Archive for December, 2019

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

It was extremely windy today, with winds gusting over 20 mph. I spent the morning searching for the deer but came up empty-handed. I gave it everything I had, but in the end, I decided I didn’t hit the deer.

Thinking back on the moment in time when I pulled the trigger, I think I subconsciously made myself miss. Although I wanted to shoot a deer with my muzzleloader, I knew Dad had dinner plans and had to be home ASAP to make it to dinner for his reservation. I also didn’t really know if I wanted to shoot the deer. I’ve found myself lost in recent years between wanting to shoot deer and wanting to watch them. I think I just pulled the crosshairs away from the deer right before the gun fired. I’ll never know for certain, but my mind is leading me in that direction

When I walked out of the woods today, I was disappointed that the season was over. I already can’t wait for next year. I feel like I learned more this year than I have in a number of years, and I want to get back at it to see if I can use any of the lessons to help me be more successful next year.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

I woke up this morning to a pouring rain. The season has been long, and I wasn’t overly excited about going out and getting soaked since I just recovered from being sick. I called my dad and decided to wait until later in the day to see if the weather was going to break.

By late morning, the rain had turned to a drizzle. I headed to Dad’s house, and we decided to wander around the woods until dark. We went to our old stomping grounds close to home, and I covered some ground to find good spot to sit on Sunday morning.

After battling the heavy fog and steady drizzle, I decided I better head back to the truck. I figured I would still-hunt and try to walk up on something. The woods were quiet, and it felt like deer should have been moving.

As I picked my way through some big oak trees, I peeked over a bank and stared blankly at the woods in front of me. Something told me a deer was there, but I couldn’t see anything. Satisfied that nothing was there, I glanced at the ground and attempted to take a step.

That split second was all it took for a deer to take off running. Pulling the gun to my shoulder, I couldn’t get it settled in fast enough to get on the deer. I watched a nice buck bound off through the woods. I was pissed at myself, but knew it was my own fault. I had lost my concentration for a matter of seconds, which cost me the opportunity to take the buck.

After taking it all in, I continued across the mountain. I did everything I could to make sure I didn’t miss anything in front of me. As the fog seemed to become thicker, I knew I needed to start covering ground to get out before it got dark.

As soon as I began moving faster, I jumped a deer and saw that it had antlers on its head. I pulled the gun up and found myself lost in thought between pulling the trigger or letting the deer walk. I settled the crosshairs on its shoulder but didn’t touch it off. Instead, I watched the deer when it stopped. I could tell that it couldn’t tell what had spooked it. As it looked around I knew I had to decide what to do, so I lowered the crosshairs on the shoulder again and squeezed the trigger.

When the smoke cleared, I could see the deer running through the hardwoods. It had a high rack but didn’t appear to be a big buck. When I went to look to see if I had hit the deer, I couldn’t find any evidence of a hit. The light drizzle had turned into a steady rain, and I knew there wasn’t much I could do without finding any sign of a hit. I searched the area until it got dark, then headed home. I knew I would have to return in the morning to see what I could find.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Today was the last day of Northern Zone rifle season in New York. I decided to push off a bunch of knobs to my father to see if we could get lucky. Although, we didn’t get lucky, I did put some deer past him. He had a chance to shoot a good buck, the opportunity escaped him before he was able to let any lead fly.  He was really disappointed about it.

 When I hung my gear up tonight, I was sad that the end to the regular season had come to an end. As the years wear on, I gain more and more confidence and feel like there’s nothing I can’t accomplish. Where the season beats down most people, it motivates me to dig deeper. I had an awesome time this year. 

If you follow along, I’ll  try to get my 2019 Year in Review done in the coming weeks.  I still have next weekend to hunt with my muzzleloader. I’m not sure if I’ll be going out, but I do need to go to my local spots to pick up a few cameras I left there all year. It feels good to not spend much time in New York on cameras anymore. I got to the point where I was spending too much time chasing down camera cards instead of focusing on hunting. It has changed my game in New York and the success has increased. I still like to put a few out here and there, and I do have many of them spread across the Adirondacks, but I don’t bother checking them at all until after the season has passed. I just use them to gain knowledge.

