Take a right smart beautiful late afternoon and add to the mix the height of the rut and the combination should meld into a fine hunt.
One that was being pointed to with great anticipation.
That being said, a good idea well executed can find itself turned head over heals by an unforeseen variable. In this case, two unforeseen variables in the form of a pair of wayward (and presumably lost )beagles.
At about 3:30 p.m. the two hound bayed their way through the woodlot; not exactly the place you'd expect to find cottontail rabbits. Deer, yes, bunnies, no.
Sighing deeply and shrugging the soul's proverbial shoulders I realized that any hope of actually encountering a rut-crazed buck or an apple-munching doe was being bayed out of existence by a pair of likely lost but happily active beagles.
And things slid even further away from expectations. The beagles must have picked up my trail; the one I made when I left the ATV at the edge of the woodlot and walked to the blind-gravity feeder using the rotted old logging trail.
You need to look closely to see the trail. If you're not familiar with it then missing the 90-degree bend and continuing on into the woodlot wouldn't be too difficult.
Of course if you happen to be outfitted with the olfactory senses of a doggy Sherlock Holmes then tracing the invisible scent I had left behind nearly two hours earlier would not be all that challenging.
Thus I was hardly stunned when first one and then the other beagle came a-calling. They sniffed the corn and apples spread prepared for deer and not dogs. They inspected the metal trail camera post and decided that all the nearby trees needed a good dosing of canine pee, each of the beagles being of the male persuasion.
It didn't take much doing before one of the beagles decided to inspect the fabric blind and it didn't take much of a canine genus to deduce that the shelter was occupied. Nor did it take much for my much-less astute human olfactory sense to declare that the hound dogs' hound-dog odor was pretty ripe; ripe enough to easily bypass the blind's fabric and smack my nose with its raw distinctiveness.
Clearly the rest of the afternoon was shot. At least in terms of any likelihood that one or more deer had not been chased out of the woodlot or a passing buck had such a sinus infection it could not tell that the hunting site had been laid waste by the odor left behind by the beagles.
So when evening's darkness crumbled the last few minutes of legal light I pack up and headed back down the logging trail to fetch the ATV.
Sure it was a bit of a disappointment and had I been in greater need to add venison to the freezer my anger meter wold have gone into the red line.
Alas, however, I love dogs. Beagles included. Even those that mess up a long-anticipated archery hunt for deer.
Just don't make a steady diet out of it, I mumbled at the two dogs as they traded their way through the woodlot on their way to who knows where, so long as it wasn't hanging around my ground blind.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife is maintaining a running weekly log on the number of deer being shot by hunters. This list breaks the statistics down in a county-by-county format, numbers of antlered and antlerless deer killed as well as an apples-to-apples to-date 2012 and 2013 comparison.
That being said, the match-up of the to-date 46-day archery kills shows that in 2012 archers had shot to-date 24,764 antlered deer while this year's to-date figure is 22,638 for an 8.59 percent decline.
And the archery antlerless deer kill is off as well. Last year to-date for this category was 35,198 while this year's to-date harvest was 31,544.
Now comes a big “however.” Factor in the harvest gleaned during the two-day, antlerless-only, muzzle-loading-only season in October and the to-date deer kill is down only 0.59 percent. That stat might be pointing to the value of this new season in reducing the all-important antlerless portion of the state's deer herd.
A random look at several of the county-by-county harvests point to a few interesting (to me, anyway) details.
Way down in southwest Ohio the stats for Adams County indicate an overall harvest increase of 9.62 percent with much of that gain being a factor of the October antlerless-only season.
Yet virtually one-half of Ohio's 88 counties are noting a decline in their do-date deer harvests. The largest shortfall being noted is Darke County whose to-date deer harvest is off 28.23 percent.
So okay, Darke County is hardly Ohio's Deer-Hunting Central.
Still the harvest of juggernauts Guernsey County, Harrison County and Jefferson County have slid in the scales, too; 10.83-percent, 10.19-percent, and 12.39-percent, respectively.
Flip the coin over and we see that the to-date deer kill is up 10.47-percent in Ashtabula County, 10.17-percent in Athens County and a whopping 16.44-percent in Trumbull County.
Of course there is still a lot of deer season left with the seven-day firearms hunt, the statewide muzzle-loading season, the youth-only gun hunt and more than three months of the archery season to look forward to in terms of bagging that deer.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn