Saturday, October 19,2019

October 20th, 2019

I couldn’t have asked for a better day to hunt. It was around 30 degrees when we headed into the woods, and the vehicles had frost on them. Today felt like deer season had truly arrived. Here in New York, it’s the first day of muzzleloading season, and hunters can shoot bucks or does in the Northern Zone.

I hunted with my father today, and we split up and scouted as we hunted. We both sat until late morning before doing our thing. I found a spot that looked really good. It didn’t have any fresh sign in it, but I could tell that I would see some deer in the spot during the rut. It had everything you need to kill a good one. Five runways all ran through a small hardwood bowl on the edge of some really thick stuff. When I walked through the place, I instantly knew it was a place that I need to sit. Time will tell if I get back there, but my intentions are to give it an honest effort at some point in time.

We spent the entire day in the woods and put on some miles. Overall, I didn’t see much sign today. I’m going to go to another area to hunt tomorrow to see if I can locate some fresh sign. Sign is tough to see right now because of the 3-4 inches of rain that fell a few days ago. Hopefully, the woods settle back down.

Monday, October 14, 2019

October 14th, 2019

I had no intentions of going out today, but when my buddy Chris called, I couldn’t tell him no. I ran home after work and mowed part of my lawn to get that out of the way, then met him for an afternoon sit.

Instead of sitting with him tonight, I decided to go check out a creek crossing where I’ve had a lot of action in the past. I haven’t checked it out this year and didn’t know what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the tracks coming up the bank from the creek. They have been using the area regularly, so I decided to sit on the hill above the creek. The wind was howling out of the west tonight, which made almost all of my good spots out of play.

Although it was 70 degrees, I felt like some deer might move. We didn’t see anything tonight, but it was still fun to me out there doing what we love. Here’s a picture of where I sat tonight.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

October 14th, 2019

I hemmed and hawed about going hunting today. I watched the Yankees/Astros playoff game and didn’t get to bed until midnight, and I only got five hours of sleep the night before. The sign I found on Saturday made it a little easier to get out of bed, but it was still difficult.

Although I didn’t use to mind the early season, I’ve come to the point in my life that I don’t enjoy it as much anymore. It could be because I have a zillion other things going on, or it could be because it seems like it’s almost always in the 70s while trying to hunt. However, the buck sign I found yesterday demanded a little bit of my attention.

I’ve put on a lot of miles already this year. Amazingly, I’ve found a few places where big bucks seem to be working. I found an area where a pretty good buck is working within sight of the road. Since I’ve never hunted the place, I got going and figured I’d give it a whirl. I had about an hour and a half drive to get to my destination, but the excitement I felt about the sign I had found made the drive seem effortless.

It was a great morning to sit. When I got out of the truck, the thermometer in my truck read 36 degrees. It was just about right for an early season hunt. I sat for about four hours and didn’t see any animals. It felt good to be in the game, and it kind of kickstarted me into wanting to start playing the game. I’m hoping that one sit will give me the motivation that I seem to be lacking this year.

After hunting, I helped my father the rest of the day. We had a lot of work we needed to get done, and we made a day out of it. We basically finished everything we set out to accomplish, which made the day even better. We should both be ready to start hunting regularly now that muzzleloading season is rolling into view in the Adirondacks. There are still a lot of leaves on, but their beginning to fall quickly.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

October 12th, 2019

I met Chris at 5:30 this morning, and we headed to Dan Ladd’s house to hunt. Dan set up a blind for us on a small food plot and told us we could sit there for the morning. Dan has always been one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. After explaining to him what I’ve been doing with Chris and telling him about Chris’ handicap, he was excited to let him hunt on his land.

We climbed into the blind around 6:00 and waited for it to get light. While Chris was crawling in front of the blind, a big doe took off and ran into the woods. He spotted her in the light cast from the headlamp.

It was a cool morning, and I figured the deer would be moving. Although we heard some geese and crows, we didn’t see much of anything moving near the blind for the first few hours.

At 8:30, I spotted something moving in the woods below us. After a closer look, I saw that it was a big doe. I told Chris to get ready. Although I didn’t have a weapon, my heart raced and I was nervous for Chris. I wanted him to get a shot at the deer. When I looked in front of her, I figured her path would lead her by us in a few minutes. As the minutes ticked away, the deer never made an appearance.

On our way out, I took a few pictures of Chris crawling behind me while I carried his gear. If anyone out there ever feels the need to complain about a bad walk, just remember that at least you have the ability to walk. Chris does not have that ability, and I’ve never once heard him complain. He just gets on his knees and starts crawling to wherever he had to go, no matter how long it might take him to get there.

Friday, October 11, 2019

October 12th, 2019

I took Chris hunting again tonight. I decided to sit him on the edge of a large clover field tonight that has oaks all along the edge of it. The deer have been feeding regularly in the field and along the edge.

We got caught off guard when a deer snuck up on us and made us aware of its presence by blowing. We almost came unglued, but we enjoyed the moment. Chris was jacked up but disappointed. The deer was no more than 25 yards away when it took off. We will keep at it and see what gives.

