Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Seriously still waiting on deer action

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

In the previous blog post Saturday, Oct. 24, I said "it was time to get serious about deer hunting," and there is no doubt I'm focused and ready, but now I need dance partners.

Which leads me into the next aspect of this: When is this year's rut going to begin?

I've heard that everything is behind from the late spring, and I'm half tempted to go along with this theory. Of course, it is only Oct. 25.

There are two approaches for when the rut kicks off: the lunarist types and the scientists.

To get to the bottom of these two theories on what's up for this season, I will get some help from an article I came across online by Mark Kenyon titled "Wired to Hunt."

Kenyon cites the moon philosophies for his article from well-known lunarists Charles Alsheimer and Wayne Laroche, who believe the whitetail's breeding season is influenced by the phases of the moon.

This usually is what is used by such devices as my Garmin's "game finder." And I'll have to admit there are many coincidences of deer or turkey coming in right when it predicts "best" or "good" times during the day.

Laroche is a respected fish biologist and also an avid whitetail hunter who became interested in the moon influences on deer after seeing how it would drive grouper fish in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Alsheimer, also a big-time deer hunter and field editor at Deer and Deer Hunting, has been detailing the moon's impact on whitetails for articles in DDH and Outdoor Life magazines for many years.

They've researched this material for more than 20 years, so we at RTWO realize we are really simplifying their hypotheses for the sake of getting down to the actual rut predictions for a quickie blog post.

Since Laroche and Alsheimer ultimately pinpoint the rut launch from "the second full moon after the autumn equinox" and for this year that would make it today (Tuesday, Oct. 27).

This "rutting moon," as they call it, is much earlier than last year's one, on Nov. 6, which fell in a more preferable date that "syncs up well with other rutting factors and results in a synchronized and frenzied rut," according to Laroche and Alsheimer's predictions in Kenyon's article.

Furthermore, it was saying the "seeking" behavior of bucks should have started about Oct. 20 and ignited into full-blown "chasing" by today (Tuesday, Oct. 27) with the best time of the season coming between Oct. 25 to Nov. 3.

After this Nov. 3 date, the "tending" behavior, where a buck follows a doe closely until she comes into estrus, will continue until Nov. 10.

Not to be a fly in the ointment, but I haven't seen any chasing behavior from Oct. 20 and on, and I hunted a good four hours the morning of Saturday, Oct. 24. In fact I had a doe come in with a button buck in tow. You would think she would have ran him off by now if the rut was beginning in earnest.

And they didn't seem nervous or on the lookout for potential bucks in the area, which I know are there from last year's hunting and trail cam pictures taken only a week ago.

But believe me I'll welcome this supposed theory since I hope to be on point this morning.

Historically, the week before Halloween has been good to me, and I was reminded of that by a "post your memories" item on Facebook that showed a picture of me with a 6-pointer I took on Oct. 26 in 2009.

As far as the full-moon hunting goes, at least from what I've experienced, it's a dud. What I believe happens, especially if the moonbeams keep the night sky lit up, is the deer are even more active during the hours when us hunters can't get at them and are more likely to remain bedded down longer once it hits daylight.

Now, all of this is just bunk to the scientific theorists and organizations such as Quality Deer Management Association -- also quoted in Kenyon's article -- who say unequivocally that studies find the biggest influence on when the rut begins is based on the length of the day getting shorter from region to region and not by moon phases or other surmised things such as cooler temperatures.

In addition, these "pro-science" prognosticators say the prime breeding periods remain fairly consistent in these areas on a yearly basis.

So now that I have mulled over these theories for this posting, it's clear to me so far that maybe the lunarists are just looney and the scientific ones have the right plan, especially if I see Mr. Big Boy start grunting and stomping around the hunting grounds ... oh, somewhere around the week of Nov. 8 to Nov. 14.

Last year, after the same slow start, once I got into that  week, that's when all of the buck sightings, shots and activity began for me in Monroe County, Michigan.

Now it's time to watch and wait,  and just maybe bring down a beast.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lookie, lookie who's coming a callin'

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

It is time to get serious about deer hunting, hence, the shaved head for this veteran woodsman.

But then again, when I look at the Jeep's temperature gauge, it's at nearly 70 degrees with gusty winds and rain in the forecast.
The bigger of the two bucks I have on my trail cam is at the
lower left of this picture.

Yet, with it being Oct. 24 and the end of month slowly approaching, we of the timber, waves of corn and beans and pines, know Mr. Big Buck doesn't really care what it's like outside when it's time to find love and protect his territory from potential invading suitors.

He'll be there and so will I, hopefully at the same time.

Although I've been patrolling the nearby oak flats in Monroe Country, Mich., for just under two years, I do know of what has been out there antler-wise from the previous whitetail season.

A spike and button were left to walk another year and a big boy was not tagged because of my errant shot and failed go-around in November.

But I now have even more confirmation. This is the first time in a few years that I have employed a trail cam. I apologize that the pictures aren't the best because I put it up a ways on the tree to at least make it an effort for a thief to walk away with a free camera.

Yes, weather be damned, it's tough to sit back when you know what's out there.

At right, the smaller of the two bucks approached from the same direction but at a time when he can be legally shot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bow season has commenced

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

Another Michigan deer archery season is officially under way,  and I've been out twice, once on the Oct. 1 opener and another time Oct. 4.
RTWO photo by Mac Arnold
I may look comfortable but I'm not. 
Northeast winds above 15 mph have
prevailed so far this early season and 
have kept it brisk in the stand.

I suppose there was a primer in September that would count since I went out for one of the two early firearms days with the Parker Thunderhawk crossbow.

What has amazed me so far is there haven't been any snafus, which usually run rampant for me the first few times out, such as leaving the release in the Jeep or forgetting the pull rope. Well, maybe dropping the battery cap from the crossbow scope out of the tree Sept. 20 would count but I was able to find it once I touched down.

And I'm not baffled I haven't seen nary a deer ... OK, that might not be true. What did look like three deer scampering across the fallow field could have been coyotes. They were a ways off. Or were they just small?

Some veteran woodsmen would say get your eyes checked or pull out your binos. But the wind was fairly intense Oct. 1., clocking in about 15 mph, according to Accuweather, and made it tough to follow running targets.

But whatever they were, they were on the other end of the field from me and small enough that I was only mildly amped. Now, the coyote thoughts had me more pumped up because I need to trim that population. Plus I thought I heard pups earlier in the morning.

Nothing ever did swing past the stand, nor two days later on the birthday gig.

It's early.

The next two days planned are for evening watches. These prove to be more fruitful than morning this time of year, although I will have a special guest, John Paulin, for Thursday.

Quads and the Double Bull Blind with crossbows are being rolled out. This type of hunt -- albeit is loaded with fun -- usually isn't programmed for stealth and is geared more toward camaraderie, which I could use plenty of right now anyway. In other words, I'm not expecting to see much.

But first, let's see what today's hunt brings along with more ... you guessed it: northeast winds.

Oh, snap.