Deer hunter extraordinaire Jay Wilson invited ACA onto his unique piece of Whitetail paradise in the Guelph district of southern Ontario. The area provides food & shelter to a phenomenal number of Whitetails. During heavy snow accumulation, the homestead will provide shelter for literally hundreds of deer, each year seeing herd sizes increase.
The area to the north is a thick Spruce bedding area, the Eramosa River meanders through croplands and to the south a ridge that’s thick laden with apple trees. Towards the east is a corn field, off to the west is the house where Jay holds ‘zoo days’ observing eight and ten point Bucks at night nudging the bird feeders to browse. Jay states “at times during the peak winter months, we’re surrounded at night by Whitetails… their hitting the bird feeders, we have monster bucks whacking the feeder with their antlers to dispense the seed.”
We headed out Sunday December 4, 2005 with our crossbows at approximately 1:30 PM, joining in was a brisk north wind at 20mph and a reading of -11 on the Fahrenheit scale. I got into my elevated position 20ft above ground level and got a clear image of the ‘crossroads’ below me where the deer have been traveling for generations.
Within the first half hour I noticed movement. Below me stood a doe in her first year of life, observing her surroundings and unaware of my presence. Within those 3 hours of living aloft, six doe’s came into my area. Jay had seen seven moving themselves along the corn field up towards the apple trees. It’s just a matter of time and those elusive bucks will be cruising through this incredible spot…guaranteed!
When we returned to his beautiful home in the woods, Jay offered ‘ACA’ the opportunity to hunt for the biggest Buck in the area. Wylie will be joining us in the pursuit of ‘Woody’ the 12 point Buck with an estimated body weight is in excess of 325lbs, hopefully he’ll cruise right by Wylie and give him a wink!
Jay stated that the next 3 weeks in December will offer the best opportunity for a Boone & Crockett buck. The biggest bucks hit the area hard in looking for food, shelter and the chance of picking up roaming doe’s in estrus. As the temperature drops, the best hunting comes with it!
December 13, 2005
Stealth is a learned trait. It develops subliminally each time you set out to hunt Whitetails.
Entering the Wilson homestead at 1:00pm, I’m surrounded by literally hundreds of deer tracks, in fact as I head into my stand their now numbering in the thousands. The ‘yard’ effect is coming to light, the animals are clustering in such numbers that Bucks can pick and choose the doe of their choice en masse, it is phenomenal. Shelter, food, water and breeding, it’s a perfect sanctuary. As the snow deepens the need for ‘grouping’ increases, this allows safety in numbers and protection as the deer hold tight together, especially for the yearling fawns.
At 3:45pm the sun was setting, the temperature -11 and a calm light breeze coming from the northeast… beautiful! To my right I hear the gentle shuffle of hoofs, as I look down from 20 ft I see four doe’s jump the barbwire fence with intent, moving 50 yards into the apple trees to fuel up. I watched the girls browse for 10 minutes when a fifth doe steps up to the fence and repeats the cycle of looking back into the spruce’s with concern. After a few minutes she hopped the fence and slowly motioned towards the other doe’s, stopping and looking back every so many steps.
I took my grunt tube and filled the air with a sequence of calls when not 30 yards behind me, two loud aggressive ‘wheezes’ filled the air… the Buck. Prior to climbing into the stand I sprayed a liberal dosage of ‘Tinks 69’ doe in heat around my stand. This was likely a good reason for him to investigate.
While I grunted a few more times, everything went dead silent, the doe’s were still feeding but not a sound from the area behind me. It was now near 4:30pm, when without notice, the area from behind me exploded in a flurry of crashing timber. That Buck stood there waiting for his rival to meet him in the arena for a showdown, but his nemesis never showed up, he wasn’t going to step into the open, however was prepared to kick his butt inside the cedars.
I can only assume that I held his interest by not overcalling, concluding also that the stench of doe in heat held his attention, he likely caught my scent after sniffing the air patiently for 30 minutes, which sent him crashing out of area.
Lesson of the day, never under estimate the validity and peak performance of a Whitetails nose…it delivers. Which in turn is the reason why BIG Bucks reach peak maturity and weigh in at 300 pounds or greater, they’ve learned patience keeps you alive.December 26, 2005 the Wilson property lay eerily quiet. Motionless and perched 20ft above ground on a platform stand. I kept my attention focused on four heavily traveled lanes which are witness to generations of deer living in the area. These pathways produce brilliant pictures of deer on our trail cams. Accessible Canadian Adventures will present these images of Whitetails in early 2006.
As the forest slipped into a dark shade of grey the animals made their move out of the northern spruce river bottom into view. I set my eyes to check the time and look up, seven doe’s stepped out of the cedars at 4:45PM. Imagine holding an unfilled doe tag, having three stand 15 yards broadside and not touching off the trigger of your crossbow. There is an overwhelming feeling of reflection or perhaps something more profound when you don’t take the shot, studying their behavior is a privilege and considered more often than not.
Learning by observation, carefully studying the animals posturing, how it interacts in a group and which is the dominant in the group, will make you a better hunter, along with being a steward of nature. Once the shot is taken, recovery and ethics play an important role. Carefully procuring the venison is a hunter’s responsibility and should be done by a professional butcher, this way the cuts are packaged, labeled and waste is minimized.
The Wilson homestead has over a four week period produced more than 85 doe’s which meandered through the area, one day we counted 26 individual Whitetails in an area the size of a football field! Throughout this period I have not seen one Buck, but the proof of their elusive presence is cast in the snow, large animals leaving tracks with dew claw imprints the size of quarters.
Our season ends December 31st, if the big 14 point shows we’ll certainly do our best to fill his tag, otherwise the next three days will be focused on finally taking our doe’s, putting venison in our freezers and smiles on our faces.
The Last Hour
The last hour of the Whitetail season ends with the unabashed monster ‘Woody’ loading the woods with electrified tension. I was intent on meeting him, at least catching a glimpse, but his survival bloodline outmaneuvered my every move. These are the master’s of their domain. The top gun’s who pattern like the elite ‘Shrike’ fighter squadrons in the US Navy or Task force ‘121’ in the US Army, they rule their environment.
I’m guessing he was 20 yards from the ‘cut’ and repeatedly with brazen attack, marched back and forth crunching the frozen ground for an enduring twenty minutes. His trick of the tale was the unnerving ‘wheeze’ that just about launched me high into the cedars. My position of twenty feet was high enough!
This is the stuff that makes trophy hunter’s forget the enduring challenge brought each year in the pursuit of such animals. It is not boasting or otherwise, it is however a great respect for the brilliant nature of the beast science has branded… Whitetails!
ACA has a great year in store for our visitors, we hope to inspire and encourage those with disabilities. Without the assistance of an able bodied colleague, the disabled sports person is in a precarious position. I encourage disabled hunters to reach out and become proactive, make contact with local gun clubs. In most instances the organization will do most anything to make it happen for someone eager to ask. Able bodied hunters, if someone you know has recently been through a life changing event or has lived with a mobility restriction for years, call them and take them hunting, it is a truly gratifying experience.
ACA wishes all of you browsing our site a joy filled 2006!