Archive for December, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

I skipped yesterday. The snow was hanging on the trees, which made visibility poor. I decided to catch up on a few things I needed to get done that I have put off. Dad hunted yesterday and saw 14 does and two bucks. He decided to give the bucks a free pass. He has a nice 8-pointer and a young 10-pointer on camera in the area he hunted. He was surprised to see them on camera, so he’s a little excited about it since the area is close to home.

Today I picked him up after work, and we headed to the woods north of his house. We only had about two hours to hunt, but a lot of things can happen in two hours. After parking my truck, we headed in opposite directions.

My calves burned as I hustled along a creek bed, over a ridge and down the other side of it. I went to an area that I haven’t hunted in about two years. Due to a lot of things, I vacated the area a few years back and had no desire to return there until today.

With the bad weather that has rolled through recently, I figured there would be no chance of any other people being in the area. I was correct. I never cut another person’s tracks, which made me feel at ease.

Within seconds of sitting down, deer exploded in every direction. I quickly realized that a buck was chasing does on the flat below me. Scanning through the woods to find the cause of chaos, I spotted a number of does.

As I tried to identify as many of them as possible, it was impossible to keep tabs on them as they ran around in circles. I could hear a buck grunting in the hemlocks off to my side, which was away from the rest of the deer.

I eased the gun to my shoulder and readied myself. The chaos continued below me as the deer grunted. A few seconds later, I could see the buck headed toward the other deer. A bad-ass spikehorn made his way across the flat to join in the fun, then I spotted a forky behind him. I centered the crosshairs on the shoulders of the forky, so I could gain back some of the confidence I had lost after the weekend. I gently squeezed the trigger to pretend like I was shooting the buck. When he disappeared below me, I felt good knowing that I could have made a perfect shot if he had been a big buck…..mission accomplished. I’m ready.

I never did get a look at the big buck that was chasing the does around. He must have been mixed among them, and I just didn’t see him. He chased the spike and forky back up the hill past me, so I know he was the dominant animal in the area. I wish I could have seen him.

I headed out of the woods feeling like I had accomplished something that is foreign to many people. I gave a death row pardon to two Adirondack bucks on the same night. In my younger days, I would have taken one of them. Now, I just enjoy the sights and sounds in the woods. It’s not that important to me to shoot a deer. I’ve already had one good opportunity, and I could have easily killed either one of these smaller bucks. That’s more than enough for me.

I hope one of us gets a look at something good on Thanksgiving morning or during the upcoming weekend. The weather looks like it’s going to be less than desirable. I guess we’ll have to make the most out of what we get. We can’t control the weather. It has dealt us one blow after another this year, so we’ll go with the flow and take it on the chin.

Here are a few pictures of the deer dad’s chasing around near his house. We both kind of hope this deer makes it through the year.




Sunday, November 20,2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

When I woke up at 4:30 a.m., it was spitting some snow but not sticking to the ground. By the time I headed into the woods an hour later, the ground was covered. I could tell that it was going to be a mess.

My legs burned as I marched through the darkness. Unsure of what I wanted to do, I continued walking without any real plans. I’d figure it out as I went. The snow hung on the branches and cut any visibility to almost nothing. In some places, I could see about 20 yards. It was extremely difficult to cover much ground without getting covered in snow.

I trudged along in hopes of coming across a good one laying down or randomly wandering. There were times that I had no clue where I was standing. Nothing looked remotely similar to its regular appearance.

Finally, around 11:00 a.m., I decided to give up and head back toward the road. I hadn’t cut a track in over five hours, so I figured my chances weren’t too terribly good. When I made the decision to head out, a string hanging from a huge pine tree caught my eye. Unsure of what purpose it served, I moved closer to examine it, expecting it to lead to a tree stand. Looking into the tree, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The rope went around a limb about 30 feet up the tree. I’ll never know how the person got the string around the limb or what purpose it actually served.

At first, I figured the string had been used to hang a deer overnight, but when I looked closely, I couldn’t imagine that the string would actually hold a deer. It’s possible but highly unlikely.

That’s the beauty of the forest. There are so many stories you can come across and never know the reality behind them. You get to make your own stories so they can correspond with your imagination. It’s pretty awesome.