Thursday, October 10, 2018

October 10th, 2019

I wasn’t going to go hunting tonight, but my buddy Chris texted me and asked if I wanted to go with him. Since he must use a wheelchair to get around, I decided I would take him out behind my dad’s house. I knew we could ride the 4-wheeler to a hedge row in an apple orchard that the deer use this time of year and set up with his stool in that place. His legs don’t work well enough to walk, but he can stand with assistance. He must shoot from a chair, so we set it up and waited.

We didn’t see any deer where we were sitting, so I decided to walk around the corner before we headed out to see if I could see anything. I spotted a small buck in the distance, so we got out of there as quickly as possible. I’m hoping we can go back tomorrow and possibly catch up to that deer.

I enjoyed not having my bow in my hands tonight. I would love to see Chris get his first deer. I got a much better appreciation tonight for how truly lucky I am. While I battle diabetes every day, at least I can do anything I want to do. Sometimes we take things for granted, and I must always remember to never do that. Things can change in a second, and we need to take advantage of every day. Here’s a picture of Chris from tonight’s hunt.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October 9th, 2019

Although the temperature has been hanging around 70 during the day, I decided to give it a whirl again tonight. I enjoy the evenings when the wind is relatively calm and the air becomes still shortly before daylight fades.

I spent the entire day thinking about last night’s missed opportunity. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see my pins last night, but I answered that question quickly when I returned to the same place this evening. There wasn’t enough light behind the deer, and the pin got engulfed by everything in the area. The leaves and brush made the pins blend in with them, and the heavy canopy above me made it extremely dark. It’s still disappointing, but I feel better knowing what happened. I fixed the problem before going out to hunt today, putting a light on the sight to use if I run into the same problem again.

I took a different route to the place I wanted to sit than I took yesterday. As I was getting closer to the area, I noticed a lot of fresh rubs. Instantly, I knew the buck I saw last night was the one making them. As you can see in this picture, his antler tips hit the tree behind the one he was rubbing. That’s usually a good sign. He doesn’t have a big rack, but I’d still like to get a crack at him.

When I nestled into the blowdown, I wasn’t feeling “it.” I just didn’t feel like I was going to see anything. Some days, I’m beaming with confidence, and this day was not one of those days. Although I wasn’t feeling overly optimistic, I still thought something might happen if I hung tight. I seemed fidgety and couldn’t get comfortable even though I was standing. This is where I’ve been standing. I back into the V in the blowdown and stand there. I’m well protected on the backside, and have great shooting out the front. As you can see in the picture after this one, the deer come from the left, and I can draw my bow before they come into the shooting lane. I have perfect cover, and that’s exactly what the buck did last night. If he does it again, I’ll be ready.

Around 6:00, I felt like something was watching me. Scanning to the right, I spotted a small buck looking directly at me. I had been caught moving, and the deer was less than 20 yards away. I remained still, and the deer put its head down and began feeding on some acorns. It never felt at ease and eventually wandered off. It didn’t spook, but I could tell that it felt a bit jumpy.

Unsure if it was the same small buck as last night, I hoped the big buck might show up after that one walked away. I stayed until shooting light disappeared, then headed home. On my walk out of the woods, I saw another small buck that had a high rack. It was a good-looking deer.

It’s starting to feel pretty good being out in the woods regularly. It hasn’t felt like hunting season until now. Today, all of my medical records were forwarded to an orthopedic surgeon in Albany. He’s supposed to be one of the best in the country, and I will be seeing him when he schedules my appointment after looking at the data from my previous surgeries. Hopefully, he can save my shoulder and get me back on the right track.

I received the pockets for my Kuiu pack today. I ordered them a few days ago, and they went on it as slick as a mitten. I’m glad I ordered them. It will give me a perfect place to store some of the little things that can be bothersome to put in the main compartment. Here’s a picture of one of them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2018

October 8th, 2019

While I’ve been out bowhunting a few times, I haven’t had time to update this, so I’ll start today. I’ve been hunting an area where I’ve watched deer throughout the summer, and I haven’t had much luck. I’ve seen a few people and the people have been doing things that don’t translate into good hunting. This had led to the deer sightings going steadily downhill.

Today I sat at work and thought long and hard about how I could approach things to possibly see one of the bucks I’ve decided to chase. Since the season opened, he has basically disappeared. My dad has spotted him a few times, but not with any regularity and not while hunting.

By the time mid-afternoon came, I had a plan. I would make my way to an area that housed a few apple trees and a few oak trees. The deer had fed all summer in a field about 150 yards from the spot, and I figured they had retreated to this area. Although they haven’t been coming to the field in the daylight, I figured they were probably feeding in this area and still going to the field after dark. The only way I would know would be to give it a whirl.

Instead of carrying a stand with me, I decided to sit on the ground. I found a huge fallen maple and decided to camouflage myself amongst the branches. Looking in front of me, I knew I would see any deer before it would have a chance to see me, giving me more than enough time to draw my bow.

At 5:45, I could see a small buck making its way up the hill. He stopped to feed under the oak tree, and my plan had worked to perfection. Although I don’t get much of an opportunity to bowhunt in my home area, I chose to pass on the 5-pointer. With him in front of me at 5:45, something in my gut told me one of the larger bucks would come in before it got dark.

