In re-cap, 2017 has proved to be a great year for me both fishing and hunting. I killed a few deer (which you’ll read about below) and my freezer is full of venison. I killed my first turkey back in April, and that was an awesome experience I’ll never forget. Fishing, well- it was completely different than any year preceding it. The bottom fishing in Tangier Sound which I had come to know and love, and become a master at, had dried up. Yeah, there were a few fish to be caught, but really nothing worth spending lots of time pursuing. So, I was forced to completely change my game. And throughout the year, I learned a lot. I started to become good at casting for and catching speckled trout, which behave completely different than the sea trout I caught years ago by the scores. I also became better at catching rockfish by casting. In all this, I discovered many new spots, found a new fishing buddy, learned a lot of new techniques, can came to trust some new gear, lures, and tackle. In fact, I’m slowly having to re-equip myself with rods and reels, as the trash I formerly used for bottom fishing didn’t work so well casting. I fished a lot more up into the Fall than in the past, as the fishing really just started to get really good in September. I plan to explore this more next year.
My last reported fishing venture on Nov. 12, 2017 would prove to be the final fruitful outing of the year. The following weekend I would travel to West Virginia to initiate my efforts with deer season. Lots of guys spread their deer season from September through January. There are many opportunities, with different seasons for bow, shotgun, muzzleloader, and my favorite- rifle. For me, right now I like to compress this to about 2 weeks total, and using my favorite weapon, rifle. Maybe this will change in the future, but for right now this works for me.
Monday Nov. 20, I was ushered out to a really nice stand that my friend Pat lets me hunt on his land in south central WV. I’ve done this the last couple of years and loved it. I really only have 2 days to hunt, with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving being my travel day for the 8 hour ride back home to Delaware. Nov. 20 proved to be a nice cool morning, just below freezing and conducive to deer moving to feed. At 0740, a nice doe walks in to the food plot about 100 yrds below my stand. I had sighted in my Remington 30-06 the day before and trusted it to be within 2 inches of where I pointed my scope, so as soon as the deer came broadside into my cross-hairs, BLAM !! deer # 1 down, and it turned out later to be a spike buck. I stayed in my stand just in case any additional deer were following it. Exactly 35 minutes later, at 0815, a nice spike buck came walking up the exact trail I had used 2 hours earlier to get to my stand. BOOM !!! The 35 yard shot was too tempting. I am allowed to take two deer here, so as quickly as it had started, my hunt was over. I spent the remaining time there skinning, butchering, and processing the deer.
After Thanksgiving and a few days at home with the family, it is off to my camp at Deal Island to close out the year hunting deer in Maryland. Again I’m using my Remington 30-06 semi-automatic, a rifle I have killed many deer with. This hunt would prove to require a lot more patience than needed for WV. My basic plan is to start hunting on Monday and hunt all week (until Friday) if necessary. I skip the 2nd week, returning to work instead. There is always a 2-day season in early January if I need it, and I usually do- but not this year. Monday morning comes, and it is cool, still, and extremely foggy after I hit the woods. I’m hunting on public land, so hunting in the fog always spooks me a little bit. I try a spot I’ve hunted many times, but have had success at only in the evenings. However, I’m playing the wind and I feel it’s the correct call. Right at day break I see a nice deer emerge from the fod at about 150+ yards and walking toward me. It’s now seriously foggy, and I can’t even ID whether doe or buck. It never presents a good shot at the vitals, so I hold off on taking a shot. Next thing I know this deer has done a 180 and I never saw it again. Next day, same morning scenario except the forecasted breeze has changed direction and so I’m set up in a different spot, one that I’ve not yet had success in but one in which I feel has great potential, right along the marsh and with unpicked corn in the field in front of it. I had heard two bucks sparring right before dawn, so I’m pretty excited. I see this large ghost emerge out of the fog, a nice buck walking toward me and because I am so anxious I fire. It is so foggy I cannot even see whether or not I hit the deer. I didn’t. Every once in a while I take a shot that I really wish I could get back, and this was one of them. If only I had waited another 30 seconds,… I would see another deer for three more days.