Archive for October, 2019

Sunday, November 27, 2019

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Today was miserable and raw. It was 40 degrees when I woke up, and a steady rain was falling from the sky. I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. The forecast called for heavy rains all day.

I headed into an area I’ve never been and decided to cover as much ground as possible. When the day ended, I had put on about none miles. I get messed up a few times and had to trust my compass to get me back on track. I saw some good scenery and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I often enjoy my own company. I found some sign that might deserve another look at some point in time. I’ve ventured all over the Adirondacks, and I have to admit that this place intrigued me with the possibilities that it had to offer. I’ll have to think about it over the next few weeks to see what I can draw from my journey. I never make snap judgments after my first trip into an area. Sometimes we can think it’s not worth going back, and other times we think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. When we return, it’s not as we had constructed in our own minds.

Although I never saw an actual living animal on my walk, the deer must’ve decided to move in the late afternoon. When I was putting stuff in my truck to head home, I got a closeup of this guy. That topped off my weekend. What a great first weekend of rifle season. It was a great time.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Well, I woke up to 30 degrees and a crystal clear sky for the first morning of Northern Zone rifle season in New York, a day that I always anticipate. I made a plan earlier in the week and stuck to it. I got going well before daylight to get to where I wanted to go before there was a hint of light.

I arrived to the place I wanted to sit and found a place to keep myself concealed. With my back against a huge hemlock and a big hardwood ridge in front of me, I hoped that something would come down off the ridge and make its way past me.

As the sun came up and I welcomed daylight, the water falling from the trees was deafening. This went on until about 10:00 a.m. I expected to see something, maybe a good one, but the morning passed without any luck. I sat until noon and had a plan for the rest of the day.

I headed over the ridge in front of me and hunted it for about a mile before I decided to take a finger off from it that would drop me into some rolling knobs that held a lot of beeches that were dropping nuts. During my hunt, I found a lot of sign in certain places, but it wasn’t very consistent. It didn’t bring my hopes very high. 

When I got back to some places that looked familiar, I took a compass shot and headed for a place that has traditionally been good in the evening for deer movement. I would sit there until dark.

When I got to the place, I had a good feeling. It’s one of those places that feels like a well-worn glove. When you slip it on your hand, it just feels right compared to the many other gloves you own. There’s nothing special about it, it just fits like a glove.

Chipmunks scurried all over the logs in front of me, and I enjoyed watching them. Then, everything became quiet, and I heard the unmistakeable sound of a deer walking. I knew it was behind me, so I slowly turned around and scanned the forest for it. When I saw it, I could see that it had antlers. It was a nice buck, and it was coming right toward me. I enjoyed watching it and was able to take some video of it. It turned out to me a nice 7-pointer. I thought it was an 8 until I looked closer at the video. Twenty five years ago, my season would have been done in the few seconds after I spotted the deer. I’ve grown over the years and now hunt for different reasons. I thoroughly enjoy watching bucks to see if I can learn something from them. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, and I’ve passed a great many deer. Most people can’t imagine passing bucks in the Adirondacks, where some hunters have a hard time seeing any bucks at all. I’ve come to enjoy it and really don’t care if I shoot a deer. This was a great experience.

I still remember the first Adiriondack buck I ever passed. It was on a rainy evening, and it walked to within 10 yards of me. I eased my finger off the trigger and let it walk. It was just a spikehorn. Many years have passed since then, and I feel that I’v matured a lot as a hunter and a person. I’ve shot many big bucks within minutes or hours of passing up small bucks. It’s amazing what a little discipline and self-restraint can bring to you. Here’s the video of the buck.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Recently, a guy who I met through my book seminars was asking about how to approach things for this coming week. He had to push his vacation forward due to his wife’s upcoming surgery. I gave him a little bit of advice because I have always done well during the last week of October. It’s one of my favorite times to be in the woods, and I wouldn’t trade if for much.

If you can find scrapes this time of year that have licking branches and have just been opened up, I’ve seen time and time again where the bucks will visit that scrape again in the same week. My intentions for the weekend were to use that advice.

I decided to get one last day in the woods with the muzzleloader today. I went in early and got out at noon. I was in the woods by 2:00 p.m. It didn’t take long for the heavens to let loose and start dumping rain on me. Dad also decided to take the afternoon off. We headed in different directions to do look at a few different areas.

I headed into an area I’ve never been with a weapon. I’ve been in the area at other times but never while hunting. I’ve always seen sign there, so I wanted to see how it looked in the early season. I had marked some scrapes on my GPS and was curious to see if any of them had been opened yet.

