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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Back from Kentucky

I made a trip to Kentucky last week to hunt a friend's farm on the outskirts of Louisville. My daughter and I have hunted several times with my friend (I'll call him B), but I hadn't been down for a couple of years. In recent years, the 600 acre farm has been archery only, has been managed for mature bucks for a number of years, and I was to hunt from November 4 to 7, so I was pretty stoked for this trip.

I took the video camera to film what I saw, hopefully including any shots I took. Kentucky only allows the use of crossbows during part of their archery season, and the time I was to be there, crossbows aren't legal without a doctor's note of disability. I have that note from my doctor, so was able to hunt.

I have literally hours of footage to pour through, and even once the editing is done, I'm not sure if I'm savvy enough to put it up online, but I have stills captured from that video that pretty well document the hunt, along with some digital pics, of course.

Before I go further, let me make a few things clear, as I really debated about posting details of this hunt on here.

1) Baiting is a legal and common practice in Kentucky. I hunted over corn on almost every stand. If you feel that baiting is a despicable, non-sporting, low-down dirty rotten practice that no sane sportsman should ever associate with, then please close this thread immediately, and do not read any further!! Seriously, I believe in obeying the law of the land I'm currently in to the letter, and I am doing my best to raise honest, ethical sportsman of my own. However, I am open-minded enough to be able to enjoy the way things are legally, commonly done in other areas. If that offends you, please do not continue.

2) This is not an outfitted hunt. My friend is very good to me, in that I stay in his home, eat at his table, ride in his truck, etc, during the trip. I pay for my license, get myself there and back, pick up a lunch tab, etc, when I get any chance to do so, but I do not compensate my friend for this hunt in any way, and he is not an outfitter. He is just a genuinely good guy who enjoys sharing what he has been blessed with. Hence the reason I'll call him B, as I have great respect for him and his privacy.


Finally, a bit of background on the farm: Most of the property is either fallow fields planted to native grasses, and brushy draws and cedar thickets. One large wooded area in the heart of the property serves as a year-round sanctuary for the deer. There are a few winter wheat plots and a clover plot, but with the surrounding suburban environment, deer population control is always a struggle, so food in the winter is at a premium. As a result, while mature bucks are in good supply, they don't often support headgear that exceeds 130". While every year there are a few exceptional animals about that exceed 150", the chances of an archery-range opportunity at one of those exceptional animals are not extremely high on a four day hunt.

I've got a bunch on my desk, and just got a call to skedaddle again, so I'll post my Day 1 report, then may have to wait until this evening for more.

Home: 4D & 4B. Camp: 2G & Kentucky
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Day 1:

20 minutes before shooting time, my friend dropped me at the foot of a ladder stand on the edge of the clover plot, at a funnel point along the edge of a neighboring subdivision. I had anchored my safety belt when I heard deer coming. I couldn't even put on my coat or put my camera arm on the tree before they were under me at 18 yards, munching and crunching. Near shooting light, they moved to the far end of the plot, and I managed to get my coat on quietly, when they moved out of sight.

I had barely done that, when more deer trickled out of the thicket behind me. Here's a view of the plot.


And of the murky pond immediately behind me.


Here is the view towards the neighboring houses, complete with a boy in the yard at 40 yards from the stand.


As the deer continued to feed under me, a 1.5 year old came out, worked a scrape, checked the does, and went to feeding himself. Not long after, the deer got kind of scattered across the plot as the young buck stirred them about. Then an adult buck came out of the thicket to my west, and worked a scrape. Pics are poor as the light was not great, and I had inadvertently bumped a camera setting.





This deer was a "Sunday buck" for me; one I would happily shoot on the last day, but not so early in the hunt. He had a lot of rough stuff at his bases, which made it impossible for him to clean all his velvet off of them.


He crossed the field at 55 yards, but I didn't try to call him closer. He checked another scrape, then disappeared into the thicket to my east.

The rest of the morning was uneventful, and the neighbors started doing a lot of noisy yard work, so at 1:30, I moved to another stand. B had me take some corn to this set, as it hadn't been hunted yet this year, and no corn had been there since last year. It was the site of an old mineral lick that the deer excavated pretty heavily in the past. The stand is in a great corridor for cruising bucks, and was perfect for the NW wind that was to continue for the next few days. My main purpose for going in tonight was to get the corn in there so that the does would find it, and hopefully funnel the cruising bucks close to my stand. Here's a couple views from the stand.




It was a rather windy evening, and deer movement was sparse until just before the end of shooting hours, when I saw four does and a young buck.

