2017 Season in Photos

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JoeRE
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2017 Season in Photos

Postby JoeRE » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:51 am

Every season ends up being a bit unique and this one was no different. There were a lot of twists and turns, some new highs and lows.

I prepared for deer season as I usually do, scouting and preparing the whole year. The one twist was that my primary goal for bow season was get my buddy an opportunity at a big public land Iowa buck because he finally drew a tag. He has a young family just like I do, I told him if he would give me two long weekends and work his tail off to get into the spots I was going to point him to, he would get that chance.

A lot of the country had a bumper crop of acorns last fall and around here was no exception. We had a heavy yield of white oak and pin oak acorns (in the white oak family and deer love then around here).

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One buck I had my eye on was a super tall heavy 8. He made this rub and scrape.

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I had him dead to rights early season regularly using a south wind bedding area but held off for my buddy to make a trip into the state. Long story short I think hunting pressure got to him and he disappeared a few days into October so that plan didn’t work out. But I play the long game so it was wasn't a big deal, just on to plans B and C.

In mid-October my friend came up for a weekend. This was right when it seemed like the whole deer hunter nation was complaining about the October Lull. Mid October is not easy but the deer are still out there. On the first evening I took him deep into a public area and we set up on the transition between a tangled bedding area that often held both bucks and does and a big oak flat covered with deer sign and the sound of falling acorns.

Conditions were ridiculous, gusty wind, thunder, and rain. A front was moving through and the wind was switching as we walked in which combined with the rain allowed us to get right next to the bedding undetected. Thunder boomed above us and we knew we were nuts but under the circumstances we had to make the most of it.

He was set up all of 15 minutes before he 10-ringed a big old granny doe at 30 yards coming out of the bedding like she read the textbook despite the wacky weather. Antlerless tag filed (all nonresidents get an antlerless tag too).

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We packed that big doe out a mile, over a couple of 300 foot ridges, and my buddy realized why I told him to run hills to prepare for this. We probably could have shot a doe a lot closer to a road but I like to think this made her taste better ;)

The next day we set up next to a great buck bed I had found this spring on another piece of public land. There was a screaming NW wind and the temperature had plunged into the 30s. The bed was low down behind a ridge and sheltered, exactly where I would go to be protected from the wind. An hour or so after daylight my buddy got an education on what steep shot angles do to the flight of an arrow. Bucks 1 Us 0.

The nice 8 pointer looking back after the shot:

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Tough conditions just mean you have to work harder and hunt smarter. Hunting the same way you always have just means you will get the same old results. These hunts focused on hunting bedding under conditions that would favor use of the beds. Not just wind direction, security and proximity to food but also things like wind speed and temperature.

The second weekend my buddy came to hunt was the last weekend of October. Its my favorite time to hunt mature bucks – before too many other hunters are around yet the mature bucks are far more daylight visible than many would believe with the smell of the first doe near estrus in the air. Imagine someone drawing an Iowa and being told the time to a big one is October, not November! :D

The first morning we set up on a piece of hilly public land about 1/3 of a mile apart each covering bedding that I knew rutting bucks should be using. It was 30 degrees with a screaming NW wind and both spots were benches more than half way down leeward slopes sheltered from the elements. Right at legal shooting light I heard steps approaching and a wide set of antlers stepped into the open 35 yards away. It was a heavy wide mature buck that I knew frequented the area. I reached for my bow and realized inexplicably that I had not nocked an arrow yet. I always do that as soon as I pull my bow up!

By the time the arrow was on the string the buck was through the open area and in thick cover and quickly downwind of me. One heavy snort and he was gone off across the valley. As I listened to him crash off I idly wondered if he would end up at my buddy’s setup. He was headed that general direction and that location was another secure bed perfect for these conditions.

I wasn’t expecting it but turns out that is exactly what happened. Two hours after my encounter with him my friend made a perfect 30 yard shot through the heart on this public land slob.

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The buck he shot was a 21-3/8” wide main frame 9 point. He had recently broken off almost all of his left G2 but we didn’t care!!

I’m glad I didn’t nock that arrow. The hunting gods knew what they were doing that morning. This made my season.

It wouldn’t be a story of mine without a hoof pic. This buck was bare minimum 4 years old but had some of the smallest feet I have seen. The big doe my buddy shot had larger feet.

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I wouldn’t trade it for anything but the experience had an interesting effect on me. I felt like my season was complete. I pretty much lost my drive even though I still had my tag. Right around the same time, I was taking on some additional responsibilities at work and also was taking a couple of classes all of which added up to the time equivalent of two full time jobs…on top of full time family obligations. My season was disappearing and I hardly cared.

I frankly was about to put my tag on a shelf till late season until the day I pulled my last package of venison burger out of the freezer. We can’t have that! I took a half day off work and climbed into a killer rut setup on a piece of public I knew well where deer crossed a steep ravine that separated a big oak flat loaded with acorns and a bunch of good bedding cover on the other side that held lots of does. A couple hours later a wide antlered, deep chested buck came past trailing a doe. He was gaunt and worn down from the rut and he was no giant, but he looked like an older buck and I wanted to be done. The razor sharp cut on contact unzipped his lungs from top to bottom and he didn’t go far.
My buck right before he tipped over down in the ditch:

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You can see my arrow far right in this photo buried in the ground. My atrier is hanging from the tree I was in. I shoot rugged cut on contact broad heads because they never know what hits them and I don’t worry about bone.

