Archive for December, 2012

Friday 12/7/12

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I took today off to go late muzzleloading. Since it’s not open where I hunt up north, I hunted around home. I went back to one of my favorite places, which I referred to a few times in both books. I call it The Rock. I put a camera there on Thanksgiving Day so I decided I better go pick it up before winter settles in.

On my way in it was fairly crunchy. When I began climbing the hill near the place we call the Flat Rock I heard a few deer take off. They ran a little way up the hill and began milling around in there. As I stood in the darkness I heard another deer  cross in front of me on the other side of the knob from where I was standing. It was headed toward the other deer. After a few more minutes I couldn’t hear anything at all. Something inside me told me to stay, but I ignored the little voice and continued on.

When I got to The Rock I stopped and detached the camera from the tree. There was still a lot of sign in the area, which made me happy. I didn’t expect much on my camera, but kind of hoped I might see something interesting once I began looking at the pictures.

After I flipped through the pictures I was surprised to see as much activity as I did. I had a lot of does going through in the daylight as well as the dark. I got two bucks in the dark, too. I sat until 10:30, but didn’t see anything. When I got up I decided to go for a walk to check a few things out.

As I wandered along the ridge beyond The Rock I was pleasantly surprised to see as much sign as I did. It made me feel good to see a lot of deer were using the area. I began seeing rubs as soon as I left The Rock and I continued seeing them all the way to the top of the mountain. While there wasn’t an abundance of them, there were plenty enough to get me excited. Once on top of the mountain I saw a tree in the distance that appeared to have some shredded bark hanging off from it. Upon closer inspection it was a really nice rub. The rub had been made within the last couple of days. I could still see the buck’s tracks and all of the bark lying in the leaves.

Prior commitments will keep me out of the woods on Saturday. I’ll be sitting close to the rub first thing Sunday morning though.



Sunday 12/2/12

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Well, today was the last day of Northern Zone rifle season in New York. It was a really nice day and extremely quiet in the woods. The snow got soft shortly after daylight, which made walking pretty easy. I decided to go on a scouting mission to see what I could learn for next year. The snow the last few weeks has made it easy to confirm a few of my suspicions on areas deer use a lot and which direction they seem to travel.

Around 8:30 I saw a few does feeding down a runway. There’s nothing like an Adirondack deer either. I realized that when I observed the doe and her reaction to the surroundings. They really are a beautiful creature. When the wind changed directions the lead doe caught my scent and high-stepped it out of there in the direction she came from. A few minutes later I saw some movement in the same area. I saw the deer for only a split second, but it was plenty long enough for this trained eye to see he had at least one really long tine on his beam. Since the buck was fairly close to where my trail camera had been I’m thinking there’s a possibility it was the same deer I got on camera, but you never know.

I didn’t see anything else the rest of the day. My walk out of the  woods was very relaxing. It seemed like the season was gone in the blink of an eye. It was very rewarding on many levels. I don’t have any complaints and I treasure each season more than the last. It’s always sad to see the sunset on the last day of rifle season. All the guns in the rack at camp Saturday night……………now they’re all at rest waiting for next season to open.

Saturday 12/1/12

Friday, December 14th, 2012

I didn’t get much sleep last night. It was the first time our family camp has been full of hunters in a very long time. I think it made my Uncle Lee smile as well as bring back some old memories. It reminded of when I used to hunt opening day in Southern Zone when it always opened on a Monday. I would go to bed with great anticipation. A few years the next day met my expectations and other years I was sorely disappointed.

When we woke up I had a pretty good feeling, although the feeling might not have been directly related to my chance of killing a deer. I figured with that many people in camp a few of us would likely see some deer. As I began my journey into the woods it was dark, but with the snow on the ground I knew it wouldn’t take long to get light. My dad decided to go sit on a ridge where we found a tremendous amount of sign last week. It was one of those places we couldn’t ignore. It deserved our attention and with that much sign you never know what might walk by you in the Adirondacks.

