Sunday, September 15, 2019

DS19 Part 14: Small Game Opener

Youth hunt weekend and small game opener here in Michigan. The elk rut is also heating up and bear season in my area opens on Monday. I drove around to see if there was any hunting pressure around my spots and was pleased to see they were empty. I guess I did choose them for a reason.

Jet lagged from going to China still and overslept today, woke up at 1pm in the afternoon. Probably didnt help that I was up till 3am last night watching youtube videos on meat processing techniques. I love chasing the best bucks I can find in my area, but the food aspect of hunting is always my number one priority and the thing that has often got in the way of me chasing big bucks. Just something about a young doe that makes my mouth water. One year I actually passed what would have been my personal best buck to shoot a doe later that evening at last light. Boy was I kicking myself in the ass when I got to the end of the blood trail and spikes materialized on the top of its head.

But this year is going to be different. My goal is to chase the best of both worlds, which world that is will depend when and where I'm hunting.

Took a long walk in the woods tonight with the shotgun, an elk bugle and a couple trail cams. The mission was to get a grouse or two for dinner and call an elk in. Brought a couple trail cams and sticks just in case I ran into some decent deer sign. Loaded the 20 gauge 870 with low brass 7.5 shells, put some high brass 6's in my pocket in case I ran into any squirrels and started matching through the brush, stopping to bulge every 5 minutes or so. Got a couple answers through the evening but no players.

Didnt flush any grouse, but did see some decent deer sign in a few spots, one of which was worthy of a trail cam deployment. One of the tricky things about deer hunting in this area are the elk. Usually, elk and deer sign are easily distinguishable, but once in a while you run into a rub that could have been one or the other. The one in the pic below was such a rub. Elk rubs typically start at least mid-thigh high off the ground and can go up pretty high. They also tend to leave tine marks on nearby branches and trees. None of these rules for elk rubs are hard and fast. This rub started fairly low, just below the knee, and it didnt go up super high, but the distance from top to bottom was much longer than a typical deer rub. There were no time marks on the upper branches, nor were there any on the little tree right next to it. The back side was rubbed a little lower yet. I'm wanting to call this an elk rub but I'm just not 100%.

Buck rub
Started getting close to dark so I started looping back towards the car and saw a couple squirrels bouncing around the tops of a patch of oaks. I slowly slid the 7.5's out of the magazine and replaced them with 6's and made a tricky stalk on them. Just when I was almost in range, they bounced a little further away so I boogied after them and the woods went silent. I stood motionless at the base of a big oak for a minute or so when one of them came out and was running down a long 45 degree angle branch about 20yds away. I aimed for the head and he spilled over the opposite side and hit the ground. As soon as the shotgun blast finished echoing through the woods, the other started moving straight down the side of a different big oak, right at the edge of my range. I put the bb on its head and it flew off the side of the tree as I pulled the trigger, making a hollow thump as it landed. A third, unknown squirrel started barking nearby but I couldnt find it and recovered both animals and walked out in the grey light.

Winner, winner, squirrel dinner...

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