Mid October 2016
Bow season has closed in most of the refuges and WMA's where we hunt although there are some that have archery only area with extended seasons.
We didn't take any deer in the Lower Suwannee Refuge this year. Two of us had shots but didn't connect. My one shot at a doe was ruined by a faulty fall away rest (see Alachua Farm and Lumber Post) and Max was appropriately leading a walking doe with his traditional recurve bow and released the arrow at just the right time except that the doe decided to stop. The arrow flew just inches in front of her chest.
More Wild Hogs:
One morning while set up about 20 yards in a swamp off a well used deer and hog trail on the edge of a oak hammock we call Lost Hog Hammock, 1 watched a 100 lb sow followed by a few piglets coming through the palmettos. She went on to the trail and stopped for a moment; presenting a broadside target. From my palm tree perch about 30' high and standing in my climber, I went to full draw and release my arrow with its 125 grain 4 blade Magnus buzzcut broadhead. It sounded like a solid hit and the sow squeezed, spun around and ran back into the hammock. I texted Max and Hoginator and suggested that they all keep hunting.
When late morning came along we all decided on climbing down. About where I shot the hog I found a good blood trail and my arrow close by. The trail let into the oak hammock with many twists and turns. The going was slow and palmettos thick but Max was able to follow the trail, for about 30 minutes that is. Then the blood trail stopped. For approximately another 30 minutes we spread out in the hammock but no one found anymore blood. With great disappointment the search was called off and we packed our gear out. Lost Hog Hammock lived up to its name again.
Muzzleloader season starts:
Thankfully the following week the muzzleloader season started in the Lower Suwannee Refuge bringing with it a some hope that a hog and deer may make it into the coolers. So far the archery season kill recovered only was one small doe.
About 4 am under clear sky's and cool temperatures Hoginator and I headed out. Being opening day, we wanted to get there early to be sure we could claim the area we wanted to hunt. When we arrived a quick wind check confirmed that we could set up in the swamps overlooking the side two hammocks that were producing a good crop of acorns. We would be set up approximately a quarter mile apart with a good view of hammock edges and commonly used travel corridors. It wasn't too long into the morning hunt when I heard the report of Hoginator's inexpensive .50 cal. pawn shop special.
In a short while he texted me that a group of hogs had came out of the hammock he was watching and we're moving away from him. He picked out the largest of the group and placed his iron sights on its back and fired. He hit the hog and it dropped in its tracks. The 250 grain sabot pushed by 100 grains of powder found its mark and had entered approximately 2/3 of the way back and lodged in the front shoulder.
First blackpowder buck, Sunday Oct. 23, 2016:
The day after the Hoginator hog, I decided to try and get a Devils Hammock WMA walk in quota hunt permit for the afternoon hunt. Fortunately, there were plenty of permits left. I strapped my pack to my climber donned my blaze orange vest and hiked in. I decided to find a tree that had a good view of a couple corridors with scrapes and pinch points in the general area where our game cameras had photographed at least three nice bucks pre-season.
The scouting and just some good luck had me in the right place when at about six pm after I had bleated a couple times, a 6 point buck moved in approximately 80 to 100 yards away. I quickly glassed him then shouldered my rifle. The problem was however that the buck walked behind some heavy cover obstructing my view and a shot. A few minutes later a leaned out as far to the left of my tree stand as I could and located the buck in the crosshairs of my 1x4 scope. He was broadside and looking away. I set the hammer back, aimed for his vitals and pulled the trigger. I couldn't see the buck through the white smoke but I did hear him run through the palmettos and brush. I couldn't discern if the shot was a good, bad or missed.
I only waited a short time, it was too short but I decided that I'd rather find out sooner then later if I hit him. I was confident from killing other deer and hogs that if my 250 grain sabot pushed by 150 grains of powder made contact it would be a devastating wound. When I located the place where he was standing when I fired a dramatic spray of blood and tissue was covering a significant area telling me it was a pass through shot and large exit wound. I followed the blood trail for approximately 100 yards and found him dead. The bullet passed through his heart making a tennis ball sized exit wound. It is remarkable that an animal can travel that far with a perfect heart shot. Not a hunt goes by that I don't appreciate these amazing and beautiful animals more.