Here’s a good buck my buddy Smitty killed this weekend. I’ve always had a great time hunting with Smitty. He’s a great guy, does great taxidermy work, and is a ball to hunt with. I’m grateful for all of the time we have spent together in the woods during hunting season.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

  I decided to go into the woods with my father this morning. I had a gut feeling about a place he should sit, so I told him to go there. I figured I would do some scouting and go back to get some of the stuff I had left behind to make my pack lighter for dragging the deer last night. We have also seen piles of bear tracks everywhere we’ve hunted this year.

  After getting to the blowdown I stored some of my gear in, I went over the next ridge and decided to hang out there for the morning. As it was getting light, I snapped my head up from a head-bob and saw a buck walking through the slash in front of me. This buck was clearly larger than the one I shot last night. I watched him for a few minutes before he disappeared off the bench I was sitting on and made his was down a ridge so steep that I didn’t think a deer would go there. It still surprises me as I’m writing this. Deer are amazing creatures. People have always said they could put me in a closet and I could shoot a deer. I never feel that way, but why that deer was in the place I was sitting, I will never know. I enjoyed watching it.

  After the morning faded into the afternoon, I did a few pushes to Dad, but nothing made its way past him. I guess I didn’t do a good job today on that end. I’d like to put one in front of him. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. 

  When we returned to camp, Josh and Brian told us about their day. Josh was lucky enough to put a nice buck on the ground. He shot it with a gun that was given to him a few weeks ago at his uncle’s camp in Otsego County. He made the owner of it proud today. It’s a Savage 7mm.08, and the deer didn’t run 40 yards after he shot it. Josh reminds me of myself. He has a way of following his gut to different places every day. Even if he has a plan the night before, he listens to his gut and follows its lead. I think this is essential to being successful.

Last night, Josh asked if he could have my Mead Lumber hat. I told him he could wear it and have it if he shot a big buck. Well, I no longer own my hat. He earned it, and I felt good about letting him have it. Hopefully, the Mead Lumber hat brings him a lot more luck in the future. He looks good in it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

The forecast for the day called for snow from the get go, so I packed my rain gear to avoid getting sopping wet. Unsure of what to do for the day, I based my decision on what Dad decided to do. I wanted to wear snow camo, but opted to wear my rain gear instead.

  He wanted to hunt a valley between a couple of steep ridges, so I decided to go around the back of the mountain where he was going and set up there. I figured that he might push me some deer or we might intercept one if it had any intentions of going up one side of the mountain and down the other.  Although I hate hunting steep terrain, my gut told me to give it a whirl today, and very rarely does my gut let me down. 

  Amazingly, the snow held off until around 10:00, but then it came down in blinding fashion. Since it was 15 degrees out, the snow was really fine and fluffy. Unfortunately, it began accumulating quickly. Before long, I was covered in snow but remained dry due to my Goretex coat. I wanted to be wearing snow camo, but the falling snow led me in a different direction. 

  I sat in the same spot for the better part of the morning. Around 11:00, I heard my dad’s voice on the radio. He told me he was mucking around on top of the mountain and there were a lot of tracks up there. He told me to make sure I stayed alert because he had a feeling something might make its way past me. He wasn’t wrong. A doe and fawn trotted by me shortly after I got done talking to him. 

 For the afternoon, we decided to use our cut-off method. Dad sat on one side of a saddle and I sat on the other. This particular saddle offers the deer more choices than normal at each end of it. That’s why we decided to take this approach. You can read more about that method in my lates book, “Pursuing Public Land Bucks.”