At 6:30, I could see him coming. The big buck I was waiting for was coming on a string. I drew the bow and readied myself. When I tried to get the pin on him, I couldn’t see it. The pin had washed out, and I didn’t have a light on this bow. Instead of risking a bad shot, I chose not to shoot. I’m fairly certain I could’ve gotten him at 25 yards, but I couldn’t commit to the shot without seeing the pin. I was highly disappointed, but it felt awesome to have my plan work to perfection. I almost seemed like I knew what I was doing. The deer (both of them) did exactly what I though they would do. Every once in a while, I’m able to actually think I know what I’m doing, and this night was one of those times.

I haven’t hunted much because of the problem I’ve been having with my surgically repaired shoulder. I hurt it back in the summer, and it has gotten progressively worse. It appears I will be needing surgery after hunting season. While I can draw my bow and carry my backpack, it’s very painful to do either. I’m trying to save myself for my trip to Illinois and the time I will be hunting up north, which will require a lot of physical work. It’s going to be tough for me to get out there and go with the shoulder this year. I don’t want to hurt it worse so I won’t be able to go to Illinois, so I figure I better pick my spots early in the season and only hunt when I have a plan. I also didn’t carry a stand in tonight because it puts too much stress on my shoulder. I learned that quickly the first few days of the season. Although this isn’t the deer I saw tonight, this deer looks almost identical to the one I saw. This is what I’m chasing. I’ll probably give it another go tomorrow night before the rain settles in for the following two days.


September 19, 2019

October 3rd, 2019

Today was our last day, and I wanted to hunt with Dad. As age has become a factor in our hunting together, I wanted to take advantage of an opportunity I haven’t had in the last few years. Since I began hunting with Brian in Colorado, I haven’t spent nearly enough time with Dad. He and I made a great elk hunting team, and I’m seeing the lack of results now that I don’t hunt with him on a regular basis. This year is the first year that Brian and I seemed to be on the same page. We got some good opportunities but missed out on capitalizing on them.

The elk began singing again this morning, and we decided to try to get in the middle of them. Once again, we couldn’t cut them off. Later in the morning, we made plans to hunt our way back to camp. Dad and I both had an idea about where the bulls might be hiding. I took the low side, he took the middle and Brian took the high side.

As I was still-hunting through a mix of aspen and timber, a big bull cut loose directly in front of me. He was no more than 100 yards, and I was certain I was going to get a look at him. He bugled a few times, and I bugled back. It was too thick to get a good look, but I could hear his diaphragm before each bugle.

After a five to 10 minute exchange, he gathered his cows and headed up the mountain toward Brian. Somehow the bull got between me and Dad without either one of us seeing it. Brian did get a look at him, and it was a big herd bull.

That basically put a wrap on my 2019 elk season. It was full of adventure, excitement and disappointment. If I get to go again in the future, I can only hope that I get a few more opportunities. Killing elk used to seem so incredibly easy, but luck has not been on my side in many years. I can remember killing elk every year or every other year with ease. I’m on quite the dry spell right now, and I’d like to rectify that. Only time will tell if I can turn things around.

September 18, 2019

October 3rd, 2019

We headed back to my favorite mountain today. Since we hadn’t hunted there much, we decided to see what it had to offer. When we crested the hill on the opposite side of the box canyon we had descended into, I looked at Brian and said, “I really wish this would be like the old days when I got to the top of this hills and bugles could be heard all through this drainage.”

The words barely finished coming out of my mouth when bulls began bugling. Within minutes, I heard four different bulls. Finally, we picked one to chase and went after it.

We were never able to get in front of him to serious challenge him, and he disappeared over the mountain in front of us. Deciding not to stir things up, we went in the opposite direction. We had high hopes that the bull might return in the evening.

We heard bulls in the distance throughout the morning, but never laid eyes on one. After resting for a few minutes in the early afternoon, we formed a plan and began walking. After less than 100 yards, we ran into three guys. We had heard them bugling earlier in the morning, but we went in the opposite direction to avoid them. After talking with him, Brian and I headed back to the area where we chased the bull around in the morning.

When we got in the timber, we spotted some elk coming our way. Within seconds, they were all around us. We tried to remain as still as possible, but a cow got to within 10 yards of us and began getting a little spooky. Finally, she trotted up the hill, arming the herd bull and satellite bull that had come in a little further down the hill. At 35 yards, they stood motionless and didn’t know what to do. I knew they were going to get out of Dodge, so I drew my bow. When they started walking up the hill, I followed the herd bull and began activating my release. When it fired, I saw the arrow on its way toward the hollow area behind the front shoulder. Seconds before it found its mark, I saw a small twig rapidly fluttering up and down and the arrow off its mark, just missing the ass of the elk. Although the distance was about 50 yards, I made an incredible shot on it, just like the shots I’ve made to win some big tournaments. I knew I had him… then it all fell apart. That’s how fast things can change when you’re hunting. Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. Unfortunately, I played the role of the bug on this day — this elk hunt.

Dejected, we made our way out of the woods and back to camp… one day left.