Monday, September 26, 2011

Where in the World Is....

This was supposed to be the season I started hunting early and pushed hard through the season to down a big old hog of a buck.  Well the season opened 9 days ago here in MN and I have yet to hit the woods with my bow.  What the heck happened?  It has been a combo platter of things, some I could have done differently and some that were beyond my control or knowledge base.  The thing I could have changed on my own was how late I got the stand up on our metro property.  Our northern MN property is a 1.5 hour drive so that isn't happening during the work week but most of our prep time and efforts have been on that property.  The metro stand wasn't even hung until last Friday, and it still isn't completely finished.

I went out last Friday to throw the stand in the tree and see if I could get the brush and shooting lanes cleared.  The stand is a 12 foot ladder stand and not easy to handle by one person.  I got it up in the tree and situated where I wanted it before realizing I couldn't secure it fully myself.  The tree is leaning into the direction the stand is facing, so in order to get the stand level and strapped in I needed someone to hold the ladder steady while I pushed off the tree and settled the seat in.  I was by myself, so this didn't happen.  On top of all that, I had a show at work opening weekend that had me on the clock for 12 hour days all week.  After getting done with the show on Sunday, we got up early Monday morning and took off for a visit to the manufacturers plant in Indiana.  We spent 2 days down there before a whirlwind couple of weeks found me back at home exhausted.

In spite of all that, I was pumped to finally get out in the stand and get my season underway.  I have been practicing with my new Easton ST Axis arrows and field tips, while doing research on which broadheads I wanted to shoot.  I settled on and ordered the Rocket Stealhead from Eagle Archery.  In all honesty, I took the advice of Bill Winke from  On returning from my trip I started prepping the rest of my gear for the first time and realized the Rockets did not fit in to my arrows.   I am really new to bow hunting, so a lot of what I do is based on the recommendation of others.

My arrow choice was a direct recommendation from my local archery shop.  I have yet to buy anything from them in this adventure but I felt it was important to start a relationship with a shop that was only a few blocks from my house.  I walked in and told the guy working my situation, that I was new to bow hunting and needed  my first set of arrows.  He got me set up with the right length and weight of Easton ST Axis carbon arrows fitted with field tips and blazers.  They shot beautifully right off the bat with no sight adjustments needed on my part.  The part they left out at the archery shop is apparently the arrows need a broadhead adapter ring in order for some broadheads to fit on them.  So when I went to install my new Rocket's, I was out of luck.

I finally found the time to get into the shop again yesterday to get this sorted out and as fate would have it, they didn't have any of the adapters in stock.  At this point I am fully frustrated with the whole situation and have not spent a minute in the stand so far this season.  I understand this is just the beginning of the learning curve for me and it could get worse before it gets better.  At the same time, being in the stand would automatically make me feel better about all of this.  The shop should have my adapters in a couple of days and I will hopefully make it out this week still.  With a full slate of fall projects to complete around the house and at our camper, time could be at a premium in the next few weeks.

This is definitely not the dream start to the season that I expected, on the other hand, it can't get a whole lot worse can it?    

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trail Camera Review

You might remember Eric commenting back in June that he had purchased a Wildgame Innovations IR2 game camera on sale for $49.95.  In August we purchased a second cam and pulled our first batch of pictures last weekend.  We wanted to post a short review of our initial impressions of this camera.

The set up on this camera is super easy.  Basically install four C batteries, a memory card and strap it to a tree.   That sounds too easy and really it is, as we all know there are some things we want to know about our pictures, like the date and time.

The settings are pretty basic compared to more expensive cameras.  You can set the date and time and that is it.   There are no options for taking more or less pictures and video.  It just does what it does.  

Day Pictures
The daytime pictures are exceptional quality.  They are clear and it seems to have a good but not great shutter speed.  We do not get a lot of pictures of butts fleeing the area, but at the same time we don't get a lot of the deer as it comes into view.  

Night Pictures
Night pictures are decent quality most of the time but can get poor when the batteries start to die.  The IR seems to reach pretty far without being impressive.

Speaking of batteries, the life of the camera increases and decreases drastically depending on how many pictures it is taking.  We had the two cameras up for 2 months, one took 560 pics and the other 110.  The 560 pic camera died 8 days before the other and started taking poor night pictures a full 13 days sooner than the other camera.  Based on just this one trial, you can get about 530 pics on one full battery charge over almost 2 months.  

