Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

January 5th, 2022

The weather forecast for today was not good, leaving me with no idea what to put in my backpack. I also wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach the day. With the forecast calling for a rain/snow mixture turning into steady rain during the day, I figured I would sit for a while then start walking. It would be ideal conditions to sneak up on something and catch it off guard. 

  I also wasn’t sure where I wanted to hunt, so Dad got an early start and left for the woods at 4:30. He planned on sitting all day. Brian decided to give the area he was hunting a break and try his hand in a different place a little south of where he has been hunting, so I had him drop me off in an area where I could hunt back to my truck, which I had parked near the place where Dad parked. 

  At daylight, I found myself still-hunting through the woods with no clear intention where I would end up. As I meandered in and out of thick beech whips, my gut brought me to a place where I thought I might get lucky. I’m not sure what led me to the place, but after overlooking a small bowl that had tracks through it, something told me another bowl in the area might be a place to sit for an hour or two to wait and see what the weather might bring. I hadn’t been to this area in a number of years, but the inner voice inside my head told me to find a place to sit tight.

  Settling my back against a small beech tree, I felt confident with my choice. When the inner voice speaks, I’ve learned to let it guide me where it believes I should be. Unless you have heard the inner voice, it’s hard to believe how much power it can have in the outcome of certain hunting situations. I believe it’s something that happens due to experience, and as a hunter gains experience, the voice gets louder and speaks with more authority when it speaks. 

  Leaning against the tree, my eyes felt heavy, but I knew I could not let them close. In this area, there would be no time to react if I missed seeing the deer when it stepped into the opening in front of me. I knew I would get picked off if I had to move, so I made certain to stay on point and remain focused. A loss of focus can easily lead to a missed opportunity. Heck, after all, I had that happen last week when I let my guard down while walking through the woods. 

  Around 7:30, I saw a big doe walking toward me, and she had a little one in tow. I figured it wouldn’t lead to much, as does that have fawns with them right now have probably already been bred. However, you never know.

  When they hit an opening about 40 yards down the hill from where I was sitting, the doe became nervous. Although the wind wasn’t blowing in her direction, I think the wind direction created a swirl, causing it to go over my head and down the hill. 

  After fidgeting around for a few minutes, she finally blew and took off. The fawn bounded away too. When they disappeared, I felt somewhat relieved to know that if it had been a buck, I would have been able to shoot him before he caught my wind. 

  An hour later, I caught some movement in the beech whips where I had spotted the doe and fawn. Instantly, I knew the buck was a shooter. I pulled the gun up and secured the butt end of it into my shoulder to prepare for the recoil. 

  When he got to the spot where the doe and fawn had stopped, he instantly stopped and became fully alert. I knew he was going to bolt. There was a small beech tree blocking his shoulder. I knew I probably couldn’t get away with much movement, but the opportunity was going to be lost in a matter of seconds. Instead of moving, I put the crosshairs on his neck and attempted to pull the trigger. Expecting the gun to fire, I flinched. I took a deep breath and started over. I realized I had never pushed the safety forward.

  Leaning to the left, I could see the front shoulder. I steadied on it and pulled the trigger. The boom echoed off the surrounding mountains, and I was pretty sure he was dead on his feet. When he bolted to his right, I racked another one in and followed it up with another shot. Instantly, he went down. I knew the second shot had connected too. 

  Walking over to him, I was excited but saddened at the same time. It’s always sad when a mountain monarch goes down. I felt elated that I had won the chess match, but I felt let down that the game was over. 

  I took a long time with the deer after walking over to it. I enjoyed every second of the moment, and I cherished the luck involved with taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me. 

  I took a few minutes to run my hands along his chest and wrap my hands around his antlers. I felt a sense of accomplishment with this buck that can’t be rivaled. I’ve been fortunate enough to kill a lot of great deer, but this deer stands above many others. 

  We’ve hunted harder this season than I can ever remember, and we have not been too lucky. I’ve seen fewer bucks this year than I’ve seen in as many years as I can remember. Although I passed five nice bucks in New York, this season just wasn’t the same as many others. I did pass one that many others would kill to have on their wall. When I look at the video, I really don’t understand why I gave him a free pass, but I’m not disappointed in the final outcome.

