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Encounters in the dark

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by gspn, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. gspn

    gspn Member

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    I've always been the type to get to my stand early enough that I can sit in the dark for 30 minutes prior to legal shooting time. I want the woods to be able to settle down after I pass through. Over the years this has led to a number of strange encounters. While I enjoy a walk in the woods using the moonlight, I can never tell when another hunter or poacher may be around so I use a flashlight most of the time, just so that everyone knows it's not a deer moving around "over there".

    Encounter 1 - I used to drop off a county road by climbing over the guard rail of a bridge, and clamber down into a creek that ran due south for several hundred yards. I'd use that deep creek bed as a travel route to hide my signature. One morning I saw a set of eyes looking at me from maybe 150 yards away. It was staring right at me for a moment and I froze and waited for it to move on. It didn't.

    It became evident that the eyes were now moving, bobbing and weaving as they made their way directly toward me down the creek in the dark. "Hmmm. What could this be?" I wondered. At around 50 yards it climbed out of the creek and ascended into the woods to my left. I heard it scurrying around a bit and used my flashlight to try to keep track of where it might be. The lip of the creek was a few feet above my head, and it was a wooded area. Soon enough, in the "Y" of a tree, a raccoon popped his head out to get a better angle on me. That thing went a long way just to see what the light was all about.

    Encounter 2 - I had a whitetail doe do basically the same thing as the raccoon. This was on public land where the deer are heavily pressured. There in the dark, she got curious about the light and walked up to roughly 7 yards from me, both of us on level ground in the woods, nothing between us but thin air. Me staring at her, and her staring at my light. I couldn't believe it. I had places to be so I had to run her off so I could get to my stand.

    Encounter 3 - This was a day with fog so thick that I almost called off my morning hunt. It was crazy thick fog over the entire region. I went anyway and hooked my climber to a tree. It wasn't the tree I wanted, but it was the one I could find in that fog. I hooked up and was sitting at the base of the tree, facing it, and I began climbing. Thick fog like that has a way of deadening sound and it was graveyard quiet out there. The noise of my stand was the ONLY thing you could hear, and it seemed intolerably loud given the comparative silence of the woods around me. After maybe my first or second rep on my way up the tree I heard something behind me. Something big, doe or buck {maybe a Bigfoot?) had walked directly up behind me in the dark and fog and stopped. Based on the sound, it had to have stopped within 10 yards of me. There we sat in the impenetrable dark and fog, each waiting for more stimuli we could use to identify the other. That never came. After what seemed an eternity, it walked off, and I resumed climbing. I saw nothing the rest of the day. My only thought was that my climber scraping the bark sounded exactly like a buck rubbing a tree, and something walked over to check it out. It must have been super close, or maybe it just walked into the area as I was getting setup.

    What are your close encounters from out there?
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I've had a few, I really try to wait for some light.
    One time I walked up on a steaming pile of bear poo, the bear was not far after.
    I had a bear come out off a old dead tree I sat next to.
    many times walking up on deer and 2 times in coyote.
     
  3. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Wow, no bears in my part of the world. That would be disconcerting to walk up on steaming fresh bear poop in the dark.
     
  4. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I have hunted bear country (not bears). Seeing one at dusk knowing that you have a long hike back to camp in the dark with a bow is kind of scary.
     
  5. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Try walking through a sleeping herd of beef cattle to get to a rockpile (your stand) and sitting there amongst them as they get up, pee, and wander off to eat. As the last steer got up, the first of 5 deer did. I got that one with the .50 Hawken, missed the big buck she was with 5 times with my 1100.

    I had a bear come in to my bacon cooker right after legal shooting. The walk out was a little unnerving, even carrying a .300 Win. Mag. and a Redhawk.
     
  6. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    My favorite time to get into my stand is at least 30 minutes before sunrise. However, it's not too uncommon with two sons hunting with me, that we get delayed by something.
    Lately, I have discovered that if I am delayed until sunrise, I can actually see to walk quietly and HUNT my way to my stand.

    Here is a pic of a little forkhorn that just had to make his way to me, and investigate as I walked in one foggy morning during archery season 2019.
    20191120_064241.jpg
    He played chicken with me to within about 50yds.
     