  At 2:00, the snow was piling up, and I was battling to stay warm. At 2:15, I heard Dad’s voice on the radio, which was in my chest pocket. As his voice chirped, I left the radio alone. A buck had stopped a short distance from me and was alert. Looking at it, I debated shooting it and figured I would let it walk 

  When he got closer to me, I heard Brian’s voice in my head. He always chirps about having the 8-point rule in the Adirondacks. “If it has 8 points, I’m shooting it,” he always says.  Looking at it through the scope, my mind took over and Brian’s thoughts inside my mind won out. 

  I pulled the trigger and the deer fell in its tracks. I pulled the radio out of my pocket and said, “What did you say?”

  Dad responded with, “Did you hear that shot?”

“Yup, I did,” I said. 

“Where was it compared to where you are?”

I smirked and said, “It was me. The deer is dead.”

Well, at that point the fun was over. After dressing out the deer, we headed out of the woods. The going was tough at times, but the brutality of it made the journey more rewarding. Yes, we could have quartered it or deboned it, but there has always been something about a whole deer that burns into my soul, especially an Adirondack buck that gets shot on the back side of a mountain. When we reached the road, it was about 6:30.  Amazingly, I felt good. Brian and Josh didn’t see a deer today. Looks like they should’ve gone with us into the area we found a few years back. This year has been hard to figure out. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

  I headed north late last night so I could get a jump on the morning. Driving through the darkness on the desolate roads, I could feel myself inching closer to success. The season has been difficult, and things haven’t lined up like I figured they would on many occasions. I’ve spent time all over the woods in different areas trying to learn as much as possible for the future. Although my dad has spent a lot of time in one place this year, I’ve been like a mad nomad, wandering from one mountain to the next while crossing this swamp and that one.  I’m still not sure I’ve found what I’ve been looking for, but I will continue looking. 

  As I neared my destination, a doe darted across the road in front of me, and a buck was right on her tail. I slammed the breaks on and narrowly avoided missing the buck. Yes, the second rut is in full swing. I couldn’t wait for morning.  Right before I pulled my truck off the road and parked it, I saw another buck race across the road in front of me with its nose on the ground. I could feel something special in my bones, something that doesn’t come around too often.

  The alarm rang at 3:45, and my short night’s sleep made it hard to get going. Although I had no problem getting out of bed, I was worn out and tired. It was cold out and a little breezy. I wanted to get to an area that has always treated me well late in the season, and I knew getting there before daylight would be of utmost importance.  My dad was also going to sit in an area that has treated him well over the years. We felt good about our chances.

  As we marched through the woods, my mind told me I was doing the right thing.  Shortly after daylight, the wind began picking up and the snow began falling. Before long, I was blanketed in snow and chilled to the bone. Instead of giving in to the elements, I dug deep and stuck it out. When the day came to a close, we hadn’t seen a deer.  I ended up covering a lot of ground and got some intel for the next few days. I found a few places that appeared to look good to spend some hours in the vicinity of them. There looked to be a lot of deer traffic as well as some running tracks where bucks were chasing does.  Although today was unproductive, we will see what happens tomorrow. Brian saw quite a few deer today and passed a small buck. I think he said it was a 4-pointer. I should’ve probably paid more attention when he was telling his story, but my body is tired. I need to sleep. At least I’ve finally escaped from the dreadful cough that has plagued me the last few weeks. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Over the years, I’ve killed a couple of dandies on this date. Unfortunately, today was uneventful. When I got out of the truck, it was 0 degrees, and it never warmed up. Although the temperature climbed to 15 degrees, where it leveled out, the deer activity was minimal. Donny saw a doe and fawn, but nobody else saw anything. Donny forgot his coat today, so it made his few hours of sitting a little miserable. In an attempt to stay warm, he sang the song “Maniac.” We all laughed at him and told him he didn’t have to prove he was a tough guy by sitting in 0 degree temperature with one sweatshirt on for four hours before calling it a day and heading home. 

  Snow rolled in around 1:30, so Dad and I decided to do a quick run through a piece of property to see if there was any sign in it. We found a fair amount of sign but nothing fresh. The area definitely has some possibilities for the future.