We humped right along until we came to the point where we split up. From there I decided to slow down to a crawl and still-hunt toward the area I wanted to sit. With the fresh snow it was pretty quiet and something inside me told me I was going to see a buck.

When I got into some thick spruce trees I found some fresh tracks. As I scanned the woods in front of me I didn’t see anything, but I could almost feel something watching me. I guess it’s that sixth sense you have as a deer hunter that comes to the surface every now and then.

I pushed the spruce limbs aside and slowly made my way out of the thick cover.  When I broke into the open I looked in front of me when some commotion off to my left got my attention. Instantly I could see a buck running. It only took a second to see he had antlers so I decided to shoot. A few guys in camp said they wanted meat and with my limited time in the Adirondacks these days I decided I would take advantage of any opportunity that might present itself. I knew he wasn’t a big buck, but I still tried to locate him in my crosshairs. He went right into really thick cover. When he reappeared on the other side I saw him for a split second in my scope and pulled the trigger.

The air was dead calm and the shot echoed across the mountains in front of me. My ears rang as I fumbled through my pockets for my radio to call dad. When I got it out and clicked it on he was patiently waiting on the other end. He asked if I got him, so I replied, “I’m not sure. He was hauling ass. I’m pretty sure I got him because I thought I could hear him thrashing around after I shot. If you stay on the radio I’ll go take a look.”

When I got to the area I thought he was I began looking in the snow for blood. I only had to look for a second. He was laying dead under some thick spruce trees. He wasn’t anything too terribly big but he was still a nice little Adirondack 8-pointer.

Since it was only 7 o’clock I decided to take the rest of the morning and go pull all of my trail cameras. When I got to the first camera I was disappointed when there weren’t any pictures on it. When I got to the next one I could see that I had a buck on it, but the picture wasn’t good. It looked like a small buck. When I got home and blew it up on the computer I saw that it was actually a pretty nice buck. If you look closely you can see that he looks fairly wide and his body looks to be that of a mature deer.

By the time I got back to the deer my father was there. He told me he got a hold of my cousin Kyle and his buddies. They were on there way to help us drag it out. I was very thankful to hear the news. My dad saw 5 does when he was sitting, but no bucks followed them. He told me there was an unbelievable amount of sign in the area.

When the day came to a close dad and I were the only ones who saw any deer. Although this buck wasn’t anywhere near being a big one I found it very rewarding when I got him. When I used to spend every waking minute hunting in the Adirondacks I would have been disappointed to shoot a deer of this caliber, but this one was different. Without having the time to hunt like I once did I have to take advantage of the opportunities I get and hope to be able to capitalize on a few of them. I got to hunt a few new areas this year and I’ve learned a lot about both places. I feel this will put me in a good position to kill a big buck even if I’m limited to just hunting it a couple weekends a year. As the old UCLA legend, John Wooden, used to say, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” I surely have not failed to prepare and you make your own luck. I truly expect to shoot a few good Adirondack bucks in these new places in the future.

Here are a couple photos of the deer and the trail camera. You have to look close at the trail camera buck or click on it to blow it up.


Friday 11/30/12

Monday, December 10th, 2012

I had today off and headed north first thing in the morning. I decided to hunt with my buddy Brian in his spot. I had never hunted there before but it’s fairly close to the new place I’m hunting.

We had a long hike to get to the area we wanted to hunt. As we walked we saw a few tracks here and there, but nothing that really grabbed our attention. When we reached our destination Brian gave me a quick rundown on what he was going to do and a general idea of what he thought I should do.

Shortly after we split up Brian saw the ass end of a deer, but couldn’t tell what it was. He’s pretty sure it was the big buck he has been chasing around the last week, but couldn’t be sure. It was bone-chilling cold the entire day. I didn’t cover a lot of ground but in the little ways I went I didn’t see where it looked like many deer were moving. I’d imagine they might have been laying low and conserving energy.