The weekend didn’t play out as I would have liked, but I did have an awesome time. As Josh and I sat on a log to eat our lunch, I felt like I was his age. When I’m hunting with Josh and Brian, I always think we are the same age. As we talked, I realized Josh is 20 years younger than me. He’s had a couple of incredible years in the deer woods, and I recall having the same kind of success at his age. It seems like it was yesterday. It improved over time as I gained knowledge, and the journey has been nothing short of phenomenal. I hope he and Brian continue expanding their knowledge and build upon the success they’ve already experienced. They are both hard-core guys who earn what they get. It’s nice to see guys from that generation doing what I did 20 years ago. It was hard to navigate through the woods with all of the snow.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Josh and I got up early and headed in to look for the deer. He came up last night to help me today. I decided we would wait until a few hours after daylight so the dew would have time to dry on the leaves. While we were waiting, Josh saw a few deer, and I had a buck chase a doe by me. I never saw him, but I could hear him grunting as he moved past me. It’s always fun to imagine what the animal might look like when I can hear it but never see it. It could have been a buck with barely visible antlers, or it could have been an old monarch that has been the king of the forest for many years. I’ll never know. I do know that I will have to spend more time in this area in the future. I shouldn’t have left it alone for the last few years. Last time in there, I didn’t see many deer or a lot of sign. It looks like it’s a good place this year. I’ll be interested to see if it holds true next year.

When we began following the blood, Josh was certain that we would find the deer. It didn’t look as good to me as it did the night before, but it still looked like we might have a chance at catching up to him. I was hoping we would find him in his bed.

When we headed out of the woods before darkness consumed the sky, we were both a little let down. We gave it everything we had, and it just wasn’t enough to find the buck.

It sickens me that I wounded the animal and wasn’t able to recover him. I don’t like to see any animal suffer, especially because of my actions. I’m not sure what happened. I do know that I rushed the shot and didn’t take my time. With all of the bow hunting that I’ve been doing over the last few years, this experience felt a little different than what I have become accustomed to while deer hunting.

It was a quiet walk out of the woods. I’m sure I will remember this buck a lot more than some of the ones I’ve killed along the way. I wish I could change that, but it’s kind of the way it probably works for most of us. It will eat at me for a while, but I also know that I need to turn the page and get back at it. If I stay in that moment for too long, the rock rolling down the hill will turn into a boulder and plow over everything in its way. They’re calling for snow tomorrow. It’s supposed to be a sloppy mess. Dad and Brian might unpack from their trip to the Midwest tonight and do some hunting around home tomorrow. Something tells me they will show up in the morning to help us look for the deer.

I haven’t wounded a deer with  rifle in 20 years. If I had even a dusting of snow, I would be able to find him. It’s merely impossible to catch up to a wounded deer when it’s not bleeding and you have nothing but bare leaves.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Today was so incredibly foggy that it was almost impossible to see more than 30 yards. I got a little messed up on the way in the woods because of it. I walked in circles for quite a while. I almost think the headlamp made it worse.

After finally getting to where I wanted to go, it was light out. I saw a lot of sign in the area I chose to sit, which was good, but the fog made it impossible to feel optimistic about my chances. I waited it out because it would have been senseless to walk around too much. It finally lifted around 10:30, so I decided to cover some ground. I was hunting alone and didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.

I mapped out a little plan and headed on my way. I knew where I wanted to be for the evening sit and figured it didn’t matter what happened as long as I ended up there around 2:00 p.m.

Even though I hadn’t been in this area in a few years, I must’ve planned it well because I arrived there around 2:30 and settled in for the last few hours of daylight. I had a fantastic day and wanted to sit back and relax for a bit before heading out of the woods.

An hour into my sit, I caught some movement down the hill a ways, and a deer quickly materialized. Pulling my binoculars to my eyes, I quickly identified four points on one side.

Having been in the Midwest for the last few weeks, it looked like a small deer, so I enjoyed watching it walk toward me before deciding to go around a blow-down. When it went around the blow-down, I saw that it had 5 points on one beam, and I suddenly decided I wanted to shoot it. I quickly remembered I was in the Adirondacks, and it was a good one for the location.

I knew he was going to be gone in a few seconds, so I put the crosshairs behind his shoulder and helped the trigger along. It was thicker than the smog over LA, but I attempted to whistle a bullet through it.

When the gun cracked the silence of the mountain air, I saw him do the infamous heart kick and take off running. I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t be too far away.

Upon getting to where I thought he was standing, I couldn’t find any indication that I had hit him.

About 20 minutes later, I found a tiny spot of blood and followed the tracks leading away from it. Within seconds I was into pretty good blood and figured I would find the buck in a few seconds.

