Archive for November, 2017

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.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Today was brutally cold when we got up, but the fresh snow gave me a little hope to find a bear track and for the other guys to get on some deer.

We decided to cover some ground today. All of us put our GPSs on mileage mode to track the number of miles we covered over the course of the day. When it was all said and done, we had walked over 30 miles again and nobody cut a single fresh track. The deer just aren’t moving very much in the areas we are currently hunting. It’s disappointing to say the least.

I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow, probably more of the same. It’s supposed to snow a little again tonight. When we were driving out tonight, we picked a guy up who was walking on the road. He told us that his buddy missed a bear earlier in the day and he missed an opportunity at a nice buck. He had come a long distance to get to where we picked him up. I was impressed with the country he had traversed. I’d say he’s lucky he didn’t put the bear or the buck on the ground. It would have been a long trip out of there for him.


It’s on. I’m in luck. Stay tuned. They’re not hibernating yet, at least this one isn’t.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

It was cold when we woke up this morning. When I headed into the woods it was about 19 degrees. Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of wind. I was exhausted today since I had to drive home last night to get my medication. I accidentally brought two infusion sets with me and forgot a reservoir. Over the years, I’ve often imagined what it would be like to hunt for one entire season without having to deal with being a Type 1 diabetic. I think it would be a lot less stressful and maybe more fulfilling. I’ve dealt with the disease to the best of my ability, but sometimes I would just like a break, like last night.

I didn’t see much sign of any wildlife today, but I enjoyed my day in the woods. Around noon, dad had a spike run out of the slash in front of where he was sitting. He figured a bigger buck might have kicked it out, but nothing else ever showed up. He sat in that place the entire day without moving. I wandered around a little bit, and during my journey I found my Cousin Kyle’s stand. I know a few years ago he said he moved it to another location, but I never really went into the area because I didn’t want to interfere with him or his plans, even though he doesn’t hunt much. I’m glad that he took the time to put a safety rope on it. It makes it so I don’t have to worry about him. When I talked to him before writing this, he told me to feel free to use his stand. I’m thinking I might have to give it a whirl one of these days. It would make my life a lot easier and cut off half of the distance I usually walk. That would be a pleasant relief, although the stand is pretty close to where my dad always sits when he hunts with me on that end of the mountain. I guess you could call it my dad’s area more than you could call it Kyle’s area. If they were both sitting there at the same time, they would surely be interfering with each other. It’s kind of neat how family members can be drawn to the same types of places.

Smitty had planned on hunting during the morning and then going home to hunt with the Hayes tomorrow in Schroon Lake. I put him in a place where I’ve seen a lot of deer over the years. He was pretty disappointed when he got a crack at a pretty decent buck. Unfortunately, he hit some brush and the bullet never made its way to the boiler maker.

Smitty hasn’t had any issues shooting since he used to hunt with us. It appeared that he had all of his issues cleared up, but I guess some of the ghosts in the closet came out to visit him today. Maybe it’s because he rejoined us like the old days. It felt great to have him back in camp with us for a few days. I wish it ended on a better note for him, but it was still fun sharing a place in the woods with one of my longtime hunting buddies whom I haven’t been able to spend much time with over the last decade.

Josh and Brian didn’t see much of anything today. Brian put on some serious miles. He always wants to explore and see new country. He did that today. I couldn’t believe how far he traveled when he showed me his tracks on his GPS. He and Josh both said they found some good sign, but not much of anything that looked fresh.

We will see what tomorrow brings. We’re supposed to get a coating of snow tonight. Maybe that will finally get the deer moving.

It was good to have Smitty back in the woods with us. Here’s a picture from when he spent a lot of time in our tent.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

The search continued today. I finally cut a bear track but without snow, I couldn’t do to much to catch up to it. I did find a place where the bear fed for a while, so I’ll go with the assumption that the bear might return there in the next few days for a tasty treat. Since I know absolutely nothing about bear hunting as compared to deer hunting, I’ll continue trying to play chess with the black beasts.