  7. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I have been treed by cattle. The one that wanted to kill me the worst was a cow that had just given birth to a still born calf. I didn't know all of this while I was running for my life but the farmer who owned the cow told me this when I talked to him about it a few days later. He said I was probably the first thing the cow saw after the calf was still born and I got the blame for it's death. Believe me, a mad mommy cow can clear a 5 foot high fence with a foot or two to spare if she want's you bad enough.
     
  8. 40-82

    40-82 Member

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    Loved your story. You didn't ask for advice, but I can't help myself. I'm going to quote the old baseball pitcher Satchel Paige, "Don't never look back. Sumpthin' may be creeping up on you."

    It was bigfoot, had to be. A few years ago I heard this clip on a Greensboro, North Carolina radio station. A hunter had called in to a sheriff's department dispatcher. "Got bigfoot in my sights. Can I shoot him, put him in the back of my pickup truck, bring him in, and prove he's true?"

    The dispatcher answered, "Sir, I'm not giving you permission to shoot anything."

    Whether that was a true recording or a comedy sketch, they never said.
     
  9. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Me too! Well, I was already in the tree, but a curious Holstien at the base on the tree kept me up there for a while longer than I intended. Her buddies wandered in and out during the day, but she only left when it was milking time. Needless to say, I didn't see a deer that day. I will say in my defense, I was a city boy back then, now I'd just climb down and swat her on the butt. I married a dairy farmer's daughter, I'm comfortable around dairy cattle. Beefers, not so much.
     
  10. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Here's another story from that same set of woods. It was bow season, and I had packed up my climber and was walking out to the truck, enjoying the intermittent scent of honeysuckle on the warm southern evening air. At some point I heard something. I didn't "think" I heard something, I DID hear something. I'm not one of those people who gets scared of stuff, I just don't. Whatever I'd heard was close though. When I stopped to listen closer I didn't hear it anymore. I shrugged it off and started walking again. Almost as soon as I started walking I heard it behind me again and I slammed on the brakes. It immediately stopped in it's tracks. Once more I started and it started, then I stopped and it stopped. I whipped around with my flashlight and began to laugh. My safety strap and come unraveled and the plastic buckle was dragging through the brush maybe 15 feet behind me. Every time I walked, it dragged along through the brush, and obviously when I stopped, it stopped. :rofl:

    Still makes me laugh til this day.
     
  11. ACES&8S

    ACES&8S Member

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    Cattle yes, perhaps even BULLIED BY HORSES !
    Here it is DOE DAY, brown is down day, I used to look forward to those days so much.
    Then finally I got permission by way of following a friend, to go to deer heaven, a huge farm where
    they wanted as many deer off of it as possible.
    Some of the shots would be upwards of 250 to 350 yards so I had my 270 Weatherby Maq & ready as we left the
    truck before daylight I could see & hear cows moving every where, I got to the top of a high point before light & like an
    idiot I wandered my monster Mag Light in every direction to see where the cattle had gone, none near me, that's good.
    But my light did get the attention of the HORSES farther away & they ALL made their way to me as it got daylight.
    Must have been the breakfast signal for them, they all gathered around me in a circle like a barrier.
    I have been around horses all my life so they didn't scare me, my friend on the other hand was making his way to the
    high timber to get away from them, kind of looked like someone running from bullies after school, I got a laugh out of it
    & wish there had been video phones back then.
    The funniest part was as it got shooting light there were DOZENS of does & small bucks making their way right past
    me but you never want to LIGHT UP a herd of horses with a MAGNUM thru their ranks, they might not just run over you
    they might even get hurt with the reaction they go thru.
    Besides I found out they are BULLIES, yes BULLIES, there was this one huge horse which was trying to bite my back
    pack & pull it out from under me to get to my PEANUT BUTTER sandwiches & refused to take NO for an answer.
    I knew I didn't bring enough to share with everyone so I just stood up & found that harsh language was enough to
    get them to leave, lots of REPEATED harsh language that is.
    Looking back, that was my very first experience with a real deer herd, we were allowed 2 per day back then & after
    the horses were far enough away I was able to get my 2, in about 15 minutes. Sort of like the [SO CALLED] pro
    hunters get theirs, on a place where the #'s are outrageous & they have been aged to perfection.
     
