I spent the better part of daylight hours this past weekend doing pre-season chores. My “To Do” list was made early in the day on Friday for things that Richard needed me to do and things that I hoped to do. This was going to be a fast and furious weekend but I was looking forward to it.
My first chore was to measure all of the green field/food plots so the seed could be purchased. I was looking forward to this because I had just received the Garmin Oregon 550t GPS. I had previously used the Garmin Map60 GPS to accomplish this task and was looking forward to the new one button, touch screen operation of the new unit. While I was doing that, there was a camera on a trail on the North side of the property that needed new batteries and another that needed the card pulled and copied to my computer and replaced. Wanting to save as much time as possible and carry everything I needed in one trip, I dug around in our hunting gear room and came out with the BlackHawk! BlackTrail hunting pack.
This pack was going to be perfect. It was not too big, but yet had ample room for my mini-laptop, 6 D Cell batteries, work gloves, some trail markers, “Crackie”-my Blackberry, the Oregon 550t and the pack had a 100 oz hydration bladder. PERFECT!! I filled the bladder, stuffed my computer in it and all the other necessary things and I was out the door. The sun hit my face about the same time that the cool breeze did; nothing will put me in overdrive quicker. It was absolutely beautiful outside and at that exact moment if I could have sprouted wings I would have performed a quick fly over of the perimeter of the property. With backpack slung over my shoulder and nearly skipping to my truck, singing outloud “I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way…..” That is the nice thing about living where you have no neighbors!!
A quick stop by the lodge to pick up the trailer and four-wheeler and my day was well under way. Richard had headed out earlier to bushhog trails and roads and we had planned to meet up around lunch to go get a bite to eat. I had 19 fields to calculate the acreage on and four different areas to load and unload the four-wheeler to get this task done.
My first stop led me to the area that I needed to replace the deer cam batteries–finding this deer cam was going to be an excursion for me. Luckily I had the GPS earlier in the week when we checked the camera and marked the waypoint. For those that have never used a GPS for hunting, you would be surprised what advantage a GPS can give you. Not only can you mark stands in unfamiliar territory so that you can find them easily in the early morning darkness, you can mark your vehicle when scouting making it easy to keep your bearings and find the quickest route back to your vehicle. The topographical lines on the GPS are excellent for finding draws, ridges, funnels, water and trails that deer use. When finding scrapes, rubs, deer signs and trails you can mark those on the GPS and when you get home or to camp you can download them into a program like Google Earth or any other mapping software to get a bird’s eye view.
The unique thing about the Oregon 550t is that it has the capabilities of taking photos that are geotagged. When uploaded to your computer you can actually click on the little map icons and see the markings found in certain areas. You can also take pictures of stands or shooting houses and download those to your map so that if you are taking a friend hunting, have a member that wants to hunt a certain stand, or a paying hunter, they can see a picture of the actual stand they will be hunting in by pulling it up on the computer. You can even upload deer cam pictures to place on that map to keep data over the season or from season to season of certain bucks that have been seen in that area.
Using a GPS is really an advantage when you are hunting unfamiliar territory for a hunt you have booked or a do it yourself hunt on public land. Having the big picture of where your stand placement is in correlation to the terrain around it can help obtain a succeful harvest. There are many different units available with many different features and everyone can find one in their price range.
Having that GPS saved me valuable time and I found the deer cam with little effort. The other thing that saved time was using the GPS to calculate the area of each field. I simply chose the correct option, pressed start, drove the perimeter of the field on the four wheeler and pressed stop once I crossed over the starting line. Viola!! The reading calculated the area out to acreage, square foot or any of the imaginable area measurements possible. The system actually records the area on the map if you choose and saves the data for future reference…pen and paper not needed.
With all seven northern fields measured and fresh batteries in the deer camera, my work was finished on this side of the property. I loaded up and headed to the South side. Richard was already bushhogging the road when I got to the property. We made some quick plans on what time we would meet back at the truck and head to lunch. I headed out and had all five of the food plots measured before Richard was through with the bushhogging. Loading up the four wheeler and taking a minute to walk around and enjoy the view, I had to laugh at the sight of my little Dodge Dakota, the little silver pony was feeling more like the old gray mule today.
We made it to lunch before the crowd…baked chicken, rutabagas, steamed cabbage with ham pieces, cornbread and good old fashioned sweet tea…I was doing lunch SOUTHERN STYLE. Lord have mercy, that was some kind of lunch and perfect in size for the fuel I needed to finish my day. We headed back out and I finished off the rest of the fields that were on my list, done a little scouting, finding some signs and a few acorns. I dropped the four wheeler and trailer off at the lodge with just enough daylight to shoot my bow for a little while.
I headed out early Sunday morning to do more scouting and pull camera cards, downloading the pics to my lap top to share with Richard. Donning my BlackHawk! BlackTrail pack stuffed full of all the necesary tools for the tasks ahead.
Sunday I had one important task on my to do list, I needed to find me a place to hang my climber because the season opener is in ten short days. I scouted finding more acorns and discovered that the persimmon tree was overloaded and starting to drop fruit; these were great signs of promising areas.
After spending the better part of the morning and most of the afternoon in the woods, walking, swatting mosquitos, looking cautiously for snakes, and searching for good signs, I found my spot…..the same place I started hunting at last year. Knowing that the white oaks were loaded last year, we never dreamed there would be fresh acorns hitting the ground in that area. We were fooled!! All the signs on the ridges and by the creek were leading to that hot spot. We finally gave in and walked over to that area thinking the whole while it was going to be a waste of time because white oak only drop acorns every two years and last year there was an abundant amount of acorns falling on that ridge. This is the same ridge that I could not draw back on on the palmated ten point that I wrote a blog entry about and posted a picture of earlier in this blog. There was just as much an acorn crop this year as last, however they were in different trees and more to the south of my stand–that translated to the deer having to cross right in front of me.
“This is it”, I said loudly, “this is the spot.” Yep, I am coming right back here on opening day and I hope I have the opportunity to see the same bachelor group I’d seen last year early in the season. So checking my stand, making sure everything was in order for opening weekend, we headed to the house ending the weekend with everything marked off my “To Do” list. The perfect weekend!!
Oh…and I didn’t see a snake scouting for the first time in several weeks. Practice often, hunt hard, and harvest ethically….good luck to you this season.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009