So Day 1 was already behind me, but I had high hopes for Day 2.


Now, unfortunately, duty calls, so might not post more until evening. On the upside, the story does get much more interesting on Day 2.

Home: 4D & 4B. Camp: 2G & Kentucky
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 04:17 PM
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Re: Back from Kentucky

nice pics and story thus far!
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 06:15 PM
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Lookin forward to hearing the rest of the story.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Day 2: Clear, 28 degrees, and only a hint of a NW wind when we headed to the farm. Perfect weather for rutting whitetails, I thought.

I got dropped off at the edge of the woods, and crunched (seeming to be obnoxiously loud) the 30 yards to the stick ladder, then climbed up and strapped in. This morning, I got the camera set up and all gear situated without interruption, and had a few minutes to enjoy the smells, sounds, and sights of a new morning in central KY. A horned owl hooted sleepily somewhere off to the north. I heard a coyote bark to the east of my position. Quail were calling in the native grass field. Then came the crunch of hooves in frosty leaves. In the early gray light, an adult doe ambled by with a tow headed buck fawn trailing along. They passed at less than 30 yards, just upwind of the corn. With the increasing light, I was more and more convinced that the deer had not found the corn overnight. These deer passed it at perhaps 5 yards, but paid absolutely no mind to it.

When they were well past, behind some cedars, but not completely out of sight, I turned the can over a couple of times to see if they would return; I figured there is no better decoy than a live one, so it couldn't hurt to invite her back. The doe lingered behind the cedars, then began to work her way along the field edge, to try to get the wind of the deer she'd heard, but couldn't see. As soon as she got downwind of the corn, she stopped, turned, and eased over to it. She and her fawn enjoyed a few mouthfuls, but soon wandered off towards the nearby sanctuary.

All was quiet for a while, and I pulled out my testament for morning devotions. I kept getting interrupted though, as does and young bucks began filtering past, mostly heading in the general direction of the sanctuary. The young bucks were most interested in the does, and all passed upwind of the corn, seeming to be oblivious to its presence. I was enjoying the show, filming deer. Then I spotted a buck making a rub at 70 yards to the north, just at the edge of where I could see. I glassed him through the cedars, and, best I could tell, he was a 125 to 130 class animal, depending upon brow tines, which I couldn't see well. He began moving off to his south east, on a line that would keep him well out of range. I grunted to get his attention, then turned the can over. He stood, staring in my direction. Finally, he flicked his tail and continued on. I grunted again, more aggressively this time, and again he stopped and tried to locate the sound, turning his body a bit towards me.

When it appeared he would dismiss me and move on, I tried a snort-wheeze. As it turns out, this buck was not impressed by the famed snort-wheeze call. In fact, he turned tail and ran straight away from me. He even gave a few snorts after he was out of sight, in what I am sure in the deer world would qualify as "screaming like a schoolgirl", lol. What a pansy.

Note to self: The snort-wheeze is a call probably best left to use by the professionals. Further noted that I am not a professional.

Another 1.5er soon strolled by west of me, also without approaching the corn. A couple of fox squirrels, who had been busy all morning behind me, were rustling about back there again. Then a stick snapped, and I realized that it was more than a squirrel this time. I turned, and this guy was already about to walk under my stand, less than 5 yards from the tree.





Although he had nice tine length on the 1's, 2's, and 3's, he was extremely narrow, and easily fell into the "Sunday buck" category. I filmed him for just a bit, but quickly realized he was not traveling alone. Another buck was coming through the cedars behind me. This one was taking his sweet time, and the first buck passed on the upwind side of the corn, and moseyed on before I even got a really good look at the second buck. This one stayed downwind of the stand, but was only 15 yards away, and the thermals kept my scent well above him. When he finally stepped out at 15 yards, I liked what I saw.


He was also downwind of the corn, and I could tell he would move in to investigate it. He cautiously approached, then began to feed. I drooled.


To me, this is a very nice buck, bigger than any I've ever let walk in my career. But it was only the second morning, and I knew there was a much bigger buck in the area. It took all I had, but I left the crossbow hanging on its hook, and just kept the camera rolling.



The breeze was beginning to pick up, and after the buck had been eating for seven or eight minutes, he caught the crossbow swinging in the wind.


Off he went, with a couple of snorts for good measure. I sat and shook uncontrollably. I realized that I am a sick, sick man, but I was happy as a lark. What an awesome buck!

