Archive for October, 2020

Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Traditionally, today has been a really good day for us. We’ve killed some great bucks on Halloween over the years. Most of them have been in areas around fresh scrapes.

I had Barry drop me off this morning, so he could take my truck and come and go as he pleased. I just told him to get me at dark beside the road. He’s hunted with me before, so when I told him where to go to check out the scrapes, he headed there.

When he dropped me off, the thermometer in the truck said 17 degrees. I tried a few new things today. I decided I would walk in my lightweight pants and carry my lined bibs with me. I’ve had the bibs for a long time, and they are super lightweight. I figured I would give it a try and see how it worked. I also bought some boot covers from Josh to see how they work. I was impressed with everything. The bibs worked great, and the boot warmers were even better. I sat until about noon and never got cold. My feet stayed toasty the whole time.

The area I sat had a dusting of snow from yesterday. There were some tracks in it, so that gave me a little extra incentive to wait them out. After putting six hours in, I decided nothing was going to happen.

I wandered around during the middle part of the day. I cut two people’s tracks, and didn’t see too terribly much sign. It didn’t appear that the deer moved too much today. It was an idea day today. When I headed into the woods at 5:00 a.m when most others were still sleeping, I had a feeling that today was going to be the day. Everything lined up in my favor, but for some reason, I’ve never had much luck around the time of a full moon. I’m not sure why, but that time period has never agreed with me. When I packed it in for the day, I hadn’t seen one living creature. I never saw a bird, squirrel, chipmunk, deer or anything else. That definitely doesn’t give me much confidence for tomorrow, but I’ll be out there grinding again. Here are a few pictures from my day. As you can see, it was pitch black when I started. The only think looking back at me was the moon.

Friday, Oct. 30, 2020

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

When I clocked out, I looked outside and saw a bunch of snow still hanging on the trees. I had watched the radar earlier in the day and saw that the snow most likely missed the area I usually where I usually hunt, so I decided to hit the road.

I wanted to cover some ground to look for a spot for my buddy Barry to sit, as he was coming up for the day. I looked around for a while, but didn’t find much that looked great. I saw where a few scrapes had been opened, but I didn’t see much besides that. I think I’ll send him in there tomorrow and see how he does.

Dad got out for a bit tonight, but he’s having a tough time getting around. He seems to shuffle through the woods, as his legs don’t have a lot of strength. He didn’t see anything.

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Anyone who knows me knows I can become obsessive when it comes to achieving goals. I also do the the same thing when I think I can kill a buck that is laying down sign.

When I finished my work for the day, I glanced out the window at the pouring rain and said, “Why not? Today could be the day he comes to that scrape.”

With those thoughts in mind, I packed my gear and headed into the woods. I decided to still-hunt around the area where th buck has been working. At times, the rain was coming down in sheets, but I stayed the course and focused on the task ahead of me.

As I got close to the sign, I spotted a doe behind a log. When she got to her feet and began running, I clicked the safety off and scanned the woods. I knew he had to be laying with her. Watching her bound across the flat and dump off the side off the mountain, I was disappointed when nothing else followed her lead.

I continued still-hunting until I got to the place I sat the last few days. I decided to give it a whirl again. While sitting, the water began pouring off the brim of my hat and rolling down my face. I enjoyed the misery, as I was sure he was going to show up. I’ve seen a lot of big bucks show up during horrible weather.

I waited until dark, but nothing showed up. It’s supposed to snow tonight. I’m up in the the air about returning or heading north. I’ll have to figure it out when I get done working.

Here’s a buck I killed during horrible weather, and I killed him just a short distance from where I’m after this one.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

After looking at the weather last night, I figured today would be my best bet to kill the buck that I found last night. The weather was supposed to blow through, and the sun would break through in the early afternoon.

As I worked today, I knew today was going to be the day. I could’t wait to get in the woods. It was cool, damp and perfect for a buck to come back to a scrape as soon as the rain blew out.

