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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hunting Season 2009 - Gone!

Well people, it's over for us in New Hampshire! This Sunday is the last day of season for archers, and few will be out, probably including me...It is cold here, wind chill down to about zero, and trees waving all over the place. Like seventy five per cent of the rest of the country we have a foot of snow on the ground. While this is great for tracking, firearms season is over, so save your energy. Bows won't cut it. As I write it is ten degrees!

Here you see  hunters arriving and getting ready for first camp, early in November for a late afternoon hunt!

We harvested a lot fewer deer this year. Only four campers tagging out except for several that went to West Virginia and (as usual) hit the Southern jackpot. I got one by bow, two got deer by muzzleloader, one by rifle. One of my trooper buddies, earlier, hit a ten pointer with a high shot arrow, and he was never recovered, most likely surviving. We even had game wardens tracking him, and he never laid down.
Cooking venison for eight!

One of the reasons we took fewer deer this year is that I instituted rules eliminating taking anything smaller than eight points ( except does in season) and having only two, three day camps vs. three in past years.

Our first camp was a bust because of weather...Friday afternoon we hunted, but by ten that night it was pouring and never stopped all through Saturday into Sunday morning. That put a big damper on things and definitely brought out the cribbage boards!

Interest in the second camp was limited at best, and next year we may cut back to one single four day camp. Not sure why attendance was down, but most of New Hampshire is wide open to hunting and we all have multiple places to hunt. Many of the hunters tried new places, some with great luck.

In any case, after about November 8th, I noted that not a single buck fired up any of our game cameras until after dark. Evening after evening I sat over does, twenty feet below me, feeding contentedly with no bucks in sight. After hiking back to my ATV after dark, I would just ease down the 1/2 mile trail to the far field and inevitably find a half dozen deer on my clover. I could never see in that light if there were any bucks among them, but I doubt it. So it's over. The freezer is full, I have arrow heads to sharpen, guns to clean, and camp to put in order for the winter. All of it is fun.

Campfires always bring out the best in us all...

Gearing up for a venison supper...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rifle Season Opens at Long Ridge

Ok People, today opened rifle season in New Hampshire. Today, tomorrow and Friday, does and bucks may be taken. From Saturday on, through December 6th, only bucks may be taken. By state law, bucks by definition must have one antler at least three inches long.

All summer we have been monitoring our fields, food plots, and woodlands for deer population, and our conclusion is that the fawn survival rate is way down this year. I can only guess that this is due to the high bear population. Bears do raise cane with newborns left by their mothers when they leave them to feed. I have three different bears on my cameras from June through September, and even one bear can comb a large forested tract clean of any food. In any case, we are setting up to hunt bear next fall. We had a similar situation with coyotes several years ago, shot a bunch, and the problem seemed to go away. I'll keep you posted.

This year we have instituted Quality Deer Management Standards to our camp. By this, I mean we have researched what that means, and implimented whatever parts of it would seem to apply to our area. Since we are under fairly light hunting pressure, the simple rule is, shooting does OK, shooting bucks with less than eight points is not.

This rule is being found hard to swallow by some camp members who do not often get deer. For those of us that regularly harvest two or three, it is no big deal. I sympathize with hunters who resist the change. After all, some of my campers are truly in it for the meat they can place in the family freezer. But as you can see from past summer and fall postings we have many four and six point, two and three year olds, and we have regularly harvested them over the past ten years or so. This year we are letting them live so that they may join the ranks of the more seldom seen eight, ten and twelve pointers we do love to bring in. I hope to increase exponentially the handsome trophys hunters at LRDC bring in. I will keep these rules in place a minimum of three years before I try to measure success/change.

These rules are not cast in stone. A first time hunter, a far traveled guest, or youth on their first hunt, hey, take what you will...get hooked, become a lifelong addict to nature and hunting. THEN we'll clamp down on you! (-:

You can see in the pictures a four,

and eight point buck.

The six and eight point do spar a bit,

and also you can see in the darkest picture, a Fisher. This is a little guy, I'd guess ten/fifteen pounds...

