Saturday, November 3, 2019

November 4th, 2019

The Adirondacks took the brunt of a brutal storm on Thursday night, dumping about six inches of rain and 75 mph winds in some places. Some roads have been washed out and will not be fixed for a long time. I’m not even sure where they will begin. How will they choose which roads are priority? I’m glad I’m not having to make those decisions.

I was able to get out and do some hunting this morning after the storm passed. It was a great morning to be in the woods. I headed out at 4:30 to allow for any extra time that might be needed due to the aftereffects of the storm.

I got to the place I wanted to sit before daylight and settled my back against a huge yellow birch tree. I found a dead log next to the tree and put it in a position so I could easily sit on it. With my cushion on top of it, I felt relaxed and ready for a great morning.

Not many creatures stirred as I was waiting for it to get light. Something in my gut told me I was going to get a look at a good one. I’m not sure where the feeling was coming from, but it was present.

With the leaves having a coating of frost on them, I could hear the animals walking across them. When I heard a stick crack behind me, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a deer jump over a log. Pulling the gun up, I waited for it to come out from behind a few trees. Although it acted like a buck, I couldn’t see its head. Finally, it made its way around blowdown in front of me. The dark fur drew me into the shoulder, and I held my attention in that spot. I quickly spotted the antlers on the deer’s head. He was walking right toward me, and I knew he was going to be in my lap in a matter of seconds. I eased my finger off the trigger and knew it wasn’t a deer I wanted to put my tag on. It was a 4-pointer, a deer that would make a trophy for most Adirondack deer hunters. On this day, I was looking for something different.

When he cut my track, he stopped and became alert. He knew something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t figure out what had aroused him. Eventually, he wandered down the runway in front of me and vanished.

After he got out of sight, I had to deal with my extreme shivering. My right foot was so cold I could barely feel it. The inside of my boot had gotten wet earlier in the week, and I forgot to dry it out. On this 25 degree morning, my foot had all it could take, and the chills made their way into my entire body. Knowing I had to do something quickly to avoid hypothermia, I took the boot off and pulled my sock off to hang it on a tree. I reached into my backpack and got the extra pair of socks I had brought with me. I took out two hand warmers and stuck them in my hat, which I wrapped around my foot. Here’s a look at the contraption that saved my day. If you look at the fallen log in the first picture, the buck jumped over it about 10 yards from me. It was a cool sight to see.

Dad and I got out of the woods well after dark. We put in a full day. I had to go home to attend a ceremony at the high school where I graduated. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be in the woods on Sunday, but some things are more important. I won’t be back on here for quite a while. My Adirondack hunting is now done until the end of the season. I’ll be heading to the Midwest for a few weeks and have limited time left to hunt in the Adirondacks. I guess I had a good year. Between bow, rifle and muzzleloader hunting, I have passed on four bucks so far and missed an opportunity on a good one when I couldn’t see the pins through my peep. I couldn’t ask for more than that. Maybe I’ll get lucky on the few days I have to hunt when I return from the Midwest. Hunting season just isn’t long enough.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

November 3rd, 2019

Originally, I had scheduled a half day on Thursday, but I changed that due to the forecast and predicted storm. Although it was 65 degrees, I figured the deer might be moving ahead of the storm.

I’m not sure if I was correct in my assumption, but the deer didn’t move where I chose to go. I had a good day in the woods but didn’t get lucky enough to put myself in the right spot.

I put on a lot of miles over the course of the afternoon and got lucky enough to find a giant scrape. I could tell that a buck had freshened it earlier in the day, and I saw that he came off a ridge, hit the scrape and continued into a swamp. After finding it, I decided to sit in the near vicinity for the rest of the afternoon, hoping the buck might return on his journey to the place he came from earlier in the day.

As the sun faded, I headed out of the woods. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I sat and watched the scrape. I guess tonight just wasn’t my night. I only have one more day left to hunt before I head for the Midwest next week. Hopefully, I can make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

November 3rd, 2019

Today I headed to an area that I’ve always liked but never had any luck while hunting there. Something in my gut told me to go there, and I’m not sure why. As I still-hunted through some ferns, I had a feeling I might walk up on something.

Throughout the evening, I felt like a good buck could appear out of nowhere at any second, but it never happened. I felt like I was on the edge of something good happening, but it never happened. It’s tough to get it done with an hour to hunt after work, but you can’t win it if you’re not in it. You just have to play the game, even if it’s only for a few hours here and there.

Monday, October 28, 2019

November 3rd, 2019

Unfortunately, I didn’t get out of work early enough today to cover a lot of ground. I decided I would do some running around and check a few things out.

As I headed out of the woods, I had a good feeling. I found where a decent buck had been working, and I liked my odds of possibly getting a look at him.

