I’ve been back from Georgia for several weeks but its taken me that long to put pen to paper about it. Not because I didn’t know what to say (I’ve got a journal full of entries), but because I hit the ground running with a family who missed me and a Michigan season to prep for.
Now if you were to analyze the trip from a harvest perspective, we were fairly unsuccessful. In fact, two out of the three characters pictured didn’t see a single deer the entire trip and both were Michiganders.
Whether it was the time of year, the weather, the moon, or the amount of food available is up for debate and we exhausted that conversation back in GA. Bottomline: there was little reason for deer to move. Period. Though I won’t rule out the possibility that our Northern Michigan eyes were too blurred with sweat to catch a critter slipping through the thick Georgia vegetation. Had we been given more time, the results might’ve been different.
That being said, I had the most amazing encounter I’d ever experienced and with a black bear of all things. Yes…a black bear. While, this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, it was HUGE for me – a Michigan boy who had never actually seen a bear in the wild. Especially not in a hunting situation with a tag in my pocket for said species. Not only did I see a bear – it walked out in front of my bow at 10 yards with nothing between him and I but the wind in my favor and some tall grass. It was unbelievable. One of those few situations in which you find yourself in the right place at precisely the right time with the perfect wind. It couldn’t have been any better, but I decided to pass. He seemed a little small to me – 75 to 90 pounds max – but it wasn’t just his questionable weight that lowered my bow. There was an instance in which I made a connection with this bear and that is what kept the cooler empty.
But this is a story for another time. I’ve thought about that bear every day since and it is a tale that deserves to simmer a bit before it is served.
“Boo Boo” aside, hanging out with Thom and Steve together for the first time was a lot of fun. When we weren’t in the woods, we had a blast laughing at pointless comedies, shooting Steve’s longbows, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Thom and Steve spent the majority of their time itching chigger bites after their first day in the woods – a situation I found rather humorous until my chigger bites manifested a few days later.
Overall, I learned a thing or two about hunting, including what I like and don’t like in the woods gear wise. For starters, Steve plays the wind better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He lives or dies by it. I always figured that I was fine if I kept it in my face. What I didn’t realize was that the wind is always blowing, whether you feel it or not. And it changes frequently. I now use my Dead Down Wind puffer bottle more than anything else I own and rely on it in the woods.
I also tried out a new seat and absolutely fell in love with it. The Hammock Seat by Fanatic Outdoors is the most versatile, comfortable, and portable seat on the market for the ground hunter in my opinion. After trying Thom’s two out of three sits, I was hooked. You know you’ve got a good seat when you fight falling asleep in the damn thing. I’ve never had that issue with the cheap folding seats I normally buy. It takes a few sits to get used to it, but once you’ve figured out how to adjust it to you and the terrain you hunt, it will work in almost any application. I highly recommend this one!
I learned a few other things as well:
1) Georgia is HOT in September and it ain’t a “dry” heat. Gold Bond medicated powder is a life saver.
2) Dabbing chigger bites with alcohol definitely helps relieve the itch.
3) Escanaba in the Moonlight is the best hunting movie ever made.
4) Blazing Saddles is still hilarious.
5) The Prius may be the best long distance hunting vehicle ever created.
6) AC/DC’s “Powerage” album may be the best rock album I’ve ever heard and I do not remember the name of one song on it.
While it was difficult saying goodbye to Steve, his family, and the beautiful North Georgia countryside, Sunday morning arrived and it was time to get back on the road. We shot one more round to get it out of our system, grabbed a bite to eat, and drove the 12 hours back to familiarity, all the while discussing ways to get back.
Our freezers may have been as empty as they were when we left, but our heads were full of memories and our hearts hungry to give it another go in our home state. It is fixing to be another great year in the deer woods.
For those about to hunt…I salute you!
I would personally like to thank Steve and Lorrie Angell for opening their home to Thom and I and feeding us every day. They are wonderful people! Stay tuned for “Bears on the Brain”, a colorful follow up of my black bear encounter. I’m not sure where it will be posted yet, but you won’t want to miss it! Like my Facebook page to stay in the loop.