As I was driving to my father’s house after work, I was irritated that the weather man was incorrect with his prediction. The rain was still coming down, and the road in front of me was as foggy as the London fog. Since the rain wasn’t coming down in buckets, I figured I still had a chance.

Dad had a good day at the doctor yesterday. They changed a few of his medications, and he looks a lot better today than he has the last few weeks. All of his bloating quickly disappeared after taking the new drug. I can also tell that he feels better. He’s a tough son of a bitch, and I’m glad he’s such a fighter.

He told me he wanted to go with me, so I was happy to have him jump in the truck. We were in the woods by 2:30, which gave us about three and a half hours to make something happen.

I made my way to the area where I sat last night. I couldn’t wait to get there. On my march, I found a few new scrapes in the area the hadn’t been there yesterday. That buck was still going at it. You’d think it would only be a matter of time before I see him, but the weather isn’t helping matters.

I settled in and began my wait. I could barely see beyond 40 yards through the fog. I could see that the scrape had been torn up again in the last 24 hours. It really makes me wonder what this buck looks like. I’d love to get a look at him.

I heard blue jays going crazy shortly after sitting down. I heard them last night in the same place, too. It kind of made my chuckle to myself. Over the last week, I’ve been watching some YouTube stuff from the most popular hunting show on YouTube, and everyone on the channel says to get ready when you hear a blue jay cawing because the deer are coming. While this is true at times, it’s a huge fallacy to think that every time a blue jay squawks, you are going to see a deer. It simply isn’t true. I’d almost bet that the odds of seeing a deer after hearing a blue jay is probably less than 10%. Do your own study and let me know what you find. In the last week, I’ve heard about 15 blue jays squawking and have yet to see a deer afterward. Maybe I stink or something. I guess I’ll never know. It’s food for though, anyway.

I sat until shortly before dark. The fog was so bad that it made me dizzy while walking out. It’s easy to get turned around when it’s like that and gettin dark at the same time. I came out in an area I didn’t expect to come out to, At least I knew where I was when I got there. I just didn’t know how I ended up there.

Dad had a good night. He was able to still hunt and go back to his younger years. Before he finished for the evening, he had tallied six deer sightings and one was a good buck. He could see the antlers as clear as day, but he didn’t have a good shot at the body. He said he probably wouldn’t have shot it anyway, but it was a nice deer. He was glad to see some deer. I, on the other hand, feel like I’m stuck in quicksand this year. It’s an odd feeling.

Dad was packing his gear for Illinois tonight. He told me he’s thinks he’s going to go. Hopefully, the next few days continue in the right direction, and he’s able to make it happen. It’s suppose to rain tomorrow, but I’ll be back at it unless it’s a torrential downpour

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Although I have a ton to do before leaving, I couldn’t resist going hunting today. The weather was picture perfect for a good evening. The barometric pressure was rising and the rain had tapered off after giving us its best shot for the last 24 hours. I figured it would be an ideal time to get into the woods.

When I thought about where I wanted to go, there was no hesitation in my thought process. I knew exactly where I was going to sit — hopefully. I figured I would walk to the back side of a mountain where I’ve had a lot of luck over the years and look on a small flat for some sign. If there are any good bucks around, they usually lay down some scrapes in this area early in the season.

Having rained all day, it wasn’t difficult to see fresh tracks. I enjoy hunting after or during a light rain because it makes it easy to follow tracks, almost as easy as on the snow.

When I cut my first track, I began following it. It brought me around a few blowdowns and along the edge of a flat covered with heavy evergreens. Before getting into the evergreens, I studied a small opening in front of me. I could see where the deer had been feeding under a lone oak, and the tree was enormous.

Continuing across the opening, I began seeing scrapes on the other side of it. I could feel the excitement in my veins, and I knew I was in a good buck’s neighborhood. Peering down the hill in front of me to where it benched out into a 100-yard flat, I could see the ground torn up. Pulling the binoculars to my eyes, I couldn’t believe what transformed on the other end of the glass.