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This is the buck I shot a year earlier. He was just one of those average 8s that doesn’t grow into much antler wise.

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It took only 7 bowhunts to get me burned out like this. A far cry from when I was a kid and would bow hunt 60-80 times in a season. I walked away from all things hunting related most of the month of November. Some guys like to brag about making themselves miserable with the grind but not me. Life is too short. I walk away for a while and come back with the fire burning bright.

I wouldn’t trade any of the memories though. My buddy’s buck made my season. Also somehow along the way I made a great series of shots with my bow hitting 5 critters in a row in just those few hunts. It felt great watching each of those arrows hit home. Full confession I missed a turkey before that though.

Coyote:

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This coyote was eating white oak acorns. I heard him chewing loudly crunch crunch crunch from 80 yards just like an acorn cruncher! I lip squeaked at him and he thought a mouse would taste better and trotted right to me…mistake!

My arrow buried in the ground were I hit the coyote.

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Grey squirrel – I always carry a blunt in the quiver.

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20 pound Tom:

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Funny story about the turkey. By now you might be wondering about what I am wearing. It’s a coyote fur parka complete with fleece liner that I stitched together this spring from a total of 9 pelts because coyote fur prices are lousy so I wanted to find other uses for the fur. It turned out amazing. On this hunt, 5 gobblers came right past me and then saw me. It was a cold morning (I can’t wear it in temperatures above the 30s – too warm haha). When the turkeys saw me, instead of spooking, they FROZE for a split second. They clearly couldn’t believe what they saw. I have never seen turkeys react that way before. A frozen turkey makes a good target, my broad head hit him dead center through the thighs and he flopped 10 yards and that was it.

Another squirrel I hit right between the eyes as he looked up at me – the same hunt I shot my buck.

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You can see the squirrel under me – top center.

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Going into the season I had a solid trip planned for bowhunting up on northern Wisconsin. But I was only up there a day and a half before sick kids cut the trip short. Still at first light on the first day I had an encounter with an old cagy big woods buck. He was coming in to the swamp island I was set up on, wind to back like I see so many deer travel up there, incredibly loud in the frozen tamaracks and tag alders, his antlers slapping branches as he walked. Then when his shape just appeared in the thick cover, the wind switched 180 degrees for a few moments. He froze.

Incredibly that darn buck stood there motionless for 45 MINUTES trying to pinpoint where the human was he briefly smelled. He didn’t know where I was apparently and just didn’t know what direction to run. I have never seen anything like it before. Finally, he came to a decision and took off like a freight train away through the swamp. It was not meant to be apparently.

He is out there somewhere:

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One of these times in the near future I am going to stick a northwoods slob.

A few more pictures from bow season:

A momma doe I had at spitting distance while I was set up on top of a rock.

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A nice looking younger buck that I let pass by me…would probably have scored higher than the buck I ended up shooting. That is how I would want it too.

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Another super wide young buck I had at spitting distance, notice the wound on the side of his neck below his ear.

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Some scenery:

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The sunrise was reflecting in this squirrel’s eyes…devil squirrel!

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Gobbler on a roost next to me:

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This doe ended my hunt with a snort fest over my dropped glove about 10 seconds after this photo.

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And that was the first half of my season :D

Then came late season. I had more time to hunt over the holidays. More importantly I had my drive back. My mind was focused as it had not been for weeks. I still had my landowner archery tag for the few acres I own around my house and also a late muzzleloader tag.

We got just enough snow to see tracks, and we got bitter cold. Basically, perfect hunting conditions to me.

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I planted some brassicas behind my house this year and deer were hitting them hard in the cold weather. One evening at last light I saw a couple nice bucks come out of the wood line. The next evening I decided to try and kill a late season buck with my bow to fill my landowner tag. At last light two bucks came past. The first was a tall 8 that I knew was a 3 year old. The second looked heavier and older – my arrow found its mark in his heart and he did not go far. Turns out I am pretty sure I was wrong and he was actually a good up and coming 3 year old but oh well, what’s done is done. He tastes good!

In other news I guess I can no longer say I have never shot a deer in a food plot in my life. He was technically not in the food plot yet…

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The coyote coat (and hat made out of a coon) is perfection for this brutal cold weather. My feet might freeze off but pretty sure I could lay out there for days and my torso would stay warm wearing just a heavy wool shirt underneath.

We had plenty of dry weather this fall which meant the farmers picked their fields clean…which meant the deer were very dependent on the remaining acorns where they could find them. My two brothers and I team up for hunting and scouting come late season. The cold had deer stacked up on the oak ridges and we had some of the best hunting we have ever had all three of us tagging out over the course of a week.

A couple up and coming bucks that I let walk. The buck on the left will be a giant next year.