I found a series of scrapes and rubs in an area, and I hadn’t been there this year. I guess I should’ve checked it out sooner. We will see what the coming days bring.

Sunday, November 27, 2019

October 27th, 2019

Today was miserable and raw. It was 40 degrees when I woke up, and a steady rain was falling from the sky. I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. The forecast called for heavy rains all day.

I headed into an area I’ve never been and decided to cover as much ground as possible. When the day ended, I had put on about none miles. I get messed up a few times and had to trust my compass to get me back on track. I saw some good scenery and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I often enjoy my own company. I found some sign that might deserve another look at some point in time. I’ve ventured all over the Adirondacks, and I have to admit that this place intrigued me with the possibilities that it had to offer. I’ll have to think about it over the next few weeks to see what I can draw from my journey. I never make snap judgments after my first trip into an area. Sometimes we can think it’s not worth going back, and other times we think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. When we return, it’s not as we had constructed in our own minds.

Although I never saw an actual living animal on my walk, the deer must’ve decided to move in the late afternoon. When I was putting stuff in my truck to head home, I got a closeup of this guy. That topped off my weekend. What a great first weekend of rifle season. It was a great time.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

October 27th, 2019

Well, I woke up to 30 degrees and a crystal clear sky for the first morning of Northern Zone rifle season in New York, a day that I always anticipate. I made a plan earlier in the week and stuck to it. I got going well before daylight to get to where I wanted to go before there was a hint of light.

I arrived to the place I wanted to sit and found a place to keep myself concealed. With my back against a huge hemlock and a big hardwood ridge in front of me, I hoped that something would come down off the ridge and make its way past me.

As the sun came up and I welcomed daylight, the water falling from the trees was deafening. This went on until about 10:00 a.m. I expected to see something, maybe a good one, but the morning passed without any luck. I sat until noon and had a plan for the rest of the day.

I headed over the ridge in front of me and hunted it for about a mile before I decided to take a finger off from it that would drop me into some rolling knobs that held a lot of beeches that were dropping nuts. During my hunt, I found a lot of sign in certain places, but it wasn’t very consistent. It didn’t bring my hopes very high. 

When I got back to some places that looked familiar, I took a compass shot and headed for a place that has traditionally been good in the evening for deer movement. I would sit there until dark.

When I got to the place, I had a good feeling. It’s one of those places that feels like a well-worn glove. When you slip it on your hand, it just feels right compared to the many other gloves you own. There’s nothing special about it, it just fits like a glove.

Chipmunks scurried all over the logs in front of me, and I enjoyed watching them. Then, everything became quiet, and I heard the unmistakeable sound of a deer walking. I knew it was behind me, so I slowly turned around and scanned the forest for it. When I saw it, I could see that it had antlers. It was a nice buck, and it was coming right toward me. I enjoyed watching it and was able to take some video of it. It turned out to me a nice 7-pointer. I thought it was an 8 until I looked closer at the video. Twenty five years ago, my season would have been done in the few seconds after I spotted the deer. I’ve grown over the years and now hunt for different reasons. I thoroughly enjoy watching bucks to see if I can learn something from them. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, and I’ve passed a great many deer. Most people can’t imagine passing bucks in the Adirondacks, where some hunters have a hard time seeing any bucks at all. I’ve come to enjoy it and really don’t care if I shoot a deer. This was a great experience.

I still remember the first Adiriondack buck I ever passed. It was on a rainy evening, and it walked to within 10 yards of me. I eased my finger off the trigger and let it walk. It was just a spikehorn. Many years have passed since then, and I feel that I’v matured a lot as a hunter and a person. I’ve shot many big bucks within minutes or hours of passing up small bucks. It’s amazing what a little discipline and self-restraint can bring to you. Here’s the video of the buck.

Friday, October 25, 2019

October 27th, 2019

Recently, a guy who I met through my book seminars was asking about how to approach things for this coming week. He had to push his vacation forward due to his wife’s upcoming surgery. I gave him a little bit of advice because I have always done well during the last week of October. It’s one of my favorite times to be in the woods, and I wouldn’t trade if for much.

If you can find scrapes this time of year that have licking branches and have just been opened up, I’ve seen time and time again where the bucks will visit that scrape again in the same week. My intentions for the weekend were to use that advice.

I decided to get one last day in the woods with the muzzleloader today. I went in early and got out at noon. I was in the woods by 2:00 p.m. It didn’t take long for the heavens to let loose and start dumping rain on me. Dad also decided to take the afternoon off. We headed in different directions to do look at a few different areas.

I headed into an area I’ve never been with a weapon. I’ve been in the area at other times but never while hunting. I’ve always seen sign there, so I wanted to see how it looked in the early season. I had marked some scrapes on my GPS and was curious to see if any of them had been opened yet.

