hunting

Well, it is finally feeling like Mother Nature may be relaxing her grip on keeping summer here for a while longer.

Fall fishing and deer hunting has been on my mind a lot lately, but since the weather has recently dropped temperatures around the Kokomo area, I, for one, have been trying to explore other options until decent deer hunting weather. It sure seems like the older I get the less I enjoy colder weather. The arthritis in my joints aches and screams every morning when I get out of bed. (I don’t mind getting older; I just wish it had happened slower!)

When we had a few decent days recently, I decided to “jump the gun” and set out some trail cameras to get a rough idea on some deer numbers and also hoping to get some information about turkey numbers.

I am extremely happy to notice a lot of deer still roaming the areas and also a decent number of turkey. Of course the coyotes, raccoons, and squirrels are ever-present, so it appears the chances of turkey hunting success is what I would consider pretty good. Even though the deer are still on their winter pattern, I have seen enough to keep my interest high. When the does start “dropping their fawns,” that should indicate a huge increase in numbers.

I usually run a total of 25 trail cameras on three different properties in three different counties, and I would estimate that since deer season ended in early January last season, I have reviewed over a thousand images on my SD cards. I have inspected several hundred images of deer, turkeys, coyotes, and other woodland creatures since I started putting out trail cameras in late February and early March.

No, you don't have to place your cameras this early, but deer trails are much easier to locate before the foliage gets thicker and the weeds start growing. It is great exercise, and I like it better than fighting mosquitoes and sweating due to the heat and humidity. You also can get some valuable information for the turkey season.

Many years ago, I started keeping records in a hunting and fishing journal, and I would review information such as date, time of activity observed, weather conditions, etc., and by referring to this information, it has assisted me many times and added valuable information that added to success.

I started carrying a small pad of paper and a pen, and I recorded what stand location I hunted, the date and time I saw a deer, if it was a buck or doe, was it alone or with other deer, the direction they were headed, and I also had the weather conditions, such as wind direction, was it warm, sunny, raining, overcast, or snow. Was it coming in from the fields or headed toward the field? I would check the weather forecast before heading to the woods and review the files. I matched the situation with an earlier hunt of similar conditions, and that information helped me determine what location I would hunt.

I kept the same information for all of my fishing adventures. I had information regarding all the same weather conditions, water temperature, air temperature, and where I had fished, and it also helped me determine the pattern I needed to apply for fishing success.

I had recorded every fish I had caught, location of the fish (piers, drop off, standing timber, etc.), wind direction, location of fish such as shallow, deep, and what lure the fish hit. Once again, this is something that I started years ago, and it has been extremely beneficial to my success.

Since those early days of toting a pen and pad and making “chicken scratches” and then hoping I could read them back home where I would re-write them and put them in file folders according to date, it has gotten much easier to file that information on my computer. When I get bored sitting around the house looking out the window at all the snow and ice, I can simply pour a cup of coffee and sit at my computer desk and search through my files and sort of “relive” the fishing or hunting season that just ended or is approaching.

Sure, it involved a lot of work and effort, but hey, I enjoy it, and it gives me something to do. It has given me some insight for the next hunting or fishing outing.

Case in point, we hunted a new area in Crawford County last year, and we both harvested deer. We merely scratched the surface and never really got off the beaten trail, but I observed deer activity across the field from where I watched huge numbers of deer enter and exit the field.

I plan on placing a few more trail cameras in locations back in woods where I believe the deer are traveling to and from the field, and by the time hunting season rolls around, you can bet there will be a couple elevated tree stands set up as well as a couple camouflage ground blinds strategically located for proper wind direction.

One of the most important considerations to success is willingness to devote the time and effort to do your homework and pre-season scouting the areas you intend to hunt and fish. And then you need to apply all the information you can obtain when the time arrives. The information in your journal or computer files can be a tremendous asset if you are willing to do the necessary work and apply that to the situation at hand. It can be great exercise and also fun.

RETIRED FROM CHRYSLER CORPORATION QUALITY CONTROL-CURRENTLY OUTDOOR COLUMNIST FOR KOKOMO PERSPECTIVE.