Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Past Septembers and the Incoming New One

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

It’s 1992, and I’m Inhaling the crisp mountain air while stumbling up an incredibly steep cow path on the far side of a box canyon in the darkness of an early September morning, not knowing what to expect when I reach the top of the hill. Although my father and I briefly saw from a distance what we thought was a bench on the top of the hill last fall, I don’t know what it looks like on that bench since I have never been there.

As I get closer to the top, I can see a bit of open air through the darkness, just enough to know that my climb is almost over. My father is a few steps ahead of me, and we are both starving for oxygen. Our lungs have just about reached their capacity at 11,000 feet, after all, we left New York a few days earlier, where the elevation in my hometown is less than 1,000 feet.

 

Breaking into the open at the top of the ridge, frost greets our boots, and we shuffle through the grass to sit on a fallen log. Just as we had anticipated, the bench is full of small meadows in every direction. Although it is still dark, a grove of aspen trees can be seen down the hill in front of us, and a drainage extends into blackness — an eerily peaceful darkness that holds the keys to the adventure that awaits us.

 

We sit quietly and wait. Wanting more light to navigate, we hope to hear a distant bugle or maybe even a few cows and calves chirping somewhere in the near vicinity. Instead, a coyote howls on the next ridge, which excites a few small bulls and gets them singing……………one bugle, two……….and before I know it, five different bulls are bugling and creating their own symphony that echoes across the canyon walls.

 

Having never experienced anything like it, we make a quick game plan and decide to split up. I’ll go after one of the bulls on the next ridge, and my dad will follow the aspen grove toward the mountaintop to chase the ones that are sounding off in that direction. Hopefully, one of us will be presented with an opportunity to put an arrow in flight.

 

Well, the morning I described took place 26 years ago next week. It was my first trip to Colorado to hunt elk with a bow. Although I had gone the year before with a rifle, I had never tried my hand with a bow. Five of us went on the trip, including me, my dad, two of his buddies from New York, and a guy from Maine; we were all greenhorns. We didn’t know the first thing about elk hunting, elevation, hydration, good footwear, perfectly tuned bows, or good backpacks. Instead, we just knew that we had to have more grit and determination than everyone else, and maybe, just maybe, we would get a shot at an elk.

 

A few days later, I crested the same ridge and heard bulls bugling in the far drainage, so I decided to go after them. After a few aggressive bugles out of my Quaker Boy bugle tube, I could hear him coming. Seconds later, I could see his antlers, then his entire body appeared in front of me. Searching for his competitor, he turned broadside at 15 yards and put everything he had into a hair-raising bugle. I drew back my 80-pound tree-bark camo PSE Fire-Flite Express and settled the pin behind his front shoulder as I watched the breath creep out of his mouth and extend into the air like he was smoking. Applying steady pressure on the trigger of my Cobra caliper release, I was startled when the bow fired.

 

Expecting it to go through his vitals, I was stunned as I watched the arrow harmlessly sail over his back and fly into the nothingness over the hill where he stood. How had my preparation during my 3D shooting failed me? How did I miss something the size of my Izuzu Pup truck at 15 yards?

 

Reaching toward my hip quiver, I grabbed another 2216 Easton Gamegetter II and nocked it. As the bull now stood 40 yards away, he didn’t let up as he found his way into another bloodcurdling scream. I slowly drew, anchored, settled the 40-yard pin behind the shoulder, and squeezed the trigger.

 

Watching the arrow travel in slow motion toward the majestic king of the mountain, time stood still. As it reached its peak in the arc and began coming back down, my focus remained on the spot where the pin was last seen when I looked at it through my peep sight. Jarred out of the serenity of the slow-motion film I was watching, all hell broke loose, and I could hear the bull gasping for air. His hooves clanked like a thoroughbred’s hooves pound the dirt while headed down the homestretch. A tremendous crashing noise followed, then all was quiet.

