Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021

December 12th, 2021

I brought Dad with me this morning into the area I hunted yesterday. I figured between the two of us, maybe one of us could get a crack at something. It was the best morning we’ve had to sit. There was basically no wind and the sky remained still for the majority of the day. However, we didn’t have any luck at all. Neither one of us saw a deer. I’m still baffled that nothing showed up. I did hear a deer walk past me around 8, but I never saw it. It was just over the ridge and out of sight when it walked by. 

  Brian saw a few does today but believes they were pushed past him. Kentucky hunted with us today and went to check out a new area that we figured might have potential for the future. Unfortunately, he came back with no good news. He said there were people all over and no deer sign whatsoever. It feels good to cross a spot off the list. He did good work today. He’s half my age and isn’t lacking for motivation or the desire to succeed. He’s a solid contributor, and I enjoy being around his enthusiastic attitude. He will have a great hunting career and kill many big bucks in his lifetime, long after I’m gone. I just hope I can lend him some useful tools and help him realize how hard it truly is to be consistently successful. There is not substitute for hard work. 

Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

December 12th, 2021

  Today was the first day this week in which I knew exactly where I was headed when I left the truck. Actually, it might have been the first time this year that I have felt that, which is probably why I’ve been struggling to find success. I had a gut feeling, and I went with it. This feeling has eluded me this year up to this point, so I listened when my inner-self talked to me. 

  With rain pounding off my windshield on the way down the road, I cussed under my breath. I didn’t feel like getting sopped on my walk, but I also accepted it as part of the deal. 

  After two miles, the dark sky became gray, and I was disappointed that I wasn’t settled into the place I had picked the day before.  The forecast called for 25-30 mph winds, and it didn’t disappoint. The wind was brutal, especially combined with blizzard bursts that came and went throughout the day. 

  At 11:00, I stood up to stretch, and a deer bolted down the hill. When it stopped about 50 yards from me, I saw that it was a spike. I watched him for a minute or two before he decided to head over the hill in front of me. 

  The rest of the day dragged. Then, as it moved toward 4, I saw a doe and fawn making their way along the base of the hill I was sitting on. When the doe was directly below me, she spooked and bolted. She didn’t go far and gradually wandered up the hill. 

  After they got out of sight, I spotted a nice buck on the far ridge. Instantly, I identified it as a shooter and tried getting a shot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to find a way to thread the needle and decided it was in my best interest to let him walk. I ranged a hole with my binoculars that was 118 yards away, and  he was about 40 yards beyond the hole. Although I was disappointed, I know I made the right choice. I may not get another chance at a buck I would like to take, but it sure felt good to be near one and almost get a shot. It drives me to keep grinding in hopes of getting a look at him or another on the coming days.

  Although things seem slow, I guess I can’t complain. I’ve passed up two bucks and I’ve seen deer every time out. Hopefully, my luck turns the corner sometime soon. I seem to be on the deer, but I haven’t put myself in a position to succeed yet. It seems like I’m a step off this year. My focus has been lacking, as my thoughts are with my mother and the battle she is facing. It makes my future so bleak. She has been my heart and soul for 53 years. We talk about life every day, and I share my ups and downs with her. She has a calm sense about her that always makes me feel better about where I am and where I’m going. I love my mom and am grateful that a higher power chose her to be my mother.

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021

December 12th, 2021

  I headed into the woods this morning knowing rain was on its way. The morning turned out better than I had anticipated. I thought the deer were going to move, and I felt confident with my choice for the morning. However, I didn’t see any deer while sitting, and I sat until 11. 

  After getting up, I decided to cover some ground to locate some fresh sign.  It didn’t take me long to get into it, as I found where deer have been feeding on a high bench. It looked like they had been all over the flat the entire morning. My assumptions were proven when I jumped a bedded doe. Surprisingly, no buck was by her side when she bolted. 

  As I meandered from ridge to ridge and across a few streams, I went through many dead areas. Then, the rain began. It was just a nuisance at first. As the hours wore on, the skies opened up and rain pummeled the Earth… and me. 

  Before I headed back to the truck, I found what I was looking for. I followed a few runways, and they brought me into an area with a lot of fresh sign. I will be returning to that place tomorrow. I feel confident about my chances. I’m not sure what I will do about the wind, but I’ll figure it out when I get there. 

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021

December 12th, 2021

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten more than five hours of sleep in the last three weeks, and it’s beginning to wear on me. My body is weary, and I don’t have much energy. It’s even getting hard to focus while in the woods. I should probably take an afternoon off, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. Over the last two days, I’ve averaged seven miles a day, yet it doesn’t feel like I’ve covered that much ground while trying to find a place where I think I can increase my odds of getting a look at a good buck. 

