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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

Where There's a Will

Like the frog that refuses to let go and be swallowed by a heron, 41-year-old Mike Miller of Marion, Ark., will not go gently into that abyss known as self pity.

He'd rather count points than woes.Before a stem cell transplant from his twin brother, Mark, finally pinned it to the mat, Mike wrestled with leukemia for 18 months. During that time, in 2002 and 2003, the prognosis changed almost weekly.

He wound up beating the cancer, but chemotherapy and radiation treatments left him almost unable to get up and move. Whenever he does, he's rendered almost breathless. And his long-distance vision is impaired.

But he considers himself lucky, since doctors originally predicted he'd not be able to walk.Any one of Mike's myriad ailments would be a perfectly acceptable excuse to quit hunting. But he won't. Friends, family and trading his compound for a crossbow have allowed him to keep at it.

Mike was thrilled in 2012, when his trail camera yielded photographs a nocturnal Cross County buck he and his brother had been hoping to tag for a couple of seasons.

The first chance he got to sit over the food plot - the first time there was a favorable wind – was on Oct. 6. But that hunt was a bust.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Trail Camera as Zoloft Dispenser?

Scott Rawlings thought he'd never best the 173-inch drop-tined buck he arrowed in 2011.

But that was before the bowhunter from Chillicothe, Ohio, checked a trail camera three weeks into October, 2012. The photograph he retrieved put a spring back in his step.

"By the end of September, I had not gotten a single picture of a buck on my Wildgame Innovations camera," he said. "I was worried that (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) had hit my area and killed all the mature deer."

The only reason Scott didn't panic was because he hadn't stumbled across any dead ones.

Keeping upbeat wasn't easy, however. Although he spent many hours in stands the first three weeks of October, he saw very few deer, and none of them bucks, not even little ones.

The best possible antidepressant was the photo he pulled on Oct. 25. And wouldn't you know it: His vacation was scheduled to begin the following week.

[Read the rest of this article...]

November in Paradise

What-ifs can Swiss-cheese a deer hunter's confidence like a swarm of Formosan termites ripping through floor joists.

Before Scott Siefert and his lease-mates witnessed Illinois' mid-November rut from their treestands in 2012, they were convinced they'd have been better off buying the proverbial Florida swampland instead of leasing a farm in the much ballyhooed Pike County.

Ponying up for the 420-acre farm was Scott's idea. He was the Indiana group's Madoff. The tract in neighboring Illinois had everything necessary to attract and hold deer: crop fields, winding creek and a perfect mixture of thickets and hardwoods.

"After closing on the lease, we made many trips to erect stands, trim shooting lanes and set out trail cameras," Scott said. "The most exciting part was checking our cameras."

He should've said the THOUGHT of checking them.

When there were no decent bucks among the photographs (from the cameras that weren't stolen), excitement turned to doubt. The gang had paid a lot of money for a lease that didn't seem to have any mature deer, though it was indeed a magnet for trespassers and thieves.

"To make a long story short, we were disgusted," Scott admitted.

But that was then, before the floodgates opened.

When they returned to bowhunt the week leading up to (and including) the state's first firearms season, deer were everywhere.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Passing Judgment

If you're going to judge a book buck by its cover, you'd better tilt it this way and that.

When Devin Moore of Purcell, Okla., booked a deer hunt with an Alberta outfitter, his personal goal was to shoot nothing less than a 160-inch buck. He was also willing to swallow that tag and write off the trip as an expensive vacation.

But that was before the last-day change of heart that so often afflicts those who travel to hunt. In this case, however, lowering the bar was a good thing.

A REALLY good thing.

Had Devin stuck to his guns and passed on this last-day whitetail, which he and his guide thought was a 155-incher, he'd have unwittingly allowed a 215-incher (spread included) to keep on trucking. Seen from head on, his buck looks 50 inches smaller; the P2s alone look like 6-inchers - half as long as they really are.

Neither Devin nor his guide, Aaron Franklin, will forget that 1 p.m. encounter on the last afternoon of the hunt. They were plodding in the snow, following an old logging road, when they spotted the buck in some willows at 200 yards.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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