 

A magpie sensing it might have a free meal began chattering with its buddies, and before long, six of them filled the top of an evergreen tree in the meadow. As they squawked back and forth to determine their rank, another bull began screeching further up the drainage, but I was done and had a lot of work in front of me.

 

 

After meeting with my dad and going back to camp, we got help from the rest of the guys and headed back to take care of the bull. Although we made quick work of it and began packing it out, we weren’t fully prepared…………….we only had a few frame packs…………………and a very big duffle bag. Yes, we stuffed everything into the frame packs and duffle bag and began the journey down one side of the box canyon and up the other side. When we finally rolled back into camp, it was 10:30 p.m.

 

 

We have come a long way since that day – that year. I guess everyone learns as time passes. Hopefully, people grow and figure out better ways to do things. In the years that followed, we stacked up some elk, including bulls and cows, and never looked back. Many people have graced our presence, and for the most part, we have presented everyone with an opportunity to take an elk. While many have succeeded, many have not, and we have a lot of fantastic memories stored away from successful and unsuccessful hunts alike.

 

Why do I tell you all of this? It’s because this year, next week, I will be starting all over. I’ll head back into that same area where I killed my first bull, but this time, I’ll have someone tagging along behind me with a camera in tow. No, it’s not what you think. This isn’t for a hunting show or a hunting video. This will be the culmination of the project I’ve been working on with Alex Kershaw for the last handful of years. His project, which originally started as a visual art compilation, has now taken on more of a documentary type feel, but not like the documentaries you are probably envisioning. This particular documentary probably won’t have much talking, if any, and it examines a hunter’s intimate relationship with the outdoors, the animals he pursues, and the death of the animal that is killed. All of these things are interwoven into a tale that can only be told in this particular way. This isn’t a film directed toward hunters – or anti-hunters. It’s a film that explores something that very few people ever think about, especially people who don’t hunt and people who don’t become truly immersed in the hunting experience.

 

This year will be tough because Alex isn’t a hunter and doesn’t have the experience that is necessary to remain undetected long enough to get within bow range. I agreed to let him film this hunt to get some of the stuff he really needs to finish the project. I’ve taken enough elk over the years, which makes me no longer feel the need to get something to feel successful. Along the way, I have realized that I have nothing left to prove to anyone. Instead, I enjoy the journey a lot more now than I ever have in the past. Many people never get to that stage in their hunting careers, but I’ll be forever thankful that I had a great role model in my father to show me the way and make me understand how our thoughts and outlook change as we age. Father Time doesn’t slow down for everyone, and he’s undefeated in the game of life. If we can accept him when we finally realize he’s no longer running beside us, but walking with us, the time we spend doing the things we love will enrich our lives and everyone’s lives around us.

 

I guess this is my way of telling you that this trip will be an adventure unlike any I have ever had in my life, and I look forward to being a part of Alex’s adventure, because I am sure that this will be new for him, too. Hopefully, we get some good footage that can only be captured in elk camp amongst my friends and family. After all, that’s what hunting is all about, even though so many people in this social media era have failed to acknowledge it or even understand it. I’ll update the journal on my website after I return. Please enjoy the journey when I share it with you. Have fun in the outdoors and make your memories everlasting.

 

The Lost Art of Woodsmanship

Friday, August 17th, 2018

 

 

It’s that time of year when many hunters start blowing up social media with pictures of their “target” bucks. Even I have to admit that some of the trail cam pictures make me look twice. I often think I’d do the same thing if I lived somewhere in the Midwest or even somewhere that I wasn’t surrounded by big mountains and a limited number of deer, deer that don’t move too terribly much throughout the summer months. The woods are extremely thick in many of the places I hunt, and the places resemble the jungles of South America.