For those of you who do not have them in your part of the country, they too take fawn after fawn for dinner. Here in Northern New England, we call them the Wolverine of the East. They are tough to the core, fearless, and they never give up. I have live-trapped them, and driven them miles away to free them, and they never, ever, stop attacking the cage they are in. They average 15-20 pounds, but can reach double that. And when they do, they are nothing to mess with. While moose hunting with a LRDC pal several years ago about twenty miles North of camp, we saw the biggest Fisher either of us had ever seen. Comparing this one to weights of beaver and other animals I have had more experience with, I'd have guessed this one at about 40 pounds. Any game warden would scoff at that but my buddy, no stranger to the woods and nature guessed closer to fifty
pounds. Whatever it weighed it was huge and nasty as we watched it savagely aattack a rotten tree trunk and eat mice or some other small rodents it found. We both had scoped 30-06's on it and while it was not in season, I did feel an urge to take it, just to prove that they get that big. When I trapped them, even the smallest was eager to take on my 100 pound Lab (who knew better) and he was no slouch for a fight!

So, Friday at noon, I light the out door fireplace, and retreat into camp to get into Scent-Lok and other gear. I'll stay in camp long enough to hear other rigs arrive, the unloading of gear, beer, ATV's and laughter and raucous greetings, before we sign the log as to what stand we are headed for, and head out, Winchester Featherwight 30-06 in hand...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Muzzle Loader Opener and Mock Scrapes

This past weekend was the opener to our muzzle loading season. This was not a stay over camp, and no one showed up to hunt the property. I did go out several afternoons on stand, and morning still hunts but did not see any deer. Oh, they were here - every evening I came out of the woods they were all over the fields and barely moved as I puttered down on my ATV. But as far as decent bucks go, nothing. I did not really expect to see any as it is normal for our big guys to stay put until real cold, and the second and third week of November set in...As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful full moon this past weekend...if you did not know, the November full moon is officially called the Hunter's Moon.

I sat two evenings far up on the Ridge from camp. No deer, but as it got dark and that beautiful amber moon came up over my left shoulder, big as a dinner plate, I knew, simply knew, that I was in the right place in this tiny glimpse of history. Typically I lower my gear from the stand in the dark and hike down a trail a hundred yards or so to my ATV where I load my gear and putter on out. About a half mile down toward camp is where I pass the Far Stand, (check the pictures) and right after that I hit the fields I cross to get to camp. That is where I see the does all chowing down. On Sunday night, while I was still in stand, and the moon coming up like a big saucer, a flock of around ten raucous Canada Geese crossed it on their way South. I was close to Heaven.
Now, someone asked me about mock scrapes. Believe me I have subscribed to, and read every major deer hunting and archery publication available in the last twenty years (before that I was a yeoman patrol cop who couldn't afford such luxuries) and I have hunted New England for 54 years. So about fifteen years ago I began to set up mock scrapes. Exactly where and how all the experts and pundits descriped. For the last ten years I have used the drippers and scents from Wildlife Research Center and here are my results. Zip. Save your money.

I have set up scrapes as directed, used every scent made, as directed, used scent free gloves, spent countless dollars on products, and conclude, in New England, that mock scrapes are not worth the time or money.
Below is one I have had in place by the Far Stand for 12 years. I have yet to take a deer over it, though I have shot many deer from this stand...

The pictures of the stand you see is the Far Stand, fifty yards into the woods looking down at a field.

Upper is the stand, lower is the field it looks out on...

 Right below the stand is a cross roads of deer trails.

I have seen literally hundreds of deer while sitting in this stand. Once, in fourteen years I saw a young immature buck sniff the mock scrape. Once. Now, to be fair, I did shoot a buck in 1998 that was walking toward me from my right toward the mock scrape. He was still seventy five yards from it when I shot him. He was a nine pointer that dressed out at 240 pounds. Huge. But there is no indication that he was headed to the scrape. Last year while sitting in this same stand, a ten pointer came up across the field headed directly for this scrape. I passed up an easy seventy yard shot thinking he would stop at the scrape, but no, he veered off leaving me with no shot at all. He never went close to it.
I have used every scent Wildlife Research makes, a myriad of doe-in-heat/buck tarsal, you name-it scents. Just for fun. And I don't mean to discourage your use of mock scrapes. They are fun to do, fun to watch, and divert attention. But in this part of the country, if you are doing them to attract deer, forget it! If you are doing them for an excuse to get out there, go for it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Almost Muzzle Loading Season, and How NOT to Book an Out of State Hunt...

