So 2012 was a challenging year. Somehow, I personally had one of my worst hunting seasons and my best hunting season at the same time. Yes I was able to harvest a dandy buck but the month and a half leading up to it were tough. The deer numbers were way down where I hunt and I had numerous sittings where I saw zero deer. In fact, I saw one deer all the way until the evening before I shot my buck. 3 years ago I would of seen close to 100 deer in that same time frame. So what caused it? I think its a combination of things. One, EHD, I am pretty positive we lost a good amount of deer to this disease. Two is the growing amount of "business" on the farm during Sept and Oct. Its good because my brother in law is doing great and getting busier but it does affect the deer with all the extra activity during those months. So that is why this year we did not add to that business and held off on hunting until the end of Oct. This year(2013) we might wait until the first week of Nov. Since we started hunting down there 5 years ago, every single mature buck encounter from the stand has been from the last week of Oct to the middle of Nov. So it only makes sense to wait until that prime time and not put any unnecesary pressure on any of the stands until that majic 3-4 weeks.
One big thing I believe I learned this year is that this property is still attractive to these bucks but they are not living there for the most part. It seems to be more of transition area between bedding and food, which is why I believe the big bucks show up more frequently during this time frame. This is when they are scent checking for the does that are using it to move from bed to food and visa versa. This is also when you get bucks that don't frequent the property often but the do come in to check for the ladys. Perfect example of this is the deer I shot. I had zero pictures of him. Julie believes to have missed him the last week of Oct. Those were the only times we saw him. Interesting both times it was in the morning, in the same area, and S to SE wind. Another perfect example of one of these "traveling" bucks is a big 8pt that showed up Halloween night on camera. Below is the link to the video. I never saw this deer before or after just this one time. You can see in the video he was either fighting, picking a fight or dogging a doe. One of the coolest videos I have ever gotten. (note the deer running across the back about a quarter through)
Another big thing I learned is mornings have become the time to hunt down there. It used to be evenings but that has changed. Why? Again not to sound like a broken record but its pressure. These deer are arriving later in the night so in the mornings we are still catching them as they make their way from their food and night time beds to their daytime beds. Honestly if you see a deer at night there its going to be in the last 10 minutes of light. The one spot that should be good at night which is the SE corner of the property hasn't been and I believe its because I am hunting it on the wrong wind, so I am going to move my stand to allow me to hunt that spot with N, NW, NE winds and we will see if that makes a difference. This spot is adjacent to a large bedding area and its a great natural funnel so there is no reason it shouldn't be good.
So 2013, what do I expect, what are my plans? I expect 2013 will be a little light again as far as deer numbers go, with EHD last year and a very tough winter I think it will keep the numbers down. However, I know for sure that a very nice buck made it already so I do expect to see some more big bucks this summer like last year and hopefully we can tag another one.
With my brother in law's permission I really would like to try a food plot down there this year. I am glad I didn't last year because with the drought it would of died anyway. My plan is the NE corner, same corner we regularly see these big bucks traveling. I don't know if it will help a ton but it surely won't hurt to plant one.
Otherwise, my plan will remain very similar to last. We will lay low until late Oct. and hopefully that will yield the same results as this past year.