As more and more photos pop up, I see people, even young men and kids, who think they are only successful if they kill big bucks. They have to kill one of these “target” bucks. They begin talking about other deer and call them dinks, scrubs and management animals. I’m not sure why, but this type of behavior rubs me the wrong way. I’d say it’s because I was brought up in another era, an era when the hunt wasn’t all about plastering your success all over the internet. Instead, the hunt was considered a success if you had a good time afield and were lucky enough to shoot a buck of any kind. Every now and then someone might anchor a big buck to the ground, and that hunter would be considered the king for a week or two but no longer than that. After the kingship ended, he would fall back into the ranks of guys who loved being in the woods.

I began hunting when I was a kid. I was instantly taught how to respect the woods and learn how animals navigated from place to place. I became educated with the lifestyles of many animals, not just deer. As I wandered over hills and valleys and poked my way through swamps, I learned how to get around in the woods. Eventually, I was comfortable enough to go into different pieces of woods where I had never been, find a place on a map and meet my dad there for lunch.

I spent hours upon hours scouring through the woods in my teen years. Any time I had a chance to be in the woods, that’s where I went. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of terrain. I studied the landscapes and tried to figure out why I found deer sign in certain places. I became accustomed to why deer avoid some great looking places and go into the heart of places you would never expect them to be. I continued my education of deer by being in the woods throughout the year, even if I only had a few hours here or there to tramp around the corner of a hill next to the road. I learned how to use my compass to get to places on topographical maps, and I learned what to do if I got into trouble while I was hunting a mile or more from the road. I learned how to take notice of the telephone poles numbers where I went into the woods so I would know which way to walk to get back to the truck when I came out at a pole that was a mile from where I parked.

As the years rolled past, I realized that all of the woodsman skills I had gained were the true reason behind my success. I became accustomed to the forest, which allowed me to become familiar with the personalities of the animals that lived amongst the trees. I found those tricky spots that every deer in the woods would head to at least once during the course of the fall months. I also learned how drastically the patterns of deer change from week to week and month to month, sometimes changing as quickly as the flick of a switch. I saw how deer congregated in certain areas, but when the first snow stuck to the ground, those same deer disappeared and never came back until the following year.

You can begin gaining knowledge the instant you open an encyclopedia, just like you can increase your odds of getting nice deer if you make it a goal to learn more about the places they live. You’ll never get a big buck if you’re not hunting where one lives.

 

Maybe this year you should re-evaulate your goals. Instead of chasing deer all over the countryside, maybe you should just focus on learning more about the woods where you are hunting. It’s an education that will never leave you. Use this knowledge to become one of the animals in the forest. If you live in their world, you will find it easier to understand what they do and why they do it.  I’m going to try to do a few of these short essays before hunting season, although I will be gone to Colorado for a few weeks in September. If you are interested in me doing a Facebook live type of thing to talk about it, please sound off and let me know what you think.

————————————–> Good Luck this season. Shoot straight.

Todd

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Well, this morning greeted us with a fresh blanket of snow that fell during the night. When we parked our truck, Rob Miner, who is in many of the stories in my books, pulled in behind us. After a big hug, we headed up the mountain. When we got to the place where we decide who’s going in what direction, Miner and I headed one way, and my dad headed the other way. Miner and I would go up the face of the mountain, and Dad would go around the back. When we split apart, I couldn’t help but think about the many times we did the same thing when I was a kid, but I almost always followed Dad during those times. Today, I followed Rob, who is now in his 70s.

As we made our way up the mountain, I was gently reminded how much time has passed since those days when Dad and Rob seemed like two invincible super heroes. A while back, Rob was hit head-on by a drunken driver, and his physical abilities were taken from him in an instant. He has never recovered to be able to join for the deep treks into the more remote parts of the Adirondacks.

Before stepping over a log, he told me how much pain he still has in his hips. After all, he had to get a new hip and walking isn’t quite as easy as it used to be for him. After telling me about the pain, he slipped and fell to the ground. I helped him back to his feet, but I could tell it hurt, even though he’s probably one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around while hunting. Finally, we got to where he wanted to sit, and I continued down the backside of the mountain.

