Back in April we started setting out Heartland Wildlife Institute's Rack Maker Acorn Deer Block on several of the properties we would be hunting during the 2010 season. The Rack Maker blocks contain 23% high quality protein and are fortified with vitamins and minerals to supplement natural deer forage. Quality supplements, like those from Heartland, allow your deer to maintain their body condition and grow bigger antlers. Beginning in the spring, we set mineral out to get our deer in the best possible condition for the fall hunts.
One of the properties we set the Heartland mineral blocks on was a 40-acre tract of land near a subdivision. In 2009, we had hunted an oak flat and had seen a few good bucks in the area, so we decided there was no better place to put out our Acorn Deer Blocks - right in the middle of all those white oaks.
We had no idea how many deer this property could hold, but every time we went back to check our mineral supply it was gone. It was getting ridiculous... set out a block - check it two weeks later, GONE. Set out another block... check it a week later - GONE. Set out another block... check it in five days - GONE.
Even the guys at the local feed store were getting trained. Every time I'd pull into the lot, they'd head out the door carrying more mineral. But as long as the deer were interested, so was I. If it wasn't for the thousands of deer tracks around the mineral site, we would have thought the blocks were either being stolen by trespassers, or evaporating into thin air.
So, about a month before deer season we dusted off the SmartScouter trail cameras and headed out into the area to get an idea of what was going on. Over the next several weeks we documented about 12 does with yearling fawns and seven different bucks. Five of the seven bucks showed impressive antler growth.
Day after day the SmartScouter Trail Camera sent us picture after picture of the deer frequenting our hunting spot. The SmartScouter takes high quality pictures, day or night, and sends them right to your email address, allowing you to access your trail camera pictures on your computer or smart phone.
There was no doubt where we'd start the 2010 Ohio archery season.
Under the cover of darkness, Dan Wallace and Paul Payne settled into their stands and readied the Excalibur Crossbow. Just a few seconds after Paul had gotten the camera equipment ready for the hunt, the sun started to rise and the first doe of the year appeared; then another... then another. The does were followed by a fork-horn buck, and, as the deer fed all around the boys a big 8-point appeared from the valley below them. And guess what... he wasn't alone.
Following right behind him were two big Ohio 10-point whitetails.
As the seven deer browsed in front of them, one of the 10-points began to spar with the 8-pointer and the other big ten started making a scrape.
Forty-Five minutes into the Ohio archery season and the boys had 3 shooter bucks within 30-yards. The Excalibur Crossbow began to shake and jumped out of Dan's lap and into his hands like it was possessed. As he struggled to calm the bow, Paul focused the camera on the larger 10-point as he closed the distance to 20 yards. And then - WHACK - Dan released the beast and the Excalibur Crossbow let out a scream, sending an arrow into the buck's vitals.
Under an hour after the season started, it was over. The big Ohio whitetail laid less than 50 yards away, and the Excalibur Crossbow relaxed, satisfied with a job well done.
The problem, according to Dan, with an efficient, effective, and accurate killing machine like the Excalibur Crossbow is that it "eats tags too fast."
And so it begins. The first buck of the 2010-2011 season has been taken. Be sure to keep an eye out for more reports from the Backwoods as more bucks begin stacking up...