  As I waded through the darkness this morning, I didn’t particularly have many thoughts of hunting going through my mind. Instead, my mind wandered to the dark place my mother is living in, and I imagined our future. 

   As I neared the location I wanted to sit, I realized it would be light in the next 20 minutes. I quickly got changed and settled  in for the morning’s hunt. It didn’t take long before I spotted a doe running through the woods behind me. Then, I saw a small buck behind her. Looking with my binoculars, I saw that it was a 6-pointer. 

  Within seconds, I heard a buck roar and knew there was a pissed off buck in the area, even though he wasn’t involved in the chase. Instantly, the smaller buck turned and ran back the way he came from. I could have shot him but chose not to. 

  As the day wore on, I began searching for places where deer have been hanging out. Finally, I found an area where deer have everything torn up. There was also a huge scrape that had just been opened.  I think I’ll probably return to the area tomorrow and see if a few deer show up. 

  I felt good about today’s hunt. I relaxed but realized how tired I have become. The grind is taking its toll on me. I’ll probably take tomorrow afternoon off when the heavy rain arrives. 

Unfortunately, the the photo stream link between my phone and computer are not working, so the pictures I have been taking with my phone have not transferred to my computer, so I can’t post any of them to these entries. I’m a little disappointed about that.

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021

December 12th, 2021

I  got back at it in the Adirondacks. We were welcomed with about an inch of snow. I brought Donny into an area where I thought he might be able to fill his tag. As we trudged through the snow in the darkness, we could see tracks all over the place. 

  When we reached an area where I had found a lot of buck sign before leaving for the Midwest, I told him to nestle himself in next to a big tree and wait for daylight. Once daylight arrived, I figured he would be able to pick the exact spot. 

  Around 8:30, I saw  a doe come flying off the ridge in front of me. I knew a buck was chasing her. Then, I saw him drop off the side of the ridge and disappear. The doe stopped in front of me, and I waited for him to return. 

  Meanwhile, Donny saw some deer and reported it to me on the radio. I was glad he was seeing some deer.

  I went to another area for the evening and learned why the area has been dead. It looked like a horde of people have been hunting the area, especially a few members of the Kiui army. I’ll never understand people’s reasoning for what they do, but these people’s combined efforts have made it easy to check it of fhe list of places I will spend much time in. They probably don’t even know they’ve pushed most deer out of the area. Many people don’t understand deer behavior in certain areas to understand how their actions affect the deer movement.

  It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow and be in the 60s the next day. I’m not sure what that will do, but I’ll give it my best. My game is definitely not what it should be this year. I’m too distracted my the greater things in life. Deer hunting just isn’t getting much of my attention this year, and I can see the effects. 

The Effects of Social Media on Hunting

December 8th, 2021

  Success is measured in different ways, and as I’ve been scrolling through the pages of social media recently, I’ve realized that most hunters feel the need to heat up their pages by posting pictures of their kills. 

  While I’ve been guilty of that over the years, I’ve tried taking a different approach the last few years. Although many people follow me to see these photos, the monster got created through different outlets on social media. I wrote a book and needed a way to promote it, so I took the social media route to do that. In hindsight, I almost wish I never wrote any books and remained an anonymous face in the crowd of deer hunters. However, I began getting asked to speak at shows, and I got asked to appear on podcasts. Although not many people had ever heard of me, people began referring to me as an expert. I still laugh about that. I have piles of experience, probably more experience than 95% of the people who give advice and are considered experts, but I’m the furthest thing from an expert. I fill tags because I work extremely hard at my hobby – my passion. I’m not a great hunter, but I do spend more time in the woods than anyone I know, which leads to a little luck now and then.

  The use of social media for hunting has sickened me in many ways. I see things that make me shake my head and cringe. I also have a hard time listening to 20-year-olds giving people advice about hunting. Great hunters gain knowledge through years and years of experience. They don’t gain knowledge from kids who are trying to make a living on YouTube. I’ve heard the same regurgitated information for the last handful of years on social media, and viewers eat it up. I’ve witnessed people who didn’t have much knowledge about deer hunting suddenly become some of the most respected people in the whitetail world due to their ability to promote themselves. People just can’t see through the BS because the presentation is done so well. Kudos to those people for being able to pull it off. That’s a special skill in and of itself. When I witnessed that happening firsthand, I realized some people can convince anyone to believe them. After all, I would’ve believed the individual too if he hadn’t been asking me so many questions about how I kill big deer every year in big woods and on public land in different states. I’ve seen this guy on a few YouTube shows, and I can’t do anything but laugh and shake my head. Anyone watching should be able to pick up on the miscues that show the guy’s lack of experience and knowledge when it comes to whitetail deer hunting. It’s mind-blowing to have watched his success from afar, and he fits right into the clique. I also like how I never in my life read anything in an article or heard anyone on a podcast say the wind doesn’t matter until I said it. In all reality, deer cannot constantly walk with the wind in their face. It’s merely impossible. I’ve shot plenty of big deer that were walking with the wind at their back. Now, it seems as if every other guy says it. It makes me laugh.

