Sunday, December 4, 2016

Today was the last day of rifle season in New York’s northern zone. A fresh coat of snow greeted us when we woke up. Driving along the road, we could see where a lot of deer had moved the night before. Hopefully, they would still be on the move when the sun came up.

On the way in, I battled conflicting thoughts about where to go. Should I still-hunt all day on the fresh snow? Should I sit in the place that required the least amount of energy to get to? Should I sit in a place near the road where I noticed a lot of tracks the last few days? Should I go back into the depths of hell, where I sat the last few days? I didn’t listen to my gut today. Instead, I just did what I figured I should do. If I sat in that place three days in a row, I figured one of those mountain bucks might just be on the right day of his cycle to come cruising by me.

We could only hunt until about noon today and planned on meeting Josh and Brian at that time to clean camp and pack our stuff to head home. When I couldn’t sit still in the morning, I got on a track and started following it. I went up ridges, down fingers, across streams, through open hardwoods, in and out of saplings, and into the middle of a few different swamps.

Finally, I knew I was closing in, so I tiptoed through the thick evergreen trees. Then, the unmistakable thud rang through my ears. My eyes darted to the left, to the right and back to the left. I knew I was standing in the presence of the deer I was after. Unable to locate him, my mind raced to figure it out before I ran out of time. Suddenly, I heard him running. Completely familiar with my surroundings, I bolted forward and raced over the hump in front of me. A tremendous crash echoed through the woods and the unmistakable noise of a deer breaking ice filled the air.

When I cleared the next hump, I could see the deer breaking through the ice as he tried desperately tried to escape my pursuit. I leveled the crosshairs on him and thoughts quickly dashed through my mind about what the right thing to do was in that situation. Should I shoot? Should I let him get out of the water and onto the bank? Should I just let him go since he had no chance at that point?

After everything transpired and on my way out of he woods, I wondered how many people would’ve shot the buck while he was breaking ice to escape. Is it ethical to take deer while they’re swimming? I’ve made many different decisions in my hunting career that I’m sure others would have done the opposite of what I did today. I’m not sure there is a right or a wrong in many of these instances. I just wonder what other people would do.

I would normally share with people what I did in this instance, but I would like all of you to think about it and put yourselves in the exact same situation. What would you have done? I feel good about the decision I made. I’ve hunted long enough to feel confident about the choices I make. I can look in the mirror every day and feel really good about my experiences with wildlife and in the woods.

This is a situation where every hunter would have to make his or her own decision. No two people will have the same exact thoughts when presented an opportunity like this. Some people wouldn’t even think there was a right or wrong. I’m glad that the thought crossed my mind.

With rifle season ending today, I will be back at it with a muzzleloader this week. I can’t seem to get enough this year. I think I’ve been enjoying it so much because I’ve been able to spend so much time in the Adirondacks. It has been an awesome year. It felt good to spend so much time in the mountains this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s a buck I killed on the last day of the season in the past. The last day has always treated us really well. Although it comes to an end every year, we always make the most of it right until the last day. Here’s a good one I killed on the last day of the season. I ended up in the hospital the next day which is why dad is posing with the deer.


Leave a Reply