Today was really slow for everyone. I saw a doe and fawn right before dark. Dad didn’t see a deer today, and Brian passed up another small buck this morning. He seems to have found himself a good spot. Josh didn’t see any deer today.

From what we have witnessed, the deer just aren’t moving too much right now. It blows my mind considering the time period, but it’s a fact of life. Sometimes the movement slows to a crawl, and that is what has happened in the area we are hunting.

We will see what tomorrow brings. Today in history, I shot one of my most memorable bucks.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving Day. It seems earlier this year than normal. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It was 19 degrees when we headed into the woods this morning. I headed back to the area where I saw a nice bear the first weekend of rifle season in hopes of seeing it again.

When I walked through the area yesterday, I noticed that deer had been feeding on beechnuts in the area, so I figured bears might be searching for some good eats, too. The morning passed too quickly, and I was far from ready to come out of the woods when we left.

Neither Dad nor I saw any type of animal today. It didn’t seem like the deer were moving. Brian passed up a nice little 4-pointer at 9:00. He said it passed by him at 20 yards and never knew he was there. That’s always a cool experience.

Although we’ve killed many great deer on Thanksgiving Day, including the Brow Tine Buck and the Blizzard Buck, which I wrote about in my first book, we didn’t have the opportunity to repeat some of those fantastic memories of my father taking down some great bucks.

Deer movement seems minimal right now, and I still haven’t located the bear sign I’m looking for. I won’t give up because things can change in a few seconds, and I know bears are still out and about.

Some Thanksgiving Day bucks from our collection.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Well, my two days back to work flew by. I was glad to be back in the woods today. I hunted with Dad and began pursuing black bears. I’m hoping to get onto one in the next week and a half so I can fill both of my big game tags. I’ll miss the deer hunting, but I can’t complain about a filled tag.

Since I wasn’t too concerned about anything other than finding bear scat or where one has been feeding, I rammed through the woods today. I did check a few cameras that I had set out, but nothing much appeared on either of them. I guess I’m thankful for that.

The weather forecast called for zero percent chance of precipitation. I got soaked from a wet snow which turned into heavy rain. It wasn’t good. I wasn’t prepared for the bad weather, but I stuck it out and gave it a go. My dad still has a buck tag, and he had no intentions of coming out of the woods.

We were in the woods from sunup until sundown, reaching the truck an hour after darkness consumed the woods. People wonder why we put so much into it, especially after a successful trip to the Midwest, but we love being together in the big woods. It’s where our bread has been buttered as hunters. It’s where we learned how to play the game and be successful. It’s something that’s  a part of us and always will be.

Dad saw a handful of deer today. I didn’t see much of anything. We will be back at it for a few hours in the morning before heading to my nephew’s place of Thanksgiving dinner. I hate having to come out of the woods, but I guess family obligations are way more important than hunting. Has anyone told you I love hunting?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

You might call me possessed, but after sitting in a truck for two days, I rushed into the woods when I got home. I wanted to check my local trail cameras to see if the deer I’ve been trying to save survived the entire time I was gone. I wanted to think he survived but didn’t get my hopes up.

When I rushed into the woods, I had no idea what to expect. Opening the trail camera, I wanted to see the deer and knew I would be disappointed if i didn’t see him. It didn’t take me long to find him. His picture was front and center when the card engaged in the reader.

As I scrolled through the pictures, I couldn’t believe that he had been there every morning and evening in the daylight for the last week. He would be extremely easy to kill if I had a tag. I went home and told Dad about it, and he told me that he might go try to kill him during the week.

I was disappointed and suggested that he leave the deer alone so it can survive the hunting season. The deer has super potential and could turn into a legitimate giant in another year. Since I can’t see the actual pictures I’m posting, I’m just hoping that the deer is in one of them. I’m having computer issues.





