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Author Topic: Paradise Hunt by Charlie Lamb  (Read 549 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Paradise Hunt by Charlie Lamb
« on: January 19, 2004, 05:08:00 PM »
Paradise Hunt
by Charlie Lamb

I arrived in Atlanta about midday on a Thursday after a short and uneventful flight. As I walked out of the terminal I spotted Terry Green's Rover just going around the bend and out of sight. He had been circling the pick up point waiting my arrival. One more circle and I flagged him down, hopped in and the adventure began. We had a three hour drive to Paradise hunt club ahead of us and lots of catching up to do. The trip breezed by with only two stops. One for permits and the other when we fell into a carefully baited trap in small town Georgia. I guess we weren't paying close enough attention to the speed limit signs. Nuff said!

I had heard about the club from Terry and Lance Coleman and was excited to get an invitation to join them and John Pardue for a deer and hog hunt. Needless to say I was itching to get in the woods. We got to the property with light left, so Terry took me for a quick walk to look at some of the area. I wasn't quite ready for bustin brush in my cowboy boots and slacks but we went "in" anyway.

We messed around till dark surveying Palmetto ridges, peeking down long food plot lanes and marveling at the stately Cypress in the swamps. Finally with dark closing in we headed for camp where we talked more and waited for John and Lance to show up.

After a bit we decided they must dragging game or tracking something, so we headed out to find them. Just a short drive from camp we spotted the headlights of Johns Sububan twinkling through the pines ahead. They were heading for camp. We exchanged a few words "window to window" before I saw Lance open his door, so I got out and met him in the light of John's headlights. Kind of appropriate that Lance and I meet for the first time like that. A firm handshake and a smile and an online friendship was cemented in person. I had the feeling it wouldn't be the last time Lance and I meet in the woods.

After getting the low down on their afternoon's hunt we convoyed back to camp. Like most first evenings in hunting camp we sat up visiting until late, laughing and talking like we'd grown up together.

The first morning was fantastic (and they got even better each day after). It was colder than I'd expected and I had on every stitch of clothing I'd brought.

Steam rose in spooky wisps from the black water slough Terry posted me beside. Palmetto fronds seemed to intertwine their stilleto tipped fingers forming a seemingly impenetrable wall just across the water on the "high" ground. Squirrels chased and fed in a tall Chesnut Oak on the edge of a pine thicket which though unseen from my position spread it's heady incense through the swamp. At that very moment in time I couldn't have wished to be anywhere finer. Though it was totally foreign to me and any country I'd ever hunted. I was at home in that place.

I just knew that at any moment a huge south Georgia buck or monster hog would flow into veiw. Terry had assured me that they often traveled the band of hardwoods between watery swamp and pine thicket , but the morning showed only the squirrels.

The club house at Paradise is full of "hero" pictures that give you the idea of what's to be had there and what can have you. Big bucks, bigger hogs, a rattler or two and even a nice close up of a coral snake. No pictures of the gators that live in the slough, though. Man, I wanted to see one of those! I was assured they were just little ones, but little ones have to come from bigger ones. Right?

It's also got one mean mother of a shower that'll plumb beat the dirt off of ya. That's pretty important cause at some point in each day you're going end up in the swamp wadin and though the nights and mornings on stand were pretty chilly, middays were sultry.

During each day we'd have a shooting session and those were always fun. John shooting big holes in the target with his hand made "nutters" could make you a believer in a hand "cobbled" arrow.
Lance shootin a big ole "dilla" with one in the late evening hours would make you believe those little armored critters were indestructable.

Friday afternoon John, Lance, Terry, and I spread out to do a hog sneak in an area which showed promise with abundant hog sign. Upturned patches of rich black soil were apparent all through the area.

Terry took the left flank, Lance took the right. John and I worked the middle. By keying off of each other we thoroughly but silently worked through the cover.

Lance was off my right shoulder about 30-40 yards and I soon learned that his camo was tops. I'd look over every once in a while and the boy would have disappeared. I'd just have to watch till he moved and I'd pick up on his position. Even when he was in the open he was damn hard to see, proving the effectiveness of his "Dawg wrap" head gear and Ghillie type cape. At one point I spooked a squirrel and it ran hell bent for election right to Lance. He had to discourage the little rodent from taking refuge under his cape. Yessir, good camo!

Nothing was seen on that venture and as it often happens, time got away from. With only an hour of so of good light left, we hustled to get set up for the evening hunt. I was taken to a spot where John and Lance had seen a parade of hogs each of the two previous nights they had sat there.

We got a climbing stand attached to a likely tree and I was sent up (or set up depending on how you look at it). That must have been quite a sight. Must have took me fifteen minutes to sqirm my way up about 15 feet. Do the math! A foot a minute isn't exactly burning up the tree.

It was a great looking spot, with a thicket to my back and open hardwoods to my front. A heavilly used trail snaked it's way toward my position and ran within a few yards of my stand. A well used wallow was just off to my right.

It would have been a great spot if something had showed. I guess it was a great spot whether anything showed or not. I enjoyed the sit.

