Archive for December, 2014

Thursday November 20, 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

It was 11 degrees this morning when I parked the truck and headed into the woods. Luckily the air warmed up quickly and topped out at 38 degrees when I came out at noon to go back to camp to get a bite to eat before the afternoon sit. I spooked one out on my way into the stand. I never like doing that but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

About and hour after daylight I saw a beautiful buck that looked like a 9-pointer from a distance, but he could have been a 10. He was cruising along the fence line. I’m pretty sure it was the same buck I saw yesterday. I’m almost sure he’s the buck we named Joe Jr. after the buck Joe shot last year, which is a much larger scaled version of this buck.

I’ve had a scratch in my throat that doesn’t want to find a hiding place. In the middle of a coughing fit I scared three does away, which got under my skin a little bit. When you have limited time to hunt and you’re on vacation you don’t want stuff like that to happen.

As the minutes ticked by I had two more does and two fawns make their way down the ridge in front of me. I got ready just in case Mr. Big decided to follow them. Nothing followed, but I did see a good buck cross the field above me in search of does. He was headed toward the bedding ground around 10:30. I’m not sure if he was going over there to sniff around or if he planned on taking a break while catching a nap. Either way I hoped he would return.

I sat until 1 o’clock. I headed up to the knob for the afternoon since I hadn’t been up there yet. I sat in the knob saddle. There were some pretty impressive rubs all around me. I saw a handful of does and one small buck milling around in the corn field. A coyote made his way past my stand shortly after I got in the tree. He never offered a shot.

Dad sat in the South Plot again tonight. He saw three bucks and a few does. Only one day left. It looks bleak, but you never know. That’s why you hunt until the very end and give it everything you have. I’m hoping for a last minute miracle for one of us. It has happened before.

Wednesday November 19, 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

The week is winding down quickly and it seems like I just got here. In some respect I did because I’ve only had a handful of sits. I had a good feeling about today when I rolled out of the sleeping bag, but it didn’t happen. I sat in the stand I set-up last night from sunup to sundown. I saw seven does and seven bucks. A couple of the bucks were nice ones. A 9-pointer and 8-pointer were the top candidates for the day. The 9-pointer was a shooter. I didn’t get a good enough look at him to positively identify him from any of the pictures, but I do know he was a shooter. He came from the field on top and cruised along the fence located just inside the woods. The last deer I saw for the day was at 11:30. When you look back on days like this one it makes you wonder what would have happened if you sat someplace else in the evening. I guess I’ll never know the answer to that question. It got up to 28 degrees today, but as I write this at 9pm it’s back in the mid-teens again.

We got some news from the home front and it snowed like crazy along the great lakes from Erie, PA to Rochester, NY. They have gotten five feet so far and expect another three feet by the time the storm is done. Although it’s cold here it makes me thankful I’m not in that mess. The NY State Thruway is closed until further notice. Dad saw a really nice 8-pointer this morning. It’s the only deer he saw during the morning sit. He said it has a lot of potential to be a dandy in the next few years. He saw the same 8-pointer again tonight in the South Plot with three does. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Dad’s going to sit on the knob. He hasn’t been up there this year.


Tuesday November 18, 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

It was 12 degrees this morning when we went into the woods. Unfortunately neither one of us saw a deer. I sat in a stand that overlooked a logging road with a big scrape on it. After it got light I saw a few rubs scattered through the woods in front of me and quite a few runways filtering off the ridge and down the steep bank on both sides of the stand. Although the stand was in a great place I didn’t have any confidence while I was sitting in it.

Dad sat in one of my favorite places. There’s an old culvert laying in the middle of the woods and a short ways behind it you can see steps from an old tree stand that have grown into the tree. The steps must have been built out of some really good pressure treated lumber because they’re in good shape considering what the tree has done to them over time.

I set a stand in the Big Timber for the morning. I moved from where I sat the other day so I could be closer to where I saw all of the deer including the shooter that wandered by in the middle of the morning. I learned a long time ago not to wait too terribly long to move your stand if you identify a place they’re using more than the one you’re in, so that’s what I did. As I wandered around looking for a good tree I heard some sticks cracking and seconds later I was staring eye to eye with a big doe. She looked through me and trotted down the hill to my right.

That’s when I heard the unmistakable grunt of a buck. Not being able to see him yet I nocked an arrow and squatted next to the tree in front of me. I saw his antlers coming through the brush and he made his way past me on the same trail the doe had just used. He was a nice 8-pointer, but nothing I wanted to shoot. It was 2:30 when I saw him.

As soon as he vacated the area I found a tree and settled in for the evening. Although I would have preferred to be in another place I felt good about getting the stand in the tree for morning so I wouldn’t have to mess around with it in the dark. At 3:35 a 5-pointer came up out of the bottom with his nose on the ground. After he disappeared a doe came out of the field above me. She didn’t stay very long before she turned and headed back over the hill she had just come across.

Dad sat in the south plot tonight where we put the camera. Nobody sat there last night and a nice buck decided he wanted to be a movie star while nobody was in the stand overlooking the plot. I got some nice pictures of him. Dad saw the same 8-pointer I saw a few days ago and five does. I hope he gets an opportunity in the coming days. He really deserves it. It was 35 degrees tonight and it seemed like a heatwave had arrived. Hopefully the deer will move tomorrow since the cold temperatures finally broke today.  Here are some deer from the trail camera we set up.


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Monday November 17, 2014

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The nastiness continues. It was 11 degrees this morning with 25mph winds. I went to one of my favorite spots this morning. As I crossed a fence and began to walk across the hill in the darkness a few things didn’t feel right. Before long I was walking through a maze of trees. It appeared that a major wind storm had ripped through the area and uprooted dozens of trees since my last visit last year. After searching for a few minutes I found the tree I was looking for and latched my Lone Wolf climber around it. This area had always produced good results in the past, but the number of trees lying across the forest floor gave me doubts this morning.

A few minutes after the sun came up I had three coyotes go by me. Between yesterday and first thing this morning I had seen more coyotes than deer. It didn’t take long for the action to pick up and deer began filtering through the woods in front of me.

By the time I climbed down from the stand I saw seven bucks and five does. All of the bucks were chasing or had their noses on the ground, which is a good sign. Hopefully a doe brings a good buck by me in the coming days. Unfortunately none of the bucks came within shooting distance of the tree I was in, which made me reconsider the set-up.

Dad sat in the North Bowl this morning and saw a pretty good buck running a doe.

Tonight I sat in the North Plot, which is loaded with standing corn. Three does and a button buck came in right at dark. Dad sat on the Knob, which is a big knob located on the far side of the field from our campsite. He saw seven deer in the cut cornfield. One of them was a buck.

We put a camera up on the south plot tonight. On our way to set it up we saw a nice 10-pointer. We could have easily shot him, but he wasn’t a mature deer. He has a lot of potential if he lives a few more years.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’m cautiously optimistic. As I closed a cattle gate tonight and started walking along the road I wished upon a falling star that dad will shoot a really good one before the week is out.

Sunday November 16, 2015

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Last night we decided to sleep in and get some rest since the forecast called for below zero temperatures across the region along with high winds. By 9:30 we had all of our gear neatly stacked in the tent. We didn’t waste much time getting into the woods. This time of year any time spent outside of the woods is wasted time.

By 10 o’clock I was sitting in one of my favorite places called the North Bowl. I’ve always seen a lot of bucks cruising through this area. It’s a perfect funnel between a couple of ridges and fields.

There wasn’t much of anything going on at all. I was pretty disappointed that no deer wandered by and in the early afternoon I climbed down and decided to head to a place we call the South Plot to sit for the evening.

I had a few does wander past me as well as a nice little 8-pointer. I took some pictures of him before he disappeared. Dad sat on the next road over from me in the Big Timber. He didn’t see anything tonight. This afternoon it was 12 degrees with 30mph winds. It was plain ol’ nasty.

Here are a few photos of the 8-pointer.

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Here’s a buck I killed two years ago today in the same place I sat tonight.


Saturday November 15, 2014

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Today was our last day in Iowa. Brian and I got up early and dropped dad off in the area he hunted last night. Since he had some good pictures on the trail camera he decided that’s where he wanted to be for his last sit. Brian and I stayed at camp and began the packing process.

We picked dad up around 11 o’clock and made our way to the airport from there. Dad saw a couple of does and a few small bucks, but for the most part there wasn’t much activity.

We dropped Brian off at the airport at 1:30pm and headed toward Kansas. Within minutes of leaving the airport a light snow started and it quickly turned into freezing rain. Before long we were completely stopped on the highway and cars were scattered all over in the ditch.

The rest of the day didn’t get much better. We endured a few different road closures, but we pressed on to get to Kansas. Before it was done we saw two fatal accidents and I was never happier than when we locked the truck up at Super 8 in Kansas at 10pm.

Friday November 14, 2014

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

We killed one of our biggest bucks eight years ago today. It’s amazing how fast time goes by. I never understood the saying, “The older you get the faster it goes.”, but I completely understand it now. I would love to be able to stop the hands of the clock and hold them in place. I love life so much that I want to get as much out of it as possible and it seems like there isn’t enough time.

