Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022

October 9th, 2022

Brian and I used today to check out a few of our old haunts to see what they looked like. Between the rain and the wind, it was tough to see much sign in the five-mile loop we covered. However, we did come across a smoking-fresh rub, and we could smell the buck that had just made it.

Besides the rub, we didn’t see much of anything else due to the leaves falling fast enough to cover up our tracks within seconds. Although some of the old spots still looked good, some of the other places were void of sign due to a number of new blowdowns. We also found a few new places that we had somehow overlooked over the years. We haven’t found any type of mast crops this year, so I’m assuming that not may beechnuts found their way into the leaves.

I’m finally beginning to feel like hunting, even though the forest is inundated with low leaf cover, making it impossible to see anything useful. Looking at the forecast, I think the top leaves will probably be done when opening weekend of rifle season gets here, which is in two weeks. Muzzleloader season opens next weekend. The woods are usually overloaded with people because they can take bucks or does. I”m hoping to see a deer. I still haven’t seen a deer while hunting. It seems to be a trend for me the last few years. Hopefully, it picks up as the season progresses.

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022

October 9th, 2022

A text message woke me up at about 2:30 a.m. It was Jim telling me he was backing out on our plans. I had watched the weather all week and knew the morning would present a good opportunity to see deer moving. The pressure was rising and the temperature was falling. I quickly texted him back and told him that it wouldn’t be a problem. About an hour later, he called me and told me he changed his mind… he was going.

I’m never good when I don’t get enough sleep, and the three hours I got didn’t give me a very good feeling. When I got to the area I wanted to sit, I laid down on a fallen log and rested my tree on the stump. I quickly dozed off. There was still well over an hour left before the sky would begin to get gray. When I came to, it was still too dark to see anything, but I could begin seeing trees in the darkness.

Eventually, it got light out, and I felt good about my chances. I was on the edge of a swamp and at the base of a couple of steep fingers that ran off some high ridges. There were two large scrapes on both sides of me, but neither one of them had been pawed out yet this year. I’m not sure if the licking branches had been worked, but there was a lot of deer sign in the area.

After a long sit, I wandered up the ridge in front of me and did some exploring. Before long, I found a flat where some bucks had left their calling cards. Instantly, I knew it was a good place. I found a few really large scrapes, and there were rubs scattered around the area, including one pretty good one.

Shortly after finding the spot, I met with Jim, and we headed out of the woods. I grabbed some lunch and headed to another place further north to meet Brian.

Once there, I hung a stand for my dad and looked around for a few minutes before it got dark. I saw a lot of bear sign, which told me why the deer activity has slowed down during the last week. I also found this picture when I opened the camera and checked things out.

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022

October 4th, 2022

I’ve been chilled while working from home the last few days. It appears that summer clocked out right at the end of its shift and decided there would be no overtime worked this year. I wasn’t ready for this, as the last few years the blazing heat has followed us into November. I’m sure that the heat will be back, but the last week the weather has been ideal for early bowhunting opportunities.

With the low pressure system hanging on, I didn’t feel opportunistic about my chances today, but that didn’t stop me from heading into he woods. I went with my buddy Jim again, and we tried hunting along the base of a mountain that has some steep terrain. I hunted in one drainage, and he hunted in another. Shortly after settling in, the rain became pounding off the leaves, and before long, it turned into a steady stream. Fortunately, there was enough leaf cover to keep me relatively dry.

I used the quiet conditions to research the area to find the best place to sit. After a short search, I located the “spot.” A swamp ran along the base of the mountain and cut out at 90 degrees toward the mountain, forming an L in the timber. It was a perfect location. Any deer coming along the edge of the high side of the swamp would end up in the hardwood flat, and any deer crossing the narrow part of the swamp at the end of the base of the L would also end up in the same spot. I could cover the entire flat, which had a few big oaks scattered across it. Upon further examination, I found two monstrous scrapes where the swamp jutted out toward the mountain. I haven’t found many places like this one in my recent travels. I probably won’t hunt this area too much, but I made sure to tell Jim about it in case he wants to return. It was definitely a buck-killing spot. However, I’d say it would be more productive if there were some acorns on the forest floor this year. It’s still a good spot, though. I could see a lot of fresh tracks, but I knew it wasn’t like it would be if nuts were on. I could also tell that this place would be great for the rut due to the way the swamp and fingers coming off the mountain funnel everything to an area that is no larger than 100 yards across. It excited me to find this place. I look forward to seeing what happens there in the future.