As I got close to the tree where I wanted to sit, I saw the bucks tracks in the snow. It had gone  through the area just before I got there. Although I considered chasing it, it was headed toward the place where I knew my dad had planned on going. I was hoping the deer would takes its time and get pass by Dad shortly after daylight.

A few hours after daylight, I could hear Brian on the radio. He had come in from another parking area and was hunting toward me in hopes of pushing a deer past me. We planned on meeting around noon so I could show him a few different things on the ridge I was hunting.

Shortly before Brian got to me, he jumped a bunch of deer, and they crashed through the swamp below me. I didn’t see any of them, but I could hear them getting out of Dodge. After getting to me, Brian and I waited for Dad to get there. He was making his way toward us from the bottom. When he arrived, we chatted for a few minutes and headed in different directions to try our luck.

In the mid-afternoon, Dad and I ended up in the same area. He decided to kick off a ridge that we’ve been kicking off since the first day we ever hunted in the area. Sometimes we kick it off on our way out of the woods. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that nothing came off the ridge.

As Dad was getting closer to me, he told me he had some moving. A few minutes later, I could see him on the ridge above me, but none of the deer had come past me. Suddenly, a couple of them made there way down the hill. I could have shot either one of them if I chose to do so. They presented me with a few good opportunities when they stopped for a few seconds in front of me.

When we finally got out of the woods, we realized that our season was over. We will have to wait until next season to get at it again, God willing. I pray for another season with my dad by my side. I love that guy, and I love sharing everything with him in the woods. There’s nothing that can compare to the time I’ve spent in the woods deer hunting with him. It also felt good to be with Rob today, even though he came out of the woods before us and headed home before we had a chance to say goodbye. I owe all of my hunting success to those two guys. They led by example and showed me the little things that I would need to know to become a successful Adirondack deer hunter. I learned from two of the very best, and I’m glad I learned the hard way. Nothing ever came easy, and that is what made me so determined to succeed. Failure breeds success if you’re too stubborn to give in, and none of us have ever given in. Many people bend until they break, but the three of us just keep bending because there is no breaking our desire.

When we got back to the truck, we were happy to see that our buddy Doug, who I wrote about a few days ago, had killed a buck. It was a nice 8-pointer. He probably had one of his most memorable seasons ever, simply because he wasn’t even supposed to recover enough to be able to hunt, talk about bending and not breaking. I’d post a picture for you to look at, but I don’t have one to post.

I’ll be writing a season recap in the coming weeks. Thank you for following along this year. I’m sorry I didn’t give you more exciting entries, but it’s hard to keep this updated and hunt almost every day. I did my best to stay on top of it. Congratulations to all of you who had a great season, and for those of you who were left unfulfilled, you must remember to keep bending without breaking. Your time will come. I have a few hunters who shared their success with me this year who can verify that dreams do come true if you just keep pushing yourself to the limits and learn everything you can in the process.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Dad and I headed into the woods shortly after 5:00 a.m. this morning. It felt good to be on my way up the mountain before most people had crawled out of bed. As I slowly trudged through the leaves, I listened to the crunching noise and wondered if I would hear any deer walking in the leaves after I sat down for the morning’s sit. I was suddenly jarred from the thought when I heard a truck’s tires vibrating off from the gravel road in the valley below me, then I saw it’s headlights in the distance. It seemed like a movie of sorts, and I wondered where the person driving the truck was headed. There aren’t any homes on the road, and the road dead ends, so I knew the person was a hunter. Would he shoot a deer on the second to last day of late muzzleloader season? Would he get lost? Would he sit in his truck and drink coffee until the sun came up? Would he head into the woods in the next couple of minutes and cover as much ground as I intended to cover before sitting down? I’m not sure, and I will never know the answer to the questions. That’s what made me put my head down and continue walking through the darkness.

When I finally arrived to the place I wanted to sit, I couldn’t decide which tree to rest my back against and settle into for the rest of the morning. After choosing a tree, I unloaded my backpack and stripped out of my sweaty clothes. As I stood on top of the mountain without a shirt on my back, something in my mind brought me back to the Brow Tine Buck chapter of my first book. It was probably because I explained how dad had stood on the hill without a shirt on his back before settling in for the morning, or it could have been because I was sitting just a little ways up the hill from where he killed that buck.

