Camps are over and done with at Long Ridge Deer Camp as of last Sunday. Always a sad and lonely moment for me, as the last hunters pack their gear and drive away in the dark of a Sunday evening. We have had a farewell drink, but as the last hunter there, I wander around camp, marveling at it's sudden unclutteredness, pour another glass of wine and step out onto the porch to watch the fireplace sputter to a still coolness. The stars are bright, and it is cold. I can hear owls in the distance, and imagine huge bucks strolling along the very trails we hunted hours before. I am high with the waning hunt, and absolutely sick over it's ending. But as I place my glass in the sink, and gather my goods and the pups, I take a final look around the dark deep camp - I relive the stories, the laughter, the told and re-told adventures of life, and work, and play, and hunting by good friends. Just momentarily I look upward, and remind myself as Richard Nelson said " I would rather live as a rock on a hillside, than having lived this life without knowing the (hunter) animal inside me".
Below you see camp as it is today - quiet, forlorn, the two cords of wood long burned in the merry fireplace. No pickups, no hunters, cooking till next year!
It is December 9th as I write this, and it is cold, nasty cold out, a chilling 4 degrees F with a decent wind. Rifle and muzzle loader season is over now, and bow season goes for another six days. I will be out there as soon as the weather breaks. I know there are archers out there that hunt in full heater suits with bow in this weather, but I am not one of them. With the end of rifle season, I have been hunting close to 80 days, and my lips are badly chapped, the skin on my hands resembles that of a 100 year old, and I am kinda beat. Three camps we had, with nine of the 17 hunters affiliated with camp actually hunting here. (to be sure, most dropped by for a day, or an evenings drink by the fire) These were, excepting two of us, rifle hunters only. I took a deer early with the bow, and several hunters scored with bows on other land, or with muzzle loaders. In all, seven of us took twelve deer, one being taken in Montana, along with a 6x6 Elk!. Still another of our group shot a marvelous bull elk in Colorado with bow at 30 yards! That is a nice shot at 9000 feet!. Two cops from the group took a road trip to West Virginia where they scored four more Whitetails. So in every respect it was a beautiful deer season, with Elk, Whitetail, and other wild meats on line for next years game dinners. With that said, it was a wholly differerent season this year. Deer were as hard to spot and find as any year in my memory, and that held for most of New Hampshire. We hunters saw 22 deer during the three camps, about half as many as usual. No one took one here after muzzle loading season, although some hunters passed up lesser deer. I have an eight point minimum requirement here at LRDC after doe season ends, and we saw not a single deer that met these requirements. They were nocturnal all summer, and remained so during the fall. Not a single daytime picture of a large buck did I get on three game cameras. I did jump a giant basket rack just at shooting light the last camp, but did not try a shot. So no trophies this year, but great hunts, and a lot of fun!
Below you see the G5 Montec broadhead and five inches of arrow that the processessor found in my doe. As I surmised in an earlier post, the arrow went through the top of her right lung, center of her left and sunk deep into her left shoulder, breaking it. I will reconstitute the broadhead for another hunt! We did have some of her round steaks at deer camp, and it was some of the most tender venison we ever had, literally we cut this meat with forks!
Here you see a young buck rubbing a Christmas tree 150 yards from camp. ( a.m.), and he didn't seem worried, perhaps he knows the eight point rule!
Below you see a young buck on the far Ridge Stand. As he was stiff legging it across the plot I was in my stand watching him. I could have shot him, and the large doe he was with a bunch of times. It was still doe season, so I let them go hoping they would migrate to a stand lower down for hunters that hadn't scored yet. Instead, they hung out til dark, skunking us all. The doe was right underneath me, upset, pawing, but refusing to leave...
This crafty red fox certainly appears to have scored a rabbit or something, and his condition tells me that he scores on a regular basis! He is in the right place because we regularly get rabbit pictures on this camera.
And, if you check my last post or two, you will see that I said I had posted a picture of a spring fawn attempting sneak a drink from Mom in the fall. Well I posted the wrong one, so here it is!
Below is a picture of the one antlered buck I posted earlier in the summer. Well a LRDC hunter got him about two hours later, and 3/4 of a mile away, on this same date. You see him here, just before his demise scraping and sniffing a spruce just 100 yards from deer camp porch. He was taken at 40 yards with a patched round ball while he was with three does. He was a tiny guy, dressing out at 113 lbs!
The last picture here is of a bobcat coming from the same direction as the fox was going with the rabbit in his mouth. Apparently this is a honeyspot for predators!..It should be, as the last buck we took from this stand was in 1998!
In any case, now we can take a (very short) rest and then start hauling wod, planning improvements, checking out equipment for next year. I am hoping to book a bear hunt soon, and will keep you posted on that!. In the meantime all you hunters, I hope you had great hunts, whether you got deer or not, and that the coming new year happens as it should! Merry Christmas! Jack firstname.lastname@example.org