Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A grateful hunter

By Mac Arnold
Only one way to put it walking up on this nice fat doe I
shot Nov. 18 with the hours I've been working: grateful.
ROA Editor

It's rare that I would glorify a bagged doe after a six-day deer sabbatical but under these circumstances it is truly a welcomed result.

In addition, this post will stand as a midseason report since as it is looking now, I won't be getting back out until Michigan's muzzleloader opener Dec. 6.

The tally as of now is a fall tom and a big fat doe.

A tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is. After an off day Sunday, which I had a prior obligation (trust me, I would have gotten out of it if I could), I am scheduled to work the next 10 days straight.

One down last night and nine to go before I can sit on point again in a Sanilac County, Mich., blind.

As is commonplace at this time of the season, I am renewing the annual call for "one more deer."

I'm hearing from fellow hunters at the Sanilac camp and at a friend's property in Saginaw County that the deer movement has really died down. I attribute this to the bucks being hunkered down with does, and unless they move, neither will the big boys.

I did have a slow day myself on the last outing of the vacation in which conditions seemed perfect for deer movement: crisp temperatures, pretty much zero wind and a reduced number of hunters on the property, but nary a deer nor any critter moved on Tuesday, Nov. 19. So I'm not sure if the blustery days we've had recently are the only reason to blame for slow deer action.

But I've had decent action in past muzzleloader seasons, even into the end of December with the late doe firearms season, so I'm not down on my luck by any means.

After the orange army pretty much clears out of the woods, deer get into a necessary feeding pattern to build up their bodies in preparation for the long winter months ahead. And it isn't only at night, which benefits the opportunistic hunter on point willing to brave all conditions, usually snowy and windy ones.

And with the fewer days afield so far this season, I should be willing, rested and ready to fill the freezer with one more deer.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On the edge of greatness

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

Yes, I know, I'm being silly with the title of this entry.

It's unlikely there will ever be an "Arnold Buck" filling up the record books.

But the optimism that reigns prior to the first day of shotgun season in Michigan -- Nov. 15 for novices -- or the opening day in any state is a great high to ride for a few days.

I'm always amazed at how I'm frothing at the mouth at first light on that glorious day but then by noon this same energy is cut in half.

I remember hearing, I believe it was from past in-laws, that on opening day you have a 70 percent chance of scoring on a buck, 30 percent on the second day, 10 percent the third day and it ticks down from there accordingly. I see that that doesn't add up to 100 percent but I'm not sure it needs to for the point of this post.

Ummm, is there a point?

Anyway, I often wonder what ... say Milo Hansen was thinking the day in 1993 he got up before bagging what is often considered the best whitetail buck ever with a Boone & Crocket score of 213 5/8 in Saskatchewan, Canada.

"Today, I'm headed out to shoot the biggest bruiser ever on the planet ... "

Yeah he did. He probably was wondering where he could get a good cup of coffee before heading out on the great hunting prairie of Canada.

I'm sure when the curtain of darkness lifts Friday morning I'll be anticipating my own buck of a lifetime racing past the blind at the Sanilac County camp where I have the great privilege to hunt.

Eh, or it's more likely I'll be ready by noon for that steaming cup of joe at the diner where we all meet for lunch in Yale, Mich.

Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Early deer rundown

ROA photos by Mac Arnold
Despite the sluggish deer action at Shiawassee National 
Wildlife Refuge, the woods was definitely awe-inspiring.
By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

I'm fresh off from a four-day deer sabbatical, which included two hunts at the supposed legendary Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Mostly I found hunters there on a rather small parcel -- Unit No. 5 -- with does and an extremely bold button buck.

Does were good no doubt, so much so that I went out and picked up a doe tag for the a.m. hunt Saturday, Nov. 2, which I found surprisingly still available.

What wasn't so good was the weather for the first two days: rain, mist, wind and more rain.

Look, before you shout out -- "crybaby! whiner!" -- I manned up and hunted both days fairly intense but not before I picked up a field-jacket liner at Lapeer Military Surplus to use in my favorite rain coat for the evening hunt in Sanilac County, Mich. The rain held off so I was good on that one and even better warmth-wise.

For the action report, I saw deer for two of the five days I hunted spread out among Saginaw, Sanilac and St. Clair counties.

No real close calls but I watched the guy across the woods from me at Shiawassee miss a shot with his crossbow at that daring (or dopey) button. The deer bolted and stood broadside from me at 20 yards. I strained and stared but I didn't see antlers. Nor did I confirm a wound from a hit. After a couple of minutes, away it pranced into the thicket by the Cass River behind me.

It now appears to put me at the tail end of Michigan's first archery season before I can make it back out again, Nov. 13-14, because I have to work the next nine days in a row.

So it's down to the wire once again. How many times have I been here before?

I know I look bundled up like an Eskimo, but dang, it was wet and cold the second day of my Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge deer hunt.