Archive for October, 2020

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Muzzleloading season snuck up on me this year. I can’t believe it’s already here. I’m not overly prepared this year. I’ve wandered all over the place, but I’ve kind of forgotten to find a few places to hunt. Although I have a lot of potential places, I never really pinpointed a location for myself.

  I chose to hunt in an area I’ve been looking at since early last winter. I know there is a good buck in the area, so I decided to throw all of my eggs into that basket today and go the place. I wandered through the darkness with my GPS for a while before finding my way to the area. Unfortunately, I ended up getting a little tangled up and realized I was standing in the middle of a scrape I had marked. With that being said, I knew I probably blew all of my chances of seeing something since my scent was all over everything I had walked through while being lost for a little bit. I should’ve paid better attention to know how to get there a little easier. 

  I hunted until around noon before calling it good. When I heard some blue jays squawking shortly after daylight, I got ready. I figured some deer might be approaching out of the heavy evergreens on the ridge below me. I was sitting on a beech flat that had crisscrossing runways on it. Something in my gut told me I might get lucky. I didn’t see much of anything before packing it in for the morning. Usually, I stay in all day, but this year is much different for me. 

  As many of you know, my dad has been ill for quite a while. This will require me to adjust my regular plans that I’ve followed in past seasons. I’ll have to hunt in a variety of places and won’t be able to get back in very much. I’ll have him drop me off in my regular places and go park where he wants to hunt. I’ve looked for places for him to hunt near the road, so this seems to work the best for him. If he drops me off and gives me a time to pick me up, I can meet up with him to make sure everything is OK. I’m sure it will be a good year to learn about new things. I’ll still go to my favorite places and wander around, but I’ll try to make the most of the good days. I won’t have much time to waste like I normally would. 

  In the afternoon, we went into a swampy area near the road and looked around. I didn’t see much I liked. It looked a lot better in mid-summer, but I think the deer have moved out of the area since that time. Deer habits tend to change with the seasons, and I’m guessing that’s what happened in this case. 

  Brian hunted in a new area we found a while back. We thought the area had the potential to have some good bucks but maybe a fair amount of pressure too. Well, we were right with one of the guesses. He saw 11 people while hunting. The people were together, and it was also their first time in the area. I’m guessing they won’t last due to the general description that he Brian gave to me. They just didn’t seem like Adirondackers. The place probably doesn’t get much pressure. It just happened to get a lot of it on the weekend that you can shoot does in the Adirondacks. 

  At the end of the day, none of us saw a deer. It’s been a slow start for all of us. I’m not sure if that’s what’s going to happen the rest of the season, but it has been a little discouraging up to this point. We’re hoping it doesn’t continue like this much longer. 

Northern Zone Archery Season

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

I’d like to say that I did a lot of hunting, but I really wasn’t able to get out very much. I’ve had too many things going on that have required my attention. It makes me hard to believe since I used to never miss a day. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes it’s better to pick your days and give it your all.

I was able to get out a few times with my buddy Chris Hall. If you remember, he’s the guy who can’t walk and must use a wheelchair to get around. This year, we constructed a food plot on my dad’s land and figured it would give Chris a better opportunity to get a look at a few deer and possibly get an opportunity to get a shot.

We built the food plot during the dog days of summer and faced brutal heat while doing it. After it began growing, it came up nicely and gave me some hope. A few bucks showed up along with a handful of does on a regular basis.

When we finally picked a good day, I dropped Chris off at the plot. I brought him in on a 4-wheeler and left. We figured this would disturb the deer less than any other method.

Shortly after dropping him off, a doe came in but turned around and left before he could get a shot. Then, right at dark, Chris called me on the phone. His voice was shaky, and he spoke rapidly, “Bro, I just shot a deer. Get over here as fast as you can.”

I didn’t waste any time getting to him. The excitement was still in the air as I began looking for blood. After finding where the deer had been standing, I began following the running tracks. I quickly found blood and followed it. When I turned around, Chris was right behind me on his knees. He had covered the distance in seconds while crawling. Looking at him in the grass, I had a newfound appreciation for him and the dedication he puts into everything he does. I’ve never heard him make an excuse for anything, and I’ve never heard him complain about the difficulties he battles. He gained my respect through those qualities.