As the day progressed Brian and I could feel it warming up or so we thought. I did find a lot of buck sign as well as a few places that intrigued me. It’s wide open country for what I’m used to hunting but I thought it still had some good possibilities. It looks like it would be a really good early season place just because it’s so open. Most places are choked with leaves in the early season, so I made sure to make a mental note of this.

After a long day of hunting Brian and I were happy to get back to the truck. We both commented on how it had warmed up. Well, I don’t know how cold it really was but when we got in the truck the thermometer read 12 degrees.


Sunday 11/25/12

Monday, December 10th, 2012

The snow came down pretty hard last night which made the road pretty nasty. Since it’s not  a well-maintained road we decided not to risk it. In our younger years we probably would have, but it’s just not worth it anymore for a deer. Although we could have hunted elsewhere we decided to head home early and hit it hard next week. I think being worn our from our vacation caught up with both of us after being in the woods all day yesterday. Sometimes you just need a little break to get a new start.

Saturday 11/24/12

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Unfortunately I couldn’t get yesterday off from work so I could go hunting. It would have been a good day, too. It appears that the bucks are really moving in the Northern Zone of New York in certain places.

I headed to our camp on Friday evening. Dad and I figured it would give us an early start, so we could get to where we wanted to be by daylight. Since we hadn’t hunted the area in three weeks I was excited to see what sign had popped up as well as if I had captured any nice bucks on my cameras.

When we started our hike the leaves were crunchy beneath our feet. As we moved along a few flurries began to fall and before I knew it the snow was coming down so hard it was all but impossible to see 50 yards in front of me. Within an hour the ground was covered with snow.

After I got to my trees stand and climbed in I decided it was somewhat senseless to sit there. The wind was howling and the snow pelted me in the face until my face became raw. Since I wanted to check a few things out I climbed down after three hours and began still-hunting. I figured I would make my way to the cameras and check the cards.

When I got to the first camera I was disappointed to find out the scrape from the previous year had not been reopened this year. I was almost sure I would get a picture of a good buck in the scrape after I found it last spring. I’m not sure if the deer didn’t survive the winter or if he just moved out of the area. I’ll probably never know. I got a few pictures of does, but that was it. I was extremely disappointed.

When I reached the other camera I expected the scrapes from last year to be reopened, but they weren’t either. However, I did get piles of pictures of does on that camera, but not one buck. As I sat there fidgeting with the camera I noticed the big signpost tree out in front of it had recently been rubbed. A pretty good buck had thrashed the tree and the bark laid beneath it in the leaves. I figured I would definitely have him on camera, but the tree must have been just out of reach of the sensor. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. After being in the woods today I wasn’t nearly as hyped up as I had been before I left home last night. Here’s a picture of the signpost tree that had been hit in front of my camera.

Thanksgiving Day: Thursday 11/22/12

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Dad and I headed out early for the annual Thanksgiving Day hunt. We’ve been doing since I was old enough to hunt. We’ve been successful on a regular basis, but it’s been a few years since we’ve had any luck.

We decided to go back to our old stomping grounds from the early ’80s. Dad went back to the ridge where he killed the Browtine Buck that I wrote about in my first book. Since he went there I decided to go sit in one of my old haunts, which we named The Rock many years ago. We’ve shot a lot of deer of The Rock but I haven’t sat on the actual rock in many years. If I were to guess I would say it’s been about 20 years since I sat on the rock itself. I’ve sat all around it, but not on it like we always used to.

When I brushed the leaves off it and settled in for the morning sit a lot of memories returned. I sat there and took it all in. It felt surreal in some ways. As there always was a lot of sign near The Rock, there was sign there today, too.

Neither one of us saw a deer today, but the annual hunt was still fun. It was a beautiful morning to sit and listen to the noises in the woods around me. It’s something that only hunters can truly understand.

When I got ready to head out I wandered up the ridge like I did when I was a few years younger. As I picked my way across the ridge in front of me I found some good buck sign in the same places it always used to be. I found one good rub, which appears to have been made by a good buck. What’s the old saying? A big buck will rub small trees but a little buck doesn’t rub big trees.

