gobblers would go looking for more love. I don't think the breeding season had kicked in yet there because the hens stayed in the field all day long leading three longing gobblers with them on a string.

I decided to set up my ground blind and wait them out, hoping they would exit the field at the same spot I had watched them enter it early that morning. I set up on the West side of the little dirt logging road and placed a Jake and two hen decoys in the middle of the road. About 1 p.m. a hen crossed the road next to me and joined the other turkey in the field. Every so often I would sneak out of the blind and climb a ladder stand to see that the turkey were still out in the field showing no intention of leaving.

I did a marathon sit until evening. About 7 p.m. a hen crossed the road to the right of my blind. I shifted right in my chair expecting the rest of them to cross at the same spot. About five minutes later I glanced to my left to see a Tom staring at my Jake decoy. I was lucky I had the camouflage screening over the small porthole windows in my Ameristep Doghouse ground blind because it gave me the cover to once again shift seating positions and get set up on this wary Tom undetected. I was also glad I had elected to use my Rossi 12 gauge single shot chambered for up to 3 1/2" magnum loads with a short 22" barrel because it made it easy to maneuver around in the blind. As the Tom took a step to cross a small water filled ditch along the road, I put the cross hairs of the zero power scope on the base of his neck and squeezed the trigger.

I should have let him cross the ditch first because after whacking him he proceeded to flop around in
Waterlogged Tom
the water. By the time I got to him and pulled him out of the ditch the beautiful bronze feathered bird had the look of a Persian cat after taking a bath. Turkey look much prettier dry then wet. But I wasn't complaining. I snapped a few pictures then carried him back to the truck where I showed him off to Jacob and Noah.

The next morning I brought my nephew Noah in the ground blind with me to take the shot if we saw a bird. The birds were gobbling better and we did see a couple hens fly down from the roost near us and go into the field. Being that I had scattered the flock the evening before the other gobblers didn't roost in the same area they did the first morning.

After taking a lunch break Noah and Jacob got their ground blind out and set it up next to the food plot about 80 yards down the road from my setup. Once again we did an all afternoon marathon sit. A little after 7 p.m. a hen crossed the road to my left, then another and another. By the time the third hen crossed my heart was beating out of my chest with anticipation because I was sure that the gobblers were following the hens. But nothing else happened. I heard the hens walk behind me and fly up to their roosts.

After waiting another ten minutes I assumed all the birds had roosted and I began to gather my things
Big Ga Tom at the cleaning shed
together. As I was putting my calls into my pack I heard something walking through the pine needles in front of me. I looked up to see a huge Tom walking along the ditch line 15 yards in front of me. I was too surprised to be excited. Instinct took over as I raised my gun and dropped him. As I jumped out of the blind, turkey erupted all around me. I heard two shots ring out from down the road where Jacob and Noah shot at a gobbler as it flew by them, both missing him. Birds were flying into trees all around us.

After the chaos calmed down I jumped across the ditch to retrieve my bird. He was a beautiful Tom sporting an 11 1/2" beard and over 1 1/8" spurs. The best part is that he didn't make it to the ditch to get wet. My iPhone had just enough battery left to snap two pictures in the fading evening light before it died from all the Star Wars Angry Birds I had played during the long afternoon sit. On every hunt there seems to be that lucky guy who kills everything and I guess this trip was just my turn to be that guy.

I was happy to return to my family with a bunch of frying meat and some turkey fans, beards and spurs that will serve as trophies to keep this unique turkey hunt alive in my memory for years to come. It definitely wasn't my idea of what an exciting turkey hunt would look like but it was an example that making an educated guess and practicing a lot of patience can pay off when the turkey aren't gobbling much or responding to the calls.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Backwater Mangrove Hogs

Surf & Turf
I've always had a tough time on my days off deciding whether to go hunting or fishing. Who says you need to choose either or? Over the summer I read an article that fascinated me. It was a tale of a Northern fella' who came down to Tampa Bay for a fishing charter and ended up shooting hogs in a backwater mangrove swamp instead. Being that I live in the Tampa Bay area, this article had my attention, obsession might be a better way to describe my fascination with this article. My brother Jonny and I read every word and scanned every picture looking for clues. Alas! We unlocked the code and pinpointed the spot.

