The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 11, 2012

Ken Maurer column: Critter close calls

You’ve got to be alert for deer on the roadways right now. The rut is heating up and you never know when a buck or a doe may fly into view.

I had a close call with what was probably an 8-pointer the other morning. I caught a flash of movement on the right and quickly backed off the gas. For a second I thought maybe I was seeing things, but I stepped on the brakes anyway. When I got to the spot, the buck charged out of the brush and onto the shoulder of the road. I hit the brakes hard, but would have hit him anyway if he hadn’t stopped right at the white line. I’m pretty sure my right fender wiped his nose as I went by. Whew!

I’ve had a few close calls with bucks in the woods, too. On two occasions this past week I’ve had bucks chasing does near my stand. As I write this, I still have a little time yet, so I’m still in the ballgame. Everything seems to be running a little early this year and the rut seems to be coming on a little early, too. At least I have seen more chasing than usual. Every area is different, though, and I have heard of some hunters seeing rutting activity from Day 1.

I had a close encounter with a couple of jakes, also. It’s hard to get a shot at a turkey with a bow when you are in an open treestand. I heard them coming and was able to get ready. They hung up just out of range, then the fun began. You can’t move at all when turkeys are close. They diddled around for 15 minutes, then angled farther out of range as they went by.

I was actually relieved, because by then my back, knee and arm hurt from being frozen in position. Come to think of it, that was a morning that the game animals won. After the close call with the turkeys, I had some deer angling in behind me. I got up and turned around, as I was trying to get turned around, another deer came in right in front of my stand — which was then exactly behind me.

The problem was the last deer caught my movement and spooked, which spooked the other deer and all I got out of the whole thing was a glimpse of tails disappearing. Such is bow hunting. After everything settled down, I sat back down and wondered why the last deer couldn’t have been nice enough to come in while I was facing him. I say him because it seemed like it might have been a buck coming toward the other deer.

Maybe we ought to just go fishing. The river has settled down nicely and I’m getting some good reports from the few anglers that are braving the colder weather. Walleyes are still chompin’, but you have to find the right hole. Smallmouths are also still in the eatin’ mode and they tend to head for the deeper, slower water now. You don’t have to get fancy for cold water fishing. All you need is some jigs and plastic minnows and maybe a couple of jerkbaits. It’s more about finding them now because they will eat when you find them.

The musky action should be heating up also. In the colder water, I like to throw bigger lures. They are looking for a bigger meal this time of year. Bulldogs, Red October tubes, and shallow invaders provide big profiles and lots of thump to get their attention.

It may be getting colder out, but the hunting and fishing is heating up.

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