I’m looking forward to this coming weekend. I’m going back up north. Hopefully I’ll have something on my cameras. I look forward to looking around for some sign.




Sunday 11/18/12

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

This was our last morning in Kansas this year. Looking back over the week it was a phenomenal experience. Anyone who hunts the big woods in the Northeast should go to the Midwest at least once in their hunting career to experience what so many of the articles in magazines are written about.

As they old saying goes, “If you can kill a mature buck in the Northeast, you can kill one anywhere in the country.” I’m a firm believer of that statement. During my trips to the Midwest I’ve learned it’s very easy to see deer, but it’s still very difficult to kill a mature buck. Although it might seem easy to many people it’s still quite a challenge. It’s all about putting your time in and paying your dues. Everything I’ve learned in the big woods where deer are so few and far between I’ve been able to apply to my hunting in other places.

I got up this morning with dad. I had to go pull one of my trail-cams, so I decided I would just sit in a hedgerow with my camera and observe the fields around me. I saw a few bucks cruising the fields but the action seemed very limited. It was a chilly morning. When one buck came over the bluff in the middle of the field I could see his breath as he stood still and scanned the woods in front of him for a doe.

After sitting for a little bit I decided I would walk back toward camp and check out the antlers that were hanging in the tree next to the pond behind the place our tent had been in in years past. The buck died from EHD/Blue Tongue Disease. Although it killed a few deer on the farm I hunt it didn’t appear that it wiped the area out like it did to the place I hunt in Ohio back in 2007.

When I got to the pond I took a few pictures of the rack in the tree. Then I put it on the ground and took a few more. It was about a 140 class buck. He would have been a really good one in a couple of years.

As I snapped the pictures I sensed something looking at me, so I picked my head up and glanced at the ridge above the pond. A few seconds later I saw the culprit. I big doe was staring me down. I ranged her at 80 yards. A couple seconds later I noticed a small buck on her track. Once he disappeared behind some brush I expected him to push her out, but he didn’t. She stood motionless as she stared at me. Every few seconds she looked behind her, but stood still.

After about five minutes she bolted up the hill. I figured the small buck would be right behind her, but when I looked closer I saw a really good buck chasing her. His rack was extremely high and each side leaned in toward the other. He was one of those bucks anyone would want to shoot just because of how uniqueness of the formation of his antlers. As he ran over the hill the smaller buck followed. I finished taking pictures and walked back to the tent. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the trip. It gave me hope for another day and a sight to motivate me for next year.

Saturday 11/17/12

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

It was chilly this morning but not as cold as it has been. At 33 degrees is seemed damp for some reason. We got a late start but I was still in the tree before daylight. It was clear and crunchy with a south wind, so I sat in the Graveyard Flat again. I saw a really big deer in the distance at 7:30. I thought he would hit the drainage after coming out of the pasture and make his way past me but that was the last I saw of him.

It was quiet until around 10 o’clock when a big doe made her way across the flat. After she got past me I heard something off to my left. When I glanced in that direction I saw a buck standing there. He appeared almost like a ghost. He was a miniature version of the freak deer I saw on this same flat a few days ago. He had a spike on one side and four points on the other. He was only a year and a half old deer. It appears that the gene is definitely passed around from one generation to the next in this area.

Fifteen minutes after the buck disappeared I saw 4 does work there way across the pasture above me. They hung tight right next to the woods. When I got out of my stand to leave I kicked them out of their beds about a hundred yards from where I was sitting. It was about 11:30.

Dad sat at the top of the South Bowl this morning. He saw a few does and three small bucks. My buddy Kevin pulled a card from a trail camera and brought it back to the tent around noon. As I made my way through the pictures I saw a lot of does and a few small bucks and then WHAMMO! I really nice shooter buck from last night at 5pm. We looked at the pictures and decided to go back there this evening even with a marginal wind for the food plot. It’s the first time this buck has shown up on camera.