It got dark quickly tonight due to the cloudy skies and rain. I was happy to get back to the truck and head home. It felt good to feel the rain against my skin. It came as a reminder that my time is here. It’s my time to enjoy everything the weather has to throw at me. I’ll smile and embrace whatever the day gives me. It’s good to be alive and chasing deer. I love putting the puzzle pieces together, and today I felt like I succeeded in getting all of the edge pieces in the right place.

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so I won’t be able to get out in the woods. Seventy-degree temperatures are predicted for Thursday, so I’ll probably skip that day too. Although the forecast looks good for the weekend with rising pressure and falling temps, there is high wind that is predicted too. The high winds probably won’t help too much.

Monday, Oct. 3, 2022

October 3rd, 2022

Today I decided to head to my childhood stomping grounds to take a look at things. Surprisingly, the woods were incredibly dry, which made seeing any fresh sign all but impossible. Considering all of the rain we’ve received lately, I was surprised to see the woods so dry. As I wandered through the woods, I wasn’t impressed with the sign I saw. I covered about three miles in some good deer habitat and never found an oak tree that was dropping nuts. I’m thinking the secret to that area is finding a tree that is dropping and I will find the deer. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that place tonight. I may give it another shot in a few days. I believe I’m heading to another area tomorrow night.

The weather has been ideal for early season bowhunting this week. I wish I could find some activity somewhere to focus on, but I guess I’m getting what I deserve for not getting after it until a month ago. This summer was just too busy with all of the archery travel.

As I made my way across a shelf on the mountain, I could hear a chainsaw in the distance. It brought me back to my early teen years when my dad used to bring me to this area before I could drive. We would rush into the woods after school and hunt until dark. I would occasionally hear people using chainsaws, and geese could almost always be heard in the sky above me. The noises notified me that deer would begin their annual rutting activity, and there would be many happy hunters in the woods.

Tonight was refreshing. I never saw a deer, but I enjoyed my own company. I sat on a rock where I killed a really good deer, and I took in all the sights, sounds, and memories that came rushing back into my mind. Then, I wandered farther down the hill and found a huge pine tree that I had rested my back upon many times. I killed a handful of deer in that spot. I smiled when I walked by the tree and thought about all of the great memories that were created when I sat there.

Today was the first of many successful hunts I will have this season. I look forward to more of them.

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022

October 2nd, 2022

Well, the new season is upon us, and I’m not nearly ready. I’ve had too many things going in this year to put the proper pre-season time in this year. However, I felt confident when I headed to the woods this morning. I decided to go to a new area with my buddy Jim. We scouted an area about a week ago, and it looked like a good spot to go bow hunting.

Although the area was loaded with oak trees, there were very few trees that had dropped nuts, so the feed was minimal. The sign still looked decent, so we decided to give it a whirl. We got an early start and left the house about 4:45. It didn’t get light enough to shoot until about 6:45. As we unloaded our gear out of Jim’s truck, I felt a sense of nostalgia overwhelm me. Instead of me being the young guy, I was suddenly the old guy.

My father and I have crossed many bodies of water in our time, and we stopped doing it due to a number of scary experiences. When I secured myself in the kayak and dipped the paddle into the water, anxiety quickly raced down my throat and found its way into my belly. Yes, I was nervous. Within seconds, we were gliding across the placid water. There wasn’t a ripple to be found on the surface, and the calmness enveloped us as we paddled. Jim was in the lead in his canoe, and I followed in his wake in the kayak. The water flowed down each end of the paddle and dripped onto my hands. We paddled into the fog rising off the water and made out the other side of it before gliding to shore and dragging into the woods away from the water.

Although Jim knew where he was going, I aimlessly wandered through the woods in the darkness. Finally, I found the area I had looked at a few days earlier and decided to set up in a place where deer would have no choice but to go past me if they were in the area. It was a pinch between a cliff and a blowdown, and the major runway running through it was impressive.