Well people, this coming Saturday opens our muzzle loader season at Long Rindge. Saturday, Sunday and Monday are either sex days, and then until the regular firearms season it is bucks only...We've left the land undisturbed for the past two weeks, and yesterday for the last time for a bit I retrieved and changed both camera cards. The bear you see is up on the Far Ridge, and as the grass is about 7-8 inches tall, he is a hefty dude. Seems to come through about once a week.

The six point buck in the picture is an example of one we will NOT take under QDMS, but rather let him mature into a trophy mature animal. This is the first year I have imposed restrictions to eight pointers or up (there are plenty of them out there) so I expect it to be tough for hunters with unfilled tags at seasons end to pass on these guys. In the long haul it will pay..We are isolated enough here that pressure is relatively low around us so I am not too worried about someone else taking bucks on the interior.  In any case this coming weekend is a non-stayover weekend hunt. We'll hunt during the day, and then after dark gather at camp for hors d'oeuvres and drinks, and pictures of any deer taken, before heading out. The rules for this hunt are to be on afternoon stand no later than 3 PM, and do NOT come out at end of shooting light, but wait until dark. If a deer is taken, do not bring it out until dark. At that time, we can all assist in the chore.

A hunting friend who hunts primarily in Connecticut and the New York Catskills wrote me the other day. He had intended to get a jump on the season by booking a hunt in New Jersey, and did so, finding a guide service on the web. A relative neophyte to the world of big game hunting, he neglected to ask for references. The pictures you see above of the wooden stand without ladder,

the provided 'chair'

and the description of the area and hunting conditions are quite unbelievable. The living quarters were worse. One finds better digs at the most Northern Quebec caribou quests! I enclose in parentheses parts of his notes to me about this.
Hello, my friend. I thought I would fill you in on my latest 'hunting' adventure (nightmare) in New Jersey...although I am not even sure where to begin. The accommodations were basically a garage behind someone's house that had been outfitted to resemble some kind of a cabin. When we arrived we were greeted by our guide who promptly uttered "what kind of a$$holes show up at 11:45 pm?" We then proceeded inside where there were no blankets, pillows or anything (not that we would be inclined to use them after seeing the way the place was kept). Cigarette butts were scattered all over the floor and a half eaten frozen pizza was up on the counter in the 'kitchen' area. The running water was brown/rust colored and the sleeping area in the loft was complete with rat nests and low hanging rafters with rusty nails protruding in some spots.
The guide wanted to try some local spots so in the morning we were brought to our treestands. We were basically hunting 1/2 mile from elderly housing communities and strip malls. You could hear the car radios from nearby traffic. When we arrived at the location for my treestand it had been stolen so he decided to put me up in this...
Somehow I gut up the thing and then after my bow and gear was hoisted up I clung to the tree for dear life. I don't normally scare very easily but needless to say I didn't even get a chance to hunt as I tried desperately for two hours to figure out a way to get down...However, it was more of a situation where the guy I booked the trip with farmed out the guide services to someone else. SO, the pictures on the website, etc were not what we encountered. I have to say, though, that we laughed like hell all day and into the night. The one part of the story I forgot to tell you is that when I finally got down from the tree I decided to hunt in the same spot using a fallen tree as cover. I promptly dispensed one of my new Buck Bombs and as I did, I ended up ingesting a good 5 seconds of the blast (eyes, nose and mouth direct shot)....that just about sent me over the edge! The guys howled at that one....

I thought I would add a couple of more details to my treestand issue. The told me that there was a seat up there and to 'get comfortable'. Here is that beauty:
Finally, here is my look down (notice there is no ladder)

...Later, after I got down we were all picked up and went back to the garage. The guide decided that he and his son would try to do a deer drive (it was raining and there weren't may options left). As we got to his spot there were signs everywhere that said "CAUTION - SAFETY ZONE". We were within 450 feet of school property and any loaded gun or nocked arrow would result in a minimum $500 fine. Well, that was the end....we politely asked to go back to the 'camp' where we packed our stuff and indulged in some good 12 year scotch. We spent the night at a nice Hilton about 20 miles away and headed back to Connecticut on Friday morning.
I will never hear the end of this one from my friends....but, we will also never forget it."