  After taking care of the deer, I began mapping out my trip back to the road. Normally, I would’ve boned or quartered it out, but the snow makes it much easier to drag, so I chose to drag it. 

  A few hours into my trip back to the road, Dad texted me to tell me he had also killed a nice buck. Now, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should leave my deer and go to the area where he was hunting to help him or if I should continue toward the road and get as far as I could. 

  Finally, I told him to take care of it and leave it there. I would go back in after dark and get it.  It would be a lot of work, but I was up for the task – or so I thought. 

  Shortly after the texting, I lost service and that was the last I heard from Dad. The day went by quickly, and I reached each goal along the way in hopes of getting out by dark. 

  Finally, near the end of the day, I was able to get out of the woods and make my way to where Dad was with his deer. At that point, I met Brian there to help my father, and we were able to capture a few pictures in the woods next to the road before loading Dad’s deer in. Although we had to unload mine for the pictures, it was worth every second to be able to get both of us together with our deer in the daylight in the woods. 

  Dad and I had never killed a deer on the same day until a few years ago. Now, in a few years, we have done it twice, and it feels pretty sweet. What a day in the woods. This one topped the one in Illinois a few years ago. I can never express how grateful I am that I’m still able to hunt with my father.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

January 5th, 2022

 When we woke up this morning, indecision crept in. I decided to start collecting cameras. I wish I had chosen a different day because the roads where atrocious. I thought I was going to kill myself. Between black ice and a blinding snowstorm, I wasn’t sure I would make it to the area I was headed. On a good day, the ride is about 45 minutes, but today was anything but a good day. 

  The day passed quickly, and when I tallied up the health data on my phone, it told me I had walked 9,6 miles today. I thought I would take it easy today, but it turned into an adventurous scouting day. 

  I always welcome the end of the season, but it also brings great sadness with it. The time of year that I live for passes far too quickly. If I had a choice, I would make every day of the year a day in November. I love November that much. I feel so incredibly lucky that I was introduced to the woods when I was a kid. I find peace and solitude every time I step into the woods. However, this year has been much more difficult to focus due to Mom’s failing health. It’s a thought that never strays far from my mind. If I could give her my life, I would do it in a second 

We are running out of time, and things aren’t looking good, but I know that a season can change in a matter of seconds. I”m hoping that’s the case in the next few days.

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

December 28th, 2021

We headed out of camp bright and early today, and Donny came back to hunt for a few days. He’s had a lot of stuff going on in his personal world, too, so it feels good to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

  Although the forecast called for heavy winds, the wind never picked up.  With calm conditions and the snow still hanging on the trees, it made visibility tough. The snow fell last Saturday and is still clinging to all of the branches. In all of my years of hunting, I’ve never seen snow hang on the branches this long. It has become quite frustrating. 

  As our day wore on, we continued seeing deer. Talking back and forth on the radio, we decided we would pack it in and head out around 3:30, allowing ourselves time to get back to familiar territory before having to break out the headlamps. 

  Well, the silence of the woods was broken at 2:45 when a gunshot echoed off the mountains around us. A few minutes later, we were standing above a 3-pointer. It was a nice deer, and we were all happy to finally take a deer. Although we’ve all been holding out for a good one, we have come to realize we only have a few days left before the season closes, and we all like to eat venison. Any deer in the Adirondacks is a good one, even if it’s a little guy. Donny finally broke his Adirondack curse after three years.

  Some deer you remember better than others because of the grind that you go through to get to the end of the race. This is surely one of those deer for us. 

  Overall, it was a good day, and we all enjoyed each other’s company. It felt good to be a hunter among hunters, all family and friends. 

Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

December 28th, 2021

We woke up today to a dusting to an inch of snow. It was in the mid-teens, and I had a feeling it might be a good day.  My thoughts were backed up as we headed down the road to start our day. There were tracks everywhere. The deer obviously moved throughout the night. 

  As Dad and I made our way through the darkness, I was thankful that, at 74 years old, Dad can still go way back in with me. Although it takes him longer than it did three years ago, he can still get in and out. 