As the minutes turned into hours, my patience became limited. After climbing down the tree and wandering around for a bit, I was satisfied when I located a few places that would most likely prove to be more fruitful in the future. With Jim having to be home early, I picked him up on the way out of the woods, and we discussed the morning. He had a nice 6-pointer under him at six yards, but he couldn’t get a shot at it. Unfortunately, there was a coyote lurking through the forest, and it put the deer on edge. Although the deer was at six yards, it was trotting when it went by.

My arms felt the journey on our way out, but I felt comfortable on the water. Many years of memories came crashing back into my melon, and I enjoyed most of them. However, a few found their way into my head, and I wanted to avoid thinking back on those instances. After loading the boats into the truck and heading home, I was thankful that I was able to spend the morning in the woods with Jim. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m 25 years older than him. When we are together, I feel that we are the same age. I would do anything to go back to that time period in my life and have the life experience that I currently have. Since I can’t, I’ll keep plugging along and make new memories as I go.

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

January 5th, 2022

The weather forecast for today was not good, leaving me with no idea what to put in my backpack. I also wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach the day. With the forecast calling for a rain/snow mixture turning into steady rain during the day, I figured I would sit for a while then start walking. It would be ideal conditions to sneak up on something and catch it off guard. 

  I also wasn’t sure where I wanted to hunt, so Dad got an early start and left for the woods at 4:30. He planned on sitting all day. Brian decided to give the area he was hunting a break and try his hand in a different place a little south of where he has been hunting, so I had him drop me off in an area where I could hunt back to my truck, which I had parked near the place where Dad parked. 

  At daylight, I found myself still-hunting through the woods with no clear intention where I would end up. As I meandered in and out of thick beech whips, my gut brought me to a place where I thought I might get lucky. I’m not sure what led me to the place, but after overlooking a small bowl that had tracks through it, something told me another bowl in the area might be a place to sit for an hour or two to wait and see what the weather might bring. I hadn’t been to this area in a number of years, but the inner voice inside my head told me to find a place to sit tight.

  Settling my back against a small beech tree, I felt confident with my choice. When the inner voice speaks, I’ve learned to let it guide me where it believes I should be. Unless you have heard the inner voice, it’s hard to believe how much power it can have in the outcome of certain hunting situations. I believe it’s something that happens due to experience, and as a hunter gains experience, the voice gets louder and speaks with more authority when it speaks. 

  Leaning against the tree, my eyes felt heavy, but I knew I could not let them close. In this area, there would be no time to react if I missed seeing the deer when it stepped into the opening in front of me. I knew I would get picked off if I had to move, so I made certain to stay on point and remain focused. A loss of focus can easily lead to a missed opportunity. Heck, after all, I had that happen last week when I let my guard down while walking through the woods. 

  Around 7:30, I saw a big doe walking toward me, and she had a little one in tow. I figured it wouldn’t lead to much, as does that have fawns with them right now have probably already been bred. However, you never know.

  When they hit an opening about 40 yards down the hill from where I was sitting, the doe became nervous. Although the wind wasn’t blowing in her direction, I think the wind direction created a swirl, causing it to go over my head and down the hill. 

  After fidgeting around for a few minutes, she finally blew and took off. The fawn bounded away too. When they disappeared, I felt somewhat relieved to know that if it had been a buck, I would have been able to shoot him before he caught my wind. 

  An hour later, I caught some movement in the beech whips where I had spotted the doe and fawn. Instantly, I knew the buck was a shooter. I pulled the gun up and secured the butt end of it into my shoulder to prepare for the recoil. 

  When he got to the spot where the doe and fawn had stopped, he instantly stopped and became fully alert. I knew he was going to bolt. There was a small beech tree blocking his shoulder. I knew I probably couldn’t get away with much movement, but the opportunity was going to be lost in a matter of seconds. Instead of moving, I put the crosshairs on his neck and attempted to pull the trigger. Expecting the gun to fire, I flinched. I took a deep breath and started over. I realized I had never pushed the safety forward.

  Leaning to the left, I could see the front shoulder. I steadied on it and pulled the trigger. The boom echoed off the surrounding mountains, and I was pretty sure he was dead on his feet. When he bolted to his right, I racked another one in and followed it up with another shot. Instantly, he went down. I knew the second shot had connected too. 