He has learned! But being a bright upbeat guy, instead of brooding about it, he did the right thing..retired to a 1st class hotel, and enjoyed some good Scotch with his hunting buddy. I haven't pressed him for the name of the outfitter. That will come in time. About the time it takes me to pour half a quart of Glen Livet down his throat. In a way I envy him. He has Deer Camp fare to last thirty years. I can't match a story like that! Stay safe everyone, and good luck in your 2009 quest for the elusive Whitetail buck!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Good Start .....

Well I did get out last Monday, the 12th, for a sit in the Mid Stand as we call her. All my stands are twenty feet off the ground, and the Mid Stand is about 25 yards into the woods from a small field. It was placed near a logging trail that heads down into the field. In the photos you see the view from the stand. It is bow season here in NH, and typically I have two tags for bow, one for either sex, and one for buck. I generally try to fill my doe tag early so that I have venison for the freezer, and then concentrate on mature bucks. On this evening, I was in stand by 4 PM, and did fill my doe tag...she did weigh in at 130 lbs. dressed, and I pick up about 60 lbs. of good eating meat tomorrow! She was the smaller of two huge does that came in. None had babes, which is not a particulary good sign. We are overloaded with black bear here, and they do raise havoc with the fawns in the spring...In any case, the day after I dressed her out in the far Field, a bear came in and completely devoured every single piece of that doe I left - including the contents of her rumen! Clean! Not even the ravens had a chance. Here is a copy of the email I sent that evening to my camp companions...
"Ok Boys, listen up. Tonight we put venison in the freezer. I took the Mid Stand about 3:30 and for about two and a half hours watched wildlife around me. I can assure you that there are 387 Gray Squirrels and 978 color varieties of Chipmunks per hectare at LRDC.
Then about 6 PM, I heard them coming, and froze. From directly behind me they came down. The first doe was the biggest, a taker but she was on my left and I couldn't draw without getting her attention. She passed at about twenty yards and cautiously entered the field. Just then I moved my foot and another one I was unaware of jumped from behind me. It took her fifteen minutes to make it to the field where the big one, while chowing, kept looking directly up at me. At about 6:15. I heard a third coming down, and this one passed right under the hemlock tree to my left, about a ten yard shot. She swung right, down to the stone wall about twenty five yards directly in front of me and turned broadside to the right. She too was a big one. As her head went behind a small hemlock I drew and shot using the 10 yard pin because of the steep angle. She dropped like a stone, never took a step. But I could see she was still breathing, and nocked a second arrow. After a few moments she made an attempt to get to her feet so I put one through both lungs, and she was done. Once I checked I found that my first arrow took her spine out and bent the arrow in a big curve. The second, through her lungs, was a through and through. She's a big one, she'll go at least 130, maybe more. So now the freezer is full again, I can concentrate on the hunt! Good luck to you all! Jack"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Early Fall Goings On...

September started out fairly warm, so I declined to bow hunt until Late September. I have been out once, and saw nothing...I sat up on the Far Ridge for four hours, til dark, and the only thing I heard were acorns falling all around me. This tells me that it will be several weeks before the deer are back to the fields and openings, though it did put me in a nice spot up in the highlands. In any case it was a neat hunt - Tons of geese, mostly Snows, but some Canadas going over. The colors were only just beginning to show.
Today several of the camp members had planned to come up for a non-stayover archery hunt. Wouldn't it happen, but the rain has poured down all day. I do not bow hunt deer in the rain, unless it is very very light. Anything more than a mist, and they are too hard to blood track. So here I sit, wishing it would lighten up by four so I could get an hour or three in, and it may yet. Over the past ten days I have over a hundred and five pictures of deer from several cameras. No decent bucks, but they will show with the cooler weather. A fellow camp member has a huge twelve pointer, big of body, big of rack, on his camera, less than a mile from camp. That will be a taker if we ever see him again. I did finally get a nice moose on my camera this week, and he is a big handsome shiney fellow, no ticks on him! Looks to be a 2-3 year old. He'll be a grand trophy some day. The doe you see is huge! Big of bone and a massive body...she will dress out at 150/160 lbs!.
I did put a new porch on camp, and a new stove with electronic ignition will save us tons of propane over the season. With that, we are set and ready to go. No other major news for a week or two. Any success out there, pass it on, and good luck and safe hunting to all! Jack.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Long Ridge Deer Camp, 2009

This is the 2009 LRDC camp letter just sent out to all members. I'll post some past ones too.

