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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.
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