I’m excited to introduce you to a new series here on Wired To Hunt – “Deer Camp with the Doughertys”. In this series, whitetail experts Craig and Neil Dougherty will share journal entries from their lives as 365 day a year whitetail hunters and managers. There isn’t a day that goes by that the Dougherty’s aren’t living and breathing whitetails, and this series will follow their observations from the field, their successes in the woods, a few off topic interludes, and everything in between. A true deer hunting diary. Enjoy! – MK

By Craig Dougherty

I hunted a ground blind the other night hoping to catch a buck on the prowl. It was a pretty good sit as I had a good time watching a half dozen does and fawns and 4 yearling bucks as they came and went, pushing and posturing, and doing all kinds of young buck amped up on testosterone tricks.

I became totally consumed by a very sizeable flock of slate colored juncos that dropped in on their way South. I’m not sure I have seen that many juncos in one group before and if I had I sure had forgotten it.  I’m used to seeing them in 2’s and 3’s, maybe a half dozen at the most. A flock that large really got my attention. They are ground birds and they were all over me and the pop up blind I was sitting in. Hopping about picking all the time; they were everywhere, like ants on a hill.

Birds are great companions on a stand. I’ve spent hours “yanking” at chickadees (goes up) and nuthatches (comes down), waiting for that buck to come by. I listen for jays to announce the presence of the fox or coyote or something of importance in the woods. They make the time pass quickly and have much to offer. I’ve started many lists and have no quarrel with the practice, but to me the fascination is in the watching not the counting.

An older aged buck interrupted the bird watching to remind me of why I was there. He came and went; no shot offered and none intended. The junco flock disappeared somewhere between the distant sun dropping and dark.

I entered the buck and doe sightings in log book back at camp. I did some quick math on buck to doe ratios, and noted the first appearance of an older aged buck at the cabin clearing this year. I count deer not birds. It’s all there for the reading (and forgetting).

It’s the uncounted juncos I’ll remember.