Archive for February, 2019

Recap of 2018 as we head into 2019

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

It has taken me a while to get back here since the season ended, but I decided tonight was a good time to review my season. I’ve begun laying my plans out for 2019 hunting season and have a lot of work ahead of me. This winter has been eating at my craw with every passing day. I believe the deer herd is going to take a major hit due to the severity of the winter. There has been snow on the ground since the first week of November in most places across the Adirondacks, and it has become increasingly deeper by the week. March usually packs quite a punch, and we aren’t even into that month yet. We will have to cross our fingers as we creep toward spring.

Last season had way more ups than downs, but the downs seem to resurface when I think about them. Father Time is undefeated and in this game called Life, nobody gets out alive. My dad is getting older by the day, and he just can’t do what he used to be able to do. Although the things he does still amaze me, I know the time has come to help him with certain things. That’s why I took a great sense of pride in getting his deer out of the woods. I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t do any of the dragging. I felt in some small way that I was finally able to give back for all of the times he helped me get deer out of the woods while I was growing up.

Although we still help each other throughout the season, it felt good to put him in the place where he killed his buck this year. We have shared a lot of information over the years, and any deer we kill is a deer for both of us. We have always worked great as a team, with each of us putting in the same amount of work to make sure the team succeeds. It’s rewarding to share success with great teammates. Every year, I realize how great it is to hunt with people who live by the same philosophy.

Our year started off in Colorado. There was a tremendous amount of pressure and the elk sightings were at a minimum. Although we did see and hear some elk, it definitely wasn’t one of the better trips. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get one within bow range. I did see a couple of big bulls, but seeing them and shooting them are two vastly different things. The trip was a little different than most due to the fact that the Australian visual artist was with us. I can’t wait to see how his documentary comes out when he finishes it. I don’t know what to expect, so having no expectations about it won’t leave me feeling disappointed when I see it for the first time. I don’t have a clue what will be in it or how much I will appear in it. I know I’m one of the featured subjects, but I don’t feel I gave him much to highlight. We never killed an animal while he was filming us, and we were on the go nonstop while he was trying to film.

During the filming process over the last five or six years, there have been a few clips that I’m hoping appear in the documentary. When I explained to him why I hunt, he was genuinely interested. I used a specific quote to make it easier to understand for someone who doesn’t understand hunting. If I had to choose anything to be in the film, that one quote would be it. It explains where I stand with hunting. Looking into the camera while sitting in my parents’ living room, I read the quote to him.

“The kill is the satisfying, indeed essential, conclusion to a successful hunt. But, I take no pleasure in the act itself. One does not hunt in order to kill, but kills in order to have hunted. Then why do I hunt? I hunt for the same reason my well-fed cat hunts…because I must, because it is in the blood, because I am the decendent of a thousand generations of hunters. I hunt because I am a hunter. – Finn Aagard

Every year, I’m more and more thankful that my father introduced hunting to me when I was a child and let me make the decision as to whether or not I would make it a part of my life. By doing that, we have become the best of friends as well as a father and son being able to share some incredible memories throughout our lifetimes. It has been a simply awesome journey, one that I’ll be forever thankful for. I understand more and more of what he gave up to be my father along the way. He gave up a lot in his own life to make sure I had things he never had while growing up.

We left Colorado without scoring. That’s when our focus changed and got directed toward our trip to Illinois. Having never been to the place we chose to hunt, we didn’t know what to expect.

When we got there, we weren’t impressed with the amount of deer sign. All sorts of crops were still standing, and there weren’t many deer along the road or in the woods. There wasn’t much deer sign in the woods, especially buck sign. Although we didn’t see much sign, Dad did see some nice bucks. His stories kept some optimism flowing through the tent.

Unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worst, and he had to head home early. Brian and I stayed behind and gave it our best shot. I’ve never seen so much pressure along the road. There were cars everywhere and most of them were from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana. I never imaged there would be that much pressure. Fortunately, we didn’t see hardly any people in the woods.

After Dad went home, Brian and I were able to score on a few nice bucks, and we quickly learned that the area held some really nice deer. We will definitely be returning to the area to hunt in the future. The quality of deer that we came across piqued our interest and made us realize that we should probably look deeper into the areas we passed through. I think we could kill some nice bucks if we got to know the areas a little better. I guess we can’t complain because we did kill two Pope and Young bucks on our first trip to the location.

After tagging out and heading home, I had some extra time to hunt in the Adirondacks. Instead of focusing all of my efforts on one place, I decided to go to many of my old haunts across the region. I hunted many different areas and enjoyed every minute of it. In many areas, the snow was so incredibly deep that it was almost impossible to hunt.

In my travels, I crossed back in time to find many memories I’ve made along the way. Near the end of the season, a lucky guess put me in the right place at the right time to score on a really nice buck. When it comes right down to it, you make your own luck. My luck was made that day by following my gut. I had a gut feeling about a place, so that’s where I headed. I could’ve gone there and not seen a thing, but on that day, it was a day that a big buck decided to walk through the area when I happened to be sitting there.

My season was topped off when my dad killed a nice buck on the last weekend of the season. His season was filled with bad luck, so that buck kind of made all of the disappointments from the rest of the year subside. This was the first time in a long time that everyone in our group killed a buck in the Adirondacks. Although we were spread out all over the place and the deer came from different areas, it felt good to know that we all topped it off with nice bucks. It makes all of the earlier mornings and late nights going in and out of the woods worth it; it’s a labor of love.

I’m looking forward to this coming season. I have a lot of ideas about things I want to do and how I want to do them. I’m going to do everything I can to find a buck to hunt in the early season in the Adirondacks. I’ve never put much into that due to the canopy during that time of year. I’ve come up with a few plans to make the task a little easier. I’m not sure if it will work, but I’ll give it my best.

My new book has been doing well, and I have one weekend of seminars left this winter. I’ll be at Turning Stone casino the second to last weekend of March to sign books and talk a little bit about what’s in the latest one. Feel free to stop at the show and see me.

The picture below might have been the highlight of my season. It was taken during late muzzleloader season at our camp in Hogtown. It’s my dad and Rob Miner, my two hunting idols while growing up. I always wanted to be like them. I wanted to be hard core and kill big bucks like them. I always told myself I would do anything to be as successful as them along the way. Looking at them in that room the day I took the picture, it’s hard to believe that I’m now the age they were at when I dreamt of doing anything to be like them. It was enjoyable to sit there that day and listen to them share stories about hunting. The three of us shared a lot of great times together. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly, as the two of them are in their 70s now and I’ll turn 50 in a few months. I’ve never taken our time for granted. I’ve tried to gain as much as possible from the time and learn along the way. If I had half of the knowledge they have about deer hunting, I could probably deer hunt for a living. I guess I’ll keep trying to learn more as I go. I never could have asked for better role models in the deer hunting world. If I didn’t become an outdoor writer and author of hunting books, we would just be nameless faces in the crowd of deer hunters. There are many others out there who know far more than us. Deer hunting is a game that is impossible to master, and that’s probably what makes us return to the woods every fall.