Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

November 23rd, 2020

We drove through the night to meet up with Brian in the Midwest. Dad decided to make the trip and stretched out in the backseat and got as much rest as possible. Josh and I shared the driving duties. There were points during the night that I felt like packing it in, but I pushed forward and made the best of it. I’m thoroughly exhausted tonight.

  Brian has been seeing some deer. He passed a dandy in the spot that Dad usually hunts. He passed it because it’s so hard for Dad to get around and he wants to do his part to help him succeed. We both hope he gets an opportunity at that buck. 

  We headed into the woods for an afternoon hunt. I carried Dad’s stuff into the woods. He has to use a crossbow that Dan Ladd let him borrow. He can no longer draw his bow. He simply doesn’t have the strength to draw it, even at 40 pounds.

  As we walked along an overgrown road, tears formed in my eyes, and I felt that pang in my chest that only comes every now and then. It’s difficult to watch him shuffle his feet because he doesn’t have the strength to pick them up to walk. Instead of packing it in, he continues doing what he loves to do. It’s dedication, determination and pure will, and it’s incredible to watch. I wish I had half of the inner-strength that lives inside him. 

  I did a lot of walking near the road in hopes of finding another spot where he can hunt and not have to go too far. Although I saw a few deer, I came up empty-handed. I was disappointed. 

  As it began getting dark, I headed up the road to where I had left Dad. I waited for him to get to me, so we could head out of the woods together, just as he has waited so many times for me over the years. I grabbed the crossbow and slung it over my shoulder for the walk. Usually, he would insist that he could do it himself. Today, he just let me take it with no hassles. I was glad to lend a hand. I gotta do my part, too. 

  Dad saw six does tonight right at dark. No bucks came with them. He waited for them to clear out before heading out of the woods.

  Brian headed to a place we checked out one other time. He said it looks good and we should probably return. Josh went out behind the tent tonight. He saw a young kid from Ohio who was rattling up a storm and grunting every few minutes. People just don’t get it. It cracks me up and makes me want to politely tell them to stop. I’d like to know what they’re thinking when they’re doing stuff like that. In the end, Josh saw one doe and Brian had a deer blow at him when he stood up to come out of the woods. 

  We will see what tomorrow brings. It’s supposed to be in the high 70s. It was 65 when we headed into the woods today. The cloud cover kept the temperature down.

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

November 3rd, 2020

Although my heart wasn’t in it, I decided to go anyway. I had a feeling the big buck might hit the scrape today. Nothing moved while I was sitting, but I clearly saw where the big buck had walked through the area earlier in the day. I guess I just wasn’t there at the right time. It was pretty disappointing to see.

I bowed my head and headed out of the woods when it got dark. I was saddened that I wasn’t able to connect with the buck. was chasing. I probably won’t return to that spot until late muzzleloader season. With the heavy pressure the area gets, I would be really surprised if the big deer I messed up on doesn’t get killed. There are a few others in the area that are quite visible right now, too. I’m guessing the deer herd is going to take a good whacking in the next few weeks while I’m gone. Then, next year, everyone will wonder why they aren’t seeing any bucks. It’s all cyclical in heavily hunted areas. Fortunately, unlike fishing in trout ponds, deer tend to come back after a few years. The fish don’t usually come back to a pond once they’ve been fished out. If you keep all of the fish you catch in a small pond, eventually the pond runs out of fish. The same type of things happen in the woods but to a lesser extent. There are a few good bucks running around right now, but they don’t appear to be too smart to me, which leads me to believe they will get shot. They’re just walking around way too much in the daylight right now, and that doesn’t work in areas where a lot of people are toting around with rifles.

I’m headed to Illinois tomorrow with Dad and Josh. I’m not feeling it this year. The weather is supposed to be in the 70s and 80s for the next week or two. We’ve never had much luck when it’s like that. Dad can barely walk up the hill behind his house, so he’s going to have a tough time. I had to help him pull two crossbow bolts out of the target tonight because he wasn’t able to get them out. He has lost almost all of his strength. I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to be going, but he wants to go, and I want him to do what he wants to do. I just hope we stay safe and are able to have the best time we are able to have under the circumstances. As I walked out of the woods tonight feeling somewhat defeated, this was the sight I left in the Adirondacks as I thought of my journey to the Midwest. I will not be updating the journal until I have service when I return from the Midwest.

