Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 23rd, 2018

Dad and I headed into the woods to get the deer the rest of the way out of the woods shortly after daylight. It felt good to drag his deer. I’m glad that he never had to touch it. Although the drag beat the shit out of me, I’ve never felt anything that gave me such a sense of satisfaction.

We’ve packed all sorts of deer, elk, bears and moose out of the woods over the years, but I still enjoy dragging deer. There’s something about it that makes the pursuit seem that much greater. It’s like a part of the hunt that makes the kill that much more rewarding. Simply put, I enjoy it, and that’s why I do it. It is much easier to cut them up and pack them out, but that’s not the way we did it when I was growing up. Maybe that’s why dragging deer fills my veins with adrenaline.

Later in the day, my buddy Josh called me and told me that he had scored on a nice buck. He has passed a lot of bucks this year while waiting for something better. With a few days of the season left, he decided to fill his tag. I think all of the traffic in the place where he normally hunts began to get under his skin. Every time he ventured to the area he spends the most time in the woods, he saw a lot of people. He just couldn’t get away from them, so he chose to hunt some other places this year. I guess in the end, it turned to be a good choice. He said the area where he shot the deer was a good area, and he would definitely be going back there. I’m glad he was able to get it done in a place he didn’t have much familiarity. I pointed him to the area, and he took advantage of it. It’s an area I scouted about 10 years ago and never returned, but I knew it held good deer. I guess it was still good. He felt adventurous and it benefited him to try something different. I’m sure he will be going back in the future.

Friday, November 30, 2018

December 23rd, 2018

Once again, we got going earlier than normal today. Dad wanted to be in the stand early. After seeing what I saw yesterday, I told him to go to the area where I had seen the nice buck. That area seemed to be getting a fair amount of action.

I decided to do some more exploring today. After putting on a lot of miles and not finding anything that made my heart race and imagination run wild, I made my way back to an area where I could wait for Dad.

Something in my gut told me he was going to shoot a deer. While resting my back against a tree, I stared at the ridge in front of me. Getting lost in the moment, the silence was quickly shattered when I heard two gunshots. I knew they came from my dad’s gun, so I clicked my radio on and waited for his voice.

When he came on the radio, he told me that he had killed what he thought was a wide 8 or a small 10. I didn’t waste any time, as it was already 3:30 p.m. I knew we had a lot of work in front of us before it got dark.

After we took care of the deer, I began dragging it. I wanted to get back to the place where I had been when he shot. I figured if we could get that far, I could get it out the rest of the way in the morning. With all of the health problems Dad has had this year, I didn’t want him to touch the deer.

I got it to the meeting place shortly after it got dark, and we headed out from there. I will go back in the morning and finish the job. This deer was the result of a lot of hard work. I’ve never been happier for my dad. I’m glad he was finally able to get it done. We had a great season, and I’m actually glad it’s finally over. It has been a true grind, and we put everything we had into it. I am worn out, both physically and mentally. This season has taken its toll on me.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

December 23rd, 2018

This is our last few days of the Northern Zone rifle season in New York. Dad and I headed into the woods today in an attempt to get Dad a nice buck. he has seen piles of deer this year, but he hasn’t seen a buck he wants to take.

I decided to do some exploring today while he was hunting. He told me had had every intention of sitting all day, from sunup until sundown. I figured I would use the time to see if I could locate a place where he might be able to knock one over in the last few days.

Since he wanted to get to the place he wanted to sit well before daylight, I decided to go with him and veer off along the way. I would wait just sit for a while and see what I could see before heading in another direction.

The snow hung on the trees today and didn’t seem to want to let go. As I was sitting under a tree, I caught some movement through the snow shortly after it got light. As I peered through the branches, I couldn’t see very well through the snow, but I could see well enough to know that there was a nice buck standing a short distance away. After looking closer, I could easily see that it was a really nice buck. It didn’t have a clue I was in the area.

