Hunters are grateful to neighbors…

Not long ago, I wrote a column about hunters battling, arguing and fighting with each other over game, property lines and hunting methods. Just some of the stories we hear at the Woods-N-Water News from time to time. I understand conflicts are bound to happen, it’s human nature I suppose. Although in the end, hunters treating other hunters unethically gives us all a black eye.

The truth is, those who pursue the whitetail are a “brotherhood” and a “sisterhood.” What we do individually affects us all as hunters. There should be mutual respect between hunters and basic responsibilities for our sport. For some, this sometimes gets lost in their lust for whitetails.

Recently, brothers Aaron and Nathan Moore offered another side to this story. One which offers another look at the column I wrote a couple of months ago. Theirs is a story of mutual respect, a story which speaks to the “brotherhood.”

As I sat in my office I saw this old red truck pull into our office parking lot, massive antlers sticking out, I knew immediately the reason for their visit. Our staff and I take a lot of pictures this time of year. I reach for my camera and head to the front office. It wasn’t long and I was hearing their stories.

Aaron arrowed a monster buck which he feels could score near 160 and Nathan had an impressive 9-pointer. Both were bow kills, both were taken from the same stand within 24 hours of each other.

As I positioned them for a picture Nathan said to me, “Without the help and courtesy of our neighbors we might not have these deer. They are just great guys. We can’t thank them enough.”

“Tell me about it,” I replied. In talking with them it soon became evident these guys are bowhunting fanatics.

“We don’t even gun hunt anymore. Bowhunting is the sport we live for,” Nathan told me.

Nathan, 32, lives in Madison Heights and Aaron, 35, lives in Silverwood. Come bow season the brothers can be found on the family property in Michigan’s Thumb. They have hunted there for 20 years now and have taken their fair share of whitetails.

“Aaron called me on his cell phone and said he had just shot a monster,” Nathan says. “He knew better, but he was so excited he wanted to track it immediately. I told him to stay there, give him time!”

“We trailed Aaron’s buck to the edge of our property and saw that it had crossed onto the neighbors’ property. We didn’t want to just wade in and ruin our neighbors’ hunt so we sat tight and waited for them to come out of the woods. We met up with them, telling them what had happened and asked if we could go in to find Aaron’s buck,” Nathan recalls.

“Not only did they give us permission to look, they helped us find it,” said a smiling Aaron, “they didn’t have to do that.”

Just 24 hours later, at the urging of his brother, Nathan took the same stand, Aaron explaining to his brother he had seen a big 9-pointer with his buck. Sure enough, that night Nathan shot the 9-point buck. And like his brother’s buck, it too ran onto the neighbors’ property.

Just like the night before Aaron and Nathan waited for the two hunters to get out the woods and again asked for permission to find their second buck.

“We told them this would be the last time we would bother them this year. They laughed and said it was fine. That if the shoe was on the other foot they were certain we would extend them the same courtesy,” Nathan told me.

“Our neighbors are Dan and Craig Hodges of Caro and my brother and I would like to publicly thank them,” said a grateful Nathan.

“You hear horror stories of hunters who might just keep a rack like mine, but not those guys,” Aaron added.

As we continued to talk, I learned more about these two brothers and their approach to hunting. They have been very successful over recent years. They credit their success to when in 2005 Aaron ran across a copy of John Eberhart’s book, “Hunting Pressured Whitetails.”

“Everything he said made sense to me, when I was done with it I gave it to my brother to read,” said Aaron, “it changed my hunting forever, our success rate improved dramatically.”

“The book changed our outlook on hunting and we began to realize all the things we had done wrong in the past,” Nathan told me.

“We were taught to go to the woods and select a good tree and throw out a bait pile, that’s the way we did it. Thanks to John’s book we weren’t just looking for trees to hunt from, we began looking for good hunting spots,” explained Aaron.

They both say they have learned a lot, experimenting with scents, and locations. They are careful not to overhunt an area, not going to a stand if the wind isn’t right to get to it. And they stopped shooting small bucks, giving them a chance to grow. Also the use of trail cameras and proper scent control have played a big role in their hunting success.

Aside from their personal property, they have also scouted areas in the Thumb where habitat is better for bigger bucks, securing 20 properties to hunt simply by asking permission from the landowners. Some of the properties are large and some are as small as 3 acres. Aaron told me he also sets a lot of stands, up to 20 a season, Nathan has a dozen or so.

When they say they set elevated stands, they mean elevated, 20 or 30 feet are not uncommon. They stress they may only hunt some stands a few times, when conditions are ideal.

“I love to hunt, just love it, but my brother lives it. I’m really happy he shot that big buck, he deserves to be rewarded for his effort,” stated Nathan.

As hunters and land managers, we are in the “image business” – even more so now than ever before. We must continue to make the passing on of our traditions to young hunters a priority. Hunting, as we know, is a sport built on tradition and respect for the animals we hunt and those who hunt them.

This was a story I needed to hear to restore my faith in the many ethical hunters and courteous hunters I know that are out there, like Dan and Craig Hodges.

Editor’s note: If you would like a copy of John Eberhart’s book, “Hunting Pressured Whitetails” visit his website at: