For many years I found myself in a tree or a blind on the ground in early October with my bow. I took some good sized bucks in the northern states at the start of archery season but here closer to home these are usually younger bucks and does that offer any shots at the arch close together. I often see photos of mature males on my track cameras, mostly taken at night. But as October turns into November and the start of rifle season draws closer to breeding season, those big pennies become more active during the day.

Come to think of it, I haven’t shot a stag, buck or doe early in the season for several years; but it is not for lack of opportunities. Years ago I often tried to harvest the first legal deer that came within range, fresh venison was my goal. I wanted to put the venison steaks in the freezer to enjoy around the camp during the next hunts. With temperatures often in the eighties, it was always a mad rush to get harvested animals and chilled meat cut up as quickly as possible.

So far this season, I have enjoyed three archery hunts and have had the opportunity to shoot hinds or pikes on all but one of the hunts. I didn’t say I didn’t think about flanking some fresh venison, but I held on for a mature male. I enjoyed every minute of these hunts and took advantage of what was happening in the early fall woods, but deep down I knew the odds were a bit slim for me to get a mature male within reach of the bow.

Does and young bucks were coming and going, squirrels were rushing to store acorns for the cold months to come, owls were howling and coyotes were howling and I sat there in a tree or blinded to the ground for everything to take. I was happy as a lark and, to be honest, not wanting to disturb the peace by losing and soaring which would lead to a mad race to get game in my cooler!

There is plenty of weather and I’m sure there is an opportunity in the coming weeks when the weather is chilly and the big dollars are on the move. As archery season started this year, it was as much about honing my archery skills and watching the leaves turn from green to their fall colors as it was about putting meat in the freezer. These quiet seats in the woods gave me plenty of time to reflect on past hunts and observe my surroundings.

I hunt a friend’s ranch a lot and we have a blind on the ground near a huge steel tank that’s been in the woods for a long, long time. The land was purchased from an older man, now deceased, who grew up there at the turn of the last century. He remembered when he was a child hearing about the moonlight I was hunting next to.

All that’s left is this old tank that’s about the size of a Volkswagen. The welds that hold the tank together did not appear to have been made with modern welding equipment, but they were straight and true.

Luke’s bow stand last week was near that old whiskey still that has been sitting here for over a hundred years. Fodder for a lot of thought for a guy who settles down in the woods while waiting for a deer! (photo by Luke Clayton)

Several pieces of steel were shaped and welded to form a perfectly symmetrical tank. I was wondering how they folded the heavy metal back then into pieces which when welded together formed a watertight container (whiskey).

I have little knowledge of how whiskey was made in such a volume about a century ago, but after close inspection I noticed a channel that I guess controlled the fire that warmed the mash. Several faucets were plugged with threaded plugs to, I guess, fill and drain the large tank.

I laughed a little to myself, sitting there blindly, wondering how these backcountry farmers got a crop in the ground with access to all this “fire water”? this big tank could contain!

A few yards from the old whiskey still site grew a very large oak tree which I am sure cast shade when clairvoyants did their work there. The oak was obviously old and was probably an acorn during the Civil War, but surprisingly a few feet from its base was the skeleton of another tree. This weathered old tree trunk was probably the remains of another ancient tree that stood guard over the whiskey still site when East Texas was really wild. WOW! A mind may wonder when observing deer in a remote location in the woods, especially with so much ancient history within sight!

Whitetail Update: With rifle season just days away, male movement will intensify as the rut begins. In many areas I have visited and according to reports in much of the state, the acorn harvest is below average and poor in some areas which should amount to deer hitting hard corn feeders as the season progresses.

Timely rains have resulted in plots of healthy food that will really attract deer during the mid-season and the end of the season. I have seen deer feeding on the germinating food patches before. The dollars hit some fictitious scratches I created using the scents from TRHP Outdoors.

Find an overhanging branch in a field or at the edge of a trail and spray the branch with a heavy dose of pre-orbital scent and there’s a good chance you’ll come back to see a branch chewed by a male and the ground pawed. under the branch.

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