As I observed him walking away from me, I was almost certain he would walk right past my father. I was still fairly close to Dad, and the buck was headed in his direction. I was really excited and figured the buck would be lying dead in the snow within a half hour.

After the buck got past me, I knew it would end up in front of Dad. Then, the wind swirled and hit the back of my head. Within seconds, the buck was running, and it wasn’t running toward Dad. That would be the last time I saw the buck. He disappeared faster than he appeared, and my heart sunk because I wanted Dad to have an opportunity to take him.

Shortly after the incident with the buck, my phone buzzed in my pocket. Looking at it, I could see that it was a text from my mother. She told me to tell my father that she was having issues with the furnace.

After calling him on the radio, he decided to pack up and head home to fix it. The deer were just starting to move, so I was disappointed that we had to leave. I felt good about his chances of taking a buck.

We will see what happens tomorrow. Time is running out. I hope Dad can get it done.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

December 18th, 2018

  Winter doesn’t seem to want to let up, and it’s not even December yet. We got pounded with freezing rain and snow today. I went out with Dad for a little while and tried to drive him some deer. Unfortunately, the deer didn’t appear to be moving in the patch of woods where we were hunting. We lasted until around 2:00 p.m. Soaked to the bone, we headed out of the woods to get home before dark. Normally, we would have stayed all day, but the deer just weren’t moving today. We have one week left. I have a feeling that Dad will catch up to one next weekend. We won’t be able to get out before that, so we basically have two days left to get him a nice buck.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

December 18th, 2018

 The cold weather continued today. I took it easy today, although I did go into the woods to be with my dad while he hunted. I decided to do some scouting during the day. 

  As I was wandering around, I was glad that I wasn’t sitting with my back against a tree. It was nice to wander around without a care in the world. When I cut some fresh tracks, I decided to practice tracking. I began following them and covered a lot of ground in a short time.Before long I was on the backside of the mountain where I started. I finally caught up to the buck on a flat along the edge of a swamp. He wasn’t bedded. Instead, he was milling around with a few does in the area. It was a nice 6-pointer, and it will be a great deer next year if it survives the winter.

  Dad continued seeing deer today. Unfortunately, he hasn’t spotted one he wants to shoot. It seems like he’s passing up at least one buck a day, no matter where he goes. I have a feeling it’s just a matter of time before he sees a good one. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

December 18th, 2018

  When Dad and I walked out of the house, we could tell that it was downright cold. When I inhaled the air, my lungs burned. As the wheels rolled across the pavement, I glanced at the thermometer on the dashboard of the truck, and it read -15 degrees. The only good thing about it (if there is a good thing) is that the wind wasn’t blowing at all. It was calm. Unlike most days when I walk to wherever I’m going to sit, I had to wear a coat and a vest to stay warm. Although I had gloves on, my hands stung from being so cold. The conditions brought me back to the many years we hunted out of a tent in the Adirondacks when it seemed like we had similar conditions every year. 

  We headed into the woods two hours before daylight today. Although Dad wasn’t going that far, I had a place I wanted to check out that I haven’t hunted in a number of years. Something in my gut told me to go there. I’ve been having a lot of gut feelings this year, and it seems like it has been paying off when I listen to them. Many years ago, Dad killed a buck in this area, but neither one of us has been back to it since that year. After researching my memory and seeing a picture of the good buck that he killed in that place, something inside just told me to go there. 

  I arrived to the place I wanted to sit about 20 minutes before daylight. After changing my clothes and settling into position against a huge hemlock tree, I took a deep breath. It was going to be a battle to say warm. It’s not often that you have to sit for any length of time in below zero temperatures. Actually, what kind of idiot would put himself in that kind of position? When I thought about it, I realized how stupid we sometimes get when we chase whitetail deer. We do things that others can’t even imagine doing, things that others would look at in disbelief. 

  At 7:00 a.m., two does came off the hill in front of me. I could see them coming for a long way. I didn’t see any bucks behind them, and they never looked behind them as they passed me. 