In the end, we didn’t find the deer. He hit it too far forward and struck the shoulder bone. We grid searched and came up empty. The deer hardly bled, so it made it difficult to get many good leads on where it went. When we quite looking for it, we were confident that the deer had survived to see another day. In fact, it did. We saw it on trail camera a few days later. Here’s the food plot and Chris. There is a burlap facing in front of Chris that can’t be seen. It worked really well as a blind, allowing hi to get the shot.

When the season was rolling into muzzleloading season, I went out with my dad. It was tough to watch. I walked behind him to get to a stand I had set up for him. His legs weren’t working too well, and his feet were getting tangled in the underbrush. He was having a difficult time moving through the woods, and I could tell it was taking its toll on him. He got through the day and decided there was no way he could go to Illinois with me this year. With everything he has been battling, his body just doesn’t seem to be cooperating. We have many peaks and valleys and never know what is coming on any given day.

A few days later, Dad seemed to turn the corner. He got the strength back in his legs and was getting around the woods without many problems. He even set up his own stand in a different place. I’ve done a lot of work to find him places to hunt near the road and have found some places that have promise. I did run some trail cameras in many places to see if any of the place big deer. Amazingly, I quickly saw that I had more big buck pictures next to the road than I’ve ever had deep in the woods. It’s still unbelievable to me, but It will definitely change my tactics this season and in the future. In one of the places, I got a picture of a nice bull moose. Here’s a picture of my dad one of the days we went out together. The other picture is the moose that I just wrote about.


Reflections of My Trip to Colorado

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Looking back at it, I have to admit that it was quite different than any other trip I’ve ever taken to Colorado. The largest piece of my life wasn’t by my side looking after me. Although I’m 51 years old, I enjoy the fact that my father still treats me like I’m his 12-year-old son. He still takes the time to teach me things. He listens when I need an ear. He offers encouragement at just the right time. He gives me a kick in the ass when I need some motivation. As a parent, there’s nothing he has ever done while raising me that I see as being negative. He has made the most out of his opportunity to be a great father to his son.

I missed him on this trip. There was an emptiness that’s hard to explain. We’ve shared so many adventures in the Rockies, that I can barely remember may of them. We started when we were both young. Dad was 42 years old when he decided to take me elk hunting. He asked me if I wanted to go elk hunting when I graduated from college, and I told him I would love to give it a try.

Last year, we were standing together on a 12,000-foot mountain looking for an elk I had wounded. It was raining and miserable, and he had walked about eight miles to get to the area where I had wounded it the evening before. He never hesitated about making the journey when I came back to the tent that night and told him that I had wounded a good one. We never did find the elk, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

When he and Jason left me and Brian after looking for it, they headed over the mountain to get back to camp. They decided to camp out for a bit and wait some elk out. Dad’s guess worked out, and Jason killed his first bull a short time later. Dad has helped a lot of guys get their first elk. Unfortunately, I tried doing the same for some of my younger friends this year. Obviously, I’m not as good of a guide as my father. I didn’t get the job done.

Dad has worked hard to get back to feeling better, but he has endured many deep, dark valleys in the recovery. I’d like to say there have been a few peaks along the way, but I’d be lying if I said that. We can only hope that things improve and Dad is able to get back to doing some of the things he’s used to doing. Although he is getting up there in age, his heart is that of a young fighter. He’s driven, determined and motivated. Whatever this stuff that took hold of him in Florida is, he is determined to overcome it. We will see what happens as we try to navigate through hunting season in New York.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

  I decided to return to 3-knobs today to end my 2020 elk season. It seems all too familiar to return there since it’s where I started my elk hunting adventures almost 30 years ago. A lot has changed in that time period but a lot has stayed the same, too.

  As I headed down the path into the box canyon, I could clearly see a sliver of the moon at the far end of the drainage to my right. The starlit sky welcomed me into the darkness, and the far side of the canyon beckoned me to step foot onto it. The demons screamed my name and reckoned they could make my lungs cave in before I reached the top. 