Dad returned to “The Killing Tree” this morning. The morning was pretty slow. We both saw the same 4-pointer and two does. Brian stayed back near the edge of the CRP field where I told him I thought it would be a great place to kill a good buck.

After we killed our deer we decided to have a contest to see who could video the biggest buck before the end of the week. Since neither one of us has really hunted the contest hasn’t had much excitement. A dandy 10-pointer bigger than both the deer we killed came right into him at 20 yards. As he tried to video it his camera turned off and “Battery dead” showed up on his viewer. He was going to win the contest, but the camera didn’t work. He watched the deer for about five minutes before it wandered into the swamp. He could have easily killed it on the ground. It goes to show you that you don’t need to be in a stand to kill big bucks. In a few days he killed a great one from the ground and could have killed this one, too.

Brian and I didn’t go out this evening. We went and picked up the meat at the butchers. We paid $75 per deer and the packaging was really good. Brian and I bought a freezer at a scratch and dent sale at Lowe’s yesterday and it worked awesome. We filled it up and headed back toward camp.

Dad went back to the area he had been hunting before I got out here. He likes it there a lot and feels good about his chances. He saw a few deer, but nothing of any significance. He did get some really good bucks on film when he pulled the trail camera. He’s going to give it one last try in the morning before we pack up and drop Brian off at the airport. We’ll be headed to Kansas tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be sad to leave this place, but I’ll be happy to get settled out there and begin another week of hunting. You never know what to expect, so I’ll find the best places I can and give it everything I have. Here are a few photos dad got on the trail camera.

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Thursday November 13, 2014

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

It’s winding down quickly now. I’m really pulling for my dad to shoot a giant. Brian and I both know he deserves it more than anyone and we have our fingers crossed that an opportunity presents itself. November 13 has always been one of my best days for killing big bucks, especially in the Adirondacks.  Since I’m not in the Adirondacks this year I’ll have to imagine what could have happened on this day if I was there.

We crossed the river again today in Radisson canoes to get the stands out that we left over there. I saw nine bucks and two of them were right after dropping the stand out of the tree. The majestic buck stood in the hardwoods about a hundred yards from me and stared in my direction. The entire event happened in slow motion and seemed unbelievable in more ways than one. Brian and I stood there and took it all in since dad had just left us and dropped down off the hill to our left. It was just another example of how hunting luck has a lot to do with timing and being in the right place at the right time. This buck was the biggest buck I’ve seen on the trip and I enjoyed every second of our stare-down until he bounded off the hill toward the swamp in the valley below. This area was really good to us although we didn’t release an arrow. The day Brian and dad hunted it before I arrived they had a lot of action. Brian passed a really good 11-pointer that had some palmation on it and dad saw a couple big bucks as well.

Before Brian and I met up he saw two bucks and a couple of does. Overall it was kind of a quiet morning.  In the evening we returned to the area where Brian and I hunted the first few days. I saw four or five does and a couple of small bucks on the way in. I saw a few more milling around right before dark, but in all reality I wasn’t really hunting.

Dad had a good night, but the shooter he saw never came close enough to give him an opportunity. He saw that buck and a few smaller ones along with a bunch of does.


Wednesday November 12, 2014

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

We woke up early today and got at it once again. Although Brian and I filled our buck tags we still have doe tags and if an opportunity presents itself on a large doe we might take advantage of it. It was tough to get out of the sleeping bag, but not because we had already filled our tags. It was brutally cold once again. It was 21 degrees with 30 mph winds, so the windchill made it feel about 5 degrees.

Since we left my stand in the tree yesterday dad decided to sit in it this morning and I set up a little ways from him. Around 8:30am he saw what he thought was a giant 12-pointer, which we assumed was the same buck Brian saw yesterday. Shortly after the big buck disappeared into the thicket a big 10 pointer made its way across the creek behind the stand and turned to come up the same runway that the buck I killed yesterday came in on.

Not being familiar with what the deer do in that area dad made the mistake of drawing his bow too soon and took a shot from a bad angle. The arrow stuck in the deer’s back as the buck made his way under the stand and disappeared over the hill in front of the stand.

I met my dad and we searched for the deer. We followed the tracks for a long way on the snow, but only found one drop of blood in all of the land we covered. In the process we found a few really nice watches as well as a bed that appeared to have been used a lot. I’m assuming it was one of those beds that many deer use, probably bucks.  The ground was slightly indented and there was cover on all sides of it. I’ll attach a photo of the bed so you can understand what I’m talking about.