  Although the temperature held steady in the negative digits, I didn’t feel cold. I was well prepared for the insane cold. At 8:30, I could see a good buck coming down the same hill that the two does came down a little earlier. He had his nose on the ground and was moving along at a good clip. I knew he was going to follow the same path the does took, which would allow me a chance to get a good shot. When he got closer to me, something startled him and he jumped backward. Without hesitating, I centered the crosshairs on his ass when he turned to go up the hill and pulled the trigger. 

  When the gun went off, the deer reacted like he had been hit, and I was able to get two shots off before he disappeared. Just as I was ready to send a fourth round at him, he disappeared. 

  I gathered my stuff and walked to where he was when I shot. I found a tuft of hair and one tiny piece of blood.  As I began following the tracks, I got that sinking feeling that I’ve gotten many times. Then, I walked back and looked at the initial hit. Instantly, it brought me back to a deer I missed many years ago that had a similar feel to it. With that deer, I had hit a small tree and the bullet blew bark out the back of it, and the bark pierced the deer’s hide and sent fur all over the snow. This looked very similar to that. 

  As I began following the running tracks, the sinking feeling inside my stomach grew exponentially larger. I felt hollow inside and wanted to curl up in a ball and punch trees and kick shrubs. I decided I would follow the tracks until the buck stopped running and began walking. Usually, it doesn’t take long for a buck to slow down and begin walking after it has had a few bullets fired in its direction. 

  After following it for about 150 yards and seeing no sign of a hit, I continued walking because the deer was still running. Pausing and looking ahead, I noticed a log that the deer had slammed into while running, and it had a big splash of blood on it. Having seen that with a few other deer I’ve shot, I suddenly had a feeling that the deer might not be too far ahead, even though he hadn’t dropped any blood onto the snow. 

  When I got to the log to it look at it, I glanced to my right and up the hill. The buck was lying dead in the snow in front of a huge fallen tree. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in awe, but when I saw him in the snow, I was speechless. I felt relieved and a huge sense of satisfaction coursed through my veins. I was pretty damn excited, and it takes a fair amount to rile me up these days. It was just one of those days. 

  My Dad and I spent the day getting the deer out of the woods, and we called Brian to see if he could come help us since his house isn’t too far from where we were hunting.  Brian gladly offered to help, and we were extremely thankful for his efforts. If he hadn’t helped us, our day would have been even longer due to the cramping in my arms and hands. Dehydration took over and wouldn’t let go. I had all I could do to keep my arms and fingers straight. The excruciating pain didn’t help matters.  Having a best friend like Brian is more than I could ever ask for. He has always been there to help me out, and I’m appreciative of everything he’s ever done for me. I could never ask for a better hunting partner or friend. I think I won the lottery with this guy. I hope he feels the same about Dad and me. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

December 18th, 2018

  Today we went on the annual Thanksgiving Day hunt. I’ve been participating in this hunt with my dad since I turned 14. He used to allow me to go small game hunting while he deer hunted until I turned 16 and was old enough to have a big game license.  We’ve experienced some phenomenal hunts and shot some incredible deer on Thanksgiving. We’ve also encountered many types of weather over the years, including rainstorms, snowstorms, ice storms, heavy wind, and even a few crisp, chilly, sunny days.

  Unlike many of the Thanksgiving Day hunts, Dad and I hunted with each other today and nobody accompanied us. It was a good day. It was -8 degrees when we parked the truck and headed into the woods. 

  We didn’t hunt for very long due to family obligations, but it was still good to be in the woods with my dad. We had a good morning, and we both saw a few deer. Although we didn’t see any bucks, we were fortunate enough to spot a few does. It’s always nice to watch animals in their own environment. It’s nice to have good places to hunt near home. I’m thankful for living in an area where I can get into the woods in many good places within an hour of my house. Some of the places are five minutes away, some are 20 minutes, and others are about an hour. I like all of the areas, and I’ve spent plenty of time in all of them this year. I’m really not sure if any of the spots are better than the others. I’ve killed great deer in all of the areas throughout the years, so I always feel like I’m in a good place no matter where I go. I’ve always been a firm believer that confidence is the key to success, and I always have confidence when I shut my truck door and head into the woods. 