  When we split up and headed our own ways, we decided we would stay in the woods the entire day. The snow just won’t come off the trees. It’s hard to see more than 30 yards in any direction. It definitely hasn’t made the hunting very easy.  I’m hoping one of these days the snow actually falls off the limbs. We haven’t seen the sun in about a week, and the temperature hasn’t climbed above 25 since last week.  The conditions haven’t been ideal for hunting. 

  The woods came alive with deer today. At the end of the day, I saw 12 deer, and there wasn’t a buck in the bunch. I just couldn’t put an antler on any of them. 

  Dad saw six deer today and got a shot at one shortly after 3. Unfortunately, he forgot to move the safety forward before squeezing the trigger. The deer was in one of the only openings in the area when Dad tried shooting it. The precious seconds wasted cost him the deer. He ended up getting a shot, but the shot wasn’t a good one. He never touched the deer. 

  Marching out of the woods in the darkness, we both came to understand that this year hasn’t been one of our better ones. Nothing has gone right. It just seems like a comedy of errors. We can’t seem to line things up and seal the deal. The wind is supposed to hammer tomorrow and stay that way the rest of the week. I’m not looking forward to that, as the deer in this area don’t move too terribly much during heavy winds. 

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

December 28th, 2021

  The snow just won’t let go. It’s all but impossible to walk through the woods without getting drenched. The snow is stuck to all of the branches and making it downright miserable to hunt. In almost all places, it’s all but impossible to see more than 30 yards. It makes for tough hunting conditions. 

  We’ve been getting a later start than I would like lately, but that’s in part because I’m trying to hunt my way to a starting point. After getting to that predetermined place each morning, I decide what to do. 

  Today, I chose to plop down against a small beech tree and overlook a runway that gets used quite a bit. I saw a doe and two fawns at 11:00 a.m.  I probably should’ve remained there, but I got up and started wandering.

  My travels allowed me to find where the deer are spending most of their time.  I told Brian he could go there and kill a buck. It’s a place I don’t want to hunt because it’s in some severely steep ledges, and I have no interest in making a habit out of going there. My fear of heights is the leading factor in my decision. 

  Today I found where a buck has visited a scrape two times in the last 48 hours. His tracks are the only set of tracks to and from the scrape. Unfortunately, the scrape is within feet of a cliff. I just can’t make myself sit there, even though I know I could kill a good one there. 

  I still-hunted the rest of the day. Late in the day, I spotted a deer a few seconds before it spotted me. Instantly, I knew I was shooting. I shouldered the gun and slid the safety forward. The buck had spotted me but was unsure of my presence. 

  I quickly looked over the scope to make 100% sure it was a buck I wanted to take and knew it was go-time. When I lowered my head, I saw that my breath had fogged the scope, and I couldn’t see out of it at all.  I tried with all my might to get it clear  enough to get a shot off quickly. 

  I never accomplished the task, and the buck ran up the hill. I was highly disappointed and irritated with myself. I couldn’t believe how hard I’ve worked, and I let a rookie mistake keep me from putting my tag on a dandy buck. He was high and big. 

  I guess it’s just one of those years. It started in the Midwest and followed me home. I haven’t had a year like this in a long time. I’m hoping for a little change in luck, but I’m not holding my breath. 

  It was 7 degrees when I left my truck this morning. It’s supposed to be another chilly day tomorrow. We will see what happens. 

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021

December 12th, 2021

Today was not a fun day to hunt. The woods were loaded with snow-soaked branches, and the branches never gave way to the snow, even with the wind blowing up to 35 mph. 

  On our walk in, we jumped a nice buck before we split up. With all of the snow hanging on the branches, I couldn’t get a shot before it got out of range. Dad never saw it, and he was directly behind me. Everything happened quickly. I was disappointed. I just can’t seem to get luck to take a walk to my side this year, and hunting requires a little bit of luck to be successful.

  Dad and I hunted together today. I saw a doe and two fawns at 8:30 a.m. I walked up on them. I decided to sit there the rest of the day, and the day turned out to be uneventful. I never saw another deer, and Dad never laid eyes on anything besides a partridge. When the partridge flew by him, he expected something to follow it, but nothing ever came. Looking at the snow, not many deer moved in the area we hunted. It was basically dead. We could’ve taken the day off and not lost a thing.