I had barely settled down when I picked up movement from the west, and spotted a coyote heading in my direction. I've never managed to kill a coyote, and doing so is high on my list. I've always heard how sharp they are, and didn't want to run it off, so didn't even try to film; just got ready for a shot. He passed at 30 yards, and I had him in the scope, but he just didn't offer a good shot, and I am not one to just 'get one in him', even if the target is a much-maligned coyote. I tried squeaking with my mouth; I already knew that I stink at that, but I tried anyway. Just got further confirmation that I indeed stink at that.

Saw another 1.5 year old buck shortly after that, then spotted another buck making a rub at 60 yards. This one was wide and tall. I couldn't get great video, but his tines were a bit short, and I thought another year might do wonders for him, although I'm certain he was at least 3.5.

A few more does and fawns, and it was time to climb down, and head to another stand for the afternoon/evening sit.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2010, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Day 2 - PM Hunt

Back to the stand I'd sat the morning of Day 1. Climbed up in the stand, and was getting the camera arm set up when a button buck came bouncing past across the pond from me, and out into the food plot. Just as I noticed it, a dog barked from the edge of the nearby yard, and I realized the dog had just chased the deer from the yard. The dog retreated, and the button buck stood nervously in the plot for a minute, then trotted into the thicket. I finished getting set, and sat to enjoy the nice weather until the action picked up.

I hadn't been sitting long when I heard a voice behind me, and turned to see the young boy pictured in the pic I posted earlier, with the dog beside him. I grinned and snapped a pic or two, knowing he did not see me in the stand. I turned back to the field to see this, 60 yards away.



The youngster worked the scrape, then crossed the plot to the opposite thicket, without noticing the lad, who was moving off towards the house, just as oblivious to the buck's presence as the buck was to his.

A little while later, a button buck and spike hustled out of the thicket at 50 yards. About the same time, a family group of 14 turkeys came out of the opposite thicket. The two young bucks were feeling their oats, and ran through the flock, causing a stir.



Eventually the deer entered the far thicket and disappeared for the time. The turkeys picked about the plot, eventually coming to feed on the corn.



After they moved off, a couple of young bucks showed up, including this six point.



A doe and fawn were also headed across the plot to the corn, and the plot seemed to rapidly be filling with wildlife.

Then I heard a voice behind me say, "I saw turkeys over there last night." I slowly turned my head, and spotted the neighbor with the boy and the dog, standing along the edge of the yard 40 yards away, to see the wildlife. About that time, they saw the wildlife, and hushed their voices and hunkered down, pointing. Finally, they saw me in the tree and waved, stood up, and started walking along the property line. The dog also noticed the wildlife about that time, and came barking across the narrow neck of woods, scattering deer and turkeys in all directions. The neighbor said and did nothing, except to continue his stroll. Bummer.

It was 5:00, and I wasn't sure what the rest of the evening might hold. About that time the sky got gray, and began to blow sleet off and on, for the next 3/4 hour. Finally that cleared out, and deer began to show up again.

I watched this group of bucks demonstrating the pecking order.





About this time, the dog returned to the property line to begin barking. The deer were nervous, but still 150 yards from the dog, so they just stood and watched. Finally the dog moved off, and the deer continued working slowly to me, as daylight faded.

Best buck of the evening.


Darkness closed in, and the biggest buck fed alone below me, snort-wheezing once when another deer got too close. Finally he finished and walked off. Other deer piled onto the corn. When the truck arrived to run the deer off and pick me up, thirteen deer fled in the headlights.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Day 3 - Morning hunt

Another NW wind in the forecast. Upper 20's and clear when we headed to the stands. I dropped B at his tree along the way, and drove on past my stand before parking the truck well out of sight. As I rounded the last bend in the field road, a big coyote was standing in the middle of the road, right where I planned to park. He took a quick look at me, loped straight away down the road a few yards, and turned into the tall grass. As I gathered my gear from the bed of the truck, I heard him rustling about in there. There wasn't much moon, but I could see well enough to navigate without a light. I carried some more corn with me, as B was sure the corn would be used up by now.

Even in the dark, I could see that B was right. There were a few kernels still scattered about, but the deer had worked it over pretty hard. I scattered the corn, climbed in the stand, and got ready for shooting light.

It was nearly 8:30 before the deer began to filter through from the cedars below me. A couple of does here, then a yearling buck off to the North. More does, and another yearling buck from the west. The deer count ticked upward, but so far, no mature bucks.

About mid-morning, this nice young seven pointer visited the corn.




He hung around eating corn, until another pair of does drifted past, and he ambled off the check on them. A bit later, two yearling bucks ran a group of five does under the stand.