Monday, Nov. 2, 2020

November 3rd, 2020

My company decided they would give employees a mental break day off this year and said it would have to be on Nov. 2 for me. I couldn’t have been happier when I heard the news. How often do you get a paid day off to go hunting for no reason other than to have a mental break and use it to do something you enjoy? Well, that was me today.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best of days, with the wind blowing 25-35 mph along with a blinding snowstorm for about an hour.

On my way up the road, I almost hit a giant 10-pointer crossing the road. Being close to home, I couldn’t believe the size of the buck. When he hit the dirt road in front of me, I couldn’t believe it. He was hauling ass, too. Instantly, it brought hope to my thoughts about the day.

As I marched around the mountain and headed down the steep terrain on the back side, the snow pelted my face with a fury all its own. I couldn’t escape it, so I welcomed it and continue walking.

When I sat down and changed my clothes, I felt refreshed. The snow had stopped, and I patiently waited for the woods to come alive — and it didn’t take long.

I battle some bad things with my insulin pump all night, so I didn’t get any rest at all. The pump wasn’t hooked to the infusion set properly, and it stopped delivering insulin while I was sleeping. My blood glucose shot to over 500 by the time I figured it out. Stupidly, I headed into the woods anyway.

After sitting down, my blood began crashing. I had three arrows going down, and I needed something to eat as soon as possible. I looked down to find something in my backpack. When I chose to have a peanut butter cup, I was content. Then, I caught movement to my left and saw a really good wanna-be 10-pointer walking up the hill at a good clip. He was a dandy.

I quickly clicked the safety off and readied my ears for the explosion. Another second or two and the gun would fire. Walking at a fast pace, he stepped behind two huge trees. I waited patiently to shoot him when he came out the other side. He was 40 yards away.

Suddenly, does started running all over on the ridge above me and he bolted toward them, and I never saw his initial burst. It was still gray in the woods and hard to see. He quickly mixed in with the other deer, and they were gone in seconds. I was highly disappointed. The does blew as they ran way. I’m still not sure what happened.

I’m not sure if the buck smelled me and ran or if he was after the does that I never saw and bolted toward them. I’ll never know the answer, but I do know that I missed a prime opportunity. It feels like this year is just one of those years. I did everything I needed to do to take this buck, and a lack of concentration for a couple of seconds cost me a dandy. It’s all part of hunting but it seems to hurt this year more than it has hurt in many years. It’s probably because of everything going on. I just took it on the chin, got up and began still-hunting in the freshly fallen snow.

A few hours into my hunt, I spotted movement in the slash and instantly saw antlers. I clicked the safety off and got ready to let it rip. My excitement was still through the roof, which had me on edge. I saw three uprights on one side, but I quickly saw that it wasn’t a buck I wanted to take. Instead, I reached in my coat pocket and got my video camera out. I ended up taking some video, but it didn’t come out that well. When I return from Illinois, I might try to download some of it to share with you. I guess I’ve been lucky to have passed two 8-pointers in two weeks in the Adirondacks. If I look back 30 years ago, I don’t think I ever could have imagined me becoming the guy who would be able to do that. Now, I don’t mind one bit. It’s no longer about taking a buck to me. It’s more about pursuing specific animals and learning about them as I go. I like to outsmart deer that I’m actually hunting. It always feels much more rewarding doing it that way than lucking into it.

Brian is in Illinois. He has been seeing good bucks. I guess that’s exciting. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to be in the 80s when I arrive at the end of the week and stay that way for a solid week. I’m not looking forward to that.

Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020

November 2nd, 2020

I got up a little later today than yesterday. I figured I didn’t need the head start I required the day before. My windshield was covered with frost when I started the truck at 4:45, and I welcomed it. I enjoy the cooler temperatures.