Friday, November 17, 2017

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Today was our final day of hunting. The weather wasn’t nearly as bad as it was supposed to be. It never got very cold, but the winds took their toll by the end of the day. Brian and I hunted the pine tree stands one last time. We both went in with hopes of seeing the deer we call Lucky, but it never panned out.

In the mid-morning hours, I heard a wicked ruckus in the brush across the creek. When I turned in that direction to get a better look, I saw two bucks chasing a doe through the CRP. The noise I heard was a shooter buck’s antlers banging off from all of the saplings he was running through. It was a sight to behold. The deer looked just like the buck that Dad killed on  opening day of Ohio’s shotgun season about 10 years ago.

I thought he might make his way across the creek after he lost sight of the doe, but he turned and headed back toward the ridge on the opposite side of the CRP.

After a phone call to Dad, we decided to pull stands. He had a guy in front of him who was metal detecting. The amount of pressure we’ve  seen this year from a number of different types of people has amazed me. Everything from hunters, people playing in the creek, boaters, metal detecting and squirrel hunters have had a negative impact on the hunting. Every time I hunt here, I tell myself I will never come back. I’m not really sure why I return. The frustrations constantly build until I almost get to a breaking point.

After pulling those stands, we decided to get the few remaining cameras and pull the last few stands. I decided to sit in my culvert stand and pull it when I got out of it at dark. On my way in, I jumped six does that were bedded on the side of the ridges.

When I got close to my stand, I could feel something looking at me. Glancing to my left, I could see a deer’s body behind a tree. The deer appeared to be about 250 pounds or more. As soon as I stopped to get a better look, the deer bolted. It was a giant buck. I was really disappointed to see it run away but felt lucky to see it.

After getting into the stand, I settled in for the last three hours of my hunt. Sitting in the tree, I reflected on the trip. I hunted harder than I can remember hunting in a lot of years. I spent every day in the woods from sunup until sundown. I just never got a great shooting opportunity. Although I saw a few dandies, the timing never lined up quite right.

Just as daylight was fading, I heard a lot of racket down in front of me. Peering into the brush, I saw a shooter buck rubbing its antlers. As he thrashed the tree and pawed at the scrape, I hoped that he would walk under me after he finished his business.

Unfortunately, he walked in the opposite direction when he finished destroying the tree he was rubbing. I was sad to see him go but realized I saw some fantastic deer on this trip. Hunting is made up of a lot of luck, and I didn’t have luck on my side this year while in the Midwest.

When we got back to camp, we checked the last few cameras that we pulled. One buck stands out above all others, and the picture tells you that it’s all about timing. We had stands in every location that there were cameras. We just didn’t pick the right spots to sit on some of the day we hunted.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

I really thought today was going to be the day. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. It could have happened for Dad if he had a buck tag. He saw three shooters in the spot where he missed the big buck a few years ago. It’s funny how that works. When I guy doesn’t have a buck tag, he’s the guy who sees all of the big bucks. He saw 10 does this morning and two does this evening. This morning, one of the big bucks was chasing a doe.

Brian and I hunted over in the pine tree place. Before daylight, I saw a small 4-pointer. I could see him with my binoculars, but I couldn’t see him with my bare eyes.

As soon as it got light enough to shoot, I saw an 8-pointer cruising on the runway that is halfway up the hill. I can’t imagine what the scrape looks like that all of the deer visit on that runway. I’d love to look at it, but since it’s on posted land, I’ll just have to imagine what it looks like. I know I’d be sitting on it if I had permission to be on that land. It’s a money spot. I’m sure I could find a killing tree if I had the time to explore it.

Around 10:30, I saw a fawn and button horn. They stayed and fed for a while in front of the tree stand. Eventually, they smelled me and ran up the hill. They returned around noon. This time they came from the other direction and did the same thing. Eventually, they winded me and took off.

