Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching Up

I realize that things have been awfully slow lately around here at NC Outdoor Ramblings. I could come up with any number of reasons (or excuses, truth be told) about why there has been a lack of blogging on my part, but rather than do that, I thought I'd share some of the highlights from the past few months that occurred while the blog has been neglected. I would say that I'm going to try to keep things updated a little more frequently around here, but then again I know better than to try to make a promise that I'm not sure I'll be able to keep. Since they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, I'll try to use that to make up for the thousands of words I'm behind writing on here.

Some of these pictures will have their own posts written in the near future, along with more details provided about the story behind them. Here's what's been going on since hunting season has kicked into full swing around here.

Dove and 20 Gauge
The season started off with a bang in September, much like it did in 2012, with the opening day of dove season. The usual suspects got together for the opening day hunt, and then a few days later I still had the dove hunting bug but nowhere to go since I was a guest of some friends on opening day and didn't have access to the cornfields we were hunting by myself. I decided to do a little scouting around at the farm I hunt, and found a few doves flying back and forth to the pond located below the barn. I found out that a motorized decoy and a little cover to hide in would allow me to have a few shots, and I decided to try out a new 20 gauge over-and-under that I had purchased after Christmas last year. The combination of decoying birds and the 20 gauge made for a couple of exciting afternoons, and some very tasty dove breasts for the grill.



Muzzleloader Buck


The week after dove season brought the opening of archery season in western North Carolina, and while I was able to get out and do a little hunting during September, I didn't have any luck. I did see a few deer, but never had a shot at any. Then came October and muzzleloader season. I had gotten a new muzzleloader for Christmas last year, and I was anxious to try it out. I guess now I should admit that my luck with a muzzleloader has been less than stellar. I had missed two or three deer over the years with a muzzleloader, and had never been able to successfully harvest a deer during muzzleloader season. In my defense, it did seem like bad luck because I was always very careful to make sure that my muzzleloader was sighted in, but for whatever reason my scope would get bumped or something else would go wrong. I'm just thankful that the shots I had taken at deer were clean misses, instead of wounding one and not recovering it. This year, I felt like maybe a new gun would change my luck. The first day of the season, I slipped in the woods after work and it wasn't an hour or so until two deer made an appearance. A squeeze of the trigger, lots of smoke and noise, and when everything cleared I had my first muzzleloader deer.
Making a European Mount
I decided I wanted to try my had at a little simple taxidermy after I harvested my buck, and with the help of a good friend who had done it before I made a European mount. I enjoyed the process, and I think that I will be doing this for any bucks that don't wind up getting mounted by a taxidermist. I think they make a unique trophy and great memento of an exciting hunt.

video

I was also able to film a couple deer from the stand during muzzleloader season. These two does and little spike were close enough to touch at one point, and it made for an exciting morning in the stand. During the time between muzzleloader and rifle season, I did get out and bow hunt a couple of times, but not nearly as much as I had intended to.

Two of the beagles working a thicket
As the end of November approached, I found myself getting more and more excited about the upcoming rifle season, and hopefully the rut as well. I was lucky enough to get an invitation to go rabbit hunting on opening day, which falls on the Saturday before our gun season opens on the following Monday. We had a good time and managed a few rabbits between all of us, and more importantly I got the chance to see the beagles work and walk a few miles carrying a shotgun. It just whetted my appetite for all the rabbit hunts that will hopefully follow the end of deer season next week.

Dave and I with his buck
After the rabbit hunt on Saturday, rifle season finally opened for us here in western North Carolina. I've spent every day that I could in the stand, and have managed to see a few deer here and there, but I have yet to pull the trigger. One thing that got me more excited than usual about this year's deer season was my father-in-law asked if he could possibly tag along for a few hunts. He is originally from northwest Pennsylvania, and grew up around deer hunting but had never been himself. He's always enjoyed venison, and I've noticed the last year or two just how excited he gets when my brother-in-law or myself have managed to get a deer. I've invited him to come hunting the last few years, but he took me by surprise when he asked to go this year. He was able to harvest his first deer while hunting with me this year, and this is a story that deserves its own post. I plan to write up the whole story for the blog very soon.

That pretty much wraps up my ramblings for the last few months. We've got another week left of rifle season here, and after that I'm looking forward to doing some rabbit and squirrel hunting. Also, I've found myself thinking more and more lately about smallmouth bass and rising trout. I do believe I will have to start tying a few flies and looking for some warm days where I can get up to the mountains to try to fool a few trout. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy what little is left of deer season, and enjoy spending time with my family over Christmas. As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.

- Joseph