2011-12 hunting season gets off to rocky start.
The beginning of the hunting season had its ups and downs, but the lows were far outweighing the highs. Frustration peaking, I felt as I did when I started bow hunting public land as a kid, unable to ever get a kill.
Opening morning at Red River WMA I made my way in the woods for a ground blind hunt, but to my surprise another hunter was already set up nearby.
I moved along, hunting a spot I didn’t know well. One good thing about a ground blind is easy maneuverability, but in thick, green undergrowth it is hard to see well without an elevated location.
While waiting in the dark, a pig passed a mere 3 yards from my blind, never suspecting a thing. Not long after daylight the spot was infiltrated by the squirrel hunters blasting away. I even had a few BBs hit the top of my blind.
For my evening hunt, while walking in just yards from my tree, I spotted a doe 80 yards away. The wind was in my favor, but I’ve been using my compound bow on most hunts this season instead of my crossbow, my usual weapon of choice on a stalk.
I took some pictures with my new camera, but they came out blurry. I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t hold the camera steady. Getting that highly sought-after adrenaline rush on the first day of the season: The priceless part of hunting!
I proceeded to creep up, and eventually got within 30 yards of the feeding animal. But as I was drawing, another deer busted me and they took off.
I walked back over to my tree and climbed up. At about 3 p.m. I saw a flick of brown in the thick undergrowth. I stood, drew and waited.
A spotted fawn stepped out and walked directly underneath me. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t shoot the doe after all.
The following weekend in Three Rivers WMA excitement started right away. I set up my ground blind with my back next to a pond surrounded by persimmon trees.
Five minutes after setting up, three hogs came to drink water 25 yards away. It was really thick, and I only had one gap to shoot through, so I went for the only available neck shot.
I put my pin on him and released – thwack!
Thought I had me a dead pig, but several hours later when checking my arrow I found no blood. I shot a tad high and just nicked him.
Hunted hard the rest of the weekend, but no luck.
During that week I went to check some trail cameras I set up in Maurepas Swamp, whgile looking for a local area to hunt. I’ve been driving my boat, a 13-foot Boston Whaler, since I was a kid and never had an accident, but this hunting season suddenly got a lot worse.
After checking my cameras, on the long boat drive back from the western-most part of the WMA, I hit a submerged log in Blind River in a big curve. I was suddenly thrown to the far side of the boat causing it to flip.
I was tossed in the water as the boat slammed on top of me while watching the propeller zoom way too close for comfort. Even at a slow speed of around 20 mph, the lack of gear weight in the boat from having such a light load caused it to flip.
Luckily, I was not seriously hurt and didn’t lose too much hunting gear – I did lose my phone, wallet, boat papers and normal boating supplies. I usually keep everything in a dry box when fishing, but I was on a quick one-hour trip on a work break.
There I was miles from my vehicle and in the middle of the swamp with no hard bank in sight. I had to swim across several bayous to get back. Luckily after walking swamp for a good while I ran into some squirrel hunters who gave me a boat lift back to my ride. I was even able to make it back to work for the evening and make track practice at Tulane.
The next day I hooked up a tree climber to a big tree near the water’s edge. Then, I connected a winch to the top of the tree to flip my boat back and towed it out. I got in contact with the sheriffs office and game warden, but with it not quite being $500 in damages, since my friend repairs engines, no report was needed.
No giving up, though: As soon as my motor is fixed I’ll be back in that swamp with more desire than ever to bag a big swamp buck.
On the third weekend, more bad luck back up north in Red River WMA. I saw some does at 9 a.m. just out of bow range at 45 yards.
The next day – wasp attack!
While climbing my tree, I soon found out that a huge swarm of paper wasps lived under the vine about 25 feet up. I got stung by several before I made a jump for it!
Good thing I wasn’t too far up in the tree. So from now on I’ll be checking trees for wasps before climbing.
Pretty much the same lack of luck on the fourth weekend at Red River WMA. I saw deer, but nothing close for attempting a shot. I did find a huge rub near my stand one morning, and then just minutes after proceeded to jump a bachelor pack with one monster buck, most likely the one marking up such a giant tree.
That gave me much added inspiration to hunt that spot.
On the way home from this trip, my engine light came on as I had three codes. Nothing this season was going right.
Luckily no major problems, but some minor work needs to be done to my truck. After putting over 90,000 miles on my vehicle in less than three years going on hunting trips every weekend I should’ve expected some wear and tear.
To top it off, I got dumped by my girlfriend because I wasn’t spending enough time with her. I gave up all my fishing, and hunting on Sundays to be in the city, but spending my two days a week at the hunting camp was too much to handle.
Getting your heart broken, oh, that’s the biggest woe of being a bow hunter.
The last weekend in October had more close calls at Red River WMA.
I started on Thursday morning, and after my hunt until noon I crept through to my other stand to hunt the rest of the day.
I heard some pigs and made a stalk getting within 10 yards, but it was way too thick to ever get a clear shot on the hogs, even though they were so close.
Saturday morning, I ran a half marathon in New Orleans and then quickly drove back up north. I should’ve taken a shower after the race like I usually do, but with limited daylight left I decided to skip.
I got set up in my ground blind, and at 5:30 p.m. I had a deer come downwind and bust me. Then again at 6:15, a deer came within 10 yards and took off. I wasn’t sure if it was from winding me or watching me draw back, but either way I struck out again.
On Sunday at 4:30 p.m., after sitting all day in the woods, I spotted some big hogs, but they never came closer than 50 yards.
Then at 6 p.m. I spotted horns over my shoulder just 20 yards away, but they were only the horns of a young 4-point buck so I decided to pass hoping older brother would show.
No other deer was in his company, but watching that deer walk off gave me a feeling of victory that, with patience, better opportunities will come throughout the season.
November rolled in. Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge.
Opening morning I was trying a new spot where I jumped a really nice buck while doing a trail run. I didn’t realize that this 1.6 mile walk would take so long. By the time I got to my tree, deer where already there feeding.
They took off, making sure to blow to really ruin my hunt.
That afternoon, nearing my stand, I spotted 20 hogs walking from the open swamp into the palmettos just 30 yards away. I drew and saw hogs everywhere in my peep, but they don’t stop. Finally one near the back of the pack stopped, but he was behind a tree. So many hogs in range, and couldn’t get a clean shot on a single one.
After settling in my tree stand around 5:30 p.m., I saw a doe making her way toward me, upwind. Yes, this was going to be my chance.
But she stopped to feed at a stripped oak acorn tree for 30minutes just out of range.
As I burned daylight praying she would closer before dark, I heard all kinds of ruckus behind me. Yes, a big pack of hogs making their way toward me!
I spotted the tree I ranged at 40 yards earlier in the hunt and waited for a good shot.
I stuck a nice sow, and it dropped in its tracks with a lower spine shot just above the lungs.
My early season woes had ended!
I went back to my vehicle to grab my deer cart and radio to listen to the LSU game while carting my hog out.
To top it off LSU won. What a night!