Finally, at 10:45, with deer activity noticeably slowing, a big doe with twin button bucks came to the corn. I'd been fighting a cold and cough for weeks, and by the end of each sit, I had so much garbage built up in my lungs from holding off on the coughing that it sometimes was virtually uncontrollable. The deer had scarcely settled on the corn when an involuntary half-cough escaped. Of course, the big doe looked right up, pegged me in the tree, and danced around behind me in the cedars. The boys were clueless, and continued eating.

I wasn't positive if I would hunt this stand in the afternoon, but had been leaning that way, in light of all the does I was seeing there. (Where there's does, there's bucks this time of year, ya know.) I didn't want this doe to snort and blow out, and disturb the whole neighborhood. I also didn't want her to return at an inopportune time in the afternoon, already conscious of my presence in the stand. As she stomped around nervously trying to get my wind, I made a decision, and eased the crossbow from the hook. After a few minutes, the doe began to calm, and returned to the corn. Bad mistake on her part. You can see the fletching in this pic, as the arrow finds its mark.



A little tough to see at this size, since I should have zoomed tighter, but the doe got some serious air upon launch.



She tore out of there to the north on her death run, crashing through small blowdowns as she went out of sight. Unfortunately, her death run took her into the hub of the majority of the deer activity I'd seen.

It was a chilly day, and the longer I thought about it, the more I wanted to sit this stand for the afternoon, so I chose to wait to recover the doe until after the evening hunt, in the dark. I was sure she was down, and had a good idea just where she was.

I called B's friend D, who was also hunting with us, and was to pick me up today, since B had plans with the family for the afternoon. D showed up to pick me up around 11:30, and I left some of my gear in the tree, and slipped out. I'd seen a total of 18 deer this morning, and was ready to warm up over lunch. D & I hit a local mexican joint for lunch, then stopped at a nearby farm for some corn. A wind change was forecasted for Day 4, so we planned to put some corn near the stands we would hunt on a SW wind, before going back to our stands for the afternoon.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

On to the afternoon:

Climbed back in around 1:30. There was a light breeze, but the sun was shining, and it was a warmer day than the past couple had been. I barely settled in before a pair of button bucks wandered into view from the west and worked off towards the north. The two of them seemed to keep showing up over the next several hours, and I knew why.

I called my wife to update her on how the morning hunt went, and talked softly behind my gloved hand. We had barely exchanged greetings when another fawn wandered my way. I kept carrying on the conversation quietly, and the light breeze rustling the nearby oak's leaves must have been enough to mask my voice, as the youngster moseyed by at less than 20 yards, without ever acknowledging that he heard anything unusual.

After the phone call, I pecked out a long email on my phone, to some folks I hadn't been keeping in the loop already. As I typed, a couple more young deer ambled through. My hand and fingers finally got very cold, and I had to put the phone away. Shortly after that, I heard a buck roar, twice, off to the NW. I wanted to doubt myself, but was sure what I heard.

Probably 15 minutes later, a 2.5 y.o. eight point cruised by from the NW, heading south. The wind was just a bit squirrely at that moment, and I think he caught a faint whiff of me, as he suddenly turned and went purposefully back the way he'd come. He was hardly out of sight when some does popped into view from the NW, followed by a small buck. I watched them out of sight as they moved on towards the east, then caught a glimpse of a mature buck headed the same direction 70 yards out. His route was one that was becoming familiar, as a number of bucks had passed through that area. I grunted, then canned at him. He stopped and looked, but seemed to move on. I couldn't get good video, but could see through the glasses that he had only seven points.

Ten or fifteen minutes passed, and I heard him coming behind me. Sure enough, he cautiously came through the cedars, and approached the corn.

This buck was a man of the whitetail world. He didn't sport a great set of antlers, but he was a specimen, thick-necked and built like a bull.





I was tempted. He stood a long while, alternately eating and checking his surroundings. This buck was no doubt fully mature, and the biggest bodied buck I can ever remember having a chance to harvest. But it was early evening, and I still wasn't ready to end it. He finally had enough for the moment, and walked off.

I was, in a way, relieved that the temptation was gone, but I sat there thinking about what makes a trophy. As the deer had moved off, I noticed his stiff-legged gait, and his tendency to trip over small obstacles that other deer didn't even notice. I realized that this must be an old man of the deer world, no longer carrying the biggest antlers of his life, but still maintaining the impressive physique of a mature, rutting whitetail. I thought briefly about what I would do if he returned. I wasn't sure.

