Successful Deer Hunt in 2020/21 with a John Deere Gator

This deer season at my mid-Georgia hunting lease property I was selected to test drive a John Deere Gator XUV 855M S4 model year 2021. I’ve been deer hunting for over 30 years and my Crystal Pig Hunt Club buddies and I have test driven a number of vehicles. I have to say I got most excited about them when we moved from 4-wheelers to utility vehicles. This is the second Gator we’ve used and it’s a beauty. Our local dealer, Blanchard Equipment, delivered the unit which had brush guards and front/back windows attached. Those are very handy for the amount of weeds and vines we have to run through. This is also the first diesel I’ve tested too.

So, let’s get started with a little bit about what’s new on this model that I was most impressed with. This includes improvements to the transmission controls, digital displays, gear positions and power steering. The power steering is huge when you’ve got very tight turns that come up fast!

Some of the key uses for a Gator for us include hauling corn to fill feeders, getting to and from stands and hauling a harvested deer back to camp which also includes driving a little off trail in the woods to get to it. The standard lights package also provides more visibility at night than any vehicle I’ve driven and that’s great for those end of the day hunts.

Likes: Power, hey it’s a diesel. Two seats for comfort and back seat flips into a table with storage compartments below that. Digital display to see what gear we’re in along with speed, fuel level and messaging. One touch 4-wheel drive. Super responsive power steering. Much more comfortable suspension for rugged trails. Very easy cargo bed dump control.

Suggestions: Cup holders need to move away from transmission stick. I know this sounds minor but you can’t put a full size tumbler there. Seat side rails need some cushion. Very easy to catch on them sitting down onto the seat, especially a big body. If you’re hunting, a gun rack accessory is a must. I also think a winch is too. Too many times over the years they have been more than worth it.

In the video you can see some footage of the Gator in action and I end with a recap on location before the unit was returned to John Deere.

I want to thank John Deere for allowing me and my hunt camp members to use one of the newest Gator models. We have had a very successful season and using a Gator made it very enjoyable. Hope we can do it all again next year.

If you would like to see some photos of the Gator in the field you can find lots of them here: John Deere Gator Hunt Photo Album

Hunting with a Can-Am Defender Episode 2

Hello and welcome from the Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC). It’s time for another episode of hunting with a Can-Am Defender.

In this episode my brother Paul and I talk about our experience using the utility vehicle in the woods while deer hunting. You’ll hear nothing but praise for this well thought out vehicle which makes it very comfortable to get from camp to the stands and back. Popping in at the end is Paul’s son Joe who has been successfully hunting with us and also helped serve as videographer when called on.

You can see photos of the Can-Am in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – Can-Am Defender Photo Album

Hunting with a Gator Part Two

Hello and welcome to episode number two of a series of videos and posts I’m doing, along with other members of our Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC), throughout the Georgia deer hunting season. We’re well into this year’s season and have been out on the property several times. I’m making plans for at least one more trip this year, keeping my finger crossed.

Here’s Paul’s son, Joe, who once again got his deer on his first trip out. He got to ride in the John Deere Gator XUV825i we’ve been test driving and likes it. In the video below you can hear him talk to Paul about hunting with a Gator while they are heading out to their stands on a sunny afternoon.

You can see photos of the Gator in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – John Deere Gator Photo Album

Hunting with a John Deere Gator

Howdy from The Pig. The CPHC team just continues to have good success early in the season. We’ve got a nice long season to go though since the Georgia season for firearms which started October 21 runs through January 14.

In this post I’m going to start letting you know how we are using a John Deere Gator XUV825i to test drive and evaluate its value to some serious deer hunting. John Deere has provided us with the use of this vehicle for most of the season and I have now had the opportunity to get some hours in and out of the woods and on the trails.

As you can see in the photo I have already harvested some deer and brought them out of the woods and back to our camp. My harvest so far consists of a 6pt buck, 2 does and a wild hog. They have all been bagged right near our trails fortunately for me. Speaking of trails, most of ours are freshly plowed by the U.S. Forest Service. They do a great job btw. But we’ve got some serious and deep sugar sand to run through and there are rough spots. You’ll be able to see that in the video below.

Some first impressions on using the Gator include:

  • All the power I need to climb steep hills on deep sand and with a load in the bed
  • Very simple controls and layout. Easy to switch between 2-wheel and 4-wheel
  • Suspension makes the bumps and pot holes almost painless compared to past vehicles I’ve driven
  • Plenty of light from headlights for night time on the trail
  • John Deere has some accessories I already know I’d like to add!

So, I’ll have more to say in upcoming episodes. I’m very satisfied with this unit and am not coming up with anything to complain about.

You can see photos of the Gator in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – John Deere Gator Photo Album

Taking a Can-Am Out in the Woods

I’m a little behind updating here. The CPHC team has had a great start to the season.

Here’s my next episode in a series coming to you from the Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC) in Georgia. In this episode the focus is going to be on a Can-Am Defender XT which has been provided to us to use and evaluate how well it is suited to some serious deer hunting.

CPHC member, Paul Zimmerman, my brother, has been doing most of the driving in this vehicle, although I have done some also. In the video below we chat about our first impressions while riding out of camp for a load of firewood. You might see in the bed of the Defender a short swivel seat stand that we strapped into it, making the Defender a mobile deer stand!

Some first impressions on using the Can-Am include:

  • It has lots of power but runs quiet
  • The suspension is amazing
  • The turning radius has made is easier to turn around on narrow trails than we expected
  • Some accessories like winch and side/back panels around bed have come in very handy

So, that’s a start. Paul has harvested two deer so far, one of them being the 8pt buck you see in the photo. So, in the points race (we don’t really have one) he’s in the lead. We’re liking the Can-Am but will have more to come.