Since Barrry left last night, I drove myself this morning. On my way down the dark road, I saw some eyes on the bank where the pavement ends and the dirt starts. Suddenly, a big 10-pointer jumped into the road in front of me but quickly decided he didn’t want to cross the road. He turned and went back up the mountain. I felt good about my morning when I saw him. I figured it meant the deer were moving.

As I trudged through the forest, my body felt the aches and pains from the last week, and I had all I could do to pick one foot up after the other found its way to the ground. My back and shoulders begged for mercy, and my calves screamed for rest. I continued the slow but steady march.

I reached the place I wanted to sit well before it got light. The wind whipped around pretty good for most of the morning, and I sat as long as I could handle it. I never saw anything, and I decided to cut cross-lots and check some things out in places I haven’t gone in a while.

When I neared a scrape I used to hunt near, I found a fresh bed. Looking closer, I saw where the deer had pawed open the scrape. It had done it not long before I got there. My timing just doesn’t seem to be lining up this year.

My friend Gar sent me a message today to tell me that his son bagged his first ADK buck and accomplished the feat with his grandfather’s gun that had just been handed down by Gar’s father since he isn’t getting out any more. I made my day to hear the story. Gar also took out the time to ask how my dad was doing and said he would continue praying for him. I appreciate his kindness and well wishes.

Here’s a picture of the scrape I found today.

A little ice on the pond.

Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020

October 31st, 2020

Traditionally, today has been a really good day for us. We’ve killed some great bucks on Halloween over the years. Most of them have been in areas around fresh scrapes.

I had Barry drop me off this morning, so he could take my truck and come and go as he pleased. I just told him to get me at dark beside the road. He’s hunted with me before, so when I told him where to go to check out the scrapes, he headed there.

When he dropped me off, the thermometer in the truck said 17 degrees. I tried a few new things today. I decided I would walk in my lightweight pants and carry my lined bibs with me. I’ve had the bibs for a long time, and they are super lightweight. I figured I would give it a try and see how it worked. I also bought some boot covers from Josh to see how they work. I was impressed with everything. The bibs worked great, and the boot warmers were even better. I sat until about noon and never got cold. My feet stayed toasty the whole time.

The area I sat had a dusting of snow from yesterday. There were some tracks in it, so that gave me a little extra incentive to wait them out. After putting six hours in, I decided nothing was going to happen.

I wandered around during the middle part of the day. I cut two people’s tracks, and didn’t see too terribly much sign. It didn’t appear that the deer moved too much today. It was an idea day today. When I headed into the woods at 5:00 a.m when most others were still sleeping, I had a feeling that today was going to be the day. Everything lined up in my favor, but for some reason, I’ve never had much luck around the time of a full moon. I’m not sure why, but that time period has never agreed with me. When I packed it in for the day, I hadn’t seen one living creature. I never saw a bird, squirrel, chipmunk, deer or anything else. That definitely doesn’t give me much confidence for tomorrow, but I’ll be out there grinding again. Here are a few pictures from my day. As you can see, it was pitch black when I started. The only think looking back at me was the moon.

Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

October 31st, 2020

When I clocked out, I looked outside and saw a bunch of snow still hanging on the trees. I had watched the radar earlier in the day and saw that the snow most likely missed the area I usually where I usually hunt, so I decided to hit the road.

I wanted to cover some ground to look for a spot for my buddy Barry to sit, as he was coming up for the day. I looked around for a while, but didn’t find much that looked great. I saw where a few scrapes had been opened, but I didn’t see much besides that. I think I’ll send him in there tomorrow and see how he does.

Dad got out for a bit tonight, but he’s having a tough time getting around. He seems to shuffle through the woods, as his legs don’t have a lot of strength. He didn’t see anything.

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

October 31st, 2020

Anyone who knows me knows I can become obsessive when it comes to achieving goals. I also do the the same thing when I think I can kill a buck that is laying down sign.

