By Jason (The WildMan) Hutcheson
It was opening day of the 2012-2013 deer season and I was at work. I sat in the truck playing back the perfect scenario in my mind. A monster buck chasing a doe 20 yards from my stand. Of course, it had stopped to give me the perfect 20 yard shot, when my phone rang.
My first 3 days off work during the season, I was on the road as soon as it was midnight. I drove the three and a half hours home and was in my stand well before any sign of day break coming on the horizon.
As the sun rose I could hear every critter in the woods moving. After being on an oil rig for so long, you would be amazed at how in tune you become with your senses. My first 3 days off were a bust. I saw several deer, none of which I chose to shoot at, since the weather was too hot to hang anything.
I had planned my vacation for that magical time in November, when the big boys throw caution to the wind. Working six days on and having only three days off to hunt was not working in my favor. I tried to stack the odds by using some bait. Well it was a good idea, but the timing was just wrong. By the time I decided to use my tactics, the acorns were already in the process of falling to the ground. The deer I had been watching from my secret spot seemed to vanish. I bought 200 pounds of shelled corn and scattered it around where I hung my stands. With the abundance of acorns, the deer could care less about some corn on the ground. All the cameras I hung didn’t catch a single deer, but the turkeys were more than happy to find a hand out.
Six days of work and my very short 3 days off went by fast. I was in my stand when my phone rang. You may wonder why I had it in my pocket. Work was calling on a conference call and I was trying to be very still and not say too much unless spoken to. I looked up to see a buck about 30 yards away, staring at me up in the stand. He was as puzzled to see me on the phone as I was to see him. Even at 30 yards, he was not a shooter. He circled my tree to try to get my wind then turned and walked 10 yards in front of me. As bad as I wanted to fill my buck tag, I let him walk. He was around me eating for almost an hour, before he disappeared into the brush.
It was nearing the end of October and the deer were doing funny things. The rut was not even close to beginning and the bucks began chasing does from the second week in October. I began to wonder if maybe I had taken my vacation too late. The full moon was October 31, yet I had seen the biggest bucks of the season out in broad daylight weeks before this time. They were busy chasing does in the field’s around the house
My little brother called me one evening, when I was home and asked if I could help him track a deer that he had shot. He said it wasn’t the one he was after, but it would do. Indeed it would do nicely! When I finally spotted him in the woods, I found out that all these years he had been hunting Goliath.
To his amazement, it was a 13 point buck with a drop tine with kickers and sticker’s all over his rack. I was stunned we had no pictures of him or even knew where he had come from. But, after one clear shot at 30 yards and a blood trail later, he had a very nice Ohio whitetail on the ground.
Figure 1 “Photo” Jason and his brother Billy with Billy’s 2012 Ohio archery buck.
Fall turkey season opened on one of my days off. I had never shot a turkey with a bow and was looking forward to giving it a try. My last attempt was out of a ground blind a few springs before. It was ill fated, due to the fact that I did not compensate for the drop of the arrow on my bow after my first shot. And another reason was that I was looking at 2 holes I shot thru my brand new blind. (Note to self, get a taller seat).
I was in my stand, sitting above a very hot bedding area when an entire flock of turkeys came in. When I first saw them, I slipped my bow off the hanger and waited with confidence. They worked toward me clucking, strutting and doing their turkey thing. Half of them knew something was wrong, and moved 40 yards to my right and were out of my comfort zone for taking the shot.
Six or more worked their way toward me, without a clue that I had come to a full draw and was waiting like a coiled snake. As soon as they broke the 20 yard marker, I released and to my amazement they didn’t fly off. My arrow met its mark and I had my first turkey with a bow on the ground, a very nice healthy hen! I chuckled under my breath, as my arrow hit its mark and she fell straight over backwards. Her fellow buddies looked at her and went on with their scratching and daily routine, not even giving her a second look.
