Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Double Doe Down - Cutawhiskee Creek Hunting Lodge

In 2010, I entered in the hunt drawings held by the North Carolina Bowhunters Association at the annual Bowhunters Banquet during the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh.  The ticket was one of my Christmas presents that year.  I was drawn for a couple of different hunts, one of which was a guided deer hunt with Cutawhiskee Creek Hunting Lodge.
I spoke with Dan Bryant, owner, and asked if I could go during opening week of bear season, just in case a bear showed himself during my hunt, being the opportunistic hunter that I am.  Dan agreed.
Several weeks prior to the season, I was back in touch with Dan, confirming our plans, and checking the possibility of some pre-hunt scouting on the land, since I was unfamiliar with Northhampton and Hertford counties.  Again, Dan agreed.
We met on a Sunday afternoon, and he drove me around the properties, showing me both where stands were, and likely traffic areas of bear and deer.  I like to get out on my own, and Dan left me for the remainder of the afternoon to scout one particular field that we thought would be best for bow hunting.  I first skirted the property checking for tracks, and found many.  I even spotted several scrapes just inside the wood line.  I chose to set up on a corner of the field, where a creek ran behind in the woods.  I placed a trail camera on the corner and laid some corn and sweet potatoes out.  The soybean field was coming close to harvest, and I wanted to see what the deer would hit.
I scheduled the hunt for a Saturday thru Monday, and Dan allowed me to come down Friday evening.  The lodge is a two story house accommodated with a full kitchen, two full baths, satellite TV, and eight beds.  There were several others staying, however they would be coming in throughout the weekend.  Dan also provides a walk-in cooler, large enough to hang sixteen deer.  The cooler is entered through an overhang providing an outdoor grill, cleaning table, hanging scale, and four gambrels with winches attached for cleaning.
When I first arrived, I headed out to the field and set up the climber and pulled my camera.  I noticed the corn and potatoes had not been touched, and the soybeans had been harvested.
Checking the camera card, there was lots of activity, including that evening.  Several large bucks could be seen hovering at the edge of the infrared range during the overnight periods.  The rut was starting that week after a very slow season up to that point with the high temperatures and lack of rain in the area.
The other hunter staying that Friday evening was preparing spaghetti, and very politely made enough for me!  I LOVE spaghetti.  Especially with sauce made with deer meat!  As we finished our meal, several trucks drove up, and Dan asked us to come out to the shed and cooler.  One of the local hunters on an adjacent property brought in a 10 pointer weighing 184 lbs.  While field dressing the monster, another truck pulled up sporting yet another 10 pointer.  While weighing in the mid 170’s, the rack was thinner that the other, but had long tines.  We estimated a 140-150 inch green score.  The interesting thing is a 7 year old boy took the deer.  His dad asked him if he wanted to mount it, and his reply astonished us all.
“I think we’ll just do one of those skull type mounts Dad.  It’s not as big as the one I got last year.”
While this seemed to be a VERY good sign, yet another truck pulled up.  You guessed it, one more 10 pointer.  (You can’t make this stuff up!)
It was a hard sleep that night, anticipating what might be.  The morning was bitter cold, and I’m a believer of getting in the stand early. I was sitting 18 feet up with two video cameras and the compound ready by 4:30am.  You do know that the best sleep comes while waiting in the stand; correct?
The only action that morning I had was one small buck which showed about 20 yards away on the backside of the stand.
That evening was a different story.  Early afternoon brought a doe down the side of the field straight toward me.  I usually position my climber so I am facing the tree, which helps cover my movement when drawing the bow.  She turned in the woods about 40 yards out, but I was able to watch her come around.  She never noticed me, but as she circled around, I saw a 30 yard shot that would present itself if she kept following her path.  Knowing Dan was trying to thin out the doe, and not seeing a buck follow her down, I took the shot, which entered a little high, but exited cleanly through the heart and near lung.  I watched her drop, not 20 yards from where the arrow impacted.  Since it was still early, I stayed put in the stand.
Two more doe came in from the left of the field, one large doe and one year and half old.  The largest I ranged at 60 yards.  Too far.  The other was grazing between 20 and 35 yards.  I waited until the end in case a buck would come out to join, but as the evening darkened, I knew if I was going to take a shot, I had to do it then.  The smaller doe was 35 yards out, and had just quartered away, possibly ready to extend the range even further.  I quickly took the shot, and she bolted.  While it was still legal hours, the pins were not as bright, and I could not tell for sure whether she was hit from my vantage point in the stand.  Both doe went in the woods about 100 yards down field.  I sat for about 20 minutes, hoping the shot was true and giving her time to lie down.
I exited the stand, and found my arrow.  And yes, it was soaked in blood.  However I could not find any other blood in the field within a 20 yard radius by flashlight.  I decided to take the first doe back to be dressed, and continue the search for the second the next morning after the early hunt.
I left the arrow in the field as a marker for the start of the search.  I found several drops of blood about 80 yards away in the field, but nothing else.  Still, that gave me enough of a direction to search the tree line.  About 20 yards up field from there, I found more blood just inside the tree line, and the track was on!  The blood stood out easily once inside the forest, and after a much easier and bloody track, I found her lying in the brush about 40 yards deep.
Two deer, one afternoon, and a full freezer…even though the trophy buck wasn’t taken, this is what I call a successful hunt.
Note: I did spot two very large bucks over the next two days ranging from 150-200 yards out. These would have been easy targets for rifles.  Cutawhiskee Creek Hunting Lodge has a 14 inch spread/8 point minimum for taking a buck with their deer management.   They also do not allow you to shoot at deer with red glowing noses!  Merry Christmas!

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