As I neared the location, I stopped and looked at my GPS. When my eyes hit the screen, I heard a noise. Looking up, I could see a doe getting out of her bed and bolting away from me. She didn’t run far before stopping. I could see her tail wag a few times, so I decided to stand still for a bit.

When she disappeared, I started looking at the GPS again. I saw that I was within 100 feet of the scrape I had found while scouting. Excited, I zoomed in on the screen. The split second it took me to do that cost me a big buck. He had been lying a short distance to the left of where the doe had been, but a big tree blocked my vision. When he got up to go, I had the GPS in one hand and my gun in the other. There was no possible way I could get the gun to my shoulder and get on him. After a few bounds, he was gone……maybe the only opportunity I will get for the season. In the Adirondacks, it’s hard to see any deer, let alone a big buck.

Dejected, I wandered around for a while and got back to my truck at dark. When I caught up with Dad later that night, I found out that he missed a nice buck. He found a fresh scrape and sat a little ways from it. The buck was coming in to freshen it right when the rain tapered off. Dad is assuming he hit some beech whip brush. He could’t believe he missed — and neither could I. He’s usually pretty deadly when he has a weapon in his hand. Although it saved us a lot of work, it would have been really if he had gotten the buck.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

I decided I would do some walking today to see if I could find a buck. I covered a lot of ground. At the far end of my journey, I found an area that a buck had torn up. It appeared that he was in the area when an oak tree was dropping acorns. He had plenty of rubs in the area, and some of the trees he had rubbed still had the bark on the leaves.

Along the way, I found a handful of scrapes. I will be spending some time in this area over the course of the next few weeks. It’s unfortunate that it takes me so long to get to this place, but I think it might be worth it in the end. I’ve seen some big bucks in the area in the past and killed a few too.

This scrape looked much better than it appears in the picture.

I had a good afternoon in the woods. I didn’t see very much sign, but it has rained so much lately that it’s hard to see sign. I found where two bucks are working, and I think both of them could be killable in the next week. Hopefully, our paths will intersect so I can see what the bucks looks like that is laying down the sign.

As I headed down the mountain, I snapped this photo.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Today is my brother’s 54th birthday. Although he hunted a little bit when he was younger, I never really had the ability to hunt with him. By the time I was old enough to hunt, he had moved to Montana and never hunted after he left. I often wonder what it would have been like to hunt with him. I’ve seen many brothers who hunt together, and it seems that they have some great times together.

I ventured to an area where I grew up hunting. I wanted to look around for a bit and check a camera I had in the area. I always put a camera there to see if anything might be using the dinner table.

I was disappointed to find very few pictures on my camera. I did have a bear on it, but that was about it.


As I strolled out of the woods, I encountered a lot of mixed emotions. I’ve hunted the area since I was a kid, but it’s just not the same anymore. Many things have changed over the years, and I don’t have the confidence I once had when I walk in the woods in this place. Although I return there every year to see what’s going on, I try to make things happen rather than accept the reality that it will never be what it once was. Walking into the darkness, I could smell dirt and leaves, a smell that reminds me I’m in my home.

When I got to my truck, I learned that my buddy Steve had hit a buck earlier in the day and was unable to recover it. He was disappointed, and I could understand his frustrations. If we hunt, those things are bound to happen. It never feels good when we don’t hold up our end of the bargain, and it’s something we have to life with the rest of our lives. Hopefully, he can put the disappointment behind him and make a quick recovery.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Dad and I got an early start today and put on some miles. We had a goal of trying to find some fresh sign. My journey brought me to some nooks and crannies that I haven’t been to in a long time. While I expected to find sign in traditional places, I didn’t get that lucky. Instead, I found the most sign in places that are hard to get to and almost impossible to access without disturbing the deer. I’m going to study things this week and try to figure out how to approach the areas I found where the deer seem to be hanging out.

I also determined that it’s going to be a rough year. Everywhere I found leaves turned up, there were beds all over. With all of the beechnuts on the ground, the deer don’t have to travel far to find food. It appears that they’re feeding and bedding in the same place. They stand up and eat for a little bit before lying down. It doesn’t appear that they’re traveling very much. I’m pretty sure the same thing will play out the entire season.

Overall, it was a great weekend for hunting. The weather was ideal. I had a great time with my father, and we enjoyed every minute of the time together. Along the way, I found where a buck has been working. He rubbed a few trees shortly before I got to the area where he was feeding. In the one picture, you can see the fresh bark on the leaves. It didn’t appear to be a big buck, but all buck rubs tend to excite me, just like every deer I see excites me. Here are a few pictures from my weekend.