  I dug into the depths of my soul and started climbing as soon as I hit the bottom of the canyon, for the path up the other side starts immediately at the bottom. My calves screamed in pain, and my lungs begged for mercy, but I slowly scaled the face of the cliff. When I could see light through the trees, I knew I had all but tackled the challenge once again.

  Upon reaching the top, I anticipated a bugle – or two – to erupt in the aspen drainage in front of me. After waiting 15 minutes and hearing nothing, I began my journey up the horse path with Jacob. Brian decided to head in the opposite direction, planning on meeting us later in the morning. 

  When I arrived to the place where I wanted to camp out for the morning, I felt good about everything, including my chances of getting a crack at an elk. 

  Around 9:00, chaos erupted on the hill in front of me. I could hear elk mewing as they crashed timber. Then, I hear the sound of a bugling bull as he chased a cow through the broken meadows below me. Running to cut the herd off, I stopped when I came to an open area and readied myself for an opportunity. The cows continued talking back and forth, and the bull let off a few more bugles that couldn’t be heard from any distance. I listened to him chase a cow through the area below me, but I never got a look at him. 

  The excitement lasted for about a half hour before it calmed down and the woods became quiet again. As the bubble began to burst inside me, I glanced down the hill and saw an elk’s legs moving through the timber. Within seconds, a cow elk appeared in front of me. She stood broadside at 40 yards and offered me a great shot. I’m not sure why, but I never drew the bow, and the opportunity didn’t phase me. Instead, I patiently watched her and enjoyed being an unseen part of her journey. 

  After she disappeared, I spotted another cow on the ridge above me. This one was a larger cow, and she was feeding. I ranged her at 55 yards but decided to let her enjoy her meal. When she wandered down the mountain, I knew my elk hunt was probably over, and I was correct. 

  The rest of the day passed quickly. We took the time to play a few games in the woods, including throwing pine cones at unsuspecting squirrels and chipmunks. We also found a few sticks to use as bats and hit the rocks that we threw at each other. These little things are what make the unsuccessful trips so much fun. I’m glad I have good friends to enjoy both the good and bad times with. 

  Heading down the mountain about an hour before it got dark, I was satisfied with my trip. We had gotten close to a lot of elk and heard quite a few bugles. We just didn’t get lucky enough to see one of the bulls. Hopefully, I have more elk hunts in my future to make up for the lost opportunities I’ve had over the last few years. I guess only time will tell. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Time is winding down quickly, but I think I’m ready to head home. Sometimes when you give it everything you have, you come up a little short. It’s not for a lack of trying, though. 

  Brian, Jacob and I headed back to the area I went to yesterday in hopes of catching up with one of the bulls. Josh went to the area where the bulls were bugling for Jacob last night. We all came up empty-handed. Nobody heard a bugle today, and nobody saw an animal. The hunting is the poorest I’ve ever seen in this area. It’s impossible to get away from people this year. 

  We are going to give it a try in the morning and see what happens. I’m not expecting much. We have a lot ahead of us to get packed up and on the road on Friday morning. I’m not looking forward to the drive home, but I am looking forward to getting home and into the woods for archery season. It will be good to get home. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

  We all went in different directions this morning and had mixed results. Jacob went to the big water hole and had a bull bugling in the morning and evening. Actually, he could hear two bugling back and forth at each other tonight, and they were chasing cows through the woods.

  I went to Dad’s spot today behind the camp. I had action all day. Bugling started at 7:05 and lasted until noon. I called one in on a string with an estrous cow call. I couldn’t get a shot at him due to the thickness of the woods. If the other guys had been with me, they surely would’ve gotten a shot. That’s the way our luck has been going this year. 

  Josh and Brian had a rough day today. Josh saw another mule deer buck, and Brian saw two cows. Neither of them heard a bugle today. 

  I also saw 10 mule deer today, and six of them were bucks. It was cool to see them coming through the timber like a herd of elk. One of the bucks was out velvet. I’ve never seen that this early in the year.