As I continued tracking, the blood began thinning out, and the buck was nowhere to be found. Finally, I decided I better tie a ribbon and return in the morning. When I reached for some ribbon, the buck bolted from the brush in front of me, and I fired another shot. Running through the thick crap, I expected to get another shot if he hadn’t fallen. I was almost certain I put one in the boilermaker when the gun fired. The crosshairs were on his shoulder when the gun fired. I could clearly see that.

When I got to the tracks, I saw a lot of blood, which was incredibly easy to follow. I was certain I would find him dead within minutes. After following the tracks for a bit, the blood began fading away once again. I couldn’t see well enough to do much, so I tied a ribbon and decided to return the next morning with some help.

I headed out of the woods, and the journey was difficult. Being dark, I couldn’t tell what anything looked like with my flashlight. Not knowing exactly where I was and being somewhat unfamiliar with the area the deer had brought me, I knew my trip out was going to be an adventure. When I finally got to my truck is was well after dark. I hope I find the buck tomorrow. He’s a really good one, one of the better ones I’ve seen in a number of years in the Adirondacks. If I hadn’t passed him when I first saw him, I would have easily killed him. That’s the bad part about spending two weeks in the Midwest in the company of 130-150 inch deer every day. Seeing a Booner a week ago made this deer appear much smaller than it actually was.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Although I knew I shouldn’t go out today, I couldn’t resist. The mountains are screaming my name this year. My home is in the mountains. I love hunting here, even though my chance of killing a high-scoring deer are very slim. I just enjoy being in God’s country. I’ve hunted all over the United States and there really isn’t anything like it. It’s my home. I love the challenge of finding a deer and trying to kill it. Finding one is half the battle in these mountains.

Well, tonight I went back to where I hunted earlier in the week. Something told me to return there. There was a significant amount of sign in there, and I feel like with a little time, I might be able to connect with the big buck I have on video.

I sat until dark and didn’t see a thing. It was a little too windy for the area I was sitting in. I’m sure my scent was blowing in all sorts of directions. I won’t be back in there until next week. Tonight I’m headed to an area I haven’t hunted in a number of years. I’m going to spend the the next three days there. Hopefully, the deer will be moving. I put some cameras in this area back in the late summer. I don’t know what to expect. It could be good or it could be bad. I will still be in the general area I’ve been hunting for the last few years, but I will be about five miles from the spot I spend the most time in. I will be headed to a valley between two pretty rugged mountains. It’s extremely hard to access. Although I have a lot of time in the area in the past, I hope it won’t be too bad in the morning when I begin my journey well before daylight. I’m excited about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

I didn’t go hunting yesterday because of the heavy rain. My exhaustion from the driving finally caught up to me, too. I just needed a break. I want to be on point for the weekend in case I get an opportunity.

It rained most of the morning and cleared out during the afternoon. Although the rain subsided, the sky was still dark and dreary. The wind cut through me like a knife.

I decided to hunt on the top of the mountain that I was on the other day. Once I got to the very top of it, I started picking my way through some huge boulders. Feeling like I was in the presence of deer, I stopped to look around. Instantly, deer began running in all directions. I pulled the gun to my shoulder and followed a few of them as they ran through the timber.

I identified two of the deer as does. When I watched them running, some movement beyond them caught my attention. There was another much larger deer running across the knob behind the others. I couldn’t see the head well, so I couldn’t tell if the deer had antlers. If I had to guess, I would say that it did.

After pulling cards from a few of my cameras, I continued to a spot I wanted to look at. If I found some sign there, I would sit there for the rest of the afternoon. Upon reaching my destination, I paused to take it all in. Scanning the the ridge in front of me, I saw a big deer run up the side of it. I couldn’t tell if the deer had antlers, but it was definitely a larger deer than the one I had seen a few minutes earlier. I’m almost certain that it was a pretty good buck. I didn’t get many pictures on my cameras, but I was happy to see that I did get a few pictures of good bucks.

I have to decide where I want to sit tomorrow. I’m leaning toward the backside of the mountain because I’ve had more luck there in the past. I’ll have to think it over tonight and tomorrow and figure it out before I get out of work.

Something inside me tells me I’m on the edge. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer. An opportunity should present itself in the next few days if my intuition is correct like it normally is about this type of thing. Here’s a picture of one of the bucks I got on camera.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Friday, December 16th, 2016

I can’t stay out of the woods this week. Traditionally, the dates this week have corresponded with my best memories in the Adirondacks. I killed one of my biggest bucks on November 14 many years ago. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

I rearranged my work schedule, so I could get in the woods after work. I’m going to try to hunt for a few hours every day this week. I have too much history to stay inside and not make every attempt to get the job done.