As the evening wore on, more does and young bucks moved through, including the nice seven point from the morning hunt. He spent some time on the corn, and while he was there, I looked up and saw another buck approaching. It was the old man. He came onward slowly, in that purposeful, now familiar, shuffling gait, complete with the occasional trip and recovery. The sun angle was making filming difficult, but as he approached, I wrestled with what to do. I decided to kill him, if and when he presented the opportunity.

The old man approached the corn, and the younger buck didn't leave the corn, but yielded to the much larger buck. I positioned the camera to take advantage of a shadow thrown by a nearby tree, to avoid the glare from the low angle of the sun. My crossbow was up, and I waited for him to turn.



Several minutes ticked by. As it turned out, those minutes saved the old man's life. The longer I looked at him, the less I wanted to kill him. I lowered the cross bow, and just filmed and watched him, knowing I was likely watching the oldest deer I've ever had a chance to take, but feeling a respect for the old fellow that only a fellow hunter could understand. Seeming to test my resolve, the old man posed for long minutes.



At last, he lifted his head and looked off towards the east, and made his way down the hill and into the cedars. The smaller buck ate a few minutes more, then also moved off to check some does that were picking at acorns on the nearby flat.

I was at peace with my decision, but knew that my hunting time was slipping away. I had one more day to hunt, and with the forecasted wind change, would not be able to hunt this travel corridor tomorrow. I decided that any "Sunday bucks" who presented an opportunity this last hour of shooting light better get an arrow from me.

Shortly after that, I caught movement to the north, on that familiar travel pattern. A big eight point was headed east, down into the cedars. I turned the can, grunted twice, and shut up. He looked my way long and hard. Finally he continued his direction of travel, but I was catching on to this pattern, and deep down, I knew he would come.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 01:47 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Ten minutes ticked by. I saw a doe and fawn move through, at the extreme limits of my vision to the north. Then I heard a deer in the leaves behind and below me. He was cautious. Taking his sweet time. I couldn't film through the dense cedars, but was catching glimpses of his headgear. Then I recognized him as the nine point I'd passed the morning before, the one who'd noticed my crossbow swaying in the breeze. He was scanning the trees, trying very hard to catch some hint of a scent that would tell him to turn and get out of Dodge, but driven to find out where the "deer" he'd heard was. Instead of approaching around the back of my stand, he broke off on an angle, and slowly worked his way towards the shooting lane slightly to my right. I got ready for a shot, trying to be sure of the yardage, get the camera set and focused, and be ready to shoot when he hit the narrow lane. I was ready when he hit the lane.



Lucky for him, he stopped behind the tree in the middle of the lane.



I tried to be ready when he cleared the tree, but I was feeling a bit rushed, and he moved quickly through the opening. I didn't bleat to stop him. Although he looked to be leaving, he was about to cross the blood trail from my doe; several other deer that found that trail had followed it back to the corn, and I thought he might do the same.

Sure enough, he picked up the trail, and slowly began to work it, back trailing towards the corn. Just about then I glanced west, and saw another buck coming. I quickly began trying to film him, trying to judge his antlers as he approached. He had good height, decent spread, 8 points, . . . When the nine point saw the approaching buck, he bristled, pawed the ground like a bull, and headed to meet him at the corn. The eight point turned slightly, as if to avoid conflict, but continued directly towards me. He stopped, quartering to, at 23 yards.





The nine pointer continued walking towards the corn. The eight moved a few steps closer and stopped, again quartering to.



By this time, the nine pointer was on the corn, about 5-7 yards from the eight. I stole a quick glance at the nine, who was feeding broadside, but felt like the eight was bigger, and, for whatever reason, just plain liked the eight. I adjusted the camera slightly and waited for the eight to come broadside. After two full minutes, he finally made his move. When he paused, broadside at 20 yards, I loosed the arrow. Note the fletching in this pic.



At impact, the buck blasted out of there, headed for the sanctuary. I bleated loudly twice, and he stopped about 50 yards out, still on camera. It was immediately apparent that he was in big trouble, as he began staggering and stumbling about, then went crashing into the brush and went down just off camera.

The big 9 hadn't a clue what had happened, but knew he didn't like it. He stopped in the middle of the lane, this time on the near side of the tree that had saved his life not long before. I was shaking like a leaf, and he easily picked me off in the tree, stared a few seconds, then took off.

I was elated.

Home: 4D & 4B. Camp: 2G & Kentucky
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2010, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Back from Kentucky

Easy recovery, the way it should be. He dressed 175#, which is the heaviest ever for me. He has some dry velvet still attached to his g3, which adds to his "cool" factor for me.

An extremely fun hunt with a good friend. There ain't nothing like mature bucks in early November, no matter where you hunt 'em!




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