Rain, Rain, Go Away! Part I
Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything seemed to work against you? My 2018 PA Archery season was one and to top it off, the weather was plain awful. In October, we had some nice days but because of prior commitments and responsibilities I was unable to hunt. If my schedule was open I spent time taking my children out to hunt. As the season was winding down, the weather forecast called for heavy rain almost every day I could go out to hunt. I don’t recall a time when it rained so much during, “Prime Time”, hunting days.
Early in the season, I had an encounter with a buck I had named Heartbreaker. I had him at 15 yards on the first night of the season and I was unable to close the deal but I figured I would have a few more attempts to hunt this beautiful 9 point. My Spypoint Link Evo camera kept getting pictures of him, but our paths never seemed to cross. On one occasion, in mid-October, I hunted all day hoping he would show himself, but he never did come my way.
As October ended and November began, I started to get some daylight pictures of Heartbreaker but my schedule was full. Both of my children had filled their buck tags, so all I needed was some free time. Looking ahead, the forecast it was bleak with rain and high winds. Even with the rain and wind I decided that being out in the stand or ground blind was the best place to be. One weekend, I spent a total of 20 hours in the ground blind. Even though the calendar said November and the time was right for deer to be on their feet, heavy rain and wind had them bedded a lot during the day. The only time the weather was nice for hunting was on Sunday which was frustrating as it is illegal to hunt “Big Game” on Sunday!
Even though my schedule was jam packed, I always found time to shoot my Athens Altitude each night. I have a 20 yard range in my basement and I was determined to keep my skills sharp, should I have a PA buck in range. I practiced each night both standing and sitting since I was taking time to hunt out of a blind. Often I would put on my hunting clothes to make sure I was prepared for the moment of truth. I love practicing and gaining confidence in my equipment.
I was ready, my equipment was ready. Now I just needed the time and the weather and the bucks to cooperate.
Before archery season, I ordered a Stan’s SX3 release. This release is a dream to shoot and helped me tighten up my groups. The Altitude is the smoothest drawing and shooting bow I have held in my hands. Paired with my new Black Eagle Spartan arrows I was almost ready to paint the forest red. I added Glorynock lighted nocks and Grim Reaper 3 blade Pro Series broadheads to my set up. I could not believe how easy the arrows were to see and how well the broadhead flew and penetrated. All I needed was a little luck and the weather to cooperate.
My trail camera was taking some great pictures of bucks cruising, even in the heavy rain. Looking at my calendar and schedule I was confident that I could hunt all day on Saturday, November 3rd. The forecast called for light rain giving way to blue skies in the afternoon. I was super excited to get into my ground blind during the morning and then switch to my treestand in the afternoon. I went to bed on the 2nd of November excited for an amazing day to hunt.
Sleep never came easy as I tossed and turned listening to the rain. I woke before my alarm and went to the basement to get ready for the day. I packed snacks and water the night before, so all I had to do was get dressed. I put on my rain gear, since it was still raining pretty hard.
The 20 minute drive to the farm went by quick. I was doing my best not to let the hard rain dampen my spirit but it was hard to be positive with all of the rain. My Spypoint showed some decent bucks on their feet in the morning. I pulled into the farm and started my long walk to the blind. The wind was cold and the rain was pounding. By the time I reached the blind, I was convinced the day would be a bust. Unzipping the blind and placing my equipment inside I quickly went to set up my doe decoy and placed it 15 yards in front of the blind and then returned to the blind.
The wind was strong and the rain blew into my blind. For the first two hours there was little movement before a lonely half racked buck came to check the decoy. I used my Tactacam 5.0 camera to get some great footage but the buck grew tired and soon walked away through the tall grass. The rain began to lighten and the winds died down. For a few minutes, I actually saw the sun and blue sky. I ate some of my snacks and kept a watchful eye out of the window. The day dragged on with more rain and wind.
Around 4:00 the weather finally cleared and the sun stayed out. Feeling the evening was about to get good, I decided to do a rattling sequence. Not long after the rattling sequence ended I saw a loan doe come into the field. She looked nervous, constantly looking behind her. A young 8 point soon popped out and chased her through the tall grass. I watched intently hoping that a bigger buck, maybe even Heartbreaker, would join in the chase. The little 8 chased the doe back into the woods and everything returned to calm. Right before the sun set a mature doe and two yearling does came into the field. I watched them eat peacefully as I packed up my gear for the night. After they left, I walked back to my truck praying that the weather would be good for the following week.
Continued: Part II will be ready next week.