When I finished my work for the day, I glanced out the window at the pouring rain and said, “Why not? Today could be the day he comes to that scrape.”

With those thoughts in mind, I packed my gear and headed into the woods. I decided to still-hunt around the area where th buck has been working. At times, the rain was coming down in sheets, but I stayed the course and focused on the task ahead of me.

As I got close to the sign, I spotted a doe behind a log. When she got to her feet and began running, I clicked the safety off and scanned the woods. I knew he had to be laying with her. Watching her bound across the flat and dump off the side off the mountain, I was disappointed when nothing else followed her lead.

I continued still-hunting until I got to the place I sat the last few days. I decided to give it a whirl again. While sitting, the water began pouring off the brim of my hat and rolling down my face. I enjoyed the misery, as I was sure he was going to show up. I’ve seen a lot of big bucks show up during horrible weather.

I waited until dark, but nothing showed up. It’s supposed to snow tonight. I’m up in the the air about returning or heading north. I’ll have to figure it out when I get done working.

Here’s a buck I killed during horrible weather, and I killed him just a short distance from where I’m after this one.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020

October 28th, 2020

After looking at the weather last night, I figured today would be my best bet to kill the buck that I found last night. The weather was supposed to blow through, and the sun would break through in the early afternoon.

As I worked today, I knew today was going to be the day. I could’t wait to get in the woods. It was cool, damp and perfect for a buck to come back to a scrape as soon as the rain blew out.

As I was driving to my father’s house after work, I was irritated that the weather man was incorrect with his prediction. The rain was still coming down, and the road in front of me was as foggy as the London fog. Since the rain wasn’t coming down in buckets, I figured I still had a chance.

Dad had a good day at the doctor yesterday. They changed a few of his medications, and he looks a lot better today than he has the last few weeks. All of his bloating quickly disappeared after taking the new drug. I can also tell that he feels better. He’s a tough son of a bitch, and I’m glad he’s such a fighter.

He told me he wanted to go with me, so I was happy to have him jump in the truck. We were in the woods by 2:30, which gave us about three and a half hours to make something happen.

I made my way to the area where I sat last night. I couldn’t wait to get there. On my march, I found a few new scrapes in the area the hadn’t been there yesterday. That buck was still going at it. You’d think it would only be a matter of time before I see him, but the weather isn’t helping matters.

I settled in and began my wait. I could barely see beyond 40 yards through the fog. I could see that the scrape had been torn up again in the last 24 hours. It really makes me wonder what this buck looks like. I’d love to get a look at him.

I heard blue jays going crazy shortly after sitting down. I heard them last night in the same place, too. It kind of made my chuckle to myself. Over the last week, I’ve been watching some YouTube stuff from the most popular hunting show on YouTube, and everyone on the channel says to get ready when you hear a blue jay cawing because the deer are coming. While this is true at times, it’s a huge fallacy to think that every time a blue jay squawks, you are going to see a deer. It simply isn’t true. I’d almost bet that the odds of seeing a deer after hearing a blue jay is probably less than 10%. Do your own study and let me know what you find. In the last week, I’ve heard about 15 blue jays squawking and have yet to see a deer afterward. Maybe I stink or something. I guess I’ll never know. It’s food for though, anyway.

I sat until shortly before dark. The fog was so bad that it made me dizzy while walking out. It’s easy to get turned around when it’s like that and gettin dark at the same time. I came out in an area I didn’t expect to come out to, At least I knew where I was when I got there. I just didn’t know how I ended up there.

Dad had a good night. He was able to still hunt and go back to his younger years. Before he finished for the evening, he had tallied six deer sightings and one was a good buck. He could see the antlers as clear as day, but he didn’t have a good shot at the body. He said he probably wouldn’t have shot it anyway, but it was a nice deer. He was glad to see some deer. I, on the other hand, feel like I’m stuck in quicksand this year. It’s an odd feeling.