When I was finally settled, I could hear a deer walking through the leaves. Although it was dark, I knew it was going to end up in front of me. Gazing into the darkness, I couldn’t spot anything that resembled a deer, but I knew the deer was close to me. It milled around and fed until I could finally see enough to shoot. I could still hear it but couldn’t see it. Hoping it would go across the flat below me, I kept alert. Unfortunately, the deer stayed out of sight and continued down the hill. Eventually, its footsteps in the leaves become fainter and fainter until I could no longer hear them. From its actions, I was almost certain that it was the buck I was hunting.

The next few hours passed quickly. When a gunshot echoed off the mountain, I knew it was my dad who had shot. I clicked the radio on and waited to hear his voice. It didn’t take long before he came on and said that he was pretty sure that he didn’t hit the buck. He said it was a really good 8-pointer, but the gun misfired the first time he tried shooting. The second time, it went off but there was a lot of brush in the way by that time. Dad was really disappointed, especially since he had passed up a nice 6-pointer before shooting at the bigger buck. I guess we just have to chalk that one up to some bad luck at the wrong time.

The rest of the day passed quickly, but not before I had another encounter with what I think is the deer I’m chasing. I stayed in the same general area for the afternoon, thinking that the buck might come back up the hill to feed on the beechnuts before it got dark.

Just as I stood up to strap on my backpack, I could hear a deer walking through the leaves down below me on the edge of the swamp. Peering down the hill and through the saplings, I tried my hardest to locate some movement, but couldn’t see a thing. Before I could slow down the minute hand, it was dark, and the deer was still crunching through the leaves. Since I had a long walk, I headed toward the truck.

The buck is teasing me, and I’m hoping I catch up to it tomorrow morning. Dad ended up seeing eight deer today. Maybe we will knock one over tomorrow, the last day of the season.

 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

Once again, I went into work early today so I could go hunting this afternoon. Brian and I made plans to go to one of his spots after work. He has hunted it for a long time and knows what the deer do in the area when they get pushed.

He told me he would push out a couple of small swamps to see what happened. It was cold and still when we headed into the woods. Since I had never been in the patch of woods, Brian gave me a quick rundown of how the ridges came together and what caused deer to run through certain areas.

After listening closely to where he told me to go, I headed into the woods. I was sure I could find the knob that he told me about. As he wandered through the swamp in front of the knob, I took in the surroundings. Studying the terrain and the things around me, I quickly figured out what funnels the deer out of the swamp in front of the knob I was sitting on.

When I spotted Brian, I was surprised that nothing came in front of me before he appeared. He quickly made his way toward the other swamp, and I moved to another crossing farther down the creek.

Ten minutes later, I was greeted with a “BOOM, ” then a few minutes passed and I heard another shot. Brian’s voice crackled through the radio, “I think I missed. I have to go look. Get ready because the deer headed in your direction.”

I get nestled in next to a large tree that had a blowdown next to it. A few minutes later I saw two does bounding through the tall swamp grass. In seconds, they were gone. After they disappeared, I heard Brian’s voice again. “Hey, get ready, there’s buck sign all over in here, and I just saw a tail.”

Looking to my right, I spotted one sneaking through the tall grass. I didn’t have any good lanes to shoot, and I knew the deer was going to be gone in a matter of seconds, so I found the best opening I could and fired. It was a long shot for a muzzleloader, but my gun shoots well and I know it usually hits what I’m aiming at. Unfortunately, there was too much brush between me and the deer.

After the smoke cleared, Brian appeared and we searched all over to make sure I didn’t hit the deer. When we were satisfied with our search, we headed out of the woods. It had been an incredible couple of hours, and I’m glad we tried something a little different than what we normally do.