Overall, these cams are a great value for the price.  If you are in a spot where you get under 500 pics in between camera checks, you should be able to keep the batteries fresh.  Based on the current price of $10 for 12 C-cell batteries, if we figure we are going to go through 4 every two months, we will use $20 worth of batteries in a year.  The pictures are great quality during the day and serviceable at night.  Durability is still a question mark at this point, but if I get two years out of this camera I will be happy.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hard Work Pays Off

We have put in a summer of hard work and as you can see above, it is paying off!  We went back to our northern MN property to check on our trail cameras, hang our last two stands and cut our trails one more time.  Even though we have been working on a strict budget, with no large machinery or equipment, the payoff is huge!  Our trail cams produced an abundance of eye candy, including two nice bucks.  Both of the bucks were found on our Evolved Harvest No Till Easy Plot food plots.

The first one is probably a 2 year old 8 pointer that I've named Crabby.  He is not a shooter if you are hunting for mature large bucks, but he may end up a shooter for us.  The last few years we have not had a lot of luck waiting for larger bucks and have only taken does.  The guys are itching to shoot something with some bone sticking out of its head.  Here are a few pictures of Crabby:

We also have a nice 8 pointer that is definitely a shooter for us named Booker T.  He is a large bodied deer that seems to love the camera.  We have plenty of pictures of him during the day and night at this stand.  He came past quite a few times over the time we had the cam out.  Here is our main attraction for this summer so far:

One thing we have seen consistently is the presence of does on this property.  We have some that are distinguishable and quite a few more that are present all the time.  One of the groups that was at our camera almost every day, was 2 Baby Momma and her fawns:

We also have 1Baby Momma who has appeared on our other cam as well:
Last but not least, we have Rosie and Ellen who appear a ton of times and always together:

All of these pictures are from the one camera over looking Eric's stand and the first food plot we planted.  Needless to say, he is extremely excited to get out and hunt these deer.  We also put a camera out over our second food plot to start patterning the deer on the other side of the property.  We didn't get anything as nice as Crabby or BookerT, but we did get a full compliment of does yet again, and a couple of younger bucks that will easily be passed up this year.  First off we have the Broken Y buck:
This was the only picture of him for sure.  When we put out this cam it was for scouting purposes, not for great picture taking.  It is facing into the sun, but we wanted to see what time of day deer were coming out this trail and through this area.  A lot of our pictures ended up getting washed out by the sun because of this.  Another young buck we got a couple of pictures of is a small just starting to get a Y called the Rookie:

Finally we had just one pic of this guy that may be the broken Y buck, but I cant tell based on the angle.  

We have quite a few does again on this camera including a single fawn and doe that might be 1Baby Momma.  This camera was only about 20 acres away from the one by Eric's stand, so I expected more crossover.  Here is what could possibly be 1Baby Momma and her fawn:
Pretty sure Rosie and Ellen make an appearance over here based on the multiple pics I have of these two:

Overall I am extremely happy with the work we have done over the course of this summer.  As you can see it is panning out and it should make for an exciting year.  If I get time I am going to talk about our strategy for hunting these bucks in the coming week.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doing Laundry

We have been all caught up in preparing our hunting sight for the season.  Cutting grass, fixing stands, planting food plots and shooting our bows have been top priority.  It would be easy to get swept along in the process and forget some of the other things that need to get done.  I started this weekend with kicking out some laundry.  Here are some other things I need to make sure and not forget to do:

Check Portable Deer Stands
We have three ladder stands and two hanging stands that need to be maintained.  The bolts all could use a tightening and the straps have to be checked.  This is easiest done in the garage where I have all the tools I need to make adjustments.  

Clean Knives and Gear
After the season ended last year all of my gear was cleaned and put away, but it never hurts to pull out all of the knives, binos etc and make sure they are in good working order.  Those blades do not sharpen themselves so get to it!  

Trucks and Trailers
It's not just the gear that needs checking, but the method of getting the gear to your hunting spot.  Take a look at your tires, brakes and fluids on your truck and trailers.  Again, it's easier to fix the stuff now than on the side of the road when it breaks.  Don't forget the lights and windshield wipers while you're at it.

Physical Fitness
It may be to late for some of us to do anything about our beer belly's but it is something to think about.  People die every year from over exerting themselves in the woods.  Even if you just take a walk every night from here until the season starts, you will improve your chances of staying out of the hospital. 

These are just some of the things I have tried to keep in mind while getting ready for the season.  I am sure there are plenty more out there.  The key is to not lose focus on the laundry that has piled up while you were planting food plots!