Dad was packing his gear for Illinois tonight. He told me he’s thinks he’s going to go. Hopefully, the next few days continue in the right direction, and he’s able to make it happen. It’s suppose to rain tomorrow, but I’ll be back at it unless it’s a torrential downpour

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

October 27th, 2020

Although I have a ton to do before leaving, I couldn’t resist going hunting today. The weather was picture perfect for a good evening. The barometric pressure was rising and the rain had tapered off after giving us its best shot for the last 24 hours. I figured it would be an ideal time to get into the woods.

When I thought about where I wanted to go, there was no hesitation in my thought process. I knew exactly where I was going to sit — hopefully. I figured I would walk to the back side of a mountain where I’ve had a lot of luck over the years and look on a small flat for some sign. If there are any good bucks around, they usually lay down some scrapes in this area early in the season.

Having rained all day, it wasn’t difficult to see fresh tracks. I enjoy hunting after or during a light rain because it makes it easy to follow tracks, almost as easy as on the snow.

When I cut my first track, I began following it. It brought me around a few blowdowns and along the edge of a flat covered with heavy evergreens. Before getting into the evergreens, I studied a small opening in front of me. I could see where the deer had been feeding under a lone oak, and the tree was enormous.

Continuing across the opening, I began seeing scrapes on the other side of it. I could feel the excitement in my veins, and I knew I was in a good buck’s neighborhood. Peering down the hill in front of me to where it benched out into a 100-yard flat, I could see the ground torn up. Pulling the binoculars to my eyes, I couldn’t believe what transformed on the other end of the glass.

A scrape larger than I have ever seen could be seen quite clearly. Amazed, I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was as large as a mid-sized car, and the leaves and dirt had been thrown five to 10 yards behind it. The tree under which it was made was torn apart. He had thrashed the tree and done some damage to it. It was easily a 6-inch tree. I could feel me heart trace as I continued taking in the sight.

Since the rain had just stopped, I began scanning the entire area to find a place to sit. I just couldn’t find anything that looked appealing, so I backed up and researched my memory. A fallen tree prevented me from sitting where I truly wanted to sit, so I made a concession and sat farther down the hill. It wasn’t the most ideal place to sit, but I could still see the scrape well.

Before I sat down, I found another large tree that the buck had ripped apart, and I found five to six more scrapes but none of them had a licking branch like the one I was going to watch.

When you find this type of sign, it warrants your attention. In my history of hunting, I know scrapes like this at this time will definitely be visited again in the next few days. Hopefully, I can be in the right place at the right time when he decides to visit.

As darkness crept up on me, the skies let loose and it began pouring. Visibility quickly diminished but not before I could see a deer making its way toward the scrape through the brush.

I couldn’t believe he was coming into the scrape. I hadn’t been sitting there for more than an hour, and the plan was playing out right in front of me. It reminded me of the buck I killed a few years ago in the same exact place doing the same exact thing. History has a way of repeating itself in the big woods and can be generational. Big bucks seem to use the same areas every few years. It might take a bit for another one to move in after you kill one, but in these places where they do, it can leave you with an opportunity to get a look at a good one every few years if you do your part

As the deer got closer, I clicked the safety off and readied myself. When it finally poked out of the brush about 30 yards from the scrape, I could’t believe it was a doe. I really expected that it was going to be the big buck that had left the sign earlier in the day.

She quickly disappeared into the darkness that was consuming the woods, and she blew when I stood up to leave about 15 minutes later. I wasn’t too happy about the one quick blow, but I guess there are some things that you just can’t control. I’m hoping the buck wasn’t in the vicinity, but I’ll never know for sure.

I will give this place a few more tries this week. In big woods, sometimes deer only go through an area once a week or maybe twice a week. I’m hoping he will be in this place regularly since there is so much sign there right now. I know it’s as sure a bet as any when you find sign like this during this particular week, but it won’t last long. The time to kill a deer like this is now. Unfortunately, I can only hunt a day or two before having to fulfill other commitments. I’m hoping to get some good weather to cooperate. I’d like to have a repeat of the Bluejean Buck in the same place on the same date.

