After highs of 59 and 54, 23 degrees felt extremely bitter. Maybe it was the dampness from a 55 minute walk deep into the heart of the Shawnee State Forest, or maybe the drastic temperature difference from the previous day, but by the end of my last sit of the season I feel no shame in admitting, I was COLD! I should have paid more attention to my own article about staying warm, but as in most things that happen in life there was a silver lining. OK, maybe not silver, but instead a warm deep glow that formed a blanketing ribbon of thinning sunlight. What a beautiful and fitting closure to my 29th whitetail season!
That "silver lining" extended to the the last day of my season, but it had been developing since early June while producing an ever strengthening sense of inner peace and contentment. After losing my old lease of 12 years and needing to start over, I was starting to feel a bit of panic over exactly where I would hang my bow during the 2014 whitetail season.
And then it happened. By chance I ran into my friend John in the local gas station parking lot and he informed me that he would like me to hunt his land. Talk about Christmas in June! I didn't know the land was open to hunt, and he didn't know I still needed to find new land. After a short discussion and an immediate "OF COURSE!" I had the beginning of a great start for a silver lining that would last for many months, fueled by several highlights:
Food Plot Time
Since the mid 90s the process of planting food plots has played a critical role in my own personal property efforts in up to 3 states in 1 year, but after releasing my last book, "Food Plot Success by Design", the priority level was stepped up a notch! I love to expirement every single whitetail season while always planting, always changing seed combinations and always attempting to improve over the prior year's offerings. In fact, during January and February another parcel that I was close to signing a lease agreement for, fell-through because the owner would not allow me to plant a food plot. That was a deal breaker for me, no matter how great the hunting could potentially be. It wasn't that I had to hunt with a food plot, but instead that I think it's important to constantly attempt to hone a craft that is critical to my career; and not to mention actually highly enjoyable! I was truly blessed to have a parcel of land that I could get back to planting plots on but there was only 1 problem: It was too late in the year to use my No-Till Planting methods. You would think in a farming community finding someone to work the ground to expose the soil would be easy, right? Wrong! My first option fell through at the last minute and I was stuck. However, that's when a friend told me about a local guy that could help, and that silver lining continued.
My 2014 Food Plots were a huge success! I was able to play around with some new seed combinations, as well as get another great crop of Northwoods Whitetails Brassica Blend established from my good friend John Komp. My new hunting land is less than 1/4th the size of my old grounds, but I was still able to find a way to carve nearly 2 acres of quality forages into the various benches and limited flat areas on the parcel. By adding almost a dozen stand locations, 3 waterholes and 5 cameras, the disappointments of the beginning of the year were slowly deminishing as the hunting season approached.
2014 Whitetail Season Success
I will let the pictures do the talking for this past season's results:
Have you ever had a bad hunting season? I haven't, and the 2014 whitetail season was no different. A treestand has always been a place of peace for me, in an otherwise busy, transforming and hectic life. I have been blessed with the career and family that I have, so I am not complaining! However, through all of life's changes during the past 3 decades my treestand has always offered a needed refuge of inner contentment. What about you?
The setting sun on 1/5/2015 was an awesome reminder to a year-long silver lining. I didn't see a deer during that last day, but I enjoyed the sit so much that when the remaining sun left the tips of the branches on the nearby hillside, I had a hard time forcing myself to climb out of the tree. As a guy with a full-time career living in the whitetail world all year, I just didn't feel I was ready to walk back into another 8 months of "reality". What about you folks? How do you feel when you step off of your last treestand of the year? Temporary sadness? Momentary depression? For me, the long walk down the hill and back to the truck was a time for much needed reflection. I was looking forward to writing this article because I realized very quickly the presence of a silver lining all year long. From one door closing, to another opening and a lot of memories to last a lifetime between, Monday's sunset was the perfect end to an outstanding whitetail season of change. "Peace" is a blessing, and I am very thankful...