As I neared the location, I stopped and looked at my GPS. When my eyes hit the screen, I heard a noise. Looking up, I could see a doe getting out of her bed and bolting away from me. She didn’t run far before stopping. I could see her tail wag a few times, so I decided to stand still for a bit.

When she disappeared, I started looking at the GPS again. I saw that I was within 100 feet of the scrape I had found while scouting. Excited, I zoomed in on the screen. The split second it took me to do that cost me a big buck. He had been lying a short distance to the left of where the doe had been, but a big tree blocked my vision. When he got up to go, I had the GPS in one hand and my gun in the other. There was no possible way I could get the gun to my shoulder and get on him. After a few bounds, he was gone……maybe the only opportunity I will get for the season. In the Adirondacks, it’s hard to see any deer, let alone a big buck.

Dejected, I wandered around for a while and got back to my truck at dark. When I caught up with Dad later that night, I found out that he missed a nice buck. He found a fresh scrape and sat a little ways from it. The buck was coming in to freshen it right when the rain tapered off. Dad is assuming he hit some beech whip brush. He could’t believe he missed — and neither could I. He’s usually pretty deadly when he has a weapon in his hand. Although it saved us a lot of work, it would have been really if he had gotten the buck.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

October 23rd, 2019

I decided I would do some walking today to see if I could find a buck. I covered a lot of ground. At the far end of my journey, I found an area that a buck had torn up. It appeared that he was in the area when an oak tree was dropping acorns. He had plenty of rubs in the area, and some of the trees he had rubbed still had the bark on the leaves.

Along the way, I found a handful of scrapes. I will be spending some time in this area over the course of the next few weeks. It’s unfortunate that it takes me so long to get to this place, but I think it might be worth it in the end. I’ve seen some big bucks in the area in the past and killed a few too.

This scrape looked much better than it appears in the picture.

I had a good afternoon in the woods. I didn’t see very much sign, but it has rained so much lately that it’s hard to see sign. I found where two bucks are working, and I think both of them could be killable in the next week. Hopefully, our paths will intersect so I can see what the bucks looks like that is laying down the sign.

As I headed down the mountain, I snapped this photo.

Monday, October 21, 2019

October 23rd, 2019

Today is my brother’s 54th birthday. Although he hunted a little bit when he was younger, I never really had the ability to hunt with him. By the time I was old enough to hunt, he had moved to Montana and never hunted after he left. I often wonder what it would have been like to hunt with him. I’ve seen many brothers who hunt together, and it seems that they have some great times together.

I ventured to an area where I grew up hunting. I wanted to look around for a bit and check a camera I had in the area. I always put a camera there to see if anything might be using the dinner table.

I was disappointed to find very few pictures on my camera. I did have a bear on it, but that was about it.


As I strolled out of the woods, I encountered a lot of mixed emotions. I’ve hunted the area since I was a kid, but it’s just not the same anymore. Many things have changed over the years, and I don’t have the confidence I once had when I walk in the woods in this place. Although I return there every year to see what’s going on, I try to make things happen rather than accept the reality that it will never be what it once was. Walking into the darkness, I could smell dirt and leaves, a smell that reminds me I’m in my home.

When I got to my truck, I learned that my buddy Steve had hit a buck earlier in the day and was unable to recover it. He was disappointed, and I could understand his frustrations. If we hunt, those things are bound to happen. It never feels good when we don’t hold up our end of the bargain, and it’s something we have to life with the rest of our lives. Hopefully, he can put the disappointment behind him and make a quick recovery.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

October 21st, 2019

Dad and I got an early start today and put on some miles. We had a goal of trying to find some fresh sign. My journey brought me to some nooks and crannies that I haven’t been to in a long time. While I expected to find sign in traditional places, I didn’t get that lucky. Instead, I found the most sign in places that are hard to get to and almost impossible to access without disturbing the deer. I’m going to study things this week and try to figure out how to approach the areas I found where the deer seem to be hanging out.

I also determined that it’s going to be a rough year. Everywhere I found leaves turned up, there were beds all over. With all of the beechnuts on the ground, the deer don’t have to travel far to find food. It appears that they’re feeding and bedding in the same place. They stand up and eat for a little bit before lying down. It doesn’t appear that they’re traveling very much. I’m pretty sure the same thing will play out the entire season.

Overall, it was a great weekend for hunting. The weather was ideal. I had a great time with my father, and we enjoyed every minute of the time together. Along the way, I found where a buck has been working. He rubbed a few trees shortly before I got to the area where he was feeding. In the one picture, you can see the fresh bark on the leaves. It didn’t appear to be a big buck, but all buck rubs tend to excite me, just like every deer I see excites me. Here are a few pictures from my weekend.