Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Magic tree No. 2; end of an era

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This is deer #40, from the Magic Tree.

I am sitting over a brown, greenfield at White Oak. They didn't get any rain, either. I'll tell you about this trip in a week or so and we will also look at his year's deer kill and crunch some numbers. In the meantime, maybe you will enjoy this.

Over 30 years ago, I wrote an article for my good friend, M.R. James, editor of Bowhunter Magazine. I called it, "The Magic Tree". It was about a tree on Cheatham, WMA from which other hunters and I had killed a total of 33 deer. That number included three, in one day, by three different bowhunters. It was a quite deceptive tree.

I am sure several hunters had walked by that tree and never gave it a second glance. But for us, it truly was magic. Hunters in addition to myself, include Jackie Taylor, (two deer in one morning), Mickey Pope, Ted Murdock, Russ Jackson, Dr. Steve Snyder and a woman I was guiding, her name escapes me, killed deer from that one tree over about a seven-year period. On several hunts, different hunters killed two deer that same day.

It was on a short, go nowhere ridge and was less than 75 yards from a gravel road. It was a bent, ugly locust with a huge vine hanging from it. But it had the one thing all the great trees have. Location. Just as it is in the eatery business, location is everything. When a clearcutting operation at Cheatham, got that tree. I found another.

This second tree could have been one of the great ones. It coulda been a contendah. In three years, I alone killed eight deer from it-two decent bucks. But alas, another hunter found out about it and told 31 of his closest friends. I was forced to abandon it. I guess lightning struck it...or something. I know it fell down. Strange?

And now, we come to the star of this story. A new Magic Tree has been crowned in Wilson County. This tree surpasses all previous contenders. To start with, as of Nov. 1, 40 deer have been killed from this one tree. All by me. I have no count of deer I missed but I know of at least three. On five occasions, more than one deer has been killed the same day. One morning, three does. On another a doe and fair eight.

As with its' predecessors, there is nothing remarkable about this tree at first glance. For that reason, I walked by it for two years before finally placing a stand. I gained access to hunt this property about 15 years ago. As with all property, the first year, sometimes two, is a learning process. One day, in the third year, while hunting from another stand, it dawned on me that a lot of deer walked within shooting distance of this one, big maple. "I should have a stand there." I advised myself and so, I placed one there. I call it The Golden Carpet. The reason being, in the early fall, when the leaves start dropping, the ground beneath is golden with maple leaves.

Now. What makes this tree so productive? As with all the good trees, it is location-location-location. This big maple is at the hub of a spoked wheel. Each spoke representing a travel trail. That is the key. Then, it is an extremely comfortable, 12-foot ladder stand. One of the expensive ones. Add to that, the comfort of the tree itself. It provides a big backrest and one branch provides an arm rest. The cover is superb and so is the view. It is a stand in which I can spend a lot of time. From this stand, in addition to deer, I have shot turkeys and coyotes and watched countless squirrels and one bobcat.

The stand has been there so long, it has somewhat grown into the tree and that makes it extremely steady. I have added enough hooks to hold all my "possibles" and a swing arm to hold my bow or gun. By far, most of the deer killed have been with archery equipment. No matter what direction from which they approach, the tree provides cover to maneuver. In a good "color" year, the leaves provide an endless rainbow for good watching. Sitting in that tree on a cool autumn day, with just enough wind to make the leaves sift and drift, is a sensory delight. A lot of stories have been first dreamed up from that tree.

That, of course, allows several deer to get by me.

This year, three does, numbers 38, 39 & 40, have been killed from this tree. I shot the first doe, early in bow season, the second on Oct. 22 and the third, Oct. 24. I am the only one that hunts it. The best I can reckon, I have killed approximately 65 deer off this one property in 15 years. There are more deer there now, than when I started hunting it. But, that could be the end of the story.

We have a new champion in terms of trees from which we hunt. Unfortunately, I'll not hunt it again. For no specific reason, the landowner has stopped allowing hunting. I pulled all my stands. It took some work but I got that one out, too. Maybe someday, someone else will figure out that is a good tree from which to hunt. As for me, I'll just hunt other places and look for a new magic tree. In fact, I may have found one. I have already killed three deer from it. And I have a contender on another piece of new property. I killed two in one morning during rifle season and passed at least six more. We'll see. Right now is a great time find magic trees because you can see the terrain while Ma Nature is mostly naked.

I love Magic Trees. Don't you?

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John L. Sloan, Outdoors, Sloan, White Oak Plantation
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