  Hopefully, we get a look at something tomorrow. We are running out of  time.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Brian, Jacob and I headed back down to 3-knobs today. There’s just too much sign there to ignore, and almost all of the camps have pulled out. It kind of makes me wish we were just getting here and could hunt the entire last week of the season.  Now, we just have to make the most of the three days we have left. 

  Josh headed back into the area he hunted yesterday. Once again, he got on elk and stayed in amongst them the rest of the day. When he came out tonight, there were three bulls bugling on the ridge below him.  He hunted near the valley wallow. 

  Although we didn’t have much action today, I was near elk all day. On the way in, Jacob and I jumped one off the ridge near the top of the drainage. It was close, but we never got a look at it. 

  When I was sitting, a few elk filtered down the hill but never made their way past me. I was highly disappointed. The theme continued in the evening when a few cows went by me and were mewing back and forth. I never saw them but could clearly hear them. It’s beginning to get frustrating. 

  Brian had an entire day of nothing. He didn’t hear or see anything. We hope things improve over the next few days, but it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen. We’re hoping for a miracle at this point. The hunt has been great, but the results have been horrendous. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

We didn’t get started too early today. Nobody wanted to get out of bed. Finally, I got up and got going. I decided to take it easy and go to the top of the mountain where I’ve been hunting to listen for bugles. After waiting about an hour and a half and not hearing anything, I headed back to camp to make some eggs for breakfast.  It felt good to get a good breakfast in my belly, but I wasn’t too happy about being at camp during the morning hours. 

  Halfway through the day, we decided to head to another area to check it out. It looked ok, but there was a tremendous amount of recreational activity going on. 

  Josh had another good day today in the area we told him to sit yesterday. He saw a cow and a bull in a wallow but couldn’t get a shot at the bull. The cow’s body was blocking the vitals on the bull. He hasn’t had good reception on his radio all week, but today when Brian called him on it, it sounded off loud and clear. The cow and bull heard it and headed on the their way. That’s the way our luck has gone this week. We’re hoping to turn things around over the next few days. I guess time will be the determining factor. A lot of camps have pulled out, but I’m not sure there’s enough time for the animals to settle down and filter back in.

  We visited an old mining town today. It was cool to see, and it felt refreshing to get my mind off from elk hunting for the day.  

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Today was opening day of bear season back home. Donny went up to camp to stay with Dad. Hopefully, he gets a look at one. 

  Jacob and I headed back to the same place we’ve been going. When we crested the hill in the darkness, bugles rang through the valley below us. It was refreshing to hear them singing, especially after the dead week we’ve been experiencing. 

  While we decided which one to chase, one bolted down the hill in front of us, and the thundering sound of hooves could be heard in the drainage below us. They stopped and walked up the hill. 

  We raced up the hill to get to an area where I thought we could cut them off. Unfortunately, they never came up the hill. I made the wrong guess. It kind of seems par for the course this week. I just can’t seem to line things up correctly. A few bulls bugled but quickly turned off.  That was about it for the action for the day. 

  Brian and Josh had a dead day today. Brian and I both found active wallows today. I’m not sure what’s up with that, but maybe they will be hitting them over the next few days. We shall see. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Today we decided to head back to the place where we hunted yesterday. It was dead the entire day. It was overcast and relatively cool. We saw a big bear in the afternoon, and it got a little scary for a few minutes. The bear turned toward us and debated charging us. It decided to continue going up the hill. 

  Josh had a great day today. He finally took our advice and sat in a heavily timbered ravine where we’ve always seen a lot of sign. It worked well for him, as he had two bulls chase a bunch of cows past him. The cow was in heat, and the bulls were hot on her tail. They didn’t offer a shot. 

  After he got up and ventured to the top of the mountain, he spotted a big bull getting out of its bed. He couldn’t get a shot, and it was gone as quickly as it had appeared. 

  Today surprised me. I thought we would get into them. Maybe tomorrow.  We wandered through these aspen trees in hopes of catching a bedded bull but nothing materialized.