Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Missouri River flood, with water levels in excess of six feet above flood stage, has pushed deer and other animals out of the bottoms into the hills and in some cases the neighborhoods along the Missouri River. Living less than a mile from the river, my wife and I vist the levee daily. We have seen the river rising and flooding the ground from the levee to the river. Rich in native timber, this ground is an outstanding habitat for wildlife. Some are nice and some are not, but it is like a refuge along the river. A farmer north of Omaha has timber, pasture, and cornfields on his ground just off the bottoms into the hills. His ground now has a lot of deer that were not there before the flood. He called and asked if I would come up and take some of the deer off of the ground. This is prime turkey ground for me, and only one other person is allowed hunting privileges. How can a person turn him down? He was awarded depradation tags from the state of Nebraska after an inspection of his corn fields. With seven dollar a bushel corn and 225 to 250 bushels to the acre, how do you say no? I said yes.
The first thing I did was to scout the ground. The only time I've been on this farm was during early spring and late fall turkey season when the trees were bare and there was no foliage on the ground. Having never seen the farm in the summer, it was decided a scouting expedition should be done to figure things out. These are some of the questions I had in mind. 1. Are the deer running in the same general area as in the fall. 2. Are the deer runs visible. 3. Are the deer scattered or herded together. Not knowing how to hunt the ground in July had me confused and concerned.
The first thing seen was the thick foliage on the edge of the forest. Pathways used during the fall and spring were not visible. In some cases, it was like a wall of green vines, leaves, and other greenery that blocked my path into the timber. A machete would be needed to hack my way into the deeper standing woods. Past this wall of shrubs, the timber opened up into a canopy with limited ground foliage, and I was able to move around as in the fall or spring. Areas where deer had previously been hidden produced nothing and no signs (tracks and droppings).
The second problem was the pastures on the edge of the woods. The native grass was waist deep, and deer could just lay hidden and not move. They would never be seen. Stomping around in the pasture along the edge of the timber seemed to be noisy and counterproductive.
The third problem was the mosquitoes. I thought I was going to be carried away. They were terrible and seemed to come in swarms. This was a big problem, because to sit, hide and stay motionless for long periods of time would not be possible. This problem was overcome later after visiting the local Bass Pro Store. The clerk led me to a product they were selling and I bought one right away. On the front page of the website is a picture of this product. Click on the pic or the following link to learn more.
ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent - Olive Green As I found out later, this really worked and kept me bug free.
Seeing lots of deer on the farm was not an issue. They were there and in big numbers, but not in big groups. No fawns were seen. The landowner was told a lot of fawns did not make it out of the flooding. As the does were being pushed out, they moved just ahead of the water picking out high places which became quickly surrounded by water. The fawns were overrun as the water rose. Mother Nature supplies us with so much beauty with wildlife but this was her other side.
Checking with a local meat processor, they confirmed their company would take any deer on a depradation tag from Nebraska and donate the meat to one of the shelters. With all this in mind, the plan was then laid on how to go at this project.
The first problem was the heat. Therefore, it was decided to only hunt early in the morning till about 10 AM. That would give me time to harvest an animal or two, get it field dressed and be gone. The meat processor told me to pack ice into the chest cavity and in the area of the hind quarter, and head to Omaha right away. The mosquito problem would be solved with the Thermacell Mosquito Repellent. I picked out three places to hunt. The first was along a known run close to a stream on the edge of a cornfield. I would be up on a bank looking down. The second was again on the edge of the timber, but inside 30 yards, where I could look out into the pasture. Traveling deer would stay in the shadows and move along the inside edge of the timber. I found a good place to sit on a fallen tree with another right in front of me chest high. It was like having a desk to lay the rifle on. The third was 100 yards below the landowner's home on his lane. On the edge of standing timber, I would be facing downhill. Deer tracks showed a lot of traffic moving up and then crossing into another section of the farm.
Read next week to see what happened. Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank
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