Friday, Nov. 26, 2021

December 12th, 2021

Today was brutal as far as weather goes. It started off with a downpour that lasted for about two hours before turning into a snowstorm for the rest of the day. After the wind picked up, it became all but impossible to stay dry. 

  During my outing, I found a spot where a big buck seems to be spending a lot of time. I will surely go back in there in the future. It’s an area I’ve never been too, but when I left, I was impressed with everything the area had to offer. 

  When I finally made my way out of the woods, it was a whiteout, and I was soaked to the bone with a little bit of daylight left. I figured the deer where sheltered by that time and probably waiting the storm out.  We ended up with four inches of snow for the day, and the wind is supposed to get up to 35 mph tomorrow, so I don’t think there will be much movement tomorrow either, but I’ve experienced different times when the woods came alive after a snowstorm. 

  Around 9 a.m. I heard a gunshot close to me. It actually startled me. A few minutes later, I could hear someone yelling. I figured the person had shot a dandy. However, later in the day, I learned that someone was lost and fired the shot as a locator. Then, the yelling began. The person got out of the woods safely. I’m still trying to figure out why the person couldn’t figure out how to get out of the woods from that position. All he had to do was walk down the mountain. The road was at the bottom of the mountain, and he wasn’t that far from the road. If he listened closely, he probably could’ve heard the snowplow.

  Tomorrow is a new day. We will see what it brings. I”m beginning to run out of time. There is only a week and a few days left to get it done. I’ve been getting closer, but the cooperation of the weather isn’t helping matters.

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021

December 12th, 2021

Today was the annual Thanksgiving Day hunt, which has definitely changed over the years. It’s nothing like it was when I was growing up. Unfortunately, people have gotten older and gone their own ways. We used to gather as a group and hunt near the house, but as we’ve aged, we tend to hunt farther north in the Adirondacks on Thanksgiving. 

  When I woke up, I was undecided about where I wanted to go.  I brought my tree stand from home because I had every intention of sitting on a scrape that gave me a great feeling that I could kill something over it. The place was between home and camp, and I decided I didn’t want to drive there, so I left the stand at camp. Since I”m uploading this after the fact, I checked the camera after the season, and I should’ve gone with my gut. A nice buck showed up at the scrape first thing on Thanksgiving Day.

Digital Camera

  However, as I gathered my stuff for the morning, I changed my mind for some reason and headed to another area. I’m still not sure what made me change my mind. 

  When I got to where I wanted to sit, a deer started blowing at me. After a few minutes, it stopped blowing, and I could hear it walk away. The rest of the morning passed quickly, and nothing happened. 

  Brian and Dad hunted together this morning. Dad didn’t see anything and Brian saw six does and a spike horn. 

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021

December 12th, 2021

  Looking at the thermometer when I got out of bed, I didn’t know what to think when the mercury was settled in at the 7-degree mark.  Call me strange, but I’ve been waiting for a day like today for a while. I tend to like cold and crunchy days, and I knew that was what I was going to get. 

  As I got out of the truck and began my journey into the darkness, my eyes lost focus numerous times. Glistening sparkles lit up the woods in front of me as my headlamp danced along the trail ahead of me. At times, the brightness made me dizzy, and I had to pause to take in the magnificent sight.  I’m pretty sure I have never experiences anything quite like it, so I tried to take it in and enjoy the show. 

  An hour and fifteen minutes later, I found myself at the base of a huge hemlock tree where I wanted to sit. I felt confident that my season would be over within a few hours. 

  As one hour led into the next, I realized it probably wasn’t going to happen today. Then, at 11:15, I could hear a deer crunching through the leaves. Looking to my right, I couldn’t locate the origin of the noise.  Finally, I saw a doe flick her tail on top of the ridge in front of me. Then, I watched three does and three fawns feed for the next hour and a half.  I couldn’t believe a buck didn’t sniff his way through their feeding frenzy. 

  After they wandered away, I got up and went to a place closer to the road to sit until dark.  When I got to the place, I realized I had made a mistake. I should’ve stayed where the does were and waited it out.  Disappointed, I settled in and my confidence returned. 

