Sunday, November 29, 2009

If it's brown it's down, baby

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure again to spend a day afield with Winchell, Tidball, and Stedman.

First came a duck hunt on the big water--or "nice habitat," as they say in Maine. Big Country. Big Water.

Anyway, Josh managed to scratch down a black duck. I was dazzled by the reflection of the sun off his newly Lemon Pledged stock, and so I missed the companion duck. I blame Tidball.

At 10am we had had enough of that . . . cow manure, as Keith would say. Honestly, I was enjoying myself, and enjoying the aesthetic pleasures of the open water, and communing with nature, and all that, but Keith was getting a bit antsy. Almost (but not quite) "I think I'll take a walk" antsy.

So we adjourned to a deer drive on the Tidball plantation. I oranged up and was posted on the north hedgerow adjoining the Parks farm. Stedman and Tidball meanwhile drove through the gully and other hotspots, leading Keith to take a 150 yard shot at Moby Buck. Sad to say, Keith missed that shot, and was forlorn for the rest of the day. Not suicidal forlorn, mind you, but "interrupt me with heavy sighs when I'm drinking my scotch at the end of the day" kind of forlorn. But I digress.

So Keith forlornly followed Moby while Stedman split off and climbed into a tree stand in the "hickory woods" to my east. Somewhat later Tidball made a push along the cornfield to our south, and then did a big loop upwind from us and picked me up at my hedgerow hideout. Together Keith and I continued the push past Stedman's stand eastward.

At this point Keith busted a BRUISER of a bunny out of the brush. The lagomorph came to rest five feet away from me, eyeing me cautiously.

"SHOOT, GODDAMMIT! SHOOT!!" came the orders from the Cottontail Commander.

"But I am armed with but a 12 gauge slug gun, kind sir," replied I, "loaded with a sabot slug, which I fear will do much bodily harm to the wittle fellah if the sabot finds its mark."

Tidball considered this fact for a moment, and allowed the hapless hare to pass.

Along we went, hither and yon, aided by our portable electronic devices to position each other in the putative paths of runaway whitetails. Keith and I continued driving, and I broke a mighty sweat. But push on we did, up the gully, through the thicket, and into the corn. Rich waited patiently for results, but alas! none were had.

By now it was three o'clock, and we were mightily fagged out by our exertions. Conferencing along a path in the woods, a doe suddenly burst out of the woods, into the pasture, and (I exaggerate slightly for dramatic effect), STRAIGHT INTO THE PATH OF THE ONCOMING STEDMAN.

"By golly, there goes one now," says I to Tidball.

"Assuredly this is so," he agreed. "Shoot, Richard, shoot!!" we cried in unison.

But it was not to be. Young Rico was unable to pick up the speeding deer through his peripheral vision, and she escaped to be prey on another day.

At this point, Tidball announced his intention to go "play host" with his Winchell guests. I believe that there will be a forthcoming squirrel hunting tale authored by one Jonah Winchell, and so I will say no more about it. But I am looking forward to reading it. (PSSST, JONAH, if you're reading this. Don't forget what we talked about: film, insults, sarcasm, how bad your dad's shooting was, etc etc etc. Good lad.)

Tidball assigned me to the double wide honeymoon stand for the late afternoon rush, whereas Stedman went northward somewhere in the general vicinity of the gully. I saw nothing for the rest of the day, whereas the Vicar of State College passed on a lowly six point buck.

Later, when I scoffed at the idea of passing up a legally antlered deer, I was informed by the farm's proprietor that he is engaging in something called . . . "Quality Deer Management," or some such thing.

Humphhh. I informed the farm manager that I would be quite content with a lowly six point buck, or a forkhorn for that matter. Hell, a two point spike would suit me just fine! "If it's brown, it's down," says I to the farm proprietor.

He just smiled sagely and replied, "It's a good thing you didn't shoot anything like that here today." When I pushed him slightly, as is my wont (and as an aside, I have heard, incidentally, that trophy bucks store mercury and organochlorines in their racks--but can't seem to recall the source at the moment), he told me that I would not have been disowned for shooting a lowly-racked buck, but I would have been relentlessly ostracized to the death (As in Forever) had I done such a crass and tasteless thing.

I replied in turn that I was verily glad not to have committeth such a grave and venal sin.

At day's end we retired for drinks, food, and USDA home movies. Yes, you read that right. USDA HOME MOVIES.

Don't ask.

Anyway, I bid my adieu at night's end, and retired toward Trumansburg.

This morning, I woke up at 5am, drank coffee until 6 am, climbed into the crow's nest at 6:30 am, and killed this buck at 7 am. I "reverse bloodtrailed" him just for fun after I found him 25 yards away from where he was standing when I shot him.

If it's brown it's down, baby.

It's not a trophy bunny, but it will do

Friday, November 27, 2009

Josh's Field Dressing Tips #1

I had the distinct pleasure to share a Thanksgiving table with the Tidball and Winchell clans yesterday, and inevitably the conversation turned to hunting.

Joshua shared with us some of his considerable connaissance de la chasse he has picked up over the years, including this nugget:

"When field dressing an animal, you should breathe through your mouth"

which apparently aids in the avoidance of any unpleasant smells that may emanate from the body cavity of recently deceased game animals(s).

Thanks for the tip, Josh!! as you might imagine, when shared over Thanksgiving turkey, this hint from Heloise provided the Thanksgiving revelers who were assembled for the occasion an opportunity for much mirth and merriment.

Breathe through your mouth
and oh yes, don't forget your blaze orange bump cap

Friday, November 20, 2009

North is north

Best of luck to all you intrepid deer hunters as gun season gets underway.

...and if you have any troubles finding your way back to the truck after searching for 'ol mossy horns, just remember these words of hard-earned wisdom from Dr. Dirt.

North is north.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Trick or Treat

Took advantage of a few free hours on Halloween day, heading to "Cobert Covert," with the sole objective of stumbling into timberdoodles. This was my first hunt since Wisconsin, and Lilly worked well, Jim's new cow bell audible at all times. We bumped one bird at the end of the covert, but marked it well. Lilly locked up, a solid point. Tweet. Bang. I dropped the little fella into a tangle of multiflora rose. Just when I was preparing to crawl into the brambles Lilly made a nice retrieve. I breathed a sigh of relief. My pup had returned to her old ways. We celebrated by adding Andy's sticker, now earned, to the bumper.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

archery buck

Sorry to post over the "Bone Collector" jack-o-lantern, but I needed to chime in with some deer lore too. I'll keep it short. I filled both my archery tags this week... a nice doe on Thurs and a respectable 7 point buck yesterday. The buck was my first left-handed archery buck. I missed the charmed giant (huge 10 or 11 point) earlier in the week, and decided "freezer first," at least this time.

For the full story, go here.