  Many YouTube channels give the perception that hunting is easy. Most people lose touch with reality and forget many of these characters don’t have real jobs. They make their living off from clicks and commercials. Yes, they do work hard at what they do, and they are good at giving the viewers what they want. However, comparing yourself to them is a far cry from the way an average hunter will ever approach a hunt. The average guy only gets a week of vacation – or maybe less – to get it done. That week of vacation might require two or three days of travel to hunt out of state. Then, once you are in the area where you want to hunt, you must deal with any unforeseen circumstances you might encounter. You might get bad weather the entire time. The place might be inundated with people. You might find certain areas closed due to flooding or fires. However, if you have the entire season to come and go as you please, your likelihood of success will be far greater if you define success by filling your tag. 

  As with anything, you will gain tons of followers if you’re good at what you do. Ultimately, you become friends with a few followers along the way, and your circle continues to grow. As the circle grows, you become more opportunistic because people help you save time doing the things that most others must do on their own. You are introduced to good data, and you are pointed toward areas where it is easier to fill tags and see more deer. You become part of a clique and breaking into the clique is all but impossible for anyone who doesn’t fit the bill. The hunting industry is not big, and it is all interconnected. These things are never seen by the viewer. Instead, many of the viewers (you) eat it up and don’t look at the reality that sits behind the curtain of the show – and it is all a show because more cliques mean more sponsors, more advertisers, and more money. 

  I feel fortunate to have learned the most by talking to successful people. Instead of gobbling up things on TV shows and on YouTube (once that became a thing), I sought out people who had been there and done that. I spoke with old-timers who nobody had ever heard about. I listened to stories being told in hunting camps. I listened closely to local people as they shared moments of their lives with me. I have always kept my ear tilted in the direction of people who have lived a life pursuing the same passion that has allowed me to realize November is the most magical month of the year. I watched my mentors closely, and I made sure to choose good ones to watch and learn from.

  You can listen to podcasts until God calls you home, and you can watch YouTube videos to learn things, but you cannot replace in-the-field experience. Instead of wasting so much time and energy staring at a TV screen or computer screen, maybe you should spend more time in the field during the off-season and gain more experience that you will be able to use next year. While a few guys step in the ring and dominate right from the start, the most seasoned fighters are the ones who know how to navigate the 10-round fight and succeed when they don’t have their best stuff. Instead of idolizing people who make money to grab your attention and keep it, try walking around the block and meeting a new neighbor who has many years of experience in the woods; try driving down a dirt road and finding a farmer who hunts; hang out at a camp and listen to the old-timers tell their stories; call up one of the lesser-known people you have learned about and see if he or she is willing to help you reach your goals; form relationship with people who share the same passion and have the same level of enthusiasm for it. 

  After you do these things, send me a message next year and tell me how much further ahead you are than you were this year at the same time. Those old legends nobody has ever heard of will teach you more than your brain can store. Pay attention and listen closely. They will get you where you want to go. The greatest ones are almost always the quietest ones who stand back in the crowd and smile while the clowns pile out of the clown car in the middle ring of the three-ring circus. 

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021

December 8th, 2021

We all got up early and headed into the woods as a team. We figured our team would be able to locate the deer, even though it had taken off from where it had originally fallen after being shot. We spread out and began grid searching. Although we were feeling down about our chances, we continued searching. About and hour and a half into our search, we located the buck, and it was a beauty of a 10-pointer.

We could see where the deer had struggled a little bit throughout the night, and it was still warm when we took care of it. I never like to see an animal suffer, but I think we did the right thing in this situation. Here are a few pictures of the deer. If anyone is wondering why I’m holding the deer in the last few pictures, it’s just because we have a running joke that I’m an average-sized guy, so the deer looks its normal size with my holding it. However, if Brian or Jeff holds a deer, they are substantially larger men, and it takes away from the deer’s true size. It’s kind of a running joke with us, so that’s why we do it. They call me small, and I tell them I’m an average-sized American man.

Friday, Nov. 12, 2021

December 8th, 2021

When we all rolled out of bed today, the wind was howling and the snow was coming down sideways. The weather conditions were absolutely brutal, but we all decided to head into he woods to do what we do. Some of us decided to sit for the day, while others of us decided to scout new areas in hopes of shooting a doe or two.

