I did a few days of pheasant hunting and a day of turkey hunting this year, but nothing came from it. It was nice earlier this fall to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but with no action on pheasant or turkeys it gave me a great opportunity to scout for deer sign. I saw literally hundreds of deer tracks throughout the fields, gas line, and property woods, and saw the most concentrated cluster of rubs I've ever seen. With this knowledge in mind I started to feel pretty optimistic about the upcoming deer hunting season.
Jay, his buddy Mike, and I went out on the first Saturday of the season, December 3rd, and spent about four hours walking through the hunting property and the adjoining fields and gas line before we each had to tend to other scheduled activities. Jay and Mike headed southeast towards the fields and were to meet up with me at the gas line on the back end of the property as I bushwhacked through the woods. I got to the gas line early, and as I came out of the tree line I spotted a nice sized doe feeding in the clearing. With the gas company recently clear-cutting the line, visibility was good - for both predators and prey. I sat, poured some coffee, and watched her through my scope for several minutes. At 200+ yards away, all I could do was watch her because it's shotgun only in Massachusetts. Jay and Mike came up behind me from the fields, and she must have spotted them as she and two of her previously-unseen companions bounded across the gas line and into the woods. It was exciting (and reassuring) to see three deer in such an open space, and we went the rest of the morning seeing squat.
The following Monday I used up a day of "personal time" at work and spent the entire day hunting. I arrived at the hunting property a little after 6am, waited for the sun to illuminate the land enough to safely enter the woods, and proceeded to walk over seven miles that day. Aside from my usual Cabela's thermos of coffee, I had packed a banana and PB&J sandwich to keep my hunger at bay for the day. I walked to the fields, through the fields, down the gas line, up the gas line, into the woods, sat in the wood, stood in the wood, up the high tension line, down the high tension line, and sat on the high tension line. Despite all of the above tactics, I saw zero deer despite seeing evidence of quite possibly the most concentrated deer population east of Jeff Foxworthy's "venison farm" in Texas.
This past Saturday, the 10th, Jay and I went back to the property for one last go-around before the season was over at the end of the day. We headed southeast towards the fields again and decided to sit and look out over the largest field for a while. After we saw and heard nothing, we walked the length of the gas line. We sat at one overlook again drinking coffee and discussing life in general, and again saw nothing. We did a combo of walking and sitting for the remainder of the morning, hunting until a little before noon when we had to be back for family Christmas activities scheduled for that afternoon.
Despite seeing three deer in three days and leaving an empty, unplugged meat freezer in the basement, it was still a good hunting season. It's always nice to spend a sizable amount of time enjoying the outdoors, and with each season passing we in turn become better hunters stalking a larger population of deer. One of these days we'll stock our freezer with the freshest of venison, but until then we'll be blaze orange-clad armed men walking through the woods.