Saturday, October 13, 2018

Today was the first day of muzzleloading season in the Northern Zone of New York. I was up at 3:30 after going to bed at midnight. I told Dad and Brian that I would meet them at 4:30 under the bridge on the highway and park my truck there for the day.

As we headed north, we chatted back and forth about the many opening days of muzzleloading season that we have experienced. It’s funny how the ones we remember the most vividly are the ones when we got stuck in downpours, whether we were in leantos, on boats, or camping in a tent. We’ve seen it all. We laughed when we drove by a deer crossing sign and remembered the time we pulled off the road when we went past one because we figured it must be a good spot. It was the second day of the season, and we were headed home. To break up the ride, we pulled off and hunted. Within an hour, Dad had a buck on the ground……………..and he shot at it three times. Every time he shot, the smoke would clear, and the buck would walk closer to him. He had all the luck that day. As we continued up the highway, the raindrops found their way onto the windshield, but it didn’t appear that we were in for a drenching.

We made good time getting back in the woods. Dad decided to hunt with me for the day. It’s a sad realization that he is getting older. He didn’t want to climb the mountain in the normal place he hunts, so he opted to go with me because the walk is a little bit easier on the body. He’s a tough, old son of a bitch, but I love him for that. I wish I was half as tough as him. He’s got my respect in that area more than he possibly knows.

Hunting this time of year is tough if you’re going to walk or sit because it’s like being in a jungle. The visibility is limited, and this can make hunting discouraging in a hurry. Dad didn’t know where to go, so I researched my memory and came up with a place where I thought he might have a chance of seeing something. I dropped him off in an area I’ve sat many times and seen deer early in the season. He could see a lot of the open ground around in the area and would have an opportunity to get a shot if anything decided to go past him.

Shortly after daylight, a big doe came in behind him and snuck by the tree he was resting his back against. She got to within five yards of him before cutting my track where I had gone out in front of him when I dropped him off earlier that morning. She put her nose in my boot tracks and slowly followed my path through the woods. She wasn’t the least bit alarmed and didn’t act as if anything abnormal had been in her world. It kinds of makes you wonder, doesn’t it? We read all the stuff about people saying the deer instantly know if someone has penetrated into their homes, but then you watch this and realize the mature deer, which has probably seen many seasons, didn’t have a clue about my presence or Dad’s presence, and I had walked through her living room, and he was still sitting on her couch watching TV.

I didn’t see much of anything. I sat for about three hours before wandering all over the place looking for sign. In my travels, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. There were tracks in most of the usual places, probably left there by the usual suspects. It doesn’t appear that there are many mast crops this year, which should benefit our hunting group. I’ve noticed that during big mast years, we usually suffer, while others benefit. I’ve never been able to understand it, but I’m sure there’s something behind it. I could just never pick the pocket they were feeding in the day I was hunting.

By the time the day ended, Dad was the only one who spotted a deer. Does this mean he will have a good season? I’m not sure, but I always love sitting back and watching the events unfold in front of us as the season progresses.

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