A “Near Perfect” Week In The Outdoors

This week’s column comes to you from the porch of NAH Staff Writer Luke Clayton's little hunting cabin where, thanks to his lap top and a (sometimes) good cell connection, he does much of his communicating

In many of our weekly visits, I’m detailing an exciting fishing or hunting trip that occurred at destinations as varied as the Boreal Forest of Canada to the wild country south of the border in Mexico. But this week, I’m coming to you from the porch of my little hunting cabin, situated not far from my house on the land where we live. It’s great to experience the outdoors in distant and varied spots but it’s also special to relax and enjoy being home.

I am fortunate to live precisely one mile from a piece of land that I’ve hunted the past 14 years. It’s a small tract, a little over 200 acres, but during the whitetail rut, some big bucks travel through. A slough traverses one side of the property and hogs are there to hunt year round. There’s about 25 acres of backwater marsh that should be attracting flights of migrating ducks soon. I’ve enjoyed some red hot duck hunting here in past years.  To access the property, I simply jump on my electric buggy which began life as a golf cart but thanks to the mechanical skills of my buddy Ken Blackstock www.planogolfcarts.com,  was transformed into a very rugged piece of outdoor transportation.

This past week, Monday through Friday, I haven’t missed an afternoon hunt here. I usually hunt with my bow but I simply cannot resist putting the new Mossberg .223 MVP Patrol rifle topped with the Photon XT digital night vision rifle scope by Sightmark www.sightmark.com, to work. In a recent column, I was bragging a bit on this new rig but it’s the perfect combination for much of the hunting I do. Here’s why: Although I’ve been on a quest for one of the monster bucks that travel through, I also like to put pork in the freezer. I’ve learned that it is perfectly legal to use the Photon as a day scope and then, when legal shooting hours are over, use the Infra Red option and use it to light up the night for hog hunting. I’ve been getting in my stand about 3:30 and staying until about 30 minutes after dark. During legal deer hunting hours, I am of course concentration on deer but after that, I go into hog killing mode, using the hunting rig.  I have enjoyed this option very much.

My daily drill goes something like this: Around 3 pm.,  I load my pack with all the field dressing equipment which includes plastic bags just in case I might have to do some quartering of game back in the woods. I’m always sure not to forget my electric lantern and a ten by ten plastic tarp which makes keeping the meat clean much easier. The rifle goes onto the rack of my hunting buggy and I depart my cabin. Fifteen minutes later, I am closing the door to my Snap Lock Hunting Blind www.snaplockhuntingblinds.com situated on the edge of a little clearing in the middle of a stand of hardwoods.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my past 5 hunts in my secluded hunting spot. There has not been a day that I haven’t seen deer but not the big one I’m seen on my trail cameras.  A very good looking 3.5 year old 10 point did come by just before dark one evening and I was tempted but I know what’s in the area and I’m holding out. I’ve been seeing doe and younger bucks on a daily basis and feel confident that when the rut goes into full swing, which should be any day now, the big boys will come out of the brush.

It wasn’t just the sighting of deer on a regular basis that made these outings so much fun. One afternoon just after I settled into the stand, A tom bob cat walked within 15 yards, backed up to a stump and left his scent by spraying, in true cat fashion. I was wishing I had my Nikon in the stand but I find it very challenging to attempt to combine wildlife photography and hunting. For me, it’s either one endeavor or the other. Through the years, I have missed the opportunity of taking some good wildlife images but I simply can’t multi task well when it comes to taking wildlife pictures and hunting. I simply love the daily serenade of coyotes awaking from their daytime nap and sounding off, summoning the pack for their nightly hunts. Then there are the owls. These woods are full of Barred Owls and I simply love to listen to them communicating with their eerie hoots. One evening, one sounded off from the branches of a tree within 20 yards of my stand. These predators are so quiet in flight that I never heard his approach.

I’m sure that I could have harvested hogs had I stayed a couple hours after dark. I did have a boar arrive one evening just as I was preparing to head back to my hunting buggy. He weighed about 200 pounds, a good size boar but definitely not the size wild hog I choose to put in the freezer. Through my Photon XT scope, I could see him as clear as day. The 30 yard shot would have been extremely easy but I decided to wait until a smaller sow drops by to enjoy a bit of shelled corn.

I have a hunt scheduled in a couple weeks with my friends Larry Weishuhn and Steven Ray, maker of the Rattling Forks www.rattlingforks.com, out in the big ranch country west of San Angelo. Larry will be filming a segment of his TV show, “Trailing the Hunters Moon”. It’s always a good time when we three get together. Guess I had better plan to use that Photon XT on a couple of night hunts this coming week. It’s a tradition that I bring plenty of smoked, pulled pork to enjoy at camp.

Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends or anytime online at www.catfishradio.com

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