  With snow coming in the next few days, I’m not sure what next week will bring. I’m hoping some of the bucks get moving again in the areas I’m hunting. I’ve never seen things come to this much of a standstill this late in the season in the Adirondacks. I’ve seen it in other parts of the country but never here. I will be researching my memory banks to figure it out. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

The last day of November welcomed us with low temperatures and wind coming out of the north/northwest.  I needed to find a place to sit where that wind would offer me the best chance of seeing something. I picked a place where I killed a good buck a while back and headed there in the darkness. I made it to the area before it got light out and settled in under a giant hemlock tree. I saw a lot of tracks in the snow as I neared the place and figured I might get lucky. 

  The morning was uneventful. Not many creatures of any kind moved. I didn’t see any chipmunks, squirrels or birds. That’s usually not a good sign. As the morning moved along, I spotted a doe and fawn making their way toward me through the timber. They went past me and never knew I had invaded their space. It was cool to watch, especially knowing that I was inside their world, and they had no clue of my presence. I was like a creature of the forest. 

  A half hour after that, I heard a deer crunching through the crusty snow, and it was headed toward a scrape that had just been opened. I hoped that the buck was coming back to the scrape to check things out. 

  After a few minutes, I had five does in front of me but no buck. They fed until the wind hit the back of my neck and alerted them of my presence. They scurried back into the thick cover and disappeared. That was the end of my excitement for the day.

  Barry saw five deer today, and Donny saw around 10. Nobody could put an antler on a deer. We will see what tomorrow brings. It’s like the bucks have disappeared. Hopefully, they start moving again in the next week. I’m a little perplexed as to what’s going on.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

It was a little windy this morning and chilly. The day passed quickly, and I sat the entire day. I thought I was in a good spot to intercept a cruising buck. I guess there weren’t any cruising bucks today in the area I chose to sit. I was disappointed that I didn’t see a deer, but I was also excited that Donny had action in front of him all day. My buddy Barry didn’t see any deer today and neither did Dad. Josh was highly disappointed with his day, as he didn’t see a deer or much sign. Things have definitely slowed down in this area for the time being. As with any year, that can change in a matter of minutes. Hopefully, we can wait them out and catch them when they start moving again. We are all spread out across the map. If you randomly throw multiple pins at a map, one of us is probably in whatever areas the pins hit. We figured that if we had people all over the place, we might find someplace that has more activity than the others. Donny was the winner today. We might encircle him tomorrow and see if we can’t get a good buck to travel by one of us. We will have to talk about it today.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Today was the annual Thanksgiving Day hunt, and I was able to hunt with my dad and friend Donny. It was a chilly morning, and the wind howled out of the northwest. I did a lot of thinking last night and chose to go to a place I hadn’t been to in a couple of years. Something in my gut told me to go there.

  As I made my way across a few ridges in the darkness, I searched for a blow-down I sat in the last time I went to this place. Luckily, I found it in the pitch black and nestled into it. The woods were loud, and I knew I would be able to hear a deer coming for a long way. The snow is hard and crunchy. It has made still-hunting a little difficult. Although it’s not impossible to sneak up on a deer, it definitely takes some adjusting to make good use of your time.

  By the time the morning had passed, I had seen five does but no bucks. Donny didn’t see any deer and Dad saw a few. He saw a huge deer and figured he was going to get a crack at it. When it got closer to him, he couldn’t believe it was a doe. 

  The wind got increasingly stronger throughout the day, and it’s supposed to be a nuisance over the next few days. I’m not a big fan of the wind in the Adirondacks. Although Dad and I have killed some good deer in heavy wind, it seems that they don’t move like they do in the Midwest when the wind blows. In the Midwest, the wind doesn’t seem to affect them at all. It makes it easier to remain optimistic when you know there’s no difference in deer movement between a calm day and a windy day.