This will be the fourteenth anniversary that deer hunting camps have been held at Long Ridge. For any that have not attended, these are three-day weekend camps for serious hunters and serious friends. No pressure, no demands, no work. Hunt in your own fashion, in your own way, on your own schedule. …if you cannot stay over, hunt for the day. If you cannot hunt for the day, join us here for a drink around the fire in the evening. Come for one, or both camps …but remember this first…hunt in your own fashion…

OK Boys, I’m only going to repeat myself once. This is the year! Y’all get that? THIS IS THE YEAR! Let me clarify that. THIS IS THE YEAR! Now that we are in sync with quality deer management techniques, we have every right and expectation to harvest at least two 12 point bucks apiece. If you can’t live with that, find another deer camp. That’s all I can say about it! I’ve done a fair amount of research and phone calling on the internet, and I discovered that there are over 7,147 registered big game taxidermists in the USA. So, to be safe, and to assure timely turnaround of the copious mounts we’ll be sending in, and in a patriotic effort to NOT overload and back-up the system, I have engaged all 7,147 taxidemists in the continental US (the Alaskans are busy in their own right doing Sarah’s trophies, I hated to bother them) to be ready for the truckloads of huge racks we’ll be wheeling out of Long Ridge. They are ready. Over seven hundred have replied and stated that they are clearing their freezers of undone heads to make room for ours. A sacrifice to be sure, but one that is sure to pay off for them in the long run!~ In fact I even warned them of Bruce’s trophy over on his hill, and Artistic Wildlife Studios in New Mexico ( ) wrote, desperately begging to be included on the list! They promised to handle any trophys with a maximun two day turnaround! So now you know what kind of weight we throw on a national level, you know? Sheesh! I could have used a little help fending these pros off me, ya know? Anyway. No big deal, I just wanted you guys to all understand the actual impact your hunting here actually has on the national GNP. Jobs count on you! If you don’t believe it, I got a midnight call from Ed at who was so excited…he informs me that our prospects look so good that he is going to be taking on an extra ten people just to handle the carcasses he expects us to generate. Hey, he accepts the fact that with his taxes going up a minimum of 48% this year in California, he’s taking a risk, but as he puts it
“ When Long Ridge Deer Camp Speaks, We Listen.” Go figure!

For meals, We will touch base further into fall, but it would be nice if we had the wild game dinners set up with Larry’s sauces as usual….We have plenty of baggies, tin foil, wax paper and all that stuff…I’ll bring napkins, silverware. …Also I have a ton of venison…

Please let me know which camps you want to attend overnight. 1, 2, or both is fine but I do need to know ahead of time. If I don’t hear soon, I’ll be calling…

Radio channel 16-8.

Bring an ATV –Plenty of parking, and by the looks of the pictures that got sent around, it looks like those ATV’s will be needed! If you need to drop them off here ahead of time, that’s fine! Need help doing it? Give a call!


When you arrive, throw your gear on a bunk, first come, first served except Bills single bunk, which should remain undisturbed and unclaimed. Please log onto the sheet on the table so other hunters, later arrivals etc. will know you are out there. Some of the tree stands are spoken for, so check the log before you take them. There is a map with the various stands on it, so if someone is logged in, you’ll know exactly where they are. Some of the stands are for climbing stands so you may not see anything there. Also there will be mock scrapes set up, so please do not go near any scrapes, real or mock. Try to stay at least ten yards from them. Some of us will be on stand, others still-hunting.. Grouse, fox etc. in season and if you want to take some, fine. But if you get a deer, and want assistance dragging get on the radio only after last shooting light. Remember, coyotes are fair game, no matter who is near you! Please familiarize yourself with the hand drawn property map. There are topos of this area for your use on the main table in camp. There will be the same silly, never visited mock scrape at the far stand, which I am going to hunt hard this year as every year, so if you can steer clear of that it would be good. But there are a ton of other trails, especially if you head out to the far West trail. Follow that and you’ll come to a dozen forks! That’s where all the deer are bedding now. Try to be on stand by 3:00 PM so you don’t bother others already out there…

Also please remember – if you want to hunt an elevated stand, you MUST wear a safety harness. If you do not have one, or there is not a spare one in camp, you can NOT hunt from the high stands…

Remember, we prefer not to have loaded rifles inside camp.. Handguns are fine, we expect all to carry. We want you guys to be safe ! 9 mm minimum please!