Jonny wading the edge of the mangroves
After doing a Summer scouting trip in my little 16' Carolina Skiff and finding plenty of hog sign. We returned in January and spent half the day wading around in the mangrove swamps looking for hogs. We saw plenty of tracks, even some going over our own on the way back to the boat, but no luck finding any pigs. It was a rough hunt and wearing rubber boots was a big mistake. In many areas we were sinking in muck up to our thighs. After walking miles with rubber boots filled with mud and water, my legs began to cramp every time I would try to step over the high tangles of mangrove roots.

After taking a week to recover I was determined to return and seek redemption. I picked a Friday morning in late January on a very low tide. The forecast was calling for a front to pass through the evening before leaving cool air and light East winds Friday morning. Nope. I awoke to heavy rain and strong NW winds. Determined to press on I loaded the boat in the dark of morning and headed to the boat ramp, thinking the weather guys were just a few hours off.

I experienced hands down the worst boat ride of my life. But I was all in at that point and there was no turning back. When I finally arrived at the spot I was soaked to the bone. After putting a few miles under my belt without seeing any hogs I came on a fresh set of small pig tracks in the mud. I followed them until they went into a thick stand of mangroves. As I stopped at the edge of the seemingly impenetrable tangle of roots and branches, I could hear some pigs squealing a grunting.

Rainy day pig
It was not easy to slip through roots and branches without making much noise, but I managed to get
withing 25 yards of two small pigs foraging among the mangrove roots. One was black and the other was light with black spots. The black one was standing still giving me a perfect broadside shot, but every time I looked through the scope all I could see was condensation and rain drops on my scope. I didn't have a dry piece of material on my body to dry it with so keeping both eyes open, I discerned where the pig was in the scope and made the shot.

After dropping the black pig the spotted one scampered away into the mangroves, I think I could have shot it as well if I could see through my scope; but I was happy with the little 30 pound pig I had gotten and I was more than ready to get out of the rain. After sloshing about 2 miles back to the boat through mud and water I was very happy the pig was just a little one. The best part was that I had something to show for the most miserable boat ride I had ever experienced.

I returned the next week with a buddy and we shot three more; two more small ones and a big sow. A couple days later I brought Jonny back with my other younger brother Buka. My focus was to put them on some pigs. We walked around all morning without any luck. We finally decided to call it quits and headed back towards the boat. We were almost back to the boat on the edge of the Bay when we came around a point and saw a nice boar walking along the edge of the water. It saw us and began to run through the shallow water. Instinct kicked in as I quickly turned the power up on my scope, took off the safety, got on the hog and rolled him right before he got to the mangrove line. There were a couple guys fishing in flats boats off the shore line behind us watching and I can only imagine what they were thinking.

With my freezer full of pork and the warmer weather transforming the mangrove swamp into a mosquito infested nightmare, I think I'm done with the spot till next Winter. It is a nice option though during those slow cold months between deer season and Spring. Now it's time to start thinking turkey!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Citrus Buck 2013

I've been having a tough deer season so far. I had a doe jump my string at 30 yards opening weekend of Ga archery. I had another doe slip right behind me at my property in Fl during archery, when I tried to stand up and turn around she caught my movement and ran off. I missed yet another doe during general gun in Ga. With my wife's Nov. 22 baby due date fast arriving, I was feeling the pressure to put some venison in the cooler.

"Lefty" cruising during mid-day
I saw the cool temperatures on the forecast for Wed. Nov 13 and decided to take a personal day from work and try to make it happen. My plan was to archery hunt my property in the morning and then hit Citrus WMA in the evening for their late archery season. My property camera was telling me the rut was on as I had a couple pictures of a 7 point I call lefty cruising through during the daytime.