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After a few days of figuring out where the deer were I struck pay dirt. I watched a big 9 pointer work along the far side of a valley. He stepped into an opening and stopped quartering away 230 yards away. I took my time, using the second tick down on my ballistic reticle that was dead on at 235 yards. I practice out to 300.

The crosshairs were rock solid across my shooting sticks and the bullet hit him right through the top of his heart exactly where I expected. That gun and load combination is something else. The buck staggered only 10 yards and went down never knowing what hit him.

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He was on a sunny southern slope for a reason. The daytime high on that day was -2 degrees. My younger brother and I shot bucks the same day.

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Terminal performance of the bullet was perfect. It entered at his last rib and lodged in the off shoulder. I will mention a bit on that because I found a solution to a common problem with the gun I use – a .50 caliber TC Omega. Most of them are known to print incredibly tight groups with Shockwave/SST bullets. The problem is that SST terminal ballistics are garbage, they frag at high speeds and don’t expand at low speeds. I switched to using 195 grain Barnes solid copper bullets in the same 40/50 sabot (that you can buy separately). It has almost the same trajectory and far better performance. Accuracy is every bit as good – easily sub MOA out of my gun.

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My bullet is the one on the left – it expanded well after being lobbed 230 yards. The bullet (same 195 gr Barnes) on the right was from my other brother’s buck shot at 50 yards and basically identical shot placement – entrance last rib lodged under the hide far shoulder.

I only mention all this because I know there might be others out there who shoot an Omega with SSTs because of their extreme accuracy but are not happy with terminal ballistics.

And that was my season. Guess I ended up writing more than planned!

Going into the year I was hopeful I would take my first deer with my recurve. It quickly became apparent that I didn’t have time to practice like I needed to so that got tabled for another year. Someday…

The year had twists and turns but was action packed. I am amazed how much happened with as little time I had. I am thankful for another year in the woods and most of all my buddy's slob and the fact I didn't nock that arrow. Maybe next year I will single-mindedly pursue one of the giant bucks that may be around. This year wasn’t the year for that but I am satisfied.

I am very thankful for all those quick clean kills. I have had my share of shots that went otherwise and to me a quick clean kill is what makes or breaks hunt. I have a full freezer and great memories.

Happy new year to everyone!


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Jonny
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby Jonny » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:06 am

Awesome write up joe! And as usual some dandy bucks :clap:

That fur coat is awesome
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Buckshot20
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby Buckshot20 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:18 am

Great read JoeRe. You had a great year despite the challenges. I think we sometimes get so caught up on the horns we forget to enjoy the ride. Good job. Congrats to you, your friend, and brothers. Happy new year.

Ps. Its 40 degrees at my house right now. I might need to borrow that jacket
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Buckshot20
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby Buckshot20 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:19 am

Buckshot20 wrote:Great read JoeRe. You had a great year despite the challenges. I think we sometimes get so caught up on the horns we forget to enjoy the ride. Good job. Congrats to you, your friend, and brothers. Happy new year.

Ps. Its 40 degrees at my house right now. I might need to borrow that jacket



Also, thanks for the ballistics report on those Barnes rounds. I've been shooting those with similar results just on much, much smaller deer.
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WV Bowhunter
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby WV Bowhunter » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:23 am

Heck of a year Joe!! I think you may be deadly than the plague, haha. Congrats and thanks for the fine write up.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!!
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Dewey
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby Dewey » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:29 am

Wow what a season Joe. Huge Congrats. :clap:

Awesome coat. Better hope PETA doesn’t see that. :lol:
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby burkhart » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:38 am

Deer stories aside(which are always good) that coat is AWESOME!!!!!

Awesome season joe. I saw your name in a thread a few days ago and wondered where you been hiding....
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tbunao
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby tbunao » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:47 am

Awesome stories and season per usual Joe!
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby RidgeGhost » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:55 am

Good read Joe, and what a season! As a newer member, I have gained a lot from your posts and I wondered as the season drug on where you were and how things were going for you. Glad to see an update from your season. And the yote-coat :handgestures-thumbupright:
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jwilkstn
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby jwilkstn » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:06 pm

Thanks for sharing, awesome insight like always! Congratulations on another outstanding season.

Super impressed with the fur coat!! 8-)

I completely agree with you on those Barnes bullets. Deadly.
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Jackson Marsh
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby Jackson Marsh » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:10 pm

Congrats on a great year Joe! :clap: :clap:

Your hunting efficiency is second to none. Great job on setting up your buddy on a true dandy buck....that had to be a great feeling. Well done.

:dance: :dance: :dance:
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PK_
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby PK_ » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:11 pm

It’s a good thing you don’t have much free time. Them bucks really wouldn’t stand a chance :lol:

Great post bud!!
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby vovamir » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:37 pm

That coat is amazing.
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kurt
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby kurt » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:43 pm

Great season Joe

I use Barnes out of T/C Triumph shoots great
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Re: 2017 Season in Photos

Postby gjs4 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:48 pm

The: man, legend, killer behind the coyote coat.

Way to go and thanks for sharing.
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