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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

17
Tell-Tale Hart

I so love a good (or bad) pun, and this story about a ticking clock and deer -- with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe -- was just crying out for one.

I’ve written several times about whitetails’ curiosity, most recently about how the sound of a climbing stand biting tree bark can attract bucks. Now you can add the tick-tocking of a clock to the list of strange noises that, at the very least, deer find interesting.

Doug Strenke of St. Paul, Minn., has suffered a lot of friendly ribbing ever since he went public with trail cam photographs illustrating his extreme cost-cutting measure of hanging a $5 wall clock on a tree -- in front of his camera -- rather than spring for a more expensive unit with a time-date stamp. But he was an unemployed chemist at the time, and he wanted to know exactly when deer were appearing in front of the lens.

Not only did it work, but the photos also show that the deer -- including some nice bucks -- seemed mesmerized (not spooked) by the clock’s ticking. Doug knows they heard it because he could hear it from his stand much farther away.

Doug told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that before he added the clock to the setup, he wasn’t getting very many images of deer. Afterward, however, the shutter got a workout.

The Minnesota hunter didn’t catch one of the seven photographed bucks in the open while hunting, but he’s in no hurry to go out and buy a more expensive camera. He says he’s having more fun taking pictures than he is hunting.

[Read the rest of this article...]

10
When the Who in the Whodunit is YOU

I might’ve spent my days up a treestand in Pawnee County, Neb., Nov. 7-11, but my head was in Iberia Parish, La., for much of the time. To help pass the considerable dead spells, I read one of James Lee Burke’s paperbacks featuring protagonist Dave Robicheaux, the badge-carrying ne’er-do-well with a knack for catching bad guys as if they were fly balls.

Stephen King was my hunting companion near Snyder, Okla., the following month. The rut there was pretty much done, and the mature bucks were avoiding daylight like vampires. I should’ve gone a week earlier, I guess, but I needed a break after sitting in deer stands for two straight weeks.

Back in 2006, I spent three glorious weeks bowhunting the Dark Continent. I sat inside a water hole blind almost the entire time. I literally broke the hearts of about six magnificent animals, photographed dozens more, and I managed to read eight novels, all set in Africa.

Like most writers I’ve known, I’m a voracious reader. When I was a kid, I used to lie on my belly and pore over hunting magazines. I have to admit, too, that the writing back then -- mostly “me and Joe went hunting stories” -- was of a higher caliber.

[Read the rest of this article...]

03
Accentuate the Positive

“How much did you pay for that new Silverado?”

“It lists for $31,000, but I got it for $22,000.”

“Has a V-8, right? What kinda gas mileage does it get?”

“Yep. With the windows rolled up and the cruise set, I get 18.”

I’m neither endorsing nor slamming Chevy trucks. I have one. But I’ve had this conversation more than once, and it has occurred to me that I’m incapable of answering any differently.

I cannot say $22k without pointing out my $9,000 savings. I can’t say 14 or 15 mpg around town.

It’s human nature, I guess, to accentuate the positive. Maybe a man thing?

The same is true among deer hunters.

If a hunter says he shot a giant 10-pointer and you ask what it scored, he’s going to quote the true gross, not a B&C net (after deductions) or the official BTR score (which doesn’t include the inside spread measurement). Heck, if you ask me about my biggest buck, I’m going to say 150 ... not 133, which is its official BTR score (sans the 17-inch inside spread).

[Read the rest of this article...]

28
Tag Soup Seasoned by New Oklahoma Record

When my outfitter friend Jay Jack suggested I go to his personal spot that afternoon, where a trail camera had photographed a world-class Typical numerous times, I felt as if I’d been given the key to Buck City, Okla.

He’d placed a folding chair behind an uprooted and denuded mesquite tree about 120 yards from a stand of cedars where deer bedded. He hunted it at every opportunity. The one day he didn’t go is when the buck passed by the trail camera during daylight hours -- at least twice in the same hour.

Jay’s self esteem was as flat as a run-over cow patty after that.

Sitting behind the skeletal tree, I could see far beyond rifle range. I watched distant buffalo grazing on the slopes of the Wichita Mountains, the high-fenced national wildlife refuge flanking the 3,000-acre tract we were hunting. I also saw numerous wild hogs, but not the elk or deer that coaxed “Oh my gods” out of my breath while hunting the other side of the ranch.

“This place ... seeing all those great animals on the refuge side of the fence ... will make you cry,” Jay told me the first time we met. He was right.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Just keep walking toward that peak, and you’ll see the (low) fence. As soon as you see that, look to your left, and you’ll see the Oklahoma Sooner chair,” were the directions Jay gave me to his stand. He was going to climb a mountain of boulders -- no doubt a castle for dozens of denning rattlesnakes -- to glass the opposite side of the pasture.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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