I arrived early and though I was happy about the cool temperature, I wasn't thrilled about the 30 mph winds.

Roadkill Buck
Besides getting a wild ride in my tree stand as the gusty winds blew me back and forth there wasn't much action except 9 squirrels at my feeder. I got down about 9:30 a.m. and drove to Wal-Mart to look for a new trail cam as one of mine had stopped working. On my way back to my property I spotted the white belly of a deer in the little ditch beside Hwy 98. I turned around to investigate and found it to be a beautiful 8 point that was freshly killed by a vehicle. It was still warm and smelled fine so I hoisted it on my Hitch&Haul and brought it back to my property. After messing with a few of my hunting buddies by sending them a picture with no explanation, I began cleaning the buck. It's neck and hind leg were broken but there was no damage to the best cuts of meat. Isn't the first time I've taken advantage of a road kill deer and I'm sure it won't be the last.

After getting the meat on ice and cleaning up, I headed over to Citrus for a long afternoon sit. I got up in a tree at 1:30 p.m. and sat till 5:30 p.m. when the wind began to calm. My spacing out was interrupted by the sound of a deer running through the woods across the trail I was set up on. I could just catch some glimpses of brown and white as it ran off to my left. I gave it a couple calls with my grunt tube and I heard it stop. about 5 minutes later I heard another deer trotting strait towards me from across the trail. I stood up and saw a nice buck coming quickly towards me. I knew I would have to stop him at just the right time to get a shot off. As he came into the trail at full trot I gave him a loud deer stopping sound, you know, something like, "Maah!" and tried to get my top pin behind his shoulder before he took off again. He was 15 yards away and quartering towards me. I don't know if it was because I was shivering in the cold wind or what, but for some reason I could not seem to steady my pin on him. I released my arrow and heard a loud "Thwack" that sent him running a beeline across the trail and into the woods behind me.

I sat till dark thinking about the shot and how it just didn't feel right. It happened so quickly I was trying to remember where I saw the arrow hit him. It felt a little far back. When I got down my fears were confirmed. My arrow was laying in the trail covered in stomach matter. It looked like the dreaded gut shot. I decided to not even look for blood but rather to back out quietly and let him lay over night.

Citrus 6 point
After a night spent dreaming about looking for my buck I took the next morning off work and returned with my brother Jonny with the sober understanding that I may not find him. I climbed back up in my stand till it got light enough to look for blood and then began searching on my hands and knees starting where I shot him and moving into the woods where I saw him run. After an hour of searching without finding a drop of blood I went and got Jonny to do a grid search. After saying a prayer we split 30 yards apart and began walking in the direction I saw him run. As we entered a thick stand of palmettos my hopes were sinking lower and lower; but to my delight I looked to my left and there he was laying under a small cabbage palm. A beautiful 6 point. He had maybe ran 100 yards before laying down and expiring!

As the reality of how blessed I was to find him began to set in I jumped up in the air yelling as I pumped my fist and praised the Lord! The shot entrance was a little back but did get liver. The reason I had no blood trail was that with him quartering towards me, the arrow pulled the stomach through the exit hole like a balloon plugging it. All the blood had stayed inside the cavity. I was just thrilled to find him as I know the feeling when it goes the other way. It turned out to be a productive day of hunting as far as filling the freezer goes: Two beautiful Florida bucks. As after every hunt there are always lessons to be learned:

1. I should have made a better shot.

2. As the saying goes, "When it doubt, back out." I gave him time to lay rather than pushing him (I have learned that lesson the hard way before).

3. Don't give up searching just because you don't find blood. Give it your best effort and go a little further because he may be laying dead just ahead.

Now I'm ready for my wife to have this baby and then take my two older boys to my property for doe week to try to get them their first deer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Adventure in Tampa Bay

A couple weeks ago my brother Jonny and I heard a tale of someone who hunts hogs in a mangrove swamp somewhere in Tampa Bay. Yes, I'm being purposely vague. We did some detective work and figured out where it was. It is accessible by boat only. After contacting the FWC to make sure of the legalities of hunting hogs in the tidal mangrove and mud flats we planned a scouting trip for last Friday morning.