When I arrived at the plot around 3pm it was sunny and warm. There were cows all over the place. As the evening wore on I figured I’d be lucky to see a deer with that much cattle activity going on around me. As darkness was quickly creeping up on me I had 11 cows under my stand feeding. Some of them were cute little calves even though they were annoying the living heck out of me.

As I started bitching and moaning to myself while looking at the sky I caught some movement on the horizon at the top of the hill across the plot from me. Instantly I knew it was the same buck from the trail cam picture. He made his way down the hill and hopped the fence to get into the plot. When he cleared the fence a few of the cows below me began to moo. When they did this he stopped broadside to me at 42 yards. I drew the bow and settled the pin behind the shoulder. I knew I could relax and make a good shot so I took my time. I’ve made a lot of tough shots under pressure and this was no different than one of them. I could feel my heart beating really hard in my chest so I focused on the pin and waited for the shot to break. I felt a little bit of panic creep in when the shot didn’t go and the buck took a few more steps. Then he put his head down and started feeding again. Within seconds the shot broke and the arrow was on its way. I heard that familiar hollow thud of an arrow passing through a deer. He bolted and ran toward the woods. I wasn’t sure where the arrow hit but was pretty certain it should have been within an inch of two of where I last saw the pin which was in the lungs and maybe a little back.

When he got halfway up the hill he ran out of gas and fell backward. Seconds later he was dead. I killed my first Kansas buck. It seems like it has been a long 4 years, but then again such a short 4 years. I’ve seen a lot of really good deer and passed quite a few just waiting to fire a shot at one I wanted. This buck was surely one I wanted. He’s an 11-pointer and has some character. I won’t forget this for as long as I live, especially to share it with my dad and my friends Kevin and Jody in Kansas. I could tell they were both happy for me, which made me feel pretty good. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. I probably never would have had an opportunity to hunt such good land in Kansas if it wasn’t for them. I’m truly thankful. I’ll post a few pictures of the deer. If you look closely at the trail cam picture it was taken seconds before my arrow wen through the deer. You can see the deer feeding and me sitting in the stand at full draw on the left of the screen in between the two really big trees.

I’d love to see dad get a chance at a big one in the morning, but either way we can’t complain. We’ve had a great hunting trip once again.


Friday 11/16/12

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I sat in the North Bowl again this morning. It was cold and very frosty. The action started a little late compared to normal. I had about 15-20 does go by me around 7:30. They all came from the field behind me. A short time after they disappeared I caught some movement and noticed a buck following their tracks. I quickly identified him as a small one and sat back in a relaxed mode. Within a few minutes another small buck came right behind him. With two small bucks following all the does I hoped a big one would catch the scent somewhere in his travels and make an appearance in front of me before the morning ended.

Around 9 o’clock a small 8 chased a doe out of the cornfield behind me and came right under my stand. At 10 I clicked my radio on to talk to dad. When I looked up I saw a pretty good 8-pointer coming my way. I couldn’t tell if he was a shooter or not, but he looked bigger than most of the ones I had been seeing so far for the day. I quickly told him I had one coming and slipped the radio in my pocket. As I withdrew my hand the release caught on the corner of my pocket and tumbled to the ground. A few seconds later I watched the buck walk right underneath me. It was par for the course.

Tonight I sat in Buck Alley and had a few does and an immature 9-pointer come out of the timber and feed until dark. Dad saw a bunch of deer this morning down on the end of the field near the Grunt Stand. He said one was a giant. I expected a good sit tonight but the crop-duster was spraying the field and it jumped all sorts of deer out of the area on its first pass around the field. Oh well. I guess that’s part of hunting agriculture areas.

The time is winding down quickly now. We had originally planned on going home after tomorrow morning’s hunt, but now we’re going to leave Sunday morning after we hunt. Although I’m ready to go home I also don’t want to leave if that makes any sense. I really like it out here and the hunting is so far beyond anything I could possibly experience back home. Who knows maybe we’ll get lucky tomorrow. We have three sits left.