As the day wore on, the weather worsened and the temperatures dropped. The snow became a nuisance and continued coming down throughout the day. Although it never accumulated, it made just enough of a mess to make hunting in it unenjoyable. Eventually, the clock turned over and the day started heading toward darkness. The deer moved well throughout the day, starting in the morning and continuing on and off the rest of the day.

Shortly before dark we were able to get an arrow into a good 10-pointer. After a misfire due to a release giving way during the draw, the buck didn’t spook and stayed around. This led to his demise, as an arrow found it’s way into his chest cavity. The deer fell over within sight of the stand, so calls were made to each other for help getting it out.

Then, all hell broke loose when the deer, which had fallen over, couldn’t be found. Darkness settled in, and we decided to leave the area alone until morning. The deer had fallen over within 70 yards of being shot, but it must’ve gotten up and moved out of the area before we got to it.

It was a long, restless night for all of us, but after listening to the reports, we felt good about our chances of finding it.

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

December 8th, 2021

Traditionally, this date in history has been a great day for our group. We have taken some really good deer on Nov. 11. The wind howled today and made for less than perfect conditions. Some of us are trying to take a few does and some of us are still trying to wrap our tag around a buck’s antlers.

The day passed quickly and didn’t grant many opportunities, but Dad took advantage of one that was offered and scored on a nice buck. Dad was simply worn out and decided to fill his tag. He hunted really hard and overdid it a little bit. I know he wasn’t overly happy with his choice, but at the same time, he was happy to wrap his tag around the antlers of a nice deer and get some rest.

As the week has progressed, Jeff noticed a vehicle coming down the short dead-end road where he has been hunting and turning around. He figured the guy realized he was hunting in the small piece of woods when he saw the truck parked on the side of the road and decided to go elsewhere.

Well, as I’m updating this entry a while after this day, we found out what was really going on. Our Tar Heel buddies were actually dropping someone off out in front of Jeff and going to the end of the road to turn around. The guy was basically sitting in front of Jeff, which is the reason why the activity slowed down considerably when Jeff began seeing the truck. Keep in mind that this woodlot is no larger than a football stadium, and Jeff’s truck was parked clearly on the side of the road. There was absolutely no doubt as to where he was hunting. I’ll never understand some people and what makes them decide to do what they do…. mind-blowing.

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021

December 7th, 2021

  Today was an interesting day. I finally called the leader of the pack of Tar Heels. I had to hear what he had to say about everything that had transpired. Unfortunately, the conversation wasn’t what I had hoped for. There were no apologies or anything of the sort. Instead, there were attempts to justify the actions along with the inability to take ownership of what had happened.

When someone says, “We didn’t steal your spot,” it’s usually a good indication as to what the person is thinking. Although I’m not a psychologist, I’d say that most people who say that out of nowhere probably feel the desire to defend themselves. When people get defensive, it’s usually a sign that it’s a hot topic. They know they’re in the wrong, and they get angry because they’re being called out about it.

As Jeff was driving and I was talking on speaker phone, I watched Jeff’s facial expressions. At times, they almost made me burst out laughing. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. I have to admit that it brought me back to the late ’90s when the same type of situation happened when I brought a guy to Colorado and he showed up with all of his buddies the next year. He honestly saw no wrong with what he did. I’ll give that to Mr. Tar Heel. I just don’t think he was ever taught the proper ethics of this type of thing. However, if he was taught the right way, he definitely flunked the test. I”m not even sure that to think. I never raised my voice to him, and he liked cutting me off nonstop. Although my depth of knowledge in psychology isn’t that of a psychologist, I do have some background in people’s actions, and throughout the conversation, the guy’s character became quite evident. It shown as bright as the full moon that had passed a few weeks earlier.

Knowing the temper I possess when pushed to the limit, Jeff couldn’t believe I never blew a lid. Instead, I remained calm and asked questions and listened to the answers. I just explained that stories among his group didn’t match up. The stories on one end were not the same stories on the other end. There were too many untied ends that many things raise suspicions even further.

When a guy has contacted you numerous times over the last five to six years, then is staying a few mies down the road from you while hunting and never attempts to reach out or meet you in person, that tells me a lot about character. Someone’s character can be displayed in seconds, minutes, hours, days or years, but when a man’s true character shows up when he finally has a chance to meet you in person and chooses not to, that says all I need to hear. I listened to the quiet wind and learned a lot about a man I had never met but only spoken to.

After the guy got revved up an finally started raising his voice on the other other end of the phone, he finally had all he could take and said he would never talk to me again and hung up. Jeff looked at me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe how calm you were. I never expected that from you.”

I said, “I did pick up a few of Charlie’s good qualities along the way.”

After that, we continued down the road and settled into the cabin for the night to listen to the pounding rain and howling wind.