  Tomorrow is Black Friday. That has always been a great day for us, too. We’ve had a lot of success on that day. Although I haven’t been able to get it off every year, I do have the day off this year. It looks like it will just be Dad and me heading into the woods this year.  The temperature is supposed to plummet tonight. I’m guessing it can’t get much worse than this morning, but we will see what the morning brings. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

December 18th, 2018

  

I didn’t get going as early as I wanted to this morning, which probably cost me from getting a crack at a good one. As I drove down the road to the parking place that Kyle had shown me, a quick glance at the thermometer in my truck told me that it was in the high teens. I knew it was going to be a cold morning, so I hoped that I was prepared to sit for a long time. 

  I hustled to get to the place I wanted to sit before daylight. As my journey continued, I realized I wasn’t going to make it on time. That’s when I slowed to a crawl and decided to still-hunt my way to the place. When I was within a couple hundred yards, I jumped a deer. Pulling my gun up, I centered the crosshairs on the running deer’s shoulder and clicked the safety off. Seeing that it had antlers, I waited to get a better look. I quickly identified it as a 4-pointer, so I eased off on the safety and put the gun down.

  It felt good to know that I could’ve taken the running deer if I had wanted it. The deer slowed to a trot before it stopped and walked out of sight. A few steps later, I jumped two more deer that ran directly away from me. Seeing that they were does, I began scanning the woods. When I finally decided that nothing else was in the area, I took 10 steps, and a deer bolted down the hill to my left. Although I never got a good look at it, I’m almost certain that it was a good buck. I’m guessing that’s why the small buck was by himself in the same area. The larger buck probably had dibs on the two does. I’ll never know for sure, but that’s what I assume was going on.

  After resting my back against a tree and settling in for the rest of the morning, I began seeing deer. About an hour into my sit I could see a buck with its nose on the ground behind a doe. When I spotted him, I thought he was a pretty good deer, however, as he approached, I realized he was just wide with tiny points. Although he was an 8-pointer, I chose to let him walk. After he got past me, I wondered if I had made the right choice. Since I’ve had a great season, I felt good about it.

  The parade of deer continued until I headed out of the woods shortly before it got dark. When I got back to the road, I realized that I had seen 31 deer and passed three bucks, including two 4-pointers and the small 8. 

  It’s hard to tell if I’ll see a good one before the season ends, but I’ll keep busting my ass and giving it everything I have to increase my chances. There are people who get lucky, and there are people who make their own luck. I’ve been able to experience a little bit of both over the years, but more times than not, I tend to be responsible for the luck that finds me. 

  Dad saw a lot of deer today. He saw a really good buck while he was still-hunting. The big buck and smaller buck were chasing a doe, but he only get a flashing glimpse of them and didn’t have any opportunity to get a shot off. He also passed a small rack buck. He said he was too far back in to be messing with a small deer, so he chose not to shoot it. I told him that I would get the deer out of the woods if wanted to shoot one. I understand all of the issues he has going against him, and it’s time to give back for all of the times he has gone out of his way doing things for me.

  I’m headed back to work for a few days tomorrow. I have to work Monday and Tuesday, then I’m off the rest of the week until next Monday. Hopefully, we get decent weather and the deer are moving. I’m not sure where we will be spending our time, but I’m sure we will have a good time no matter what we decide upon. Since we have been hunting different areas every day, I think we will continue doing the same thing. It seems to be working, and the deer aren’t aware of our presence every day because we haven’t been there yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

December 18th, 2018

Dad and I got going early this morning. It was 28 degrees and snowing when we headed into the woods. I left earlier than Dad because I was going to an area I haven’t hunted in this year. I knew it would take about two hours to get to the place, but something in my gut told me to go there. I’m not sure why, but I had a good feeling that I should be sitting there before daylight.