Saturday, October 19,2019

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

I couldn’t have asked for a better day to hunt. It was around 30 degrees when we headed into the woods, and the vehicles had frost on them. Today felt like deer season had truly arrived. Here in New York, it’s the first day of muzzleloading season, and hunters can shoot bucks or does in the Northern Zone.

I hunted with my father today, and we split up and scouted as we hunted. We both sat until late morning before doing our thing. I found a spot that looked really good. It didn’t have any fresh sign in it, but I could tell that I would see some deer in the spot during the rut. It had everything you need to kill a good one. Five runways all ran through a small hardwood bowl on the edge of some really thick stuff. When I walked through the place, I instantly knew it was a place that I need to sit. Time will tell if I get back there, but my intentions are to give it an honest effort at some point in time.

We spent the entire day in the woods and put on some miles. Overall, I didn’t see much sign today. I’m going to go to another area to hunt tomorrow to see if I can locate some fresh sign. Sign is tough to see right now because of the 3-4 inches of rain that fell a few days ago. Hopefully, the woods settle back down.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Monday, October 14th, 2019

I had no intentions of going out today, but when my buddy Chris called, I couldn’t tell him no. I ran home after work and mowed part of my lawn to get that out of the way, then met him for an afternoon sit.

Instead of sitting with him tonight, I decided to go check out a creek crossing where I’ve had a lot of action in the past. I haven’t checked it out this year and didn’t know what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the tracks coming up the bank from the creek. They have been using the area regularly, so I decided to sit on the hill above the creek. The wind was howling out of the west tonight, which made almost all of my good spots out of play.

Although it was 70 degrees, I felt like some deer might move. We didn’t see anything tonight, but it was still fun to me out there doing what we love. Here’s a picture of where I sat tonight.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Monday, October 14th, 2019

I hemmed and hawed about going hunting today. I watched the Yankees/Astros playoff game and didn’t get to bed until midnight, and I only got five hours of sleep the night before. The sign I found on Saturday made it a little easier to get out of bed, but it was still difficult.

Although I didn’t use to mind the early season, I’ve come to the point in my life that I don’t enjoy it as much anymore. It could be because I have a zillion other things going on, or it could be because it seems like it’s almost always in the 70s while trying to hunt. However, the buck sign I found yesterday demanded a little bit of my attention.

I’ve put on a lot of miles already this year. Amazingly, I’ve found a few places where big bucks seem to be working. I found an area where a pretty good buck is working within sight of the road. Since I’ve never hunted the place, I got going and figured I’d give it a whirl. I had about an hour and a half drive to get to my destination, but the excitement I felt about the sign I had found made the drive seem effortless.

It was a great morning to sit. When I got out of the truck, the thermometer in my truck read 36 degrees. It was just about right for an early season hunt. I sat for about four hours and didn’t see any animals. It felt good to be in the game, and it kind of kickstarted me into wanting to start playing the game. I’m hoping that one sit will give me the motivation that I seem to be lacking this year.

After hunting, I helped my father the rest of the day. We had a lot of work we needed to get done, and we made a day out of it. We basically finished everything we set out to accomplish, which made the day even better. We should both be ready to start hunting regularly now that muzzleloading season is rolling into view in the Adirondacks. There are still a lot of leaves on, but their beginning to fall quickly.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

I met Chris at 5:30 this morning, and we headed to Dan Ladd’s house to hunt. Dan set up a blind for us on a small food plot and told us we could sit there for the morning. Dan has always been one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. After explaining to him what I’ve been doing with Chris and telling him about Chris’ handicap, he was excited to let him hunt on his land.

We climbed into the blind around 6:00 and waited for it to get light. While Chris was crawling in front of the blind, a big doe took off and ran into the woods. He spotted her in the light cast from the headlamp.

It was a cool morning, and I figured the deer would be moving. Although we heard some geese and crows, we didn’t see much of anything moving near the blind for the first few hours.

At 8:30, I spotted something moving in the woods below us. After a closer look, I saw that it was a big doe. I told Chris to get ready. Although I didn’t have a weapon, my heart raced and I was nervous for Chris. I wanted him to get a shot at the deer. When I looked in front of her, I figured her path would lead her by us in a few minutes. As the minutes ticked away, the deer never made an appearance.

On our way out, I took a few pictures of Chris crawling behind me while I carried his gear. If anyone out there ever feels the need to complain about a bad walk, just remember that at least you have the ability to walk. Chris does not have that ability, and I’ve never once heard him complain. He just gets on his knees and starts crawling to wherever he had to go, no matter how long it might take him to get there.