Today is the day some Virginia hunters have been waiting for all year, rifle season. The firearms season gives us a chance to give our bows and muzzleloaders a break and allows us to dust off the ole’ trusty rifle. Whether you are using a .243 or a .308, rifle season can sometimes help his relax a bit in our hunting pursuits. I’ve always enjoyed the ‘spot and stalk’ technique while rifle hunting. Given the land I’ve been able to hunt on, which is mostly open pastures and freshly chopped cornfields, it’s always been fun to spot deer from hundreds yards away and slowly creep into shooting range. If you’re lucky the deer will never see you or the bullet coming. This year I plan on setting up in some heavily trafficked fence rows overlooking wide open pastures with shooting lanes from 50 to 400 yards and maybe even further if I feel comfortable with the shot.
Unfortunately I have not been able to do as much whitetail hunting as I have in the recent years on account of an extremely busy work schedule and my newfound passion of fly-fishing for native brook trout. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t given up hunting by any means. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods I’ll be hunting this year and have seen deer activity every time I’ve stepped foot on the properties. Last week was a sight to see, it was literally like clock work. Everyday about 15 minutes before 5:30 sunset I would see the does begin making their way out of the woods and into the pastures to graze. Not far behind them have been several different shooter bucks, each of them keeping their distance from each other. They have already begun chasing, sniffing and scraping, this leads me to believe that peak of the rut looks like it will be falling right in line with rifle season. Keep in mind that I can only speak for the southwestern portion of the state, rut activity may be completely opposite in northern and eastern Virginia. The weather is seemingly on cue with historical November temperatures (high 50’s/low 30’s) and it doesn’t look like we’re expecting any large amounts of snow accumulations in the near future.
I hope everyone is having a great hunting season thus far and I only wish for it to get better as the season continues. Safe shooting and good luck!
One has to be careful during the Virgina Spring Gobbler season because if you blink you could literally miss it. The majority of the season only allows for birds to be taken before noon followed by just two weeks of full-day hunting. Unlike last years deer season, I haven’t been able to get in the woods as much as I’d like too. I was fortunate enough to take a trip with Will Jenkins up to Highland County VA to chase some birds and trout fish for a few days. Although we didn’t punch any tags we had a great time in the mountains, you can read more about our trip on Will’s blog in his two part article Hunting Highland.
A few days after our hunt, I received an email from one of our Virginia Huntography readers, Regg Simmons, a turkey hunter that has kept his eyes wide open so far this season. Simmons was happy to tell me that the turkey hunting was “hot and heavy” in northern Virginia. The photos that accompanied his email didn’t lie. With two great gobblers on the ground within a week of opening day, I’d say Simmons having one of the best spring seasons of anyone I know. I asked him if he’d like to recount his season thus far and he kindly obliged. So without further ado here is his story…
On the morning of April 13th I rose at 3:00 AM to make the drive from Manassas to my hunting spot in Fauquier County. It was a long cold, hike up towards the crest of Naked Mountain where I set my single hen decoy and settled in to a pile of cut timber to await the coming of dawn and the start of the 2013 Spring Gobbler Season. Toms were answering owl calls by gobbling on the roost at 5:30 AM so I knew things could interesting once the sun came up. With sunrise the birds got all fired up – 5 Toms gobbling at all points on the compass. I was sitting in Tom central ! By 6:00 AM I had a Tom in sight at 100 yards – strutting and gobbling like crazy answering the yelps and purrs coming from my long box and diaphragm calls. Well that Tom was locked up at about 80 yards when off to my right, just over a rise and out of sight, came thundering gobbles from at least two more Toms. A few soft purrs from the diaphragm was the deal closer – over the rise came three Toms, with the biggest boy leading the pack. When they crested the rise and spotted my hen decoy all three Toms went into full strut, spitting & drumming making a beeline for the fake hen. As they closed the distance I had my Remington 870 locked on the leader of the pack. A round of Hevi-Shot Turkey load sealed the deal with the Tom at 18 yards. One of the surviving Toms flew away while the other ran a short distance then stopped to survey the scene. Just for fun, a few soft purrs called him right back in to gun range but of course he would have to wait for another day….
Tom #1 weighed 23.4 pounds, had a 12″ beard and 1′ spurs.
I got back after them on Saturday, April 20. Once again I hiked up Naked Mountain in the pre-dawn darkness this time hunting near one of my favorite deer stands. As the sun rose I could hear gobbling but it was coming from way down in the creek bottom. Having learned a long time ago to “sit down, be still and be quiet” I decided to stick with my spot rather than go “running and gunning”. The gunning I can handle but the running is getting harder every season…. Other than “tweety birds” the mountain top was quiet, no turkey talk other than my occasional plaintive calls. By 9:00 AM my patience had worn thin so I decided to pull my decoy and slowly walk back down the mountain towards the truck. After picking up the deke and getting my gear stowed I decided to make one more loud series of yelps before leaving the area. I yelped and a Tom thunder gobbled, 75 yards uphill of my location. At break-neck speed I reset the hen decoy, stumbled back into a pile of weeds and tried to regain my composure. Another yelp – another gobble, even closer. Then I spotted that red/white/blue head coming through the brush at 35 yards so up came the Remington and off went the safety. Spotting the decoy the Tom went into full strut at 20 yards and closed the distance to the deke. The Tom circled the decoy several times, strutting and displaying the whole while. A soft putt from my diaphragm got his head up for the kill shot at 15 yards. After recovering from a mild case of hyper-ventilation I recovered my bird and made my way back down the mountain…..Tom #2 weighed 22.25 pounds, had an 11″ beard and 1″ spurs.