When we got done searching we concluded that the deer would easily survive the wound, so dad climbed back into the stand. He wanted to sit the rest of the day while Brian and I went in search of a butcher to have the deer cut up and packaged.  The butcher guaranteed the venison would be ready by Friday.

In the morning I did see a big buck chasing a doe. I’m assuming it was the same buck dad saw that disappeared into the thicket, but I never got a good look at him in order to verify if that was the case. Dad saw bucks the rest of the day, but nothing else in the shooter category. Brian and I got back from the butcher and made quick time into the woods to help dad carry his stuff out of the woods. I find myself worrying more and more about him with his chronic coughing spells. Father Time is undefeated and I’m finally beginning to see the reality of it.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to go back to the place we hunted the other morning when I had the really nice buck come under the stand shortly after I climbed into it. I feel really confident about the place and dad is going to sit where I had the stand. I’m going to sit in Brian’s stand and pull it when I’m done sitting. It seems like I just got here and the hunt is almost over. I’d love to see dad get a look at something good. He deserves it more than anyone. If I could give up my success and let him have it I’d be more than happy to do so.

IMG_0141    This is the bed I found that has been used many times.

Tuesday November 11, 2014

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Traditionally the 11th of November has been good to us in the Midwest. Nothing will ever compare to the 11-pointer my dad killed on 11/11/11. That story would have been unbelievable if anyone ever wrote it beforehand. That’s the amazing thing about hunting. The story is always in progress as we get out of bed each day and head into the woods.

We woke up to a good coating of snow today. The roads were treacherous on the way to hunt. Brian and I dropped my dad off where he has been hunting. From the time I came out of the woods last night until I get out of the truck this morning I had nothing on my mind except returning to The Killing Tree. Something in my gut told me to return there and a voice which spoke softly at first began getting louder and louder inside my head. When that happens you must listen to what it says when it chooses to speak. I’ve often wondered if other hunters have experienced the same thing. Although people might think I’m off the rocker the voice speaks to me every once in a while and I try my hardest to get clarification if at all possible.

On our way in I had to leave Brian behind. I wanted to be in the tree before daylight and I was unsure of my route to get to the tree I wanted to set up in. He was carrying one of my dad’s stands over his shoulder because the shoulder straps were missing. As his frustration grew I gently reminded him how you have to make the most out of a bad situation. Once he was in the tree he would most likely forget the hassle he went through to get there.

Shortly after I got settled in the tree I saw a big buck cruising across the ridge on the other side of the creek. As I glanced back toward the ridge in front of me I caught some movement and two does quickly materialized out of the thicket. It didn’t take them long to make their way past me and head in the direction of the big buck I had just seen.

As soon as they were gone I turned around and saw a big buck cruising down a runway in the swamp. I clicked my Garmin Rino on and told Brian he had a big buck headed toward him. He told me he had already seen seven bucks including one giant that he guessed could score in the 170s. He no longer got those words out of his mouth when I spotted a nice 8-pointer headed in my direction. The buck sniffed along the edge of the briar thicket until he found something he liked at which point he disappeared into the briars.

Seconds later I saw the big buck that was headed toward Brian come running back  down the same runway he was on a few minutes earlier. As things seemed to happen in slow motion I thought I saw him fall over and lay motionless under two huge trees. The way everything happened I couldn’t get myself to believe what I thought I had just witnessed so I stood there in disbelief. A little bit of static on the radio brought me back into the real world and then I could hear Brian talking. He said that he just shot at the big buck and thought he missed. I informed him that I was pretty sure the deer had just expired because I saw it tip over when it ran past me.

Instantly, I whispered into the radio that I had to go. “Big buck headed my way” and seconds later I had loosed an arrow. As soon as the arrow hit the deer I knew it was a killing shot. The buck bolted up the hill and slammed into a few trees. He was dead on his feet and quickly tipped over after a 75 yard sprint.

I climbed out of the tree and headed toward Brian’s buck before going to see mine. When we stopped to take pictures of both bucks we were overwhelmed with the amount of deer moving through the area. No matter what happened the rest of the day I knew we had to get dad back in there the next day if hadn’t filled his tag. It was too active in the area to stay away.

Brian’s deer was a really mature 8-pointer. The main beam was broken, so it ended up being a 7-pointer. My deer had 11 total points but probably only 9 of them are scoring points.

The journey to get the bucks out of the woods was unforgettable. We decided to carry the canoes in and float the bucks down a feeder stream to the main river. From there I would meet Brian and Dad at a boat launch a few miles down the river. It seems easy, but the temperature was around 15 degrees with a steady 35mph wind. Here are a few pictures and videos from the journey.

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