Here’s the smaller of two rubs I found today. And the other picture is the buck I killed in this place a few years back. I like this area because I feel alone in the forest. It’s a place that isn’t overly appealing, but when it has sign in it, it’s a good idea to give it a chance.

You can see the bark in the leaves from where he rubbed the tree earlier in the day.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

October 26th, 2020

This morning was one of those mornings I love as a hunter. I was clear, cold and calm. I would be able to hear any deer coming for a while before it got to me. I love listening to deer walk through the leaves.

I got into my spot a little after daylight today. I didn’t feel well when I woke up. I battled some blood issues throughout the night, which led to broken sleep and not much of it. Luckily, things straightened out about halfway through my walk to where I wanted to sit.

I chose to sit on a steep hill today and watch a nice flat below me. Although it’s an area where a lot of deer don’t seem to travel, it’s an area where some good bucks work early in the season.

I had two places I could’ve sat this morning but chose this one when I reached the other place first. I decided to continue walking and settle into this place for the morning. I was happy about my choice.

Shortly after daylight, a reddish pine marten with a white face made its way toward me. Before long, it was running across a log 10 yards to my left before climbing a small pine tree and sitting in it above my head. There were a few anxious moments, as I know they can be vicious little creatures. I still enjoyed watching it.

I sat until about noon before wandering around. I wanted to check a few things out, and I had a camera in this place. It’s one of the only places I actually put a camera this year that isn’t within a few hundred yards of the road.

I wish I hadn’t checked it, but I did. I’m not sure what I expected to see on it but what I found didn’t make me too terribly happy. I will never understand why people can’t leave things alone that aren’t theirs. I don’t touch other people’s stuff, and I’d expect that others would do the same. I guess it’s just the way I raised. I’m proud to be Dad’s son because I believe I do things the right way — respect people and respect their things, even if it’s on public land.

Most people don’t realize that it’s basically impossible to erase a video on a camera, and furthermore, if it’s set on picture and video, they don’t even know the video is on there.

Well, someone decided to erase all of the pictures on the camera, then made sure they walked in front of the camera afterward to pretend they hadn’t seen the camera. He pulled a face mask up to cover everything but his eyes, so he can’t be identified. Unfortunately, for him, he didn’t realize that I have everything on video, even all of the pictures he erased. Of course, I didn’t get the still images, but I got all of the videos where there still images come from before the video starts.

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t mess with other people’s stuff. If you want to look at it, which I wouldn’t do, just look at it. There’s no reason to go messing with stuff and sabotaging it. I have some good footage of the person, and I’ll make sure to say hello when I see him and ask why he felt the need to do what he did. As I tell everyone, “It’s a really big, small world out there.”

In a small area, everyone kind of knows everyone else’s business, even if you don’t want to. I always stay to myself and try my hardest to avoid others. It doesn’t always work, and that’s easy to understand. I kind of laughed to myself about what had transpired, but at the same time I won’t lie and say it didn’t get under my skin, because it did. Mission accomplished, said mad did what he set out to do.

At the end of the day, I hadn’t seen a thing when I headed out of the woods. Nobody saw anything today. I’m not sure how much the deer moved the last few days. I didn’t hear many shots at all, and I usually hear quite a few the first weekend of the season.

At least I finally got on the board this weekend and have two deer sightings under my belt for the year, and one of the deer was a nice buck I chose not to shoot. I wish I had my camera with me, but I chose not to carry it in the rain. I’m going to try to pack it with me the rest of the year. It’s been a few years since I got any good footage while hunting. I need to get back at it, but this year hasn’t been good for that so far. I haven’t seen anything to video, although the buck and the pine marten would have been very cool to see on my TV.

Dad goes to his nephrologist on Tuesday. Hopefully, she can figure some things out and get him headed back in the right direction. I don’t like to see him feeling like he has been feeling recently. Any improvement would be good. We do know that his last round of tests didn’t go well. Tuesday, he gets to see what is next in his recovery. I’m hoping he gets back on track and feeling better so he can enjoy a little time in the woods.