A scrape larger than I have ever seen could be seen quite clearly. Amazed, I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was as large as a mid-sized car, and the leaves and dirt had been thrown five to 10 yards behind it. The tree under which it was made was torn apart. He had thrashed the tree and done some damage to it. It was easily a 6-inch tree. I could feel me heart trace as I continued taking in the sight.

Since the rain had just stopped, I began scanning the entire area to find a place to sit. I just couldn’t find anything that looked appealing, so I backed up and researched my memory. A fallen tree prevented me from sitting where I truly wanted to sit, so I made a concession and sat farther down the hill. It wasn’t the most ideal place to sit, but I could still see the scrape well.

Before I sat down, I found another large tree that the buck had ripped apart, and I found five to six more scrapes but none of them had a licking branch like the one I was going to watch.

When you find this type of sign, it warrants your attention. In my history of hunting, I know scrapes like this at this time will definitely be visited again in the next few days. Hopefully, I can be in the right place at the right time when he decides to visit.

As darkness crept up on me, the skies let loose and it began pouring. Visibility quickly diminished but not before I could see a deer making its way toward the scrape through the brush.

I couldn’t believe he was coming into the scrape. I hadn’t been sitting there for more than an hour, and the plan was playing out right in front of me. It reminded me of the buck I killed a few years ago in the same exact place doing the same exact thing. History has a way of repeating itself in the big woods and can be generational. Big bucks seem to use the same areas every few years. It might take a bit for another one to move in after you kill one, but in these places where they do, it can leave you with an opportunity to get a look at a good one every few years if you do your part

As the deer got closer, I clicked the safety off and readied myself. When it finally poked out of the brush about 30 yards from the scrape, I could’t believe it was a doe. I really expected that it was going to be the big buck that had left the sign earlier in the day.

She quickly disappeared into the darkness that was consuming the woods, and she blew when I stood up to leave about 15 minutes later. I wasn’t too happy about the one quick blow, but I guess there are some things that you just can’t control. I’m hoping the buck wasn’t in the vicinity, but I’ll never know for sure.

I will give this place a few more tries this week. In big woods, sometimes deer only go through an area once a week or maybe twice a week. I’m hoping he will be in this place regularly since there is so much sign there right now. I know it’s as sure a bet as any when you find sign like this during this particular week, but it won’t last long. The time to kill a deer like this is now. Unfortunately, I can only hunt a day or two before having to fulfill other commitments. I’m hoping to get some good weather to cooperate. I’d like to have a repeat of the Bluejean Buck in the same place on the same date.

Here’s the smaller of two rubs I found today. And the other picture is the buck I killed in this place a few years back. I like this area because I feel alone in the forest. It’s a place that isn’t overly appealing, but when it has sign in it, it’s a good idea to give it a chance.

You can see the bark in the leaves from where he rubbed the tree earlier in the day.

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

Monday, October 26th, 2020

This morning was one of those mornings I love as a hunter. I was clear, cold and calm. I would be able to hear any deer coming for a while before it got to me. I love listening to deer walk through the leaves.

I got into my spot a little after daylight today. I didn’t feel well when I woke up. I battled some blood issues throughout the night, which led to broken sleep and not much of it. Luckily, things straightened out about halfway through my walk to where I wanted to sit.

I chose to sit on a steep hill today and watch a nice flat below me. Although it’s an area where a lot of deer don’t seem to travel, it’s an area where some good bucks work early in the season.

I had two places I could’ve sat this morning but chose this one when I reached the other place first. I decided to continue walking and settle into this place for the morning. I was happy about my choice.

Shortly after daylight, a reddish pine marten with a white face made its way toward me. Before long, it was running across a log 10 yards to my left before climbing a small pine tree and sitting in it above my head. There were a few anxious moments, as I know they can be vicious little creatures. I still enjoyed watching it.