During afternoon hunts, if you plan on not coming out till after dark that is fine, but log it or let others know, so they don’t go looking for you. Not all of us wear blaze orange, but if you come out after dark, please wear some. In fact, please log all hunts on the sheet…

Camp rifle weekend dates: Nov 13, 14, 15 Doe is open the 11th, 12, & 13th

November 20, 21, 22

There will be no hunting at Long Ridge except at the above stay-over camps, with the following exceptions:

Bow – Oct 2, 3, and 4 (Fri, Sat, Sun) Let me know

Muzzleloader - )Oct 31, Nov 1, (Sat& Sun) Let me know

Please call and let me know what weekends you can make it, thanks, Jack, err, sometime this century…603 357 9820 ext. 7005 at work, or 603 399 7070 at home or cell 209 1749 or or or, for anyone with a modicum of taste and class, try writing an RSVP to Guess where!(-:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Eye of the bear

The "Eye of the Bear" I call this one...these guys are curious, and somewhat fearless. The next picture is of him grazing in the high ridge food plot. Strange to see a bear grazing just like a cow, but they do...

In the mean time we are preparing deer camp for the pounding use it will get over the next three months. Ten to fifteen guys will be in and out, eating, sleeping, hunting, and when they arrive in the fall, they know it will always be prepared, tons of firewood, stove and grill ready, propane full, water jugs filled etc. In return, they bring stories of out West, down South hunts, work experiences, family stories, friendship, laughter, jokes, show off new guns, bows, you name it. Above are photos of the inside of camp as I write. Still some sweeping out to do and supplies to get in, but it'll be ready for our first bow weekend October 9. There will not be any organized camp or hunting here until then. I may try for a bear (our season ends the 21st of this month in this unit) and may arrow a buck or meat deer before then, but I don't like any serious pressure in these woods until we hold a full camp. Tends to raise the success rate for those that travel far and can't make all the camps. Left to do, finish staining the porch, replace a kinked propane heater copper gas line I kinked and rewash the pots and pans. Then we are all set. Bow season opens September 15th, but I won't be in my stand until the 1st unless it is cool. Then on October 9th we'll have a non-stayover bow weekend. Then no more hunting until the weekend of October 31st when I'll have a non-stayover muzzle loader hunt. Quiet after that until the weekends of November 13th and 20th, when we'll have our three day campover rifle weekends. After that the hunters are allowed pretty much to hunt here whenever they have time up through December 15th as long as they stick with the QDM rules we have set. By the third week of November most of us have tagged out so anyone out there is pretty much alone. Kinda nice actually.
So, back to the standing deer target for another leisurely week or two of practice. I feel quite confident now, pretty much confining myself to the forty yard exercises. One thing I have worked at, and never mastered, is ranging for bow distances. Therefore I ALWAYS use a rangefinder and my first job once in stand is to range everything in sight, so I know what pin to use. It's the only way for me. So, I wish you all the best of luck this bow season, please let me know how you do, and your methods. I love learning new tricks! Jack

Friday, July 31, 2009

Late July at Long Ridge

It is the last day of July as I write, and feel the pressure begin to build relative to things undone for upcoming camps... I threw in a camp moon picture from last year, a view of my Lab Sidney from the Tall Stand, and the wood stacked for deer camp (last year's). Now you know how much there is to get done!
Bow season begins in exactly six weeks, and I have not yet pulled back my string. Last week I picked up my bow from the archery shop. He did a complete teardown, replacing cam pins and such, new peep tube, and bumped pull weight from 58 to 60 lbs. (this is what happens when you have factory strings, they DO stretch. Always replace them after two years with good aftermarket stuff) With that done I will begin dry pulling this week, and shooting next week. My method is to start out with three arrows at each range (10, 20, 30, and 40 yards. Begin with light practice for a week or two, build to a creschendo of shooting for two weeks after that, then shoot lightly perhaps five to ten shots a day, estimating ranges for the last week or so before season starts. The day before season, I take my sharpened Montec G5's off my six hunting shafts, and replace them with the dulled Montec practice heads. I shoot my hunting shafts just to make sure they are true and in good shape. Once that is done I screw back on the sharp Montecs and am ready to go. I carry a bow attached quiver with six arrows in it, so I practice with it loaded this way.