  I got to the place just as it was getting light. I didn’t cut many tracks on my way in, but I still felt good about it. Dad called me on the radio around 8:30. When I keyed it to talk to him, I noticed something moving out in front of me and a little to the left.  My eyes instantly focused on a giant 10-pointer, and he was a no-doubter. I desperately tried turning the radio off so Dad’s voice didn’t come crackling across it. The buck was only about 40 yards from me. When I looked down to turn the radio off, I lost sight of him. Holding the gun, I couldn’t locate him and began to panic. I knew he was right in front of me, but I couldn’t see him. There were all sorts of thick saplings and small spruce trees. I knew he was behind a clump of them but didn’t know exactly where he was standing. I knew he had stopped because he would have been back in the open if he had continued walking. 

  That’s when I realized the wind had changed directions, and I could feel it on the back of my head. A few seconds later, the buck raced up the ridge in front of me. When I pulled the gun up, I realized that the paper towels I had put on the scope lens were still there. I put them there to keep the snow out of it. That was probably my best opportunity to shoot the buck. I’m fairly certain that I would have put him down if I hadn’t forgotten about the paper towels. Unfortunately, I had to pull the gun down and clear the lens to see out of it. After doing that, the buck had made its way to the top of the ridge. 

  Although I could see it, I didn’t feel the least bit comfortable with the situation. I fought emotions, and in the end, my ethical side won the battle. I decided not to pull the trigger. I felt like it was way too thick, the distance would be too great, and the best shot I would have would be at his ass. 

  Tonight, I sit here writing about the experience, wishing that I had pulled the trigger. I’ve made much harder shots, and I could have easily tracked him in the snow if I had gotten a bullet into him. I’ll see that buck for as long as I live. It was the largest Adirondack buck I’ve ever seen while hunting……….and to have it a mere 40 yards from me without getting a shot will eat at my craw for the rest of my life.  The buck was a giant 10-pointer. I’ve seen enough large deer in the Midwest to be able to judge a deer in the field. It was surely a once-in-a-lifetime buck. 

  I sat until noon before heading to another area to finish off the day. The wind picked up and the blizzard-like conditions continued. It was one of the most miserable days of hunting that I can remember.  The bad weather doesn’t seem to want to let up. I made the most of it and let it be.

  As I got close to the place where I wanted to sit for the afternoon, I rested my backpack on the ground against a tree so I could get a bite to eat and a quick drink. Looking up, I saw a small buck cruising on a runway. It’s nose was on the ground and it appeared to be in hot pursuit of a doe that may have passed through a little earlier. 

  Looking the deer over, I saw that it was a nice 5-pointer. When some movement caught my eye in the direction where the buck had come from, I noticed a larger buck was also in hot pursuit of the doe. I quickly saw that the buck was an 8-pointer, and I was pretty sure it was a shooter. I centered the crosshairs on it and followed it through a couple of small openings. I hemmed and hawed about shooting it when it stopped. Finally, I chose to let it live. I could have easily shot it at 30 yards. I was hiding behind a tree and neither of the bucks had a clue that I was there. 

  When they got out of sight, I called Dad on the radio and told him they were headed toward him. Within a few minutes, they were in his lap. He was also on the edge of shooting the 8-pointer, but he let it walk too. Dad passed up another small 8-pointer this morning as well as a 6-pointer, a 4-pointer and a one-horned spikehorn. 

  It was another incredible day in the woods. I’m thinking we should have tried this area out many years ago. We overlooked it for far too long. Although we always talked about hunting there, we never made the effort to do it. I guess that shows you what can happen when you ignore the little things.  I’m also wondering if this is just a fluke, as that sometimes happens in an area when there are a few hot does running around.