Finally, another great Virginia hunting season is upon us. Opening this Saturday (April 13th) is the 2013 Virginia Spring Gobbler Season. The early part of the season only allows for bearded turkeys to be taken from sunrise until noon each day lasts until May 4th. The all-day season (from sunrise to sunset) lasts from May 6-18. During those down times your best bet to get a hold of me will be on the river or lake with a pole in the water. Smallmouth, largemouth, walleye, trout and catfish will keep me occupied until deer season in October.
To kick off the turkey season we’re doing it right here in Virginia. Managing Editor, Will Jenkins from TheWilltoHunt.com, fellow Field Editor, Chris Mann and myself are heading up to central Virginia to set up turkey camp for a few days. Will and I have been doing some tentative planning the past few months and have decided on embarking into one of Virginia’s largest Wildlife Management areas in Highland County. Since we can chase gobblers until 12pm, it will give us plenty of time to get after some rainbow, brown and brook trout in the nearby streams. I’ve already decided that even if we don’t bag a bird or put any fish in the net, I’ll be just as satisfied by being able to enjoy a new hunting experience in a new patch of woods with new friends.
Fortunately, I have been able to line up three other turkey hunts this year in different areas. So far this year I’ve been seeing many flocks of turkey and hearing the gobblers coming down from the roost right at sunrise. Other hunters I’ve spoken to seem to say the same and that there’s no lack of turkey movement in southwest Virgina. Using a combination of my bow and shotgun, I plan to try something new this year. Late last year a friend of mine introduced me to a new hunting product that I’ve since then fell in love with. The GhostBlind is an excellent hunting product that I intend to use this season, it’s mirror-paneled design makes it virtually impossible to see and will instantly adapt to your immediate surroundings. It’s light weight and versatility makes it usable for hunting with a bow or a gun and can used to hunt many different animals. This blind is slick and the companies motto speaks for itself, Not Seeing is Believing. Be sure to check out there website for a wide range of blinds and accessories.
I wish everyone good and safe spring gobbler season and I’d like to her how the season is going in other parts of the state. Feel free to share your story with us here at Virgina Huntography. We’d be glad to have some great representation of the state and allow other hunters to write a guest blog post .
Well it’s the start of the new year and most Virginia deer hunters have already begun cleaning their guns and sending their bows off to be restrung. There won’t be any more chances to harvest a buck until bow season next fall. This past year I didn’t have the success I had anticipated but it was one of the best hunting seasons I’ve had in a very long time. I was able to get out in the woods at least thirty times and each trip was a blessing. Through all of my hunts there were only a handful of times that I didn’t see a whitetail deer but my luck never went as far as putting a nice shooter buck within my sights. A lot of times after deer season I hear hunters over use the terms shoulda’, coulda’ and woulda’. At the beginning of the season I promised myself I wouldn’t let the deer get the best of me, as they have every year before, leaving me full of regrets. Since hunting season closed shop last weekend, I’ve only been thinking about all the great times I had embracing the beauty of the woods and the animals that I encountered. There were tons of close calls and each deer seemed to have their own agenda. Even though I didn’t tag out or harvest a trophy buck I was just as satisfied by being able to participate in another hunting season in the mountains of Virginia.
In Virginia, technically deer season isn’t completely over. In over 35 towns and cities across the state, Urban Archery Season lasts through March 30. Only archery tackle can be used and it’s an excellent opportunity to still put some meat in the freezer.
As much as I’d like to continue chasing whitetails I believe it’s time for me to give them a rest until October. So what do most Virginia hunters do after deer season? We anxiously prepare for the next hunting season, spring gobbler! But before you start packing away all your cold weather gear, I would encourage hunters to take advantage of the fall firearms turkey season that kicks off this weekend and last through the end of January. The map below is courtesy of the VDGIF and unfortunately the season is closed to the areas highlighted in white, blue and yellow but the green areas are wide open for hunters that are hungry for a turkey leg.
I don’t foresee myself getting too many chances to chase the late season fall gobblers but this spring fellow huntographer, Will Jenkins and I will be backpacking up to Highland County VA for a few days in hopes of bagging some birds. Will announced our trip along with a DIY elk hunt he’ll be doing out west this September in one his latest blog post, New Year, New Look, New Adventures on his website, TheWilltoHunt.com.
I’d like to personally thank everyone that has supported Huntography over the past year and a special shout out to Rudy for making it all happen! Good luck to everbody that will be out in the woods or on a river bank in the next few months and be sure to keep up with us as we embark into another year full of hunting stories and experiences that we intend to share.