Because of the incessant rain for the last three months we are behind on our food plots. They are ready to lime, fertilize and plant, but I just can't get on them without making mud. Instead I have concentrated on clearing trees and unwanted branches from our various stands, so that there are good shooting lanes where we want them. I did dismantle a permanent ten year old stand called the Wide Stand. No deer has ever been taken from it, and it goes mostly unused. I dragged the ladder a half mile west and raised the twenty footer up at the new food plot in the Western area. Instead of mounting the permanent stand I put up a hanger there, because we may want to move it slightly, to find the best spot. But I can tell you, it will be a producer...

Other summer camp news is that my wife and I bought two new ATV's. Ours were 22 years old. They still run like a top, but I did need a bigger one for the work I require it to do. We bought Honda Rubicons, 500's. As usual I researched for two years before settling on the Hondas. Even without the research I'd have chosen them. Our old ones are Honda Fourtrax Foremans, one a 350 and the other a 300 with countless hours and miles on them. The 350 is mine and I once pulled a 685 lb. moose over a mile through woods with it. I had it in low gear, full throttle, all four wheels spinning the entire distance. I had two hunters on the front rack, one on the rear, and myself. Thats 600 lbs. plus the moose. Those machines in twenty years took a starter each, a couple of new plugs somewhere along the way, and a couple of batteries. If you knew the work we have made them do, from harrowing to hauling logs, you simply would not believe how they to this day start instantly and run flawlessly. I'm gonna miss them when they sell. Honda makes the only gear driven (as opposed to belts) driven ATV I know of. The two new Hondas will likely be the last ATV's we'll ever need to buy.

The last week of August I will unseal all my hunting clothes that are Scent-Loc and silver, and re-activate them in the dryer. I'll spray down my release, bow and boots and anything I wear for a hat with Scent Killer. It really does make a difference. Tell me what you all are doing these days to get ready! Jack

Monday, June 22, 2009

Late June

Ok, here it is, late June, and so much to do to get deer camp ready! First, we have to continually monitor the game cam to see what's out there. This determines whether we shoot any bucks, or just mature bucks the coming season. Does are fair game, anytime they are legal.
I must admit we are far behind this year due to family (what is more important?) considerations. I should have pulled all the straps from the tree stands, and released or replaced them but I won't do that til this coming weekend. May is the best month because the trees have just started to grow.
Next, we need to keep mowing the food plots so that the weeds do not overtake them. Even the 1-2 acre clover plots need to be sprayed and mowed against weeds and grass if they are to last. This spring has been so wet and miserable that spraying has been out of the question!. So now, a lot of catch-up!
In addition I have added another food plot that must be limed and fertilized before I seed it. Seeding for fall in this Northern clime should happen around August 1st if you want deer coming to them by mid September. Lots of work ahead.
As I work on each plot I will return with a load of wood which I'll drop at deer camp to be stacked as time permits. I like to have about two cords ready for camp, as hunters love a huge and roaring fire day and night.
Next job in June is to get my bow in for a check-up. It doesn't need much, but the peep tube broke and should be replaced. I'll have the tech guy check the string and other vitals, and then start practicing late in the month. That means buying a dozen or two mulch hay bales for a backdrop for my life sized deer target that I practice on with G5 broadhead practice blades which shoot to the same point of impact as the sharpened hunting points. That is why I use the G5s. They allow practice with the same head, and they drop deer faster than any broadhead I have ever used (or seen used). Also this is a good time to start reminding hunting buddies that a group practice session is in the works. That tends to get us all out and practicing so that we are fully prepared for fall.
Next post will be on the interior of deer camp, improvements in the making, and making ready for the cold weather, the heavy boots and the demanding hunters arriving!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

We start the month of May at Long Ridge Camp

Last blog had us complaining about the fickleness of April - a blizzard one day, fifty degrees the next. Well we just hit May and we are off and running. There is virtually no snow in the woods right now, and the fields are greening up nicely. The Whitetail clover plot in the far field already has mustard weed a foot tall, so I mowed it down Saturday, and will spray it with Slay and Arrest on the next windless day (that I have off from work). Can't believe how all the fields greened up so soon this year! Nancy and I watched a pair of foxes hunting mice in the rear fields today. I think it's neat - she worries about her chickens.