Deer season seemed to drag on and I still had not seen a good buck. My dad asked me to follow him up to get the dozer. As I jumped on the quad to do so, I left the bow at the house not thinking I would need it. I went out to the other side of the field from where he was, to check an apple tree I had hunted around in the past, at different times of the season. As I crested the top of the hill, a deer stood up when I came to a stop. I noticed it was a buck and wow what a big one at that! Just my luck, as I sat there on the bike with nothing more to throw at him than a hammer. With only 30 yards away, he stretched out then trotted down over the hill.
The week I waited so long for was finally here. Craig Forman was on his way down in hopes of getting Mr. Big on film. The first day we were in the stand, I put up a decoy in a real aggressive stance. The first and only deer of the morning was a small buck. He didn’t think the decoy and him were going to get along. He stopped and starred, but only for a few seconds, then turned and bolted off. We were dealt the same hand the second day. Craig and I watch a nice 8 point work his way across an open hay field right into our lap. The video footage of him was short since it was foggy that morning. He didn’t stick around long, he got in the thick cover behind us and we never saw him again.
On the second night that Craig was at my place, I figured my coon dog needed a walk and we could get some bonus footage as well. I got my son all dressed up and let the dog loose and off we went. Well she hadn’t been hunted for a good long while. My dad let her run loose around the house chasing chipmunks. This is not a good combination while you are hunting coons come to find out.
She never treed a coon. But, when she was barking, I walked over to her. She was digging at the ground, trying to get at a chipmunk, so needless to say we didn’t hunt very long.
The third day looked really good. The weather was nice and cold, and the air was crisp, just what you would imagine the rut being like. At 9 am my phone was buzzing because work was calling. As mad as I was for them calling me back into work on my third day off, it may have been a blessing. I talked to several people who hunted that week and the results were mixed. Some said they had seen a lot of deer moving and others hadn’t seen anything.
Shotgun season came and went while I was working. The only thing that was killed around the farm was a big coyote, which my dad had shot on the second day of the season.
I had taken a new job and was out of the state working for three to four weeks at a time. It was all working in my favor or so I thought.
I was working in North Central Pennsylvania when deer season started there. I bought a license and a buck tag. I had seen a few deer around the oil rig I was on and there was a huge track of public land to hunt, just right down the road.
I worked twelve hour shifts from 1730 to 0530 then I hiked up to the top of a mountain with a nice big clearing and waited for the sun to rise. Well, when it did rise, I got a big reminder of how hunting public land really is. It was a solid line of blaze orange from one side to the other. A big snow storm had blown through overnight and I worked the night shift. I left the next morning and hiked up another good section of woods, I had been looking at on a topo map. I never saw signs of a deer, so I didn’t fill my tag in PA.
The Ohio black powder season came in January 2013, it was cold and snow was on the ground. I went out the first morning and stalked the silent woods with fresh snow on the ground. I looked up and ahead of me I saw a doe bedded down. I stopped to watch as she got up and stretched while looking around. Then, she bedded down again and I could see a deer bedded behind her as well. I eased my way up an old path that had been there for many years. I watched her, to see if she was looking in my direction and if she was, I would stop moving and stand behind a tree. The wind swirled and she shot off like a missile. As the deer stood up behind where she had been, I saw it was a buck. As I looked at him, I could tell he wasn’t a shooter. And with a flick of his tail, he turned and followed her into the brush. The black powder season came to a close without firing a single shot.
The rest of the archery season was the same, for I had never made it back to the stand. I went the entire 2012-2013 without firing a single bullet or arrow at a deer, which was a first for me. This season taught me more than I could have learned in several seasons put together.
As the totals came in for the 2012-2013 deer season, Ohio hunters killed an outstanding 218,748 deer. That was only 838 fewer deer than taken in the past season.
Many of us shared our success as well as our defeats. You can bet that in a few months, my cameras will be hung in many of the same locations as well as some new ones. I will carefully go over my treestands and replace them as needed. I will also tune my bow to the max in anticipation for the kick off of the 2013-2014 deer season.
1 September will be opening day of the fall hunting season. I will be back in the woods once again scouting and looking to get the edge on the giants that roam the hardwood flats and ridges of south eastern Ohio.