Around 2:00 p.m., I saw a big deer cruising on the runway on the side of the hill. Once again, the deer stopped at the scrape that all of the deer stop at. When I got a look at him, I saw that he was a really good 10-pointer. He wasn’t a giant, but he was a deer I would have loved to shoot.

After working the scrape, he made his way up the hill and disappeared amongst the trees. I was disappointed to see him go, but I also thought he might make his way back to me before it got dark.

Brian had a decent day. He saw a bunch of does and three bucks, one of which was the shooter buck that went by me before it made it’s way past him.

Overall, today was a great day. The deer seemed to be cruising. We have one day left. It doesn’t look like Brian and I are going to get it done this year on this trip, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I can’t remember a time that I hunted harder than I’ve hunted on this trip. I’ve seen some great things and passed some really good deer. To kill great deer, you need to be happy with going home with an unfilled tag. In my earlier years, that would have been really difficult, but as I’ve grown older, I don’t have any problems watching deer and learning things about them.

It was 20 degrees when we headed into the woods today, and it remained cold the entire day. The wind made it almost unbearable at times. Tomorrow morning it’s supposed to rain and be miserable. It’s a fitting way to end the trip. Hopefully, the big bucks will me on the move because they’re feeling secure. I’ve seen big bucks move many times when the weather is really bad. I’m hoping tomorrow is one of those mornings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

I had a good feeling when I woke up today, and I felt like I was going to see a good buck. I had already figured out where I wanted to go, and I let my gut instinct guide me to the tree I call the 200-inch tree


During my 45-minute walk, I realized I had forgotten my safety harness in the truck. The sky was littered with stars, but it was still pitch black outside. I had to decide if I wanted to climb a tree or sit on the ground. I know better than to climb a tree without a harness, but I went against my intuition and climbed one anyway.

Shortly after it got light, I began hearing shots fired from a .22 in the same patch of woods that I was trying to hunt in. Within the hour, I could see a guy on the ridge behind me with a full backpack and a rifle.

After spotting me, he walked to the top of the ridge until I could no longer see him. Once there, I’m assuming he sat down. He started shooting his gun every 10 to 20 minutes. Eventually, the shooting subsided, and I figured things were going to calm down and get back on track. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and I spotted two more guys with rifles and backpacks.

I’m still trying to figure out why these people were in the woods before daylight on a Wednesday to hunt squirrels. It kind of makes me wonder about a lot of different things. I’m thinking there might have been a little bit of funny business going on, especially since the game warden told me a lot of poaching goes on in the area.

With the clowns walking all over the ridges around me, I knew the day was probably shot. A big buck had been making regular appearances in the area, and I was certain that the presence of the rifle-toting men would keep the buck away for the day.

Although I saw an 8-pointer at daylight and a few smaller bucks at 10:30 and 1:30. It appeared that the deer had been jumped by the squirrel hunters. The rest of the day kind of dragged. I saw a few small does right before dark. They never knew I was in the tree as they wandered past me.

Dad hunted the new spot this morning. A beagle and a cat chased some rabbits all over the area. Finally, Dad got sick of it and relocated to the stand I’ve hunted the last few days. He saw a really nice buck and a dandy buck. He said if he had a buck tag, he would have shot both of them. He said it appeared that a hot doe was in the vicinity. He also saw a small buck cruise through while he was sitting. All of the action occurred in the last hour of daylight.

Brian hunted the dead-end road today. He saw a doe and two small bucks this morning, but he didn’t see anything the rest of the day. It was really windy today. Tomorrow is supposed to be 20 degrees. It’s going to be tough to sit in the morning. Something in my gut tells me that we might finally get lucky. I’m hoping the feeling plays out. We should have a better idea in about 14 hours. Until then……………..I’m going to try to stay warm in my sleeping bag.

There are only three of us left in camp. Shawn left this morning. He’s going to try to get to Detroit tonight to see the Red Wings play their game. It was a pleasure to have him here. He took some fantastic photographs, and I’m hoping to use one of them for the cover of my book.