Had a long day planned scouting that big marsh/swamp with the points and islands from a few posts ago. The original route was about 6 miles, I had to end early to help a bald eagle I thought was injured and ended up around 5.
I made a batch of biscuits and gravy for breakfast and hit the road first thing in the morning. I wasn’t able to drive in as far as I planned and had to park about a mile north of where I wanted to get. After I hiked the road in I realized my car probably could have made it but it was still nice to walk the road and look for fresh tracks crossing. The light blue dotted line was my planned route. The yellow dashed line was my actual route. Getting around the marsh wasn’t too bad, but it helped a ton that I brought trekking poles with me. Probably would have taken a fall or three if I didn’t have them and now I’m not sure I’ll ever hit a swamp or marsh without them. The ones I have are carbon fiber so they’re really light. They weren’t too expensive for a pair, I wanna say like $40 and worth every penny. They are especially nice when you’re packing a deer out, takes a lot of wear off your knees. They are nice to have when going up and down big hills, too.
From almost the start, this place felt bucky but for the whole day, I really didn’t see a lot of buck sign. Which surprised me cause I didn’t see a lot of hunter sign either, just one treestand- a hang on that someone carried 25 or 30-foot TV antennae to for use as a ladder! The other hunter sign I saw was a full out elevated blind on one of the marsh islands. It kind of floored me that someone carried that much wood in and constructed it there. The good news is both looked like they are from gun hunters. The blind was definitely a gun blind and as far as I can tell it hasn’t been used for several years. I think it will be good for a mid-day or evening sit when the acorns are on the ground. To get from the gun blind island to the next island on the way to the mainland, I followed a waist deep channel along the length of a 100yd beaver dam. I’m sure that’s the way deer are getting out to that island. There was even one tree along the way with what looked like antler scratches- not really a rub.
I jumped a group of about 5 bedded does and marked it with a balloon and noted the wind direction. No idea if it was a regular bedding area for them, didn’t appear so, but they picked that spot for a reason. I’m not sure 100% why they chose it, but it was where the woods went from being moderately thick to a little more open. The wind was blowing from the thick to the open, which makes me think they were keeping tabs on potential threats from the thicker area with their noses and more open area with their eyes.
I had lunch on a big pine stump in a recent clearcut not far away. PB&J, a pudding cup, a cup of banana baby food, a granola bar and water. My phone still had 50% battery life but I plugged it into my anker charger and got the battery back up to 60% while I ate. After I started working my way back up the west side of the big point where I left my muck boots. There was a bowl along the way I was excited to check out and it had a few rubs around the edge. As I got to the north end of it, I see a huge bird drop out of a tree about 30yds away. I thought it was a heron at first and started walking towards it to flush it while rolling video on my phone. I was blown away to see it was a bald eagle. I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with it, but it wasn’t flying away, just hopping through the brush. I backed out, took GPS coordinates, and bee-lined it for my car so I could drive to a place with cell service and call for help. It took about 45 minutes to get back to my car, another 20 minutes of driving before I got a small bar of service. I texted Michigan’s Report All Poaching line and explained what I saw, gave them the GPS coordinates, and told them I was driving to the nearest town so I could get a strong enough signal to talk on the phone with them. A CO called me while I was in that town and after listening to my story, he said he thought the eagle was fine, and that sometimes they overeat and can’t fly right away because they’re too heavy. He said he would go out to the coordinates I provided tomorrow and check that the eagle wasn’t still there. Pretty exciting, to say the least. First time I’ve ever been that close to a wild bald eagle. Such a gorgeous bird!
I definitely want to throw a trail camera or two up in this area for a few weeks and see what I see. I think this is definitely an early season spot and I will hunt it this year regardless of what the trail cams say. I think the islands are good for almost any wind, best wind for the deer will be out of an easterly or southerly direction.
For anyone who just started reading, I'm keeping track of my 2020 deer stats. Not to brag, but to see just how much time and money really goes into a whitetail season. I'm adding a new stat, time n stand vs time in-season scouting, just for my own curiosity...
Money Spent on New Gear: $443.20
Miles driven for Scouting or Hunting: 583
Hours Cyberscouting: 12.5
Miles Scouted: 40.5
Arrows Flung in Practice: 142
Hours on Stand vs Hours In-Season Scouting: 0
Deer Seen on Stand in Range: 0
Deer Drawn On: 0
Deer Missed: 0
Deer Shot: 0
Deer Killed: 0