I about had a nervous breakdown trying to decide where to hunt on the opener of shotgun this year in Ohio. Last year, I made an aggressive play on a deep-in hedge thicket only to go too far in to the public area and get skunked on a dark-to-dark sit. My goal this year was to go deep into the woods, but not to deep – try to find that happy medium and profit from the movement of other hunters throughout the day if necessary.
I ultimately decided on some public ground 1 hour and 20 minutes from our house that I had scouted the previous summer, but hadn’t set foot on in over a year. Lest you think I was unprepared, I knew exactly what tree would put me 3/4 mile from the parking lot, at the north end of a vast expanse of heavily-timbered public land, and not too far from a private land powerline that was planted alternately with clover, wheat, and standing corn. I made an extra early hike in on the roadbed and found my tree long before the sun came up.
I had an awesome morning watching the woods come to life with plenty of wildlife to be seen. Of particular interest was a mouse that kept going up and down the tree I was in – passing just inches from my face each time it carried nest materials up the trunk and into a small knothole. Around 9 AM, I was doing my revolving scan around when I saw deer moving quickly towards my tree from the direction of the private land. At least 2 deer that were moving quickly enough that I felt someone had probably moved them and angling towards the clearcut I was watching and into my shooting range.
I did some fancy maneuvering to get a kneeling rest on my small lock-on platform and watched for at least a couple minutes while the deer picked their way into the clearcut finally giving me a shot. Taking a firm grip on the stand’s frame, I steadied my scope and let the 870 do the rest of the work.
When the recoil settled, I had a white belly looking back at me – always a good sign. The smaller doe stuck around for a solid 20 minutes and I took my sweet time taking my stand down and packing my equipment up. As I approached the doe, rain began to fall which eventually transitioned to sleet. After a quick-quarter butcher job, I hung my meat bags on some nearby saplings and hauled my gear back to the truck. After watching sleet pellets hit my windshield for an hour or so, I got up the nerve to hike back and pluck my meat up in the backpack and haul everything back to the truck for a satisfying drive back home.