If getting up there was funny, coming down had to be hilarious. I was sure the damn stand was gonna drop out from under me at any time.
I finally got down and Lance was there to help carry the stuff out. Actually, he wanted to carry everything....his stand, my stand, the whole works! Made me feel real old.

As we got everything wrapped up and ready to go, I noticed something strange on the ground. There was a small patch of something glowing on the leaves in a spot the size of a ping pong ball. Never did figure out what it was, but it glowed like one of those glow sticks.

We met up with Terry and John and a small tussle insued when John tried to "help" Lance carry some of the gear....all in good spirit! Seems Lance still wanted to carry everything.

It was on the ride back to camp that the real fun started. We'd left John's rig back where we started our afternoon stalk and the plan was to ferry back to his rig with all of us in Terry's Rover. Trouble was, there was too much gear in the Rover to seat all of us. No problem! John and Lance hung on the back while Terry and I were inside.

I don't think we'd gone a quarter of a mile when there was a scuffling on the roof and suddenly there was a grinning face staring upside down through the windshield. No sooner had Lance and his impish grin disappeared than a long stick came whooshing out in front of us. John was trying his hand at mobile spear chucking. What a time!

Saturday morning we got away nice and early, but because we'd altered plans slightly the day before, Terry and I weren't set up in the area we really wanted to be in and decided it best to stay away from that area and not stink it up in the dark of early morning.

We had a good plan B however so we put that into affect. I would be posted downwind of a hog wallow that Dawg and Tarz (Lance and Terry) called the "Bathtub" because that's what it looked like. Nearly rectangular in shape and deep, with buck rubs, tracks and hog sign all around.

A heavilly used trail came down the hill from a food plot, passed the bathtub and crossed the creek near a big blow down. Good spot!

Not far away was another creek crossing that Terry had been eyeing for a while. Club rules dictated that the host be within 100 yards of his guest and the second crossing was well within that limit. Probably 60 yards give or take a few.
I didn't know exactly where Terry was. I just knew he was down that way somewhere, so around 7:30 when I saw a deer slip through an opening over that way, I resisted the temptation to cut it off and held my position.

It was a great morning in the south Georgia woods. I'd cut a few palmetto fronds and formed a nice ground blind. Lance had loaned me his folding stool so I was comfortable and well hidden. A constant parade of squirrels kept me entertained as I absorbed the scent and sound of my surrondings.

Occasionally a hickory nut would thump into the ground nearby or a squirrel would drop a cypress ball from the top of one of those forest giants. "Plook" into the creek it would go. In the distance a turkey called to it's companions and crows passed noisilly overhead from time to time.

About 8:45 the squirrels started that agitated wheezy call that they do when something is afoot. It came from the direction that Terry had gone, and not knowing what they were upset about I focused my attention in that direction. Just about anything could show up over that way and I wanted to be ready for it.

It wasn't long and I saw Terry coming through the palmettos. The look on his face was one of sober intensity and he made his way quickly to my position. I figured from his "look" that he had heard hogs that my own poor hearing had missed and was coming to get me. I grabbed my bow, left the stool in the blind and stepped out to meet him.

Damned if he didn't brush right past me, leaning his Morrison against a tree as he went, stepped into the blind, grabbed the stool and brought it right out to where I stood. I was a bit confused!
He plopped that stool down in the sand next to me and sat down hard.

I wasn't going to have an answer to his strange behavior right away. But I knew something special had happened. He started into a narration of the morning from his perspective sixty yards away.

Terry had set up under a big gum tree with the same wrap around palmetto cover as I had. He'd been eyeing this spot on past hunts, so now he had his chance.

Early in the morning a small four point buck made his way past Terry around a huge blowdown Chesnut. He crossed the creek and angled up the bank, quickly disappearing in the thick brush. There are standards at Paradise for the quality of buck they want shot and this little guy didn't make the cut. This would have been the deer I saw from my position.

Around 8 o'clock Terry spotted another buck out in the palmettos. He anticipated it would follow the same path as the little one, but that was not to be. This was a much better deer and a shooter for sure. It dinked around for quite a while out there and then just wandered away.

Within half an hour another deer appeared. This one was a doe. Since it was possible and very likely that the rut was still on, Terry resigned not to tag the doe but let her pass as bait on the hoof.

She came down along side the blowdown where the first buck had passed and made her way out onto the sandbar beside the creek. The air currents had been a little fickle that morning and Terry hoped that he could remain undetected.

That's about the same time he realized that she did indeed have a suitor. A fine big buck was on her trail and closing fast. If all went according to what had already transpired he would have a duck soup shot at ten yards. First the doe had to clear out without spooking. As if on cue she waded the creek and walked up through a small tunnel in the brush on the same trail as the earlier buck.

Now the buck had to do his part. Terry stood ready with his Morrison and a razor edged broadhead ready to do his bidding.
As he had thought it would, Terry watched the buck shadow the trail the doe had left. Slowly he came down along the backside of the blowdown and out of sight behind it's root wad.

What happened next was not in the plan. The buck crossed the creek out of site which put the canal that intersected the creek at this point between him and the doe's path.
Terry suspected that this was the end of it. That the buck would wander off to who knows where without offering a shot.