Brian is a great friend and the best hunting partner, besides my father, who I’ve ever spent every day of hunting season with while chasing the same dreams and goals. I wasn’t sure I would ever find anyone like him to join me in my pursuit of big game, but after finding him and realizing he was cut from the same cloth, I consider myself pretty lucky. He gets the job done, too. Sometimes I wish my hunting partners got the credit they deserve. We all learn from one another and help each other succeed.

 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

Well, I had to get back in the woods today. I made arrangements at work yesterday to go in early and get out early. When I got out of work around 1:00 p.m., I figured I would have enough time to collect all of my cameras. I had four of them in this piece of woods. Although, I didn’t plan on hunting, I decided to sit somewhere if it caught my attention and said, “SIT HERE.”  My main goal was to get the cameras out of the woods and to find two places to sit for the weekend, one for me and one for Dad.

When I parked my truck and got ready to head into the woods, my buddy Doug and his son Jeremy pulled up next to me. We chatted for a bit and then headed into the woods. It was good to see Doug. He’s had a hell of a season. Earlier in the year, after his strokes, none of us thought he would be able to join us in the woods for hunting season. I was really glad to see him, and he looked good.

After I got home, I saw on Facebook, where Doug had written a little think about how awesome it was to by with his boy………..a dad and his boy is how it started. I enjoyed it, and it made me reflect on some of the times Dad and I have gone into the woods with each other. I’ll probably write something in the next month or so about a boy and his dad, Doug’s words just struck a chord with me, so Doug, if you’re reading this, I’d just like to say thank you.

By the time I came out of the woods tonight, I was confident in the places I had picked for my dad and I to sit this weekend. I’m not sure if we’ll see any deer, but we will give it our best and close the season out on Sunday.

Although I was somewhat disheartened by the pictures on my cameras, I was excited about one of the bucks that made its way into the frame on one of them. I’ll probably sit in that area on Saturday morning. The deer have been feeding on acorns and beechnuts in the same bowl and there’s some good buck sign.

I’m not sure if the buck is alive, because I only got one picture of it. I’m hoping that it made it through the gauntlet that the rut can produce at times, and he just chose not to walk in front of the camera again after he made his initial pass.

Here’s a picture of the deer I’m after…………..if it’s still alive.

 

 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Well, today was the final day of rifle season in northern New York, and it was a memorable one. My Cousin Kyle got a crack at one at 9:00 a.m., and he was in an area that I circled on a map for him the night before. I told him that we needed to go in there and check it out because I was certain that there couldn’t be too much hunting pressure in the area as compared to the surrounding areas. I’ve had my eyes on the map for a long time, and this place keeps popping out at me and telling me to go there. Next year, I will spend a significant amount of time there to learn more about it.

Unfortunately, Kyle hit the deer and the end result wasn’t good. It was a long shot and the deer was walking. It was a good buck, but he got some fat, hair and a fair amount of blood, but no deer. After a day of searching, the search came up empty. I’m guessing that he hit in the brisket somewhere. When deer stop bleeding, you aren’t left with many ways to catch up to them. That’s when you pray for snow. Since we didn’t have any snow, there wasn’t much we could do. Although the season ended today, he is going back up tomorrow just to see if the ravens or coyotes are around anywhere.

Brian and I did find some impressive sign today, and a few ancient tree stands. One of the tree stands was in a great place, and the other one didn’t do much for me. We might actually put some time in near the one stand we found. It looks like a great spot, but the walk to get there might kick all of the deer out. When we find stands, we usually think they were put there with good intentions. Sometimes it’s hard to tell until we use them and give them some time. Who knows, we may never get back there again, but then again, we just might. It’s hard to walk past really good areas to hunt other areas. It’s a guessing game that requires the correct guess on the right day.

Although we found the stand, we also found some rubs along the way, too, which means that some big bucks inhabit the area. For some reason big rubs always give us a sense of something greater lurking in the depths of the forest. While we don’t know what made the rubs, we can always imagine the deer that stood in those places and created the damage to the trees.

