Most of the year the sands of time seem to creep through the hourglass at a painfully slow pace as we work towards deer season. It seems as if the new season will never get here, it’s sometimes hard to believe we’ll ever take to the woods again. Then, as if somebody cranked open an invisible spout within the hourglass, the sands fly by and the season you thought would never arrive is staring you in the face. It’s time for the last-minute Deer Season Preparations.
Those preparations that you put off all summer are suddenly in desperate need of completion and some inhabitants of the “to-do” list are getting pushed out to next off-season. We have 9 months of off-season here in Michigan and even though I eat, sleep and breathe deer hunting year round I always find myself scrambling to get things ready in the last week of September.
This year is no different and as proof I was up at the property last weekend trimming out a few shooting lanes, checking a few stands and helping my father-in-law set up his pop-up blind. These are all things that could have (and probably should have) been accomplished much earlier in the off-season but heck, we got all kinds of time…right? Apparently not, same as last year.
As if the last-minute property work wasn’t enough proof of my last-minute style, I also have to make a trip to the sporting goods store this week and pick up the last few items I need to fill my back pack and make sure I have all the things I “need” before I hit the woods. Oh, did I mention that I don’t have my license purchased yet…we still have 10 days till the season opens, why rush.
Another thing that we like to do just before the season opens is get a few more motivational pictures of those bucks we’re going to be chasing for the next few months. With that goal in mind, I pulled a few of the camera’s this past weekend.
In an effort to keep my intrusion to a minimum as we approach the new season I only pulled the cams that I had to pass by while working other projects. That meant I only pulled three of the nine cameras that we currently have out but that was ok by me. I was only looking for one or two bucks anyways.
The first camera I pulled had been set on a newly planted 40 acre winter wheat field. There was a lot of tracks in the field along with a few rubs and scrapes so we decided to hang a cam. When I hung the cam I wasn’t aware that my brother inlaw’s gun shanty was in the shot but it actually made for a cool picture when this doe passed by with the early morning sun lighting up the sky.
The second camera that I pulled was a camera that we have hung on one of our two tracks. The deer use the lane to travel along and there is also a run that crosses in this area. While we’ve had good action here in the past, this particular card pull didn’t have anything of note. While I was a bit disappointed by the lackluster results from that camera I had yet to pull the card I was really looking forward to.
Back in early August we planted a section of the Plateau Plot into purple top turnips in the hopes that it would grow into a good full season food source. Thanks to some timely rains and good weather the turnips have gotten off to a good start and there was plenty of sign in the area. I had hung a camera in the area we call “the pinch” which is basically the skinny end of the plot and is a common entry and exit point for the deer using the plot. This area is tucked back into the woods a bit and the deer tend to be very comfortable in this area. I had a feeling this camera would have a lot of pictures on it and I was right, a total of 330 pictures on it (165 pictures and 165 videos) in just under a weeks time.
The first thing I noticed while reviewing the pictures is that we have a bachelor group of young bucks that are frequenting the area and are very comfortable out in the plot. There were a few days where they were in the plot twice in one day and generally hung around for a while as they browsed and sparred with each other. Their constant sparring gave us several good shots and made for some good video as well.
While I definitely enjoyed watching the young bucks get rowdy, I was anxiously flipping through the pictures looking for shots of the bucks we call Shadow and High Brow. They are number one and two on our hit list and a little evidence that they were still in the area would be a great motivator heading into opening day.
As I went past picture after picture of the youngsters in the bachelor group I was pleasantly surprised to finally come across a picture of Shadow browsing in the plot. It wasn’t the best picture and didn’t show the detail that I was hoping it would but showed enough for me to confirm that Shadow is a great buck. He actually went through the plot twice that day, heading the same direction in both appearances.
That picture of Shadow in our plot along with the picture below of him from a different camera a few weeks back show why he’s number one on my list. He’s got great tine length and a body that shows he’s at least a 3-year-old and may even be 4 yrs old. Either way he’s plenty old enough, and big enough, for my standards.
This latest camera check will be our last before the seasons starts so getting those last few pictures of our top bucks allows me to cross “find a target buck” off my to-do list. While crossing that off of the list is a great feeling, it certainly doesn’t end my pre-season prep work. I’ll still be running around tying up loose ends and taking care of things I should have handled months ago. Every year I find myself in the same boat and honestly, it’s almost a tradition now. I mean what fun would it be to wrap up the prep work ahead of time? What would I do with myself those last few days before the season stars?
I know I’m not alone in this mad scramble, there are several other hunters out there chasing down those last-minute tasks. If you are in the same situation I am than get off the computer and get busy! The minutes are passing as we speak!
This article originally appeared on the Whitetail Weekly blog on Michigan-Sportsman.com.