  12. gspn

    gspn Member

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    ^^^ ACES&CS, that story had me laughing out loud at my keyboard. :D
     
  13. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

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    I was parked in the middle of a one lane farm road one evening. There was a cow pasture to my front and thick pines behind me on either side of the road. I had my rifle with a thermal scope tested across the hood and scanning the cow pasture for pigs or coyotes when I heard something coming up through the pines behind me. It was pitch black outside and whatever was coming through those pines was large and there was several of whatever it was. All I could picture was a sounder of big hogs stepping out of the pines, being surprised by my presence and turning me into a corpse, so I did the natural thing and jumped straight into the bed of my truck to get some separation. I pointed my rifle towards the pine thicket and make out several pig-sized heat signatures moving about. I’m thinking it’s about to be go time, but I wait for one of them to step into a more open area, so I can get a positive ID on. First big bodied animal steps into a clearing and it’s a freaking mini-horse. There’s a whole heard of them coming through the pines. Apparently the land owner stuck them out there years ago and they had become feral. I still laugh about the time a pack of mini-horses ran me into my truck bed.
     
  14. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    Most of these cows, hogs, and horses that are running on open ground like this are usually about half wild. A quick slap on the butt is not recommended unless you want to open up a jumbo size can of Whoop A.. on yourself.
     
  15. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Hunted a part of the southeast Arizona desert I had seen deer before. Between a mountain and a hill. The hill was steep but only about 400' tall the mountain was to the north and at my back. I was in the flat Between the mountain and the hill. A dry wash on the east side of the hill that offered good cover. Close to sunset I heard a commotion at the base of the hill where it met the wash. It was three does that had been spooked by something. Bucks only in Arizona but I watched the area until true dark. Nothing. I have to walk out through the area where the commotion was on the east side of the hill. When I get to the base of the hill in the wash the half full moon is behind/west of the hill. Im in a moon shadow. I look about half way up to where there is a cave and there are two eyes looking at me. Looked as bright as two laser lights. Choices are deer, fox, coyote, bobcat, coati, or mountain lion. We stared at each other for 7 or 8 minutes. I had time to range the distance to the eyes. 40 yards horizontal but they were 70-80 feet up. I'll never know for sure but the eyes were too far apart to be a small animal like a bobcat. The most likely was a mountain lion. I called my daughter and explained where I was and what I was seeing. While I was talking to her the eyes disappeared and it was time to leave. They killed 6 lions on that ranch that year.
     
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  16. gspn

    gspn Member

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    ^^Spooky stuff.
     
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  17. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I do believe that my status on the food chain was not completely secure for at least a little while.

    The only light that was available to reflect in the animals eyes was reflected light off of the desert landscape.
     
  18. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Yep, you're in his world at that point.
     
  19. EIB0879

    EIB0879 Member

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    My BIL and I were on a public land hunt earlier this year. We set up a popup prior to the last morning of the hunt at a campsite in the SP (no campers allowed while the hunt was going on). We drove up in the morning and there were probably twenty sets of eyes in the immediate area. My BIL put out corn while I shined a flashlight. The deer just followed us around. We got in the ground blind and as the sun came up, the deer were filtering out. We managed to get a couple of slickheads that morning. It was funny watching those deer.
     
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  20. gspn

    gspn Member

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    Now that I think about it. Two years ago on an alligator hunt, a buddy and I were deep in the Delta National Forest in MS. Around 2 AM we were shining the lights looking for gators and a bobcat walked up through the woods and just sat on the bank right in front of us. I couldn't believe how calm it was in our presence. I've seen tons of bobcats when deer hunting, and they always pick me out quickly, and they always flee when they know you're there. This guy just sat there watching us as if to ask "You guys having any luck?" Crazy stuff.
     
  21. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

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    So not a hunting encounter but a large predator encounter anyway.
    About 6 +/- years ago , i smoked at the time and went out to my front porch about 2:30 AM. Saw a cat the size of a german shepherd casually walk across the street maybe 30 feet away from me. Not uncommon in some areas, unheard of in that area (heavily populated suburb of chicago) . Found out after telling my neighbor about it that a cougar had been seen in the area a couple years before but no recent reports. Freaked me out a little.
    When i lived in south east tennessee i came up on a baby blackbear in the woods (full daylight). I walked away quick as i didn't see mama anywhere and felt like she was likely to on top of me at any moment.
     
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