  Walking over to him, I was excited but saddened at the same time. It’s always sad when a mountain monarch goes down. I felt elated that I had won the chess match, but I felt let down that the game was over. 

  I took a long time with the deer after walking over to it. I enjoyed every second of the moment, and I cherished the luck involved with taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me. 

  I took a few minutes to run my hands along his chest and wrap my hands around his antlers. I felt a sense of accomplishment with this buck that can’t be rivaled. I’ve been fortunate enough to kill a lot of great deer, but this deer stands above many others. 

  We’ve hunted harder this season than I can ever remember, and we have not been too lucky. I’ve seen fewer bucks this year than I’ve seen in as many years as I can remember. Although I passed five nice bucks in New York, this season just wasn’t the same as many others. I did pass one that many others would kill to have on their wall. When I look at the video, I really don’t understand why I gave him a free pass, but I’m not disappointed in the final outcome.

  After taking care of the deer, I began mapping out my trip back to the road. Normally, I would’ve boned or quartered it out, but the snow makes it much easier to drag, so I chose to drag it. 

  A few hours into my trip back to the road, Dad texted me to tell me he had also killed a nice buck. Now, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should leave my deer and go to the area where he was hunting to help him or if I should continue toward the road and get as far as I could. 

  Finally, I told him to take care of it and leave it there. I would go back in after dark and get it.  It would be a lot of work, but I was up for the task – or so I thought. 

  Shortly after the texting, I lost service and that was the last I heard from Dad. The day went by quickly, and I reached each goal along the way in hopes of getting out by dark. 

  Finally, near the end of the day, I was able to get out of the woods and make my way to where Dad was with his deer. At that point, I met Brian there to help my father, and we were able to capture a few pictures in the woods next to the road before loading Dad’s deer in. Although we had to unload mine for the pictures, it was worth every second to be able to get both of us together with our deer in the daylight in the woods. 

  Dad and I had never killed a deer on the same day until a few years ago. Now, in a few years, we have done it twice, and it feels pretty sweet. What a day in the woods. This one topped the one in Illinois a few years ago. I can never express how grateful I am that I’m still able to hunt with my father.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

January 5th, 2022

 When we woke up this morning, indecision crept in. I decided to start collecting cameras. I wish I had chosen a different day because the roads where atrocious. I thought I was going to kill myself. Between black ice and a blinding snowstorm, I wasn’t sure I would make it to the area I was headed. On a good day, the ride is about 45 minutes, but today was anything but a good day. 

  The day passed quickly, and when I tallied up the health data on my phone, it told me I had walked 9,6 miles today. I thought I would take it easy today, but it turned into an adventurous scouting day. 

  I always welcome the end of the season, but it also brings great sadness with it. The time of year that I live for passes far too quickly. If I had a choice, I would make every day of the year a day in November. I love November that much. I feel so incredibly lucky that I was introduced to the woods when I was a kid. I find peace and solitude every time I step into the woods. However, this year has been much more difficult to focus due to Mom’s failing health. It’s a thought that never strays far from my mind. If I could give her my life, I would do it in a second 

We are running out of time, and things aren’t looking good, but I know that a season can change in a matter of seconds. I”m hoping that’s the case in the next few days.

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

December 28th, 2021

We headed out of camp bright and early today, and Donny came back to hunt for a few days. He’s had a lot of stuff going on in his personal world, too, so it feels good to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

  Although the forecast called for heavy winds, the wind never picked up.  With calm conditions and the snow still hanging on the trees, it made visibility tough. The snow fell last Saturday and is still clinging to all of the branches. In all of my years of hunting, I’ve never seen snow hang on the branches this long. It has become quite frustrating. 

  As our day wore on, we continued seeing deer. Talking back and forth on the radio, we decided we would pack it in and head out around 3:30, allowing ourselves time to get back to familiar territory before having to break out the headlamps. 

  Well, the silence of the woods was broken at 2:45 when a gunshot echoed off the mountains around us. A few minutes later, we were standing above a 3-pointer. It was a nice deer, and we were all happy to finally take a deer. Although we’ve all been holding out for a good one, we have come to realize we only have a few days left before the season closes, and we all like to eat venison. Any deer in the Adirondacks is a good one, even if it’s a little guy. Donny finally broke his Adirondack curse after three years.