Unfortunately, I can’t upload the photos of the rubs. I’m not sure why the computer isn’t allowing me to do so. Maybe I’ll try again at a later date when I have more time.

This season was phenomenal for a number of reasons. I’m sad to see it end, but my body needs the down time to recover. Sometimes I’m not smart enough to take it easy when my body needs it. Looking at my father, I can see where I acquired the trait. I pray that I’m able to enjoy another season next year like the one I had this year. It’s not all about putting bucks on the ground. Instead, it’s about enjoying the time in the woods with family and friends and making memories that will last a lifetime. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. It’s all a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

I’ll be wrapping my season up over the weekend when I go out on Saturday and Sunday for the late muzzleloader season. Being my busiest time of year at work, I don’t have the time to get out after work this week. I wish I could, but I can’t justify it right now. I’m hoping to get into the woods one day so I can find a few decent places for Dad and I to sit on Saturday morning.

 

 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Monday, December 4th, 2017

The end of the season is rapidly approaching, and I’m not ready for it to end. I’ve had a fantastic time this year with my friends and family. It’s awesome to share the woods with Smitty again. We haven’t hunted together in about 12 years. I forgot how much I enjoy his company in the woods. It seems like we haven’t missed a day in the woods. I’m thankful for the days I got to share with him in the woods this year. I’m hoping that he decides to hunt with us more often next year. He headed home tonight to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday.

Today passed quickly. I jumped one deer while still-hunting but never got a look at it. I still haven’t spotted a bear, even though I’m seeing all sorts of bear sign. I guess I’m just not a seasoned bear hunter. I’ll have to improve the craft before I actually think I know what I’m doing. I’m wondering if bear hunting is just a lot of luck. I’d imagine theres a trick to the trade, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Patrick Duffy stopped into camp last night. He’s a good guy, and I like him a lot. I like talking to intelligent people who are willing to listen, learn and teach. I’m impressed with the skills he has picked up in the short amount of time that he has hunted. He seems to understand a lot of things, and he looks to increase his knowledge each season. I can route for guys like that, just as I route for Caleb, who killed the buck I named Hollywood. I enjoy watching young Adirondack hunters who put in the extra effort. Although I’m not old, I remember the days when I was their age and did what I had to do to put big bucks on the ground. Caleb did everything he had to do succeed this year, and the proof is in the pudding that he did the right things. I’m impressed with the path he took to reach his goal. It appears that he will make the people around him better hunters as they move forward. I enjoy talking to him and sharing things with him because he gets it and not many people his age really get it. I have a feeling he will find success again in the future, the very near future. People who are always willing to learn and put the time in find success. They don’t use other people and approach things with a cocky know-it-all attitude. I appreciate the questions and willingness to learn. His success is my success.

We didn’t see much today, but I had a great day in the woods. I covered a lot of ground today, and I feel good about what I found. I’ve enjoyed the scouting process since I’m not really hunting. I’ve also learned that I haven’t been paying as close attention to detail that I usually do. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I have to pay more attention.

Tomorrow will bring a close to tour rifle season in the Adirondacks. It has been a learning experience, and I’ve had a great time with my father. This season felt a lot like some of the old seasons when big bucks fell consistently to the floor of the ADK forest when we took our extended vacations and never left our home state. I do miss those days.  I’m glad I have those experiences to share with people.

We will see what tomorrow brings. We are headed into some new areas to check things out for next year.

 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Well, I was back at it again today. My dad hunted by himself yesterday, and I joined him last night at hunting camp. I didn’t like him being in the woods alone, but it’s probably the same reason why he doesn’t like it when I’m alone in the woods. For some reason we always think about the worst case scenarios and worry about the ones we love. He’s my idol, my hero and the person whom I look up to the most.