I sat until about noon before wandering around. I wanted to check a few things out, and I had a camera in this place. It’s one of the only places I actually put a camera this year that isn’t within a few hundred yards of the road.

I wish I hadn’t checked it, but I did. I’m not sure what I expected to see on it but what I found didn’t make me too terribly happy. I will never understand why people can’t leave things alone that aren’t theirs. I don’t touch other people’s stuff, and I’d expect that others would do the same. I guess it’s just the way I raised. I’m proud to be Dad’s son because I believe I do things the right way — respect people and respect their things, even if it’s on public land.

Most people don’t realize that it’s basically impossible to erase a video on a camera, and furthermore, if it’s set on picture and video, they don’t even know the video is on there.

Well, someone decided to erase all of the pictures on the camera, then made sure they walked in front of the camera afterward to pretend they hadn’t seen the camera. He pulled a face mask up to cover everything but his eyes, so he can’t be identified. Unfortunately, for him, he didn’t realize that I have everything on video, even all of the pictures he erased. Of course, I didn’t get the still images, but I got all of the videos where there still images come from before the video starts.

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t mess with other people’s stuff. If you want to look at it, which I wouldn’t do, just look at it. There’s no reason to go messing with stuff and sabotaging it. I have some good footage of the person, and I’ll make sure to say hello when I see him and ask why he felt the need to do what he did. As I tell everyone, “It’s a really big, small world out there.”

In a small area, everyone kind of knows everyone else’s business, even if you don’t want to. I always stay to myself and try my hardest to avoid others. It doesn’t always work, and that’s easy to understand. I kind of laughed to myself about what had transpired, but at the same time I won’t lie and say it didn’t get under my skin, because it did. Mission accomplished, said mad did what he set out to do.

At the end of the day, I hadn’t seen a thing when I headed out of the woods. Nobody saw anything today. I’m not sure how much the deer moved the last few days. I didn’t hear many shots at all, and I usually hear quite a few the first weekend of the season.

At least I finally got on the board this weekend and have two deer sightings under my belt for the year, and one of the deer was a nice buck I chose not to shoot. I wish I had my camera with me, but I chose not to carry it in the rain. I’m going to try to pack it with me the rest of the year. It’s been a few years since I got any good footage while hunting. I need to get back at it, but this year hasn’t been good for that so far. I haven’t seen anything to video, although the buck and the pine marten would have been very cool to see on my TV.

Dad goes to his nephrologist on Tuesday. Hopefully, she can figure some things out and get him headed back in the right direction. I don’t like to see him feeling like he has been feeling recently. Any improvement would be good. We do know that his last round of tests didn’t go well. Tuesday, he gets to see what is next in his recovery. I’m hoping he gets back on track and feeling better so he can enjoy a little time in the woods.

Saturday, Oct. 24, 220

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Today’s date has been a good date for me over the years. I’ve killed a lot of nice deer during the first week of gun season, including a couple dandies. I always look forward to opening day but not the way I used to look forward to opening day in Southern Zone. The opening days are two drastically different things. Each one of them has its pluses and minuses. Opening day of Northern Zone just doesn’t produce the adrenaline like the opener in Southern Zone. Here’s a good one I killed on opening day back in the late ’90s. It dressed 185 pounds.

I hemmed and hawed when I woke up about where I wanted to go. It was 64 degrees when I got up and a light, misty rain was falling from the sky. I knew I was going to get drenched on my way into the woods. It’s never good to start the day soaking wet.

Finally, as I drove down the road, I decided to go to an area that has treated me well over the years. I’m not sure what made me go there, but I followed my instincts and let the tires of the truck roll across the dirt road until I found myself turning into a parking spot. There was absolutely no pre-planning for this hunt.

As I made my way through the woods after getting out of the truck, I spotted a light in the distance. Another hunter was headed onto the same ridge, but he had parked down the road from me. I knew I would quickly be out of his sight, so I continued through the woods in the darkness.