You can see photos of the Can-Am Defender in the wild here: 2017 Deer Hunt – Can-Am Defender Photo Album

Stampede by Bad Boy Off Road

Bad Boy Off Road StampedeI want one of these Bad Boys although I love my old Buggy! Some of us are already getting excited about fall hunting and one of these would really get us to and from our stands quicker. Paul, myself and some other guys spent the day on Saturday checking out our camp and getting our feeders filled and working. It’s getting near that time to plant our food plots too.

So here’s what’s new from Bad Boy Off Road:

Bad Boy® Off Road, a Textron Specialized Vehicles brand, is proud to announce the Stampede™ 900 4×4, a side-by-side with unmatched power, nimble suspension and handling, unrivaled hauling and storage capacity, an extraordinary driver experience and exceptional reliability.

“We designed Stampede to be industry-leading on the features that drivers told us matter most – power, a comfortable ride, and the ability to haul and store everything they need,” said John Collins, vice president, consumer for Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc..

Read all about it on the Bad Boy Off Road website.

Moye Cemetery on the CPHC

CPHC Cemetery PlotI have found all kinds of things while walking through the woods. That includes both public and private land. A cemetery is a new one on me though.

While scouting around the CPHC we found a small cemetery in a small section of trees that were not clear cut during the logging operation before we leased the property. During a fairly recent storm an oak tree fell across the plots smashing the fences and toppling over a couple of the grave stones. On our last work days we cut up the tree and did some clean up work on the area. More needs to be done. There were tall weeds that I treated with some weed killer right before I left. We view it as a community service project since their are undoubtedly relatives of these people buried here that might come to pay their respects sometime.

In fact, using Google I looked up Annabella Tucker Graybill, one of the names on a head stone. Find a Grave came up with information from an entry made just last year. It looks like this is the Moye Cemetery. The family names on the second of two fenced grave areas are all Moyes. One example is Emma Hobbs Moye.

Annabella’s spouse is Dr. Tully Graybill. Here’s some information from his Sandersville Newspaper clipping in 1883: “Capt. Co.A (The Irish Guards) 28th Georgia Infantry. Promoted to Major Sept 10, 1861, Taken POW on May 3,1862 at Seven Pines, exchanged. Wounded in Action Sept 1, 1862 at Antietam.Promoted to Colonel Nov. 3,1862.”

I shot a video clip of the cemetery before heading home that shows the condition of the cemetery. I wonder how many of these exist out in the woods where they may not even be remembered or cared for any more. Have you found any on your property?

You can find more photos from the cemetery here: CPHC Cemetery Photos

Summer Food Plot Work

Justin New Holland C238In the heat of the summer it’s time to get food plots ready for the fall. With a little help from a couple of folks we got the job done.

So here’s what we did. We had already had food plots picked out and planted with some rye seed late last year. Then earlier this spring we flagged them so our property owner could double check and give us his stamp of approval. Problems crept up in that after he got the property planted in pine trees he changed his mind on us and reduced the size of our plots. In fact, the large one we had his prior approval on for dove was at least cut in half. So, no dove plot!

But we have moved on and will have very nice deer and turkey plots for our hunting needs. This become critical once these pine trees get up in a couple year.

In this photo we have Justin with his New Holland Compact Track Steer/Loader smoothing out our plots and removing extraneous branches. He also used the tractor to move two of our towers stands to their new locations.

Smith Farm SupplyOnce Justin was done with his part of the deal we called in John at Smith Farm Supply to put down lime for us.

We had the soil tested so we knew what amount of lime to put down. John was able to get most of our plots done but we will still have to apply some lime by 4-wheeler on a couple of plots he couldn’t get his truck into.

I shot some video while all this was going on. If you’re interested to see what it looked like check out the clip below.

Here’s where you can find photos of our latest work days: CPHC Food Plot Work

Red Snapper Fishing in Gulf of Mexico

Red Snapper FishingIt’s time to hunt some red snapper in Florida. And that’s just what Gary and I did over the Memorial Day weekend. We started out on Sunday, the second day of the Florida red snapper season with Captain Travis on the Bamboo Vic II. I was wearing my Google Glass to capture some footage of our trip.

After starting out catching some live bait we went about 8 miles offshore to a few different spots. At our first stop, Gary caught a huge snapper. That broke the tension and from there we proceeded to get three limits: Red Snapper, Amberjack and Mingo Snapper. I also added a big Triggerfish to the cooler.

Although we had great live bait we caught most of the snapper on dead bait. In fact, at our last stop we chummed up some big ones and could actually see the fish take our bait and hooks. I’ve never seen anything like it. That stop also yielded some nice Amberjack like the ones you see in the photo.

Then on Monday we did a walk on with the Entertainer from the same dock and caught a big mess of Mingo snapper. Let’s just say it was two of the best days fishing we’ve had out on the Gulf. The weather has finally settled down and the water was as smooth as I can remember seeing it.

So, if you have a few minutes take a look at the video and see what you were missing.

CPHC Property Through the Glass

ZimmGlassThis past weekend I had another Crystal Pig Hunt Club woods experience. Unfortunately, I did not see any deer but the time in the woods is always wonderful. It was the last time for the 2013-14 deer season that I’ll be out on the CPHC but we’ve got plenty more woods time and hunting planned.

While I was hunting I carried along my new Glass from Google which is basically like a computer you wear on your face! I and learning how to use it for my business. In the photo my Glass is being recharged with a Monsanto Ground Breakers mobile charger. I have noticed that the Glass battery doesn’t last as long as I’m used to with my phone. That’s why these mobile chargers come in so handy.

Earlier in the day I shot a video clip with my Glass as a test. It worked out okay and I think I’ll be bringing it back to camp in the future. The clip is from the New Holland Rustler on the new and fresh grass growing roads we’ve been working on.