Since the #Deertour passed through Virginia last November I’ve only been able get out in the woods a handful of times due to work, school and the holidays. Although we’ve been experiencing some extremely unusual fall weather conditions thus far this year, I’ve still been lucky enough to continue seeing deer as the season winds down. For most people in the state of Virginia there are only about 3 more weeks of hunting season left. Late archery season kicked off last weekend and remains open throughout January 5th and there’s still a chance to break out the black powder when late muzzleloader begins December 18th and lasts until January 5th. Be sure to check your local regulations for more details on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
On Saturday I went out for an evening hunt and decided to go against the odds in the 70-degree temperatures. Did I mention it was December? This may sound odd but I remember this same kind of scenario last year, I was hunting in the middle of December and it was 65 degrees. Is this something I should start expecting from now on? I sure hope not, an inconsistent and warmer fall weather pattern results in inconsistent deer movement and behavior. From what I’m seeing the rut is still semi-active and there are plenty of local hunters still bagging some decent late season bucks.
While I was in my stand I witnessed a couple of does butting heads and then nice buck emerged from the brush. The video was a little shaky and the buck makes a quick appearance towards the end of the video, around the 51 second mark.
If you don’t know already the #Deertour will be making it’s way to Virgina tomorrow! We’ll be dragging Rudy deep in the mountains of southwest Virginia. We’ve been hunting all week and been seeing a lot of deer moving. The weather is getting colder and the rut is heating up. The way this week is going anything could happen; deer, turkey and bear are all around. Below is a few photos of what was passing through earlier today…..
Flash back to October 6th. Opening day of bow season and I’m in Blacksburg, VA with Field Editor, Zac Stovall, both of us were itching to get into the woods. The start of the season was looking grim until the sun started going down and then sound of whitetail began filling the woods. I heard a noise behind me and spotted three does coming up the woods. After watching them for a bit I thought to myself “why not take a shot, its opening day, you got this”. I was wrong. Letting my arrow fly only to miss a good piece of tenderloin. All that practice and hurry to miss my first shot, I have to be the worst bow hunter ever.
6am in the morning a few weeks later, I decided to hit up the farm. Hunting national forest is a love of mine but this morning private land was just too convenient. Glazing at a doe in my head light while it was still dark, I was pretty sure it was a going to be a good morning. At the first of the season I was excited and rusty. About 3 hours into the hunt I was surprised by a small, basket rack 8 pointer. This deer snuck up on my blind and got so close there was no way to miss, wrong again. Who knows what happened, first buck of the year and I hold my record with a bow. Nada.
Finally, early muzzleloading season in Virginia opened up last Saturday. I was trying to get to Asheville, NC that evening to meet up with Zac at the WNC Fly Fishing Expo and not sleeping well the night before left me with little time in the woods. I was already up not so bright and early but I was intent on making the best of my day. I headed out to my blind where I saw the basket rack the week before just wasting time; hell I didn’t even eat breakfast and forgot my facemask and gloves. The sun was just coming over the hill when I heard a rustle and I perked up real quick. Coming through a thicket straight towards me was a decent size buck with only one horn. Normally I wouldn’t shoot a smaller buck but I was tired of missing and I was hungry. With one smokey shot, I dropped my first buck of the season. It was then time for a quick much needed nap.
Any sort of hunting of any sort is an exciting experience for me. When I’m in the woods I always think I’m ready and all zeroed in but in nature things change. Sometimes you have luck when you’re not even trying. I hope everyone feels the euphoria of being out there chasing down the big one. Don’t get mad about missing, killing a smaller one than your buddy or not seeing a thing. Just smile and think that’s just another day you’ll get to hunt for that living room hanger. Wish me luck for the Deertour, I’ll need it.
Since the opening day of Virginia bow season less than 2 weeks ago I have been very blessed to be able to go hunting almost every day. Whether if I’m in the woods for one hour or pulling an all-day hunt, I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve spent in my tree stand. I can honestly say that every time I’ve stepped into the woods I have seen deer and that alone makes me extremely happy. Over the years I’ve killed a deer with a rifle, bow and muzzle loader but since last year I’ve been determined to harvest a deer with a crossbow. Traditionally, hunting with a crossbow in Virginia was strictly reserved for handicap hunters but in 2005 lawmakers opened crossbow usage to all hunters.
Yesterday I wasn’t able to get out in the woods until 5:30 in the afternoon, giving me only about an hour of daylight. After only being in my stand for 5 minutes, I watched 2 does sneak by me on my backside and slowly crept out of range. About 10 minutes later, a group of 4 does emerged from the brush directly in front of me and headed right into my shooting lane. I put the red-dot on the biggest one and let the bolt fly. A spine shot only left her with a few deep breaths. It’s a good feeling to have some meat in the freezer, now it’s time to try and put a trophy on the wall.
I came iin planning to hunt a trail leading to a line of scrapes but the wind was all wrong so I switched to plan B. I’m hunting an old home site that is a common travel route for deer between a bedding area and acorns. I don’t usually but I’m hunting from the ground hoping for a close encounter. If I don’t see a thing it’s still a beautiful afternoon in the woods.
Good luck to all the Virginia bow hunters out there!
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