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!
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.
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!
Well it’s about that time. We are a little under 2 weeks away from opening day of bow season! But before you make the mad dash into the woods, I suggest taking full advantage of this upcoming weekend. This Saturday (September 29th) Virginia allows a statewide Youth Deer Hunting Day. As long as the hunter is 15 years old or younger and are accompanied by adult who has a valid Virginia hunting license they are eligible to shoot deer of either sex. For more detailed regulations and information on the Virginia 2012 Youth Deer Hunting Day check out the VDGIF’s 2012-13 Hunting Regulations.
For the past 8 months I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods preparing for this season, probably more than I have ever before. Each year that passes I become more and more fascinated with the deer. Their patterns and behaviors never seizes to amaze me. Just a few a weeks ago I was scouting an area and I climbed up a tree like I was 10 years old to get a better look at the terrain. I found a nice little nook in the branches and sat for about 15 minutes and along came 3 does each with a set of twin fawns. I watched them for about 20 minutes, they started to get wind of me and they commenced to a snorting conundrum. For 10 minutes they stomped the ground, threw their noses up in the air and snorted back and forth. They never saw me and eventually scurried off but I was in disbelief of their knowingness that something just wasn’t right.
One thing that I always find amusing is hunter’s superstitions; from the lucky shirt to the lucky arrow we all have our fallacies that keep us engaged in the hunt. One of mine is the moon pattern. I can honestly say in my own experiences that the moon has played a pivotal role deer movement. This may be old news to some of you but when the moon is in between the Waning and Waxing Gibbous phase that’s when I’ve noticed deer are moving the most. Don’t get me wrong here, just because the moon isn’t in its Full phase it’s defiantly not going to deter me from climbing in my stand. Many of the deer I’ve harvested were contributed to nothing but pure luck and being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes the only preparation I took was loading bullets into my gun. Either way, whatever your ritual is that keeps you going back into the woods, just keep at it.
If you’re like me, trail camera photos never get old. Since the introduction of game cameras the quality and technology has increased greatly over the years. Hunters now possess the capability to capture high-definition photographs, video and some trail cameras can send the photos directly to our smart phones within minutes of taking pictures. It’s become a must have tool for hunters. The camera allows us to better manage the herd, strategize our season and gives us a candid insight on the wildlife that occupies the land.
Every time I check my trail camera I find myself anxiously rushing back to the house to see what’s been roaming around my hunting spots. As soon as I insert the memory card in my computer my heart begins beating a little bit faster. I eagerly scroll through the thumbnails looking for a set of horns. Even if I just see one doe it’s enough to keep my hopes up for the upcoming season. I’ve seen raccoons, fox, and squirrels but nothing compares to seeing that big buck walking through my shooting lane. Fortunately for me, in one my prime hunting spots I’ve been seeing consistent deer movement throughout all seasons. Over the weekend I checked my cameras and saw a 9-pointer that’s been hanging around pretty regularly this summer. I think it’s safe to say that it’s the same buck that I posted about last month. This time the photos were taken during the morning and I was able to notice something very unique about this buck, he was wearing white socks. I’ve seen deer with piebald qualities but never quite like this……
This shaggy 4-pointer was accompanying the bigger buck and should make for a nice shooter next season…
There was even a little fawn passing through…
If you’d like to to see more of my trail camera pictures from the deer in my area here in southwest Virginia be sure to check out my online album here.
As of today we’re less than two months away from the opening day of bow season here in Virginia and about three months out from the beginning of the third installment of the #Deertour. And Like most of you, I’ve been preparing for the season since it ended last winter.
Last week I had the pleasure to talk about this year’s upcoming #Deertour and help spread the about Huntography with Kyle Bailey on his sports talk radio show, The Clubhouse. One thing that I mentioned during the interview was that how much I appreciate Huntography’s local story telling aspect. I can only write about what about what I’m seeing and experiencing in my neck of the woods and it’s a good feeling to be able to share that with other people. To me, it’s something that has been desperately missing from mainstream outdoor media. Sometimes things happen during our hunting experiences that can’t be explained in writing and it happens in such a dramatic way it creates one of those “you just had to be there” moments. Lucky for us, we have a guy named Rudy that has created Huntography to help capture those moments. From the exhilarating highs of bagging a big buck to the lousy lows of being stuck inside all day due to rain. Rudy is there with his camera to show how deer hunting really is.
Yesterday I experienced something that I’m sure every hunter can relate to in some way…
I was on my way home with my truck bed full of groceries and was about two miles away from my house. As I was driving I looked over and saw a herd of deer. I took a quick look in my rear view mirror to make sure no one would run into the back of truck while I tried to snap a few pictures with my phone but I couldn’t get a good enough focus. For the past week I had been carrying my Canon PowerShot SX 30 everywhere I went, but not on this day. There were too many does to count and a collage of velvety horns. I noticed some traffic behind me so I headed on down the road to my house. When I got home I unloaded the groceries and all I could think was nobody would believe what I just saw. I told my girlfriend and she urged me to go back with my camera. I grabbed my Canon and jumped back in my truck. Halfway to the spot where I saw all the deer I opened my camera bag and noticed that there wasn’t a memory card in the camera. U-turn. I rushed back home and got a memory card. At this moment, I knew the deer were long gone, there was no way they would still be there but I crossed my fingers and went anyway. I pulled into a spot where I knew I could walk up behind the deer and started to creep up to where I originally saw the herd. All the does were gone but three bucks remained still grazing. “Hell Yeah!!” I screamed in my head. I turned the camera on noticed the blinking red battery icon on my screen. Another U-turn, this time it was on foot. I got to my truck and changed the battery probably at record time. That battery was so dead that my camera wouldn’t even turn on. Just my luck. I put back in the other battery and figured I could get at least 1 or 2 photos. By this time the deer were staring me down and looked like they were going to take off into the woods. I belly crawled as close as I could to the bucks and was able to take about a dozen of photographs before the camera shut down. For a minute there it didn’t seem like it was in my cards to prove what I saw but luckily I did and here’s the proof……
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