Thursday, January 7, 2010


It's official - Indiana deer season is now closed.  The late archery season ended on Sunday, January 3.  In an earlier post I shared a few photographs from the 2009 season.  While looking around for some turkey images, I ran across a folder with several deer photos from years past, and thought I'd share a few.  Some day I'll scan in some images from the pre-digital camera era, if for no other reason than to prove that I once had a full head of hair!  Note: The photo comes first, the year/hunter/story after.

2007 - Archery: Randy Dickson (that's me)
This deer doesn't carry the biggest rack, but he did have great mass and was 5.5 years old (by tooth wear and replacement criteria).  He also happened to be HUGE of body.  We didn't have a way to weigh him, but I've killed 3 bucks that dressed over 200 lbs, and this one was far bigger than any of those.  He also had a really cool hole in the back of his right main beam, with the beam being porous way out toward the tip. 

2008 - Archery: Eric Sampson
Eric killed this deer while hunting with me in northern Indiana's Marshall County.  The buck nets right at 140, which is awfully solid for an 8-pointer.  As you can see, the deer had great mass throughout.  While we were taking pictures, my brother called to tell me he'd just shot a buck with his bow......keep reading!

2008 - Archery: Rick Dickson
Ricky shot this deer late in the morning, approaching noon, well after most guys have normally left the woods.  This is proof positive that when you're hunting good habitat in early-November, all-day sits should be the norm.  This deer grossed in the mid-160s.  He was absolutely worn out from chasing does - skin and bones - but his antlers didn't shrink any!

2001 - Archery: Randy Dickson
I killed this buck mid-afternoon on November 7 (my favorite day to be in a stand). He was with a doe that was coming into estrus, but hadn't quite made it yet.  After pushing her around, out of range, for nearly 2 hours, the doe finally walked past my stand.  He wasn't so lucky!  It was nearly 70 degees that day - don't let a little thing like warm weather keep you from hunting (especially when the rut is kicking in).

2005 - Archery: Rick Dickson
A good, clean harvest of a nice 3.5 year old buck.  My brother has since learned to pass these 120 inch bucks up - I'm not quite there yet!

2002 - Shotgun: Wally Palmer
This buck came out of standing corn to a ground blind set-up Wally had on opening day of the 2002 Indiana firearm season.  The buck was approaching Wally's decoy, with bad intentions, when Wally sealed the deal.  This is one of those deer that proves net score doesn't always measure the quality of a buck.

2003 - Archery: Randy Dickson
This is by no means a monster deer.  But that's a monster smile on the face of my nephew, Brandon.  I settled into a fresh stand at 12:30 p.m. on a cool early-November afternoon.  By 1:00 p.m. I was walking out, having heard this buck "crash up" in standing corn boardering the woodlot where I'd just shot him.  Talk about quick!  When I drove to dad's to see if he'd give me a hand, my brother and nephew happened to be there.  It was great to have 3 generations of Dickson deer hunters go make the recovery!

2008 - Shotgun: Baleigh Dickson
And in the air of saving the best for last, this is my niece with her first-ever deer.  She killed it on opening day of the '08 Indiana firearm season.  It was a perfect double-lung shot at 40 yards, and the buck piled up in the thick stuff about 30 yards from where he was standing when Baleigh let fly.  The buck was a heavy-based 2-year old 9-point, and as the smile shows, Baleigh was happy to take him.  And the best part of all (for me) was that I got to be in the tree with her when she pulled the trigger!  The smile behind the camera was as big as the one in front of it!

There you are - a few of the deer that helped make the memories that drive me, my family, and friends back to the deer woods each fall.  If you aren't part of the grand deer hunting fraternity, you probably don't understand why we cherish these moments so much!


When the weather is nice, I tend to keep busy outside. Mounting turkeys in the confines of the basement workshop doesn't seem like much fun when I could be squirrel hunting, gardening, fixing fence, managing food plots, cutting firewood - you get the point. But now that winter weather has really kicked in here in northern Indiana, spending evenings and weekends in the shop - 10 feet from the wood stove - seems like a pretty good alternative to making snotty "beardcicles" while shoveling out the driveway.

In December, I finished mounting the last of my client orders for 2009. Now I'm mounting turkeys that I killed, or were donated to me by family and friends. Once finished, these birds will be: 1) sold; 2) donated to NWTF functions; 3) used in the upcoming spring season. And the reality is that unless winter lasts until August, I'll never get around to mounting all the turkeys I have in my freezer. Right now I'm thawing out my 2009 spring Indiana bird. Once he's finished there will be a roughly12 more wild bird capes left to go, plus a few wild-colored domestics.

My 2009 Indiana tom - the next bird to become a Thrill Kill Decoy!

Last week I finished a bird donated by good friend and hunting buddy, Sean Collins. Sean lives in Giles County, Tennessee, and was kind enough to let me kill a good tom on his farm in 2009 (another one I haven't "decoyed" yet). When we finished that hunt, Sean said he had a bird in the freezer he'd been saving for me if I wanted it. I've learned never to pass up a wild bird in good condition.  Turns out, not only was it in great shape, but the bird had extraordinary color. It's the prettiest bird I've mounted in a long time.

So as I finish each successive decoy, I'll post a few pictures.  If I was involved in the demise of the bird, I'll even share the hunting story that goes with it.  For the next several weeks I'll keep warm - and busy - in the basement, all the while wishing spring would hurry up and get here!

Snow might be flying outside, but in my mind I see decoy spreads and spring weather!