To his surprise the buck stood on the bank for a moment and then eased into the canal. The murky water came up to his belly as he crossed and as he reached the point where the canal and creek made their junction he turned ever so slowly toward Terry's position. Stopping for a moment to stare in Terry's direction two small branches covered his eyes and gave T valuable cover. The buck was close at this point but no shot was present. Clouds of vapor boiled from the buck's nostrils and Terry drank up the majesty of this forest giant.

Then the buck was on the move. Turning to the far bank of the creek he waded ashore. As he started up the bank he broke into a fast walk. There wouldn't be much time for a shot but Terry didn't need much. As the deer angled up the bank and entered the tunnel of brush,Terry's arrow met him squarely. There was the impression of the arrow angling into the buck toward the opposite shoulder and then he was gone.

Terry could hear much crashing as the buck left in panicked flight and then all was still.

Terry had told me the story in agonizing detail, hanging on each moment and occurence until my own legs trembled with excitement and I craved a stool of my own to sit on.

As soon as Terry had started the story I'd checked my watch.... 8:45. The telling had taken fifteen minutes and we decided to wait another half hour before beginning the trail.

Terry took a big pinch from his can of Copenhagen. He was regaining composure, but I needed a cigarette badly!

Time went by pretty quickly that morning and we made our way down to the spot where the shooting took place after about 45 minutes of waiting.

Terry ran through the scenario one more time for me, pointing out the circuitous route the buck had taken to the point of impact. As we crossed the ankle deep creek I could clearly see where the buck had crossed the nearby canal. His track stood out as white spots on the bottom where his steps had disturbed the sediment on the bottom of the tea brown creek.
 
Shortly we were standing at the spot where the buck was last seen, looking for telltale signs of the hit. The dig marks from his take off were there, but no blood or hair were to be found. Not surprising! I didn't expect blood on the ground for a few yards at least. We moved slowly and quietly in the direction he had traveled.

At last we found blood. It was just a spot at first and then another further along. At around 30 yards we found the arrow. It's position along the blood trail indicated it came out the way it went in. Curious! There was rich red blood flecked with bubbles clear up to the cap dip on the cedar shaft. I expected to see the buck piled up at any moment.

The buck had paralleled the canal until he came to a slough which came in at right angles and turned up that. Blood sign was increasing steadilly. At one hundred yards the deer had stopped to survey his back trail and the blood had pooled there.

Just beyond was a wall of thick brush. An old clear cut lay just in front of us. Tangles of briar, impossible clumps of miniature pines and the scattered remains of huge old pines assaulted our senses. If he wasn't just inside this mess, it was gonna get real tough real quick!
Given the length of the trail at this point, we decided to back off and go into town. We'd gas the Rover and get a couple of Cokes then return and take it up again. That should eat up another hour.

I could sense Terry's concern and tried to reassure him. Hell, we had found no stomach matter in the blood sign, the blood was rich and red with some bubbles, no indication of a liver hit either. Depth of penetration eliminated a shoulder hit, so it all confirmed Terry's perception of the hit....mid body on an angling deer with enough penetration to have reached the off shoulder. The animal had to be there!

Unfortunately the tale doesn't get any better. We returned and spent another hour or two on the trail, taking it another 75 yards....mostly on hands and knees. We were both getting burned out looking amongst the thicket with lots of red colored leaves to distract and confound us.

We pulled off the trail again and went for help. The other guys would be in camp so we went there and found them enjoying a feast of fried "white perch", grits, and cole slaw.

After feeding the inner man we enlisted the aid of Matt Schuster to go back with us. I stayed behind at last blood while Terry and Matt forged ahead.

While they did find more blood, they were unable to find the buck. Sad!
We finished the day in the woods but I don't think either of us really had our minds on the hunt. It's tough losing an animal and I know it was wearing on Terry.

John Pardue fixed up some super tenderloin from the massive button buck he'd shot earlier and we washed it down with plastic cups of his homemade wine.

This was the last night in camp for John and Lance so we sat around and visited until well after midnight. With a little wine to loosen tongues and raise spirits we passed the evening in front of a roaring fire, talking of hunts past and future, sharing tips and ideas about tackle and laughing at each others quips and jokes. It was a fine time.

Lance and John gave up their morning hunt to go back to the clear cut with us and search for Terry's buck some more.

John and Terry went into the brush while Lance and I circled the area looking for sign in the sandy road that surronded it. Except for a Hog snake that Lance spotted. it was fruitless and we gave it up around noon.
We had a quick lunch then John and Lance packed up and headed home.

Terry and I posted over some Chesnut oaks that the deer and hogs had been hitting pretty hard but didn't see a thing.
I was coming down with a cold and that sure didn't help where I was. I couldn't keep from coughing.

So ended my trip to Paradise. I learned a lot on the hunt. Things like southern hospitallity, what a wild man John Pardue is, that a man can will himself to disappear (Lance), that armadillo's are damn near indestructable (just reafirmed what I already new). I added to my knowledge of hog sign and hunting them, and how deer move in the swamps of that country.

While I didn't learn it there, I was reminded that there isn't much better in life than time spent with good friends in the woods.
It was a great trip!

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