In any case May is the month to start clearing (or refurbishing existing) food plots. I have already ATVed up to the Far Ridge plot to clear all the trees I cut after last Decembers destructive ice storms. The Secret Spot I planted is all dead, and by July I will spray the weeds, ferns and vines that will cover the ground. Two weeks later, I'll harrow it, fertilize and spread some lime, turn it over again, and seed by August 1st. Ditto on the East side plot, from which one of our hunters has been hanging out with a couple of youngsters after their first turkey. Last weekend the eleven year old got his first, a double bearded fellow, not huge but respectable. In in that youngsters eyes, the stars shone!. He's a lifer. Today they didn't luck out though they heard the gobblers everywhere. It's the nine year old's turn, and by next weekend he'll probably score. In any case they spotted a bear, and this kid will never let a year pass again without procuring his license! The future of the sport.

Meanwhile on the Western side I have been working on a new plot, and this looks to be the best one yet. This area was logged two years ago, with specific instructions to take the Pine and Hemlock, but leave the Oaks. There are both White and Red Oaks here, big massive trees thirty inches through at breast height. Good mast producers they are and this has always been a good deer spot. I cleared the skidder road into it and once there I have begun to pile and bank the two feet deep tangle of hemlock and pine waste. This will take me two or three more weekends, and then I'll rake it by hand, and begin liming. It will take at least a month or so for the lime to have any effect, because I cannot get a tractor in there to turn the soil. Around August 1st I'll plant No-Plow, and hope for the best! By next year at this time, this will be a first class plot. Not big, but I know the deer will love it.

May also is the month to get out and loosen any permanent stands either bolted or strapped to trees. The trees will grow fast between now and fall, and need to be freed up. In mid August we'll go back out and retighten straps and fasteners. That's pretty much it for the month of May for deer camp stuff. The folks are too busy hunting the big birds to get any more tied up with real 'work'! My game camera is out by the Far Stand, where there is a crossroad of trails. The pictures aove are from last week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April at Long Ridge Deer Camp

April is my least favorite month, always has been. March, hey, that month is honest. 40 degrees one day, 5 below the next. Roaring streams and melting snowpack this week, a 20 inch blizzard and freezing temperatures the next. You expect it. But April, you know, 'April showers bring Mayflowers' is supposed to be a bit genteel. Sun, and spring, and Easter, and all the joys those things bring ought to make April a great month. But April lies. Sixty degrees today, and tomorrow and the next, and then POW! Six inches of snow. Ice. Two feet of mud on our dirt road. This afternoon I took Sid, our Lab for a good walk across fields and woods. At the top of the fields is a sliver of snow left - we've had rain and warmth. But this evening - freezing,28 degrees, our walk was windy and cold out of the Northwest. The brooks and rivers are at crest from the melting snowpack, and snowdrops have bloomed. And now snow expected tonight. Once snowmobile season is over, I am done with snow. May is welcome to come.
On the other hand, the deer are back in the fields, and have browsed the maples I dropped during the winter months. Their tracks are in the mud, and yesterday morning on my way to work I stopped to let a herd of eight or so cross our road..they looked reasonably healthy after this harsh winter. If most of them twin out, we'll have a banner season once again.
Getting ready for May chores...I have sent away for some Slay and Arrest to kill the grass and broadleaf in my plots and will spray at the earliest good conditions. We'll have some good frosts still to come so I'll frost seed with clover where needed, and spread a little 0-20-20. The deep woods plots I will not touch until mid/late summer when I will spray them, turn them a bit and re-seed with Secret Spot. The camera will go up soon. I only have one, so I have to move it around on our land. Next, before full summer growth I will have to loosen the bolts of our permanent tree stands, and move them a bit up or down, adjust ladders, and do rough work. I love it. Also this month is the time of year when so many in the country go shed hunting. I shed hunt every year and rarely find anything at all. But there are so many miles of woods here, that you could never find them all. A treasure I do have is a huge moose shed that I hit one March while snowmobiling. It was so fresh that it was still bloody at the base. It sits in deer camp now.
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