I was settled into the spot I wanted to sit well before daylight, and I felt good about it. The rain came down in sheets off and on. Fortunately, I had stuck my tree umbrella in my backpack before I left and screwed it into the tree above my head. The tree umbrella is one of the best investments I’ve made over the years. It’s hard to believe that a simple $20 item can be so handy and keep you dry.

About 9:45, I spotted something running toward me. It wasn’t hauling ass. Instead, it was just trotting, but it was definitely getting away from something.

As it trotted past the tree I was leaning against, I put the crosshairs on the shoulder and debate pulling the trigger. It was a really good buck, but I wasn’t sure it was one I wanted to attach my tag to on the first day of the season. The hesitation gave it enough time to get past me. I could’ve shot him one more time, and I know I would have killed him either time, but I eased my finger off the trigger and let him go.

After he was gone, I regretted the decision, especially with everything that is going on this year. My mental state is shot, and I’m finding it incredibly hard to concentrate and find time to hunt. I feel like I’ve been decimated to a weekend warrior, and I don’t like the feeling. I guess I’ll make my way form one day to the next and take them as they come. I can’t do anything more or less than that this year.

I enjoyed seeing the deer, and it made me feel good. About an hour later, I spotted a huge doe. I expected it to have antlers, but it was as bald as an egg. I still can’t believe the deer wasn’t a buck. The buck I saw was stocky and mature, but this doe was probably about the same size. I’d be surprised if she didn’t go 150 pounds. I’ve seen some nice does in the big woods, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a doe that big.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. It was 39 degrees when I came out of the woods. The wind put a damper on my hopes for the afternoon.

Walking out of the woods, I realized how lucky I had been for the day. Many people hunt for the entire season and never have an opportunity at a buck — and I had one on the first day of the season. Many people say I’m lucky, but I believe people make their own luck. I work really hard at it, and this summer I worked harder than I have in many years. I put on a lot of miles, and I traversed some rugged country in the process. Yes, I might be lucky, but the luck doesn’t find me: I find it.

I’ve always liked rainy and windy days. It gives me a chance to walk around and explore things. I found this scrape with a licking branch earlier this fall, so I went back to see if anything had opened it up. I’m not sure if the buck that made it last year survived of if he was a casualty of the hunting season. I guess I’ll never truly know. I do know that he hasn’t turned to it to open it up. Maybe he will come back to it in the coming weeks. Dad saw a guy today, but he was hunting right next to the road. Brian saw a few does.

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Today didn’t go as well as I had planned. It was 76 degrees when I got out of my truck. I basically wanted to check something out for tomorrow, the opening day of rifle season.

I covered a lot of ground quickly, but the sweat poured off my forehead. Surprisingly, the leaf cover was gone. In a few days, the leaves had fallen from the lower trees and added to the leaf-covered forest floor. Once again, I felt at home when I sat back and looked at everything in front of me.

I got to the area where I wanted to sit in about 45 minutes. Although it was steamy, I still expected to see a deer. Something in my gut told me I would get an opportunity, and that is the reason why I headed into the woods after I got out of work.

I sat in a place where my father has shot a few deer in the past. We have both seen a lot of bucks while sitting in the area, and I know it’s good at all times during hunting season. I never feel at a disadvantage when I go there.

Today, I felt lonely when I was sitting there. I’m unsure if my dad will ever be able to hunt in that place again, and I never imagined I would be saying something like that this year. I won’t try to be a tough guy and tell all of you that it doesn’t bother me. My father is and has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. I could never ask for a better friend or father.