  I’m guessing I’ll probably never see another buck in the Adirondacks as large at the one I saw today. It shows you what a five-second change in wind direction can do. I was that close to putting this buck on the ground. Although I can’t say for certain, I’d be willing to guess that this buck would have easily made it above and beyond the highest scoring deer I have on my wall.

  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. It’s supposed to be well below zero. The weather just won’t let up. We will see what tomorrow brings. I’d love to see Dad get a crack at a good one. If anyone deserves it this year, it’s definitely him. He hasn’t been able to hunt too much due to illness.

 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

December 11th, 2018

It was a chilly morning. The walk in was grueling, but since I decided to hunt with Kyle in his area, it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t have to be a leader. Instead, I enjoyed following until we got to the place where we split apart.

Shortly after I sat down, the snow came down so hard that it was blinding. I could barely see 40 yards through the woods. Irritated that I didn’t bring any rain gear, I sat there and took everything it had to offer.

After getting drenched, I swore a little bit under my breath but accepted it for what it was – unpredictable weather in the Adirondack Mountains. Although the sun never peeked through the clouds, I could see an occasional blotch of blue sky here and there.

As the morning moved toward the afternoon, I couldn’t believe how many deer I had seen. When I finally stood up to move around 11, I had seen 14 deer and passed up four different bucks, including two spikes, a 4-pointer and a really nice 6-pointer that Kyle had captured on his trail camera in the area. I had a hard time holding out, but having had a great year already, I decided to take my chances and let him walk past me.

About an hour after getting up, I heard my Cousin Kyle’s gun roar. After a few minutes, I determined that Kyle had a good one on the ground. The buck had six points on one beam and four on the other. It was a beauty. Amazingly, it didn’t appear to be a very old deer.

Examining the deer, I laughed a little when we spotted the bullet hole in the deer’s neck. Kyle has never been the best of shots, but at least he got it done. It has been a long time since he has killed a good one, the last one being when we used to hunt the area where we had the tent. He has done his share of missing the last few years. He always finds a way to see a lot of bucks but putting them on the ground has been difficult. He actually missed a larger buck around 8:30 before getting this one. How may people see two good bucks in the same morning in the Adirondacks? Well, I guess Kyle does. I need to keep hunting with him. He seems to attract deer like people attract mosquitos in the Adirondacks, and I like it. It was cool to have my Uncle Lee and Kyle right next to each other when Kyle got the deer. The bond that is formed between a father and son when taking a deer is hard to explain to many people. It creates memories that last a lifetime. I’m glad I was there to experience it.

When they took the deer out of the woods, I stayed in until dark. I saw one small doe about an hour before dark.  Waiting at the dinner table for Brian, we began to get worried when he hadn’t shown up an hour after it got dark. He also decided to go to an area about a half hour away where he used to hunt in an attempt to get away from the deep snow.

When he finally rolled in and opened the door, he looked exhausted. He told us that he had put on many miles during the day. On his way out, he jumped a buck that was bedded next to a doe. When the buck started running, Brian took a few shots then sprinted to an area where he thought the deer would run to. He was spot on. About a minute after arriving in the spot, the buck ran through the open hardwoods below Brian. Brian emptied his clip before taking it out and emptying another one. He could tell that he hit the deer and the deer was wounded.

When the deer stopped running and started walking, Brian ran out of bullets. He decided to come out of the woods and let the deer bed down. With the freshly fallen snow, he should be able to pick it up in the morning.

After listening to him tell the story, I think we will probably find the deer in the morning. It sounds like the buck is on its last leg. I’d imagine it will be bedded a short distance from where he left the track.

Dad saw piles of deer today. He has had a good year seeing deer when he has been able to hunt. I’m glad he’s feeling a little better today and was able to get out and enjoy some time in the woods. It has to feel good for him since he missed the best time during our trip to the Midwest. He hunted in a place that he spent a lot of time when he was much younger. I think he enjoyed his day in the woods.