Thoughts on the 2016 Season

When the season started this year, I had a really hard time getting motivated. The temperatures were through the roof every day, and I couldn’t find a reason to head into the woods. I just can’t get into it when it’s consistently above 70 degrees. It’s hard to feel good about your chances when you’re tramping around the woods with sweat pouring off from your body.

I only headed to the woods a few times during archery season. When early muzzleloader approached, I went back to the woods to check one camera that I figured might have something on it.

Surprisingly, the card had three different bucks on it before muzzleloader season, and one of them was a really good 7-pointer. At that point, I realized that I should have been in the woods on the cooler evenings when the deer were moving.

It’s always hard to get motivated when I know I’m headed to the Midwest for two weeks during the rut. I usually don’t have a hard time finding the energy to hunt when I return. That’s when I’m all in, and the drive and determination get me out of bed every day and lead me to places that most others only think about.

I took a chance this year when I headed to the Midwest. I didn’t have the normal amount of time to deer hunt this year due to the two weeks I took to go elk hunting in Colorado.

When I looked at the extended forecast, it called for many days in the mid-70s during the first week of November. Instead of paying attention to that and thinking back to past experiences in the Midwest when the temperatures were in that range, I ignored what my brain told me to do and chose to head to Missouri with my dad and Brian.

The deer movement was minimal at best. The temperature throughout the week stayed in the high 70s, even at night. It was miserable. We did see some good deer, which made it somewhat enjoyable. All three of us saw at least one shooter. Overall, the deer numbers seemed to be way down. After talking to a few residents, we found out that the county we were hunting in had bonus deer last year. Although I couldn’t understand them too well, I think the guys said that they could have shot an unlimited number of does if they chose to do so. I’d say a lot of people did that because there weren’t nearly the deer in the area that were there a few years ago.

If I had to make the same choice again, I would avoid going to the Midwest when it’s that hot out. I would either stay home to hunt in the Adirondacks, or I would move my vacation back at least a week. It usually doesn’t stay that warm for two consecutive weeks, even though it did this time.

On my way home from the Midwest, I had a lot of time to think because I was alone in my truck. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years and sometimes I think I take it for granted. This year was a gentle reminder that it’s not nearly as easy as it seems at times. I got a real taste for what a large number of people get when they go to public hunting areas across the country every year. Realistically, your odds of connecting on a mature buck are really slim. While shooting a deer would be relatively easy, shooting a big buck is really difficult, especially year after year.

Since you can’t control the weather, sometimes you have to make the most of the cards that get dealt to you. Occasionally, you’ll have to sit at the table and wear your poker face as everything around you crumbles. You might get lucky , but more often than not you will have to get up and walk away from the table with nothing in your pockets. You have to put on your poker face and deal with the outcome on your own terms. You need to find ways to avoid getting stuck in a similar situation in the future. If you learn something, not trip is a failure. Some of the trips that you don’t shoot a deer are actually the best trips to help you succeed in the future.

When I got home, I spent a lot more time in the mountains around Lake George than I have in a number of years. I made arrangements so I could go into work early and get out in time to get into the woods for a few hours almost every day.

I never caught up with a big buck, but I did have a lot of fun. It felt good to go back in time to the days when I did that every year. I really enjoyed it. I was able to pass up a handful of small bucks. I’m hoping some of the little guys will grow into nice bucks in the future. I guess only time will tell.

I spent time up to my family’s camp this year where we have hunted for the last few years. This year really made me realize how much I miss being in a tent, miles from nowhere, in a place where I never see other hunters or any sign of them.

After talking to my uncle and my cousin, I guess the hunting pressure goes in streaks in the area we’re hunting now. I’ve always seen a lot more people than I care to see. Occasionally, I’ll see a guy in the woods. He might walk past me in the distance or stumble upon me while he’s wandering around. In a few years, I’ve had more people close to me than I’ve ever had around me in the tent days or even around Lake George, which gets hunted pretty hard. I’ve walked up on a few people, too. It gets really discouraging, especially if I’m trying to hunt a specific buck like I’ve been accustomed to doing for the majority of my Adirondack hunting days.

I have to say that I was impressed this year. I’m not sure who the guy is, but I know someone is pretty hard-core. I found where a hunter carried two different tree stands quite a distance and set them up. One of them was a climber, and I could see where the person went up and down the tree a few times with it. I never ran into the other hunter, and I’m not sure if he had any luck. He had a camera close to the stand. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to get all of the stuff in there, so I have to respect that, but it was really disappointing to find the stuff.

I’m going to have to think about the future during the offseason. I like the convenience of hunting out of my family’s camp, but I’m very disappointed with a variety of other things. When I hunt directly across the road from it, there are a lot of 4-wheelers that cruise the old logging roads until you get to the state land. That can get tiresome. If I hunt up the road, there are just a lot of people. I’ll have to weigh the options. I do know if I had more time to spend in the Adirondacks during the peak of the rut, I would be in a tent somewhere else, so I could have the entire area to share with a couple of my hunting partners.

Recently, I listened to one of the Wired to Hunt podcasts in which they were discussing different things that notoriety brings with it. At the 13-minute mark of the podcast, they talk about sharing information with others and whether they should or shouldn’t and how it affects their hunting strategies.

I’ve come across the same thing. It never mattered much when I hunted in the area out of the tent. Nobody knew that I hunted there and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t have gone through the hassle of hunting around there.

Now, a lot of people know where I hunt and who hunts with me. It makes it extremely difficult to share information freely. I share some information, but unlike the old days, much of the information stays within the walls of the camp.

If people know you are successful, it can sometimes lead to uncomfortable situations, especially in an area with a lot of hunters. In all of the years I’ve hunted in the Lake George Wild Forest there is one place I go to regularly. In 30 plus years, I’ve only seen two people there. In the last couple of years there have been a number of people in and around the area, and I have reason to believe I know why they’re in the area. It’s really discouraging. That’s why the tent idea keeps gnawing away at me. I know I’ll never see anyone in the place we used to have the tent.

This season was fantastic for a number of reasons. Although it just ended, I can’t wait for next year. I have a lot of things planned. I only hope my dad’s health stays good and I’m well enough to go along with him. Hopefully, we can make some more good memories in the woods next fall. No days are guaranteed in any person’s life. I know I can’t wait to be back in the woods chasing whitetails again. It’s what I live for, and the success I’ve had along the way has brought me great satisfaction. When I look at all of my mounted deer heads, they tell me a story. I can see the history as it unfolded. Every deer head brings me back to a time when I didn’t know if I would ever shoot another buck that I would want to mount. I always wonder what the next one might look like. I’m never sure, but I always try to give everything I have to add to my collection of memories. The memories and the drive to better ourselves are what keep most of us returning to the woods every fall. I enjoy every minute of being in the woods. I’ve learned so much about life, my friends and myself that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Until next season ——— keep chasing the dream and thinking of ways to catch up to the one that visits you in your dreams.

Here’s the picture that I will be updating sometime this year for my new book. This picture was taken more than 10 years ago. I have added a number of new memories to it, and I can only hope there will be many more added before I’m done. I think you have to click on the picture of the mounts for the full picture to display. It appears that some of it got cut off.




One Response to “Thoughts on the 2016 Season”

  1. Mike Homan says:

    Great recap of your season Todd! Can’t wait for your new book! Is it going to be similar to your others! Take care!

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