Before I headed into the woods, I was lucky enough to see two of the best hunters I’ve ever been around sitting on the porch talking about old times. Dad and Rob Miner are realizing they are the old guys who they once hunted with when they were younger. They are the men who people look up to and want to model their deer hunting adventures after. Luckily, I’ve been a part of many of those adventures they’ve shared. It seems like it was yesterday when Rob told his son Chris to avoid walking on an ice-covered rock during our walk into the woods in the pitch black. His son ignored him and fell on his face. Heck, we were just kids then, and it seems like was only a few weeks ago.

It seems like five seasons ago when I spotted a small buck appear in the fog in front of me. I slowly pulled the hammer back on my Uncle Claude’s, who had died years earlier, .35 and began squeezing the trigger. When the thunder rang through the fog, my father’s voice touched my ears.

“Did you get him?”

Sure enough, I had gotten him. It was my first buck, a 4-pointer (5 by Vermont standards). Damn, I wish I could go back in time and enjoy it again, but I’ve learned to live every day and enjoy every minute. We’ve shared so many more experiences since that day I had to get out of the woods to get to work at McDonald’s for the night shift.

Today was a day of reflection. I enjoyed my day out, even if it was 76 degrees.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

I’m not sure what kind of wild hair I got up my ass today, but I chose to chase it. Brian called me in the morning to tell me that he got sent home from work for the day because he didn’t have any work. I asked him if he wanted to hunt in the afternoon, and he told me he was up for it.

I had already planned on going because I had been watching the weather and saw that the rain was supposed to stop in the early afternoon. After having rained the night before and all through the morning, I thought some bucks might be clearing the scrapes they had already made. I was almost certain I could get a look at something.

So I headed to the woods at 1:00 p.m. Working from home definitely has some advantages when it comes to hunting. We were in the woods and sitting by 3:30. We had just shy of three hours to wait a few bucks out.

At 5:15, I heard a deer blow. It was directly downwind of the scrape I was watching, but I didn’t think it could’ve gotten my wind. I never saw it, and I knew that was probably the end of my night. It’s never good when a deer is blowing in the area you’re hunting. The noise deflated me, and I sat there wondering what the heck was going on this year. Nothing I’ve done yet seems to be working out, including while I was elk hunting.

On our walk out of the woods, we discussed a few different things and both agreed that I probably would have gotten the deer if the leaves weren’t on the trees. With all of the leaf cover, it’s incredibly hard to see in the areas I’ve been hunting. I’m not sure if the temperatures have been warmer than normal but it sure seems like they have.

I made a good choice today. I had the odds stacked in my favor, but things just didn’t work out. I’ll continue trying to make the right choices. Hopefully, I can get on the board sometime soon and see a deer. We are 20 days into the season, and I haven’t seen a deer yet. The coming days don’t appear to be bringing a good weather pattern for changing my luck. Rifle season opens in the Adirondacks this weekend. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Here’s a picture of a rub I found tonight. It must’ve been a good deer to have rubbed this tree.

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Today was the kind of morning I dream about as a hunter. We had a good frost, and it was 27 degrees when I headed into the woods this morning. If the leaves were off the trees, I would have been in heaven. I’m not a fan of the early season and all the leaves. I went back to one of my traditional haunts today. There was probably the least amount of sign I’ve seen in that area in the last 10 years. Dad stayed close to the road and found a few places that he really liked. He enjoyed himself today and is looking forward to hunting in one of the places he found. I’m excited for him. He feels a lot better than he felt last week, and I’m quite happy about that. Last week was tough to watch from a distance. 

  Brian decided to go for a long-ass walk today. He covered more miles than I’d care to cover, but that’s what he enjoys doing. We met up later in the day to scout a new area, too. I’m not sure why we are wandering all over the place this year, but I see nothing wrong with it. Shortly before it got dark, we found an impressive series of scrapes. I’ve seen some good scrape lines in my time, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this one. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the series of scrapes is about as long as my truck. It’s actually one scrape that big, then there are about 4-5 more scrapes along a thick evergreen edge. It looks like it would be a good place to sit, but it’s hard to tell. Maybe we will give it a go next week and see what happens.