  When I packed my stuff up and headed back to the truck, I knew a great day had passed, and I came up empty-handed once again. I’ll have to get back at it tomorrow for a few hours before Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house. 

  While sitting in the woods today, I thought back to this day in 1991. I killed a 10-pointer that still stands as the biggest Adirondack buck I have ever killed. It was 30 years ago today. As one of my friends said the other day, “It seems like the days drag by, but the years fly by faster and faster.”

  I still cherish that day 30 years ago. I remember telling my father that day that I didn’t think I’d ever shoot a buck that could top that one.  To this day, I haven’t shot one in New York that outdoes that one, and it’s not for lack of trying. That’s why we should always try to cherish every moment in the woods and enjoy our failures as much as our victories. 

  I feel like I’m on the edge right now, but I seem to be just out of range. Hopefully, I get to experience those few seconds that change a hunter’s season. When things seem dismal, I always remind myself that it only takes a matter of seconds for everything to change. I’m in that frame of mind right now. I’m sitting on a fastball, but I’m still sure I can smash a changeup out of the ballpark. I’ll be ready no matter what pitch gets thrown.

Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021

December 12th, 2021

It warmed up during the night, but the leaves were still crunchy in the morning. Dad and I went to a different area today. I found this place a few years ago, and it’s easy for Dad to get into without much effort. However, after the last few days in the woods, I saw that he is still able do what many much younger guys could never imagine doing. 

  We were in the woods well before daylight, and I felt confident about the morning’s hunt. I climbed a pretty good mountain to get to where I wanted to sit, but I made it in time to watch the sun come up. 

  Around 8:15, I could hear a deer walking. Then, I got a look at it and realized it had antlers on its head. Retrieving my gun from the side of the tree it was leaning on, I shouldered it and eased the safety into the first position, waiting to see if it would be necessary to push it into the fire position. 

  As the deer marched down the hill toward me, it stopped behind a big yellow birch tree. A minute passed, and I still couldn’t see it. Finally, it took a few steps, and I pulled the gun tighter to my shoulder and eased the safety into the fire position. Then, I realized it wasn’t the buck I was after, and I let it keep walking. It walked within 10 yards of me and never noticed my presence. It never picked its nose up from the leaves and kept on cruising. 

  That was the extent of my morning, as I didn’t see anything else. I did explore for a few minutes before heading down the mountain, and I found an area that intrigued me. About four runways funneled into a bowl along the edge of a cliff. I need to think more about it to understand what goes on in there when the deer are in cruising mode. I think it could be a place where I could kill a big buck every year if I hit the timing right. 

  After picking Dad up near the road, we began our short walk to the truck. Dad didn’t see anything. Before getting to the road, we came upon a man who had two walking sticks. He was headed in for an afternoon hunt. After talking to him for a bit, we learned that he was a retired schoolteacher and did his teaching in a town near where we live. 

  When we introduced ourselves, he smiled and said, “Gee, if the Meads hunt here, it must be a good place.” 

  I laughed and told him I was trying to determine if it was a good place and that’s why we were in there. I still haven’t made my decision if it’s a place I will ever hunt regularly, but it serves its purpose right now. 

  Kentucky and Brian also went to check out a new area today. They found some impressive sign, but they also found a lot of shady shit. They found where local landowners had made a bunch of wheeler trails all over state land. They also saw a few trail cameras and tree stands, and they saw a guy drinking a beer on a 4-wheeler while in hunting clothes and with a hunting rifle. Although, they think they will go back due to the buck sign, I will never go there and endanger myself. I’m not going to put myself in a position where something bad could happen due to someone else’s negligence. I know many other good places where I can hunt and not have to deal with people like that. 

  Mom is headed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City tomorrow. Although we don’t expect much good news, we know the trip is still something that must be done. I’m not even sure what to think about it. My mom is a trooper. She never complains and lets us do whatever we want to do. She has always been my father’s backbone and is responsible for his well being. I’m thankful for her for so many reasons other than the typical mother-like things.  I love my mom dearly, and I hate watching her suffer. I’d take it from her if I could. She has given so much to all of us in the family that it just doesn’t seem fair that she must fight yet another battle, a battle that cannot be won.