Lessons Learned – 2018 Season

It was a great hunting season for all of us at Heaven’s Trail®, and everyone on the team has prepared their notes from hunting on “The Farm.” We learn so much from each other’s observations and experiences in the woods. It’s good practice and really helps with developing our strategies for the upcoming season. Enjoy!

Post-2018 Deer Season Notes

Overall it was very wet and warm, with winds from the west and south much more than the north or east. Several of our stands were blocked due to flooding, so we had limited hunting in those spots. It felt like we had too many stands in river bottoms and not enough higher up. The river bottom spots killed us with swirling winds even when we could get in there.  The river was rolling fast enough to force the winds to stall and swirl. It was maddening.

The River Road became a sloppy, muddy mess with all the rain. And the factory tires on the new Ranger had no traction at all through there.  That road will need work because it’s all rutted up now. The Ranger’s new shoes are terrific though. Had a really nice 3½-year-old at the ground blind spot SW of the old “Rusty Truck” location.  It’ll be fun to see how he grows. Another very nice 5½-year-old that beat us at cat & mouse.

During turkey season, go uninstall all lifelines, seat covers and loosen the ratchet straps on all stands to relieve pressure as the trees grow.  Go ahead and make a note for early August as a reminder to install lifelines, seat covers and tighten all straps on stands.  Need to get new lifelines over the summer.

1. Hatbill Creek Hang Around

Flooding was a big issue here. Had 3 brand-new trail cameras drowned by flooding here. With that “food plot” being so terrible, there’s no real reason to be here anymore. Since this is not a productive spot like it was a few years ago, this stand needs to be relocated.

2. First Try Hang Around

This location didn’t get hunted as much as anticipated. Early season is great, with leaves still providing cover in trees. But once the leaves are gone, this location is very exposed. Maybe find a new spot in this general area, or relocate this all together.  There’s a cool cedar that may be large enough and sets up for the right wind. Great deer sign and high traffic location.

3. High Point Hang Around

Needs to be relocated. As deer arrive from across the creek to the left (SW), you’re too exposed. Wind swirled really bad at this tree. Need to relocate this either more NE or SW, maybe go both directions with a new stand in each location. Look at driving south of Railroad stand to hunt the Big Creek side of those hardwoods facing west.  The mature deer came from that direction. But access is a challenge. Getting a Ranger in there is easy but to hunt it you will need to walk a long way and not go in the same way as you drive the Ranger.

4. 12 Point Hang Around

Flooding kept me out of here more than expected. And the prevailing wind was awful with this direction. Great access from the North or the South.  But didn’t get to hunt here as much as we wanted. Needs to be relocated. Maybe walk that ridge from Fire Tower and find a higher spot facing more SW than NE.  Need to stay far enough away from the Hang Around Solo

5. Big River Hang Around on creek that feeds river

Never got hunted. Not sure why.  Relocate it to a spot where it will get used.

6. Boggy Creek Hang Around

Jacob got his first bow kill here! Nice location, but the wind for this spot was rare. We need to find a spot clockwise around the hill to my 8:00 for more of a west-facing wind direction?  Needs better access too. Bumped deer getting in here way too many times.

7. Hang Around Double North of Big Creek

Very productive location!  Saw multiple deer here every single sit.  But a lot of deer came in from downwind. Makes you wonder if mature deer didn’t circle around?  Relocate this closer to the creek facing due west. It should be easier to get in there walking up the creek bed.  Hope to see mature deer here this coming season.

8. Hang Around at Carson Creek Bottom

Great activity here.  This is where the buck with the fat swollen ankle hangs out.  Need to relocate the stand 10-15 yards down the hill though. That will provide more cover behind the stand in the afternoons and get more deer in bow range.

9. Big Cat Hang Around

Didn’t get hunted a single time. North winds were just rare in 2018.

10. Red Rock Solo

Deer all over the place.  It’s a very convenient tree, well hidden, but the wind swirls in that crease. Need to pick a primary trail and relocate for a North-ish wind.

11. John's Trail Solo

The adjacent landowner has 2 feeders within 300 yards. Not as productive as hoped.  Todd saw deer at last light several times walking the creek. Maybe go more North, face west?  Follow the deer sign. There’s plenty in there.

12. Big Gate Double

BIG DEER in there! Stand was too close to river, and the wind swirled awful bad. Need to relocate further away from the river to get up and out of the wind if possible, up on top of the hill and face more NW. Look at driving in below Cherry Bend, due south, follow pines hugging the west side and then find a spot facing due west in that skinny strip of pines. Should be due north about 250 yards from this spot.  Tougher access though.

IDEAS:

1. There’s no way we get as much rain and flooding this next season!  Right?!

2. Better picture inventory of stand locations.  Can put those pictures in Google Maps.

3.  Need more SW stands.  Still need several NE stands too.

4.  Research wind patterns.  NE is supposed to be the prevailing wind but it sure wasn’t this year.

5.  Trail cameras continue to drive us crazy.  Pick a new brand to try.

6.  Coyotes are starting to be an issue.  Need to deal with that.

7.  Go past Fire Tower stand, where the road bends left at the top of the hill, and see about going SW through pines to find sign where hardwoods begin.  

8.  NW of Fire Tower Stand.

9.  SW of Fire Tower on those pines. Doe spot for sure with corn.

10.  W of Cell Tower Stand.

11.  At the bottom of the hill beyond “Big Buck” plot where Scott has a stand and feeder.

12.  SW of Land of Oz, facing SW or W.  Nice bucks in there.

13.  Nobody really goes beyond the Fire Tower, so find 2-3 spots in here to hunt.  Something W of Fire Tower for sure.

14.  End of Linear, set up in a pine tree facing W.

15.  East of Rocky and Red River Tower stands.

16.  NE of Red Bridge? Or even at Red Bridge?  Nice and thick in there.