In early November of 2007, I was bow hunting at my Uncle Horace Allen Spees (HA) farm in Graves County Kentucky. It was a cold evening hunt, and I had been seeing several nice bucks on his farm. I always enjoyed hunting on HA farm because I got to visit with him and see lots of deer. HA was one of three of my mom’s older brother, who had moved to the old Barker family farm in the late 1960’s. All of his nephews and nieces called him “Uncle Horsie”, because he always had and raised horses. I went in and chatted with Uncle Horsie before going hunting on his property, he had about 75 acres in his farm. And then headed off to one of my stands on the edge of a thicket, where I had seen several nice bucks in the last week. The rut was in full swing, and the cooler temperatures had the bucks on their feet in daylight hours.
I settled into my stand and got myself ready to fling some arrow from my Hoyt bow, I just need the deer to cooperate. After a couple of hours, I finally saw movement in the thicket, but I couldn’t tell if it was buck or doe. Then suddenly a doe came busting out of the thicket with a spike buck hot on her trail, then they disappeared as they headed north. Only a couple of minuets later another deer came out of the thicket on the same trail, he was an eight pointer. He paused briefly at thirty yards and then head north as the other deer had done; he was following the scent trail of the doe. I could not get a shot, but things were heating up. Three or four minuets later a third buck popped out of the thicket and he was on the same trail, he paused a took a few steps in my direction. He was at twenty-five yards standing broadside, when I sunk an arrow into his chest. He bolted and turned south, disappearing into the thicket. I was shaking from the adrenaline rush I had just received, and my heart was about to beat out of my chest, what a buck! I finally calmed down, then a fourth buck came out of the thicket on the same trail, he was the largest of the all. He disappeared in the woods to the north just as the others had done. Wow, four bucks within fifteen minutes. I waited another fifteen minutes, which seemed like an hour. It was starting to get dark when I climbed down and started looking of the deer. I found my arrow and a blood trail, but the blood was beginning to be hard to find and it was dark now. So, I opted to mark my spot and return in the morning, there is always a danger that coyotes could find him first.
It was a long night, with all kinds of thought ran through my head, like was it a good shot or did I just wound him. I was not sure if he was an eight, a nine, or a ten pointer. He only made it fifty yards from where I shot him, and he was a nine pointer and he weighted one hundred forty-three pounds. He was my biggest bow kill to date.
There are only 333 days till the 2021 turkey season, which should be April 17,2021. The season always goes by so quickly. It seems like it just started, and now it’s over. I was lucky and harvested my two birds the first week, but a lot of my friends had a difficult season. Now I will turn my attention to deer season.
Do you have your food plots ready? Last week I sprayed my food plot with weed killer, and yesterday I applied 300lbs of lime on to the plot. Unfortunately, it’s too wet to disk anything now, and we need several days of sunshine and warm temperatures to dry everything up. The forecast is 20% rain for tomorrow; after that, there is a 20% chance of rain for Thursday and Friday. I also purchased soybeans last week on the same day I bought the lime. I am ready to roll!
It won’t be long before there are a lot of fawns being born, so I set out two coyote traps today. There is open season on coyotes, and I figure whatever it takes to help the deer and turkeys, by controlling the predator populations, is a good thing. Also, don’t forget to trap coons, opossum, and skunks as season regulations allow. You need to find a way to get out and enjoy nature, and don’t forget to wear your tick and snake repellent!
In 1997 KDFWR started the Elk Restoration Program, which brought elk back to Kentucky. Last month I put my $10 chance in for the Kentucky Elk drawing, which closed on April 30th. This time, I chose the rifle hunt for a bull elk. Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to have been drawn for a bull elk tag; Kentucky has a 16 county Elk zone in the southeastern part of the state, which is a quota hunt, and back then I picked Zone 3, which was made up of about half of Knott county at that time.
I had looked at several potential outfitters in that area and ended up with Jerry Hall as my guide. I had gone to West Virginia the weekend before my scheduled hunt with a bunch of friends and family to whitewater raft the Gauley River, so instead of returning home to Paducah, I went on to Jerry’s place and camped on his property. I went out with Jerry every morning and afternoon, to drive through his property and view the elk. I saw a lot of elk – some were fighting, making rubs, chasing cows, bugling, and much more. I asked Jerry how many hunters he had coming on Saturday, and he said “four,” so I asked him if he would hunt with me in the spot we were at on Saturday, and he said, “yes.” The next morning, before light, Jerry and I returned to that location. We heard elk bugling all around us! Jerry procced to cow call. Soon after it got light, I saw a 4 X 4 coming our way to investigate the calling. He was right in our laps in just minutes, but I had seen much bigger elk earlier that week, so I passed on the young bull at 10 yards. About 2 pm, a much larger bull stepped out of the woods at 175 yards from our position, and I let that 8×6 elk have some lead from my 30.06. He went down. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. I had just shot a monster! It was such an exciting moment.
It took the rest of the evening to get that elk out of the bottom of the terraced-off land, where we were hunting, but it was worth it. It was “good eating” for an entire year, and the trophy mount is very impressive. This was truly a hunt of a lifetime for me, and I am really looking forward to the next time I get drawn. Have you put in for the KY elk hunt?
2020 Kentucky turkey season is history, with hunters harvesting 31,711 birds. It was a tough season for many hunters – that, I know. Yet a lot of new hunters got their first bird, so they consider it a great season. Whether good or bad, we will all remember this year as “The COVID-19 Year.” There are people that lost love ones and friends to this virus, and my prayers go out to those families. It has changed our way of living. The thing I missed the most this year was not getting to see my sons and hunt with them. I know that everyone has been affected in one way or another. I hope that things will return to the new normal very soon.
Now, as we move forward, I am preparing for the fall deer season. I am getting my food plots ready to plant, putting out a new mineral block, and planning on catching a coyote or two before the fawns start hitting the ground. It seems like I am always hunting or getting ready to hunt, and I love it! I remember my dad told me one time after he retired, “I don’t know where I found time to work.” Life is busy. Enjoy it while you can!
What makes a good hunt? I think that there are at least three things that can make a good hunt: being safe while harvesting the animal, who you are hunting with, and having an unusual event while hunting.
It is always my goal to be safe while harvesting an animal. For me, whether it’s chasing turkeys or deer, I am hunting the animal on its territory, so I need to do my homework, which includes pre-season scouting, using trail cameras, or sitting on a stand and observing the animal. Then when the season comes in, the odds are in my favor. When hunting pressure is applied, they will change their routines, and we have to also. It can be a cat and mouse game. It is very satisfying to harvest an animal that you have been stalking or watching. Everyone wants to harvest that big buck or that multi-bearded turkey.
The second thing that makes a good hunt is the friends and family you are hunting with; I have shared many hunts with my sons and brothers, along with many friends. I always look forward to deer or turkey camp, where we cook together, eat together, sit around the campfire and tell lies together (I mean stories together). It strengthens our relationships and builds comradery as we share our experiences. Having a good time and enjoying each other.
The third thing that makes a good hunt is that there is almost always something unusual that happens to one of the hunting group. We all have something to laugh about it and a story that we can tell for years to come. I have had lots of unusual occurrences that made that trip special.
I am sure that there are a lot more things that could make a good hunt, but these three came to mind. What makes your hunt special?