When I arrived at camp last night, he told me how disappointed he was that a good one snuck by him before he could get a shot at it. The beech saplings were too thick, and he hunted in an area that he hadn’t been into in the past, so he was a little unfamiliar with how the deer traveled through that area. He seemed pretty jacked up about getting back into that same place this morning, so I dropped him off at about 4:45 and parked the truck in an area where I wanted to check to see if there was any bear sign. I also wanted to continue my search for big buck sign for any buck that might still be roaming around and has a good chance to make it into next year.

Think about that for a second……..he headed into the woods at 4:45 a.m. He’s 70 years old and still loves heading into the woods well before daylight to get to a predetermined location to kill a buck he’s after. The guy ceases to amaze me. His backpack made it look like he was trying to compete with the sherpas who carry gear for the hikers on Mt. Everest.

Well, this morning the buck went under him again. This time, it wasn’t light enough to see to shoot. He could see the shadow of the deer, but couldn’t see it in the scope. I’ve been trying to tell him to buy a new scope for a few years. He has a scope on his gun that I gave to him back in the early ’90s. I wish he would purchase a better scope. He thinks he will get the buck tomorrow. He says the third time is a charm.

I didn’t see much today, but I did find a lot of bear sign where they have been feeding in the beechnuts. I will be returning to the place I found today. Smitty hunted with us today, too. He saw a big doe about an hour after daylight, and he covered a lot of ground today to become more familiar with the area.

All three of us ended up at the same place around 1:00 p.m., and we decided to  head back toward the road and sit until evening. Shortly after we split up, I jumped a really big deer. I saw it’s track and got a whiff of its hocks. It stunk like a buck in rut. I was sure it was a good buck, but I never got a clear look at it. I jumped the deer twice as I was trying to get it to go in front of Smitty.

When we drove down the road this morning, there were fresh tracks all over in the snow on the road. I expected the deer to move like crazy, but the tracks in the woods throughout the day told me they deer didn’t move much after daylight.

Tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully, my dad or Smitty gets a crack at something. It just doesn’t appear that the deer are moving too much.

 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

A ridge in a far-off place beckoned me to return there today. When you find the sign you’re looking for, you must return and make good on it. You have to give it everything you have, when an opportunity it waiting for you to find it.

I got an earlier start and packed the miles on in the darkness. As daylight neared, I knew I was getting close to where I wanted to be, so I sat down to take a break and contemplate exactly where I wanted to go and what kind of plan I needed to accomplish what I was trying to do.

When I decided where I needed to be, I started poking up a really steep ridge. I had every hope of finding a bear heading toward its den in a series of ledges, after all, I had seen where it had been feeding not to far way yesterday. My guess was a shot in the dark, but I felt good about it.

Shortly after daylight, a big doe and a fawn made their way past me. I also saw a pile of tracks on the fresh snow on my way to get to where I wanted to go. It gave me some hope for my father.

When his voice crackled on the radio around 10:00, I was happy to hear his voice. He was in the still-hunting mode, and he had seen a lot of deer and cut a lot of fresh tracks. I could hear the confidence in his voice.

The rest of the day passed quickly, and I found a lot of deer sign but found no more sign of the bear I got close to yesterday. Bears seem to be more elusive than deer, but then again, it’s probably just because there are a lot fewer of them as compared to deer.

Shortly before dark, I decided to sit in an area where I felt a hint on confidence on my shoulders. Although I didn’t see any black critters, I did see three more deer and one was a really nice buck. If my dad had been sitting in that spot, we would have been in for a long drag tonight. It was a really good ADK deer that any hunter would have been happy to shoot. It wasn’t as large as the buck I killed on Halloween, but it was still a good one.

I have to return to work for three days, but I’ll be back at it for the last three days of northern zone in New York. I’m looking forward to spending the time with my dad and my friends. It’s a weekend with a lot of tradition, and it’s something I look forward to every year. Although it caps off my favorite time of year, my body welcomes the relief. I’ve put a lot into it this year, and I’ll continue doing so until the sun sets on Sunday evening. I’ll be ready to call it a year, except for the two days of late muzzleloader season when I will find myself back in the woods somewhere.