  Some deer you remember better than others because of the grind that you go through to get to the end of the race. This is surely one of those deer for us. 

  Overall, it was a good day, and we all enjoyed each other’s company. It felt good to be a hunter among hunters, all family and friends. 

Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

December 28th, 2021

We woke up today to a dusting to an inch of snow. It was in the mid-teens, and I had a feeling it might be a good day.  My thoughts were backed up as we headed down the road to start our day. There were tracks everywhere. The deer obviously moved throughout the night. 

  As Dad and I made our way through the darkness, I was thankful that, at 74 years old, Dad can still go way back in with me. Although it takes him longer than it did three years ago, he can still get in and out. 

  When we split up and headed our own ways, we decided we would stay in the woods the entire day. The snow just won’t come off the trees. It’s hard to see more than 30 yards in any direction. It definitely hasn’t made the hunting very easy.  I’m hoping one of these days the snow actually falls off the limbs. We haven’t seen the sun in about a week, and the temperature hasn’t climbed above 25 since last week.  The conditions haven’t been ideal for hunting. 

  The woods came alive with deer today. At the end of the day, I saw 12 deer, and there wasn’t a buck in the bunch. I just couldn’t put an antler on any of them. 

  Dad saw six deer today and got a shot at one shortly after 3. Unfortunately, he forgot to move the safety forward before squeezing the trigger. The deer was in one of the only openings in the area when Dad tried shooting it. The precious seconds wasted cost him the deer. He ended up getting a shot, but the shot wasn’t a good one. He never touched the deer. 

  Marching out of the woods in the darkness, we both came to understand that this year hasn’t been one of our better ones. Nothing has gone right. It just seems like a comedy of errors. We can’t seem to line things up and seal the deal. The wind is supposed to hammer tomorrow and stay that way the rest of the week. I’m not looking forward to that, as the deer in this area don’t move too terribly much during heavy winds. 

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

December 28th, 2021

  The snow just won’t let go. It’s all but impossible to walk through the woods without getting drenched. The snow is stuck to all of the branches and making it downright miserable to hunt. In almost all places, it’s all but impossible to see more than 30 yards. It makes for tough hunting conditions. 

  We’ve been getting a later start than I would like lately, but that’s in part because I’m trying to hunt my way to a starting point. After getting to that predetermined place each morning, I decide what to do. 

  Today, I chose to plop down against a small beech tree and overlook a runway that gets used quite a bit. I saw a doe and two fawns at 11:00 a.m.  I probably should’ve remained there, but I got up and started wandering.

  My travels allowed me to find where the deer are spending most of their time.  I told Brian he could go there and kill a buck. It’s a place I don’t want to hunt because it’s in some severely steep ledges, and I have no interest in making a habit out of going there. My fear of heights is the leading factor in my decision. 

  Today I found where a buck has visited a scrape two times in the last 48 hours. His tracks are the only set of tracks to and from the scrape. Unfortunately, the scrape is within feet of a cliff. I just can’t make myself sit there, even though I know I could kill a good one there. 

  I still-hunted the rest of the day. Late in the day, I spotted a deer a few seconds before it spotted me. Instantly, I knew I was shooting. I shouldered the gun and slid the safety forward. The buck had spotted me but was unsure of my presence. 

  I quickly looked over the scope to make 100% sure it was a buck I wanted to take and knew it was go-time. When I lowered my head, I saw that my breath had fogged the scope, and I couldn’t see out of it at all.  I tried with all my might to get it clear  enough to get a shot off quickly. 

  I never accomplished the task, and the buck ran up the hill. I was highly disappointed and irritated with myself. I couldn’t believe how hard I’ve worked, and I let a rookie mistake keep me from putting my tag on a dandy buck. He was high and big. 

  I guess it’s just one of those years. It started in the Midwest and followed me home. I haven’t had a year like this in a long time. I’m hoping for a little change in luck, but I’m not holding my breath. 

  It was 7 degrees when I left my truck this morning. It’s supposed to be another chilly day tomorrow. We will see what happens.