I went down the back of a mountain this evening to check on a spot that usually has a lot of sign during the rut. I was happy to see that the deer have been using the funnel regularly. Depending on how much sign I see tomorrow, I will probably be back to sit in the area.

I could hear deer walking on the ridge above me and on the shelf below me. Unfortunately, I never got a look at any of them. I’m fairly certain that the deer on the ridge above of me was a buck, but I’ll never know for sure. I’ll be back at it tomorrow to see what happens. I was disappointed to see that I only had one buck on my camera, and it was a 4-pointer. The good thing is that it was only a few days ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

This has always been one of our best days in the Adirondacks. I spent all day driving home. At times, the ride was pretty boring. I got home around 7:00 p.m. I’ll be back at work in the morning. I can’t stand that I have to go to work during the best time to hunt in the Adirondacks. I’ve arranged it so I can go in early and get out early to hunt every day after work. I will give it everything I have this year since I have more time to spend in my home state during the best part of the hunting season.

Here’s a picture of one of the many bucks we’ve killed on November 13.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

This morning was nice. It was 41 degrees when I got out of my truck. I saw a few bucks on the road as I made my way across the country roads to my hunting spot. I figured the deer would move, but I was wrong. We sat until around 9:30 to give it one last shot. Dad saw a few deer, but I didn’t see anything. It was rather disappointing. When I took my stand out of the tree, I began to think back on my previous visits to Illinois. For some reason, it seems like Illinois is my kryptonite. I can’t seem to break the ice in Illinois. This was my third trip to the state. At least this time out, I saw a lot of shooter bucks. Since I threw all of my eggs in one basket, I knew I was coming home with a Booner or nothing. It’s not often that you know the buck you’re hunting is a Booner, and the pictures I had assured me of what I was pursuing.

We packed our bags and hit the road around noon. I followed dad and Brian to Ohio. They’re going to stay there for a week, but I have to return home due to a lack of vacation time. I wish my work revolved around hunting, so I could spend every day afield. This is my first trip to the Midwest in as long as I can remember that I won’t be coming home with at least one nice buck. I learned a lot. I also realize that it’s impossible to control the weather. The temperatures throughout the week definitely kept the overall activity a little less than normal.

Here’s one of the many deer we have killed on November 12.




Friday, November 11, 2016

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Traditionally, November 11 is the best day we’ve had in the Midwest. We’ve killed a lot of nice deer on 11/11. The most memorable one we ever got was the 11-pointer my dad shot on 11/11/11. That was an incredible day. It never gets old thinking about it.

I saw a big 8 jump the fence first thing in the morning as he chased two does. Although he started coming right toward me, he changed his mind and went through a fence gap. I didn’t see him after that.

I decided to sit in another stand in the evening. The woods were really quiet. Not much happened until about a half hour before dark. That’s when I could hear a deer walking. Searching for the source of the noise, it took me longer to find it than I would have liked. When I spotted the deer walking, I instantly knew it was the Booner. As it was going away from me, I decided to turn the can call over in my pocket.

The buck turned around and started coming toward me. My knees began to shake as I got ready. When he got in the brush below me, I knew he had to make a choice about which way to go. If he went left he would end up right underneath me. If he went right, he would most likely go through the brush about 30 yards down the ridge.

Losing him for a second, I realized which way he went when I spotted him in the brush about 30 yards away. I drew the bow in case he changed directions, but I didn’t get that lucky. He continued walking until I could no longer see him.

He milled around in the leaves and grunted a few times. The grunts prompted me to grunt back to him. When I did, I could hear him coming. My breathing became shallow, and I got ready to draw the bow. I could hear the leaves crunching as he got closer, but he never made his way into the open area in front of me.

A few minutes later, I could hear him walking away from me. I knew my opportunity had passed. It’s not too often that you get within shooting distance of a legitimate Booner. It was an incredible experience.

Dad saw big buck and a small 10-pointer today. He didn’t shoot. He’s holding out for something bigger. He ended up seeing a few other small bucks before it got dark.

Brian worked on things all day. He did gather some information about a new place for us to check out for the future. It sounds like it could be a really good piece of public land.

It was about 43 degrees today and stayed in the 50s all day. Tomorrow is it. I’ll be headed home and dad and Brian will continue their vacation in Ohio, where they will meet Jeff and Doug.

Here’s a picture of the 11-pointer dad killed on 11/11/11