We loaded my Carolina Skiff with our bows as well as fishing rods and, after getting a later start than we planned, began a long run to this mysterious mangrove swamp that we had only seen on Google maps. It ended up being at least 10 miles from the boat ramp we used. Next time I am going to try a different ramp.

We arrived at the edge of the mangrove swamp late in the morning and were greeted by a school of pompano cruising along the grass flat that boarders the swamp. After getting sidetracked by throwing a pompano jig with no luck we began push poling up a narrow cut into the thick tangle of mangroves. At times the cut was so narrow we had to push branches aside to continue on.

The sun was high and hot by this time and the mosquitoes were thick. Luckily Jonny had brought a can of mosquito repellent which we quickly took advantage of. After pushing a long way in we found a spot where the mangroves opened up to a large expanse of mudflats. We pulled the boat up into the mud and grabbing our bows, we began walking the edge of the mudflats.

The hogs had been digging for fiddler crabs
We were excited to see plenty of hog tracks, and most of them very large. The mud and sand was
rooted up where the hogs had dug for fiddler crabs and shellfish. It's amazing how wild hogs can adapt to nearly any environment. We could see hog trails going into tall salt-grass fields and thick groves of Brazilian peppers. It was obvious that the hogs were bedded down in thick cover to escape the August late morning heat. But there were hogs there and that is what we had come to investigate.

Our plan is to return in the late winter months when extremely low tides leave the flats exposed, offering the hogs an all they can eat seafood buffet. Then the hogs will move during daylight hours and the mosquitoes will be gone as well. It should be a fun option come January when deer season begins wrapping up and the fishing slows down.

Satisfied with our findings Jonny and I pushed our way out of the mangroves and began the long run back. A couple big storms had built up in a few different areas of the bay and we had a pretty rough ride in my small skiff. We ended up going under the Gandy Bridge to get some shelter from the storm. We began chumming with greenbacks and fished our heavy spinning rods with pinfish.

Jonny's cobia
It wasn't long before my rod doubled over. As I was trying to tighten my drag, the fish took me around a piling and snapped my leader. After I was snapped a few more times and Jonny jumped a big tarpon, Jonny finally got a cobia to cooperate and fight away from the pilings. Every time it would see the boat it would take a strong run away. After a long fight we netted it and got it in the boat. It just made the size limit and we had a tough time fitting a 34 inch cobia into a 20 inch cooler.

After catching a mixed bag of mangrove snapper, jack and bluefish, and getting broke off by some more very large fish, we decided to call it a day. Sometimes I have a tough time on my day off deciding whether to go hunting or fishing; it was a cool feeling doing both on the same trip. It was kind of strange having to rinse my bow off along with my fishing rods though. I'll definitely do it again when the weather cools down; and I'll bring a bigger cooler.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trail Camera Pictures Update

After having my automatic feeder stolen and switching to a homemade gravity feeder I have been getting a lot more activity at the feeder on my property in Fl. Also I am going through a lot more corn as the deer are getting an all they can eat buffet verses the 4 lbs. a day they were getting with the automatic feeder. I checked my camera today and had over 400 deer pictures this week. They are eating about 100 lbs. of corn a week with some help from the raccoon and turkey. I won't be able to keep that up for long.

The biggest of the four bucks that have been coming in just lost his velvet. I thought he was a wide 7 but upon getting clearer pictures I see he is a wide 6 point. I have some pictures of him from right before he dropped his last set of antlers and he has definitely gained some mass as well as another point. Here are some pictures of what has been coming in. Only three more weeks till archery opener!

Wide six last year and this year

The future is bright

Bucks are starting to visit closer to daylight hours
Lefty should be really interesting in a year or two

Young buck

Packed house