Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NY Deer Season 2014 - Opening Weekend

Opening Day
Saturday dawned snowing on a couple inches of snow, low 20s and not too windy.  Pretty nice conditions.  I was sitting in a ladder stand down the hill in the woods below the house at the upper end of an 80-yard long x 40 yard wide glade. Angela was sitting in the "driveway stand". The shooting started about half an hour before the season starting time, and stayed at a fairly fast pace for a few hours -- the sound of freedom and the hope of larder-stocking echoing across the hills.
  Angela got a nice doe right off the bat with a nicely placed neck shot at 30 yards.  I saw a doe early on, but it was about 10 minutes before legal time so I didn't even raise my gun.  Right about sunrise I heard -- almost felt -- a grouse fly in and land overhead in either my tree or an adjacent one. Half an hour later, a doe approached the glade through the woods on the left.  Its trajectory would bring it in front of my stand at about 60 yards.  It stopped while still in the thick stuff, and I knew it was just a matter of time before it would offer me a killing shot.  But what did I know?  After a few minutes, the doe turned sharply left and sauntered away down the hill and soon out of sight, and my grouse took this opportunity to depart its perch as well.  Twenty or thirty minutes later a deer that I think was probably the same individual ran back up the hill, turned, and disappeared the along the same reverse path. And that was it for my 3-hour morning sit.
In the afternoon, Collin joined me in the driveway stand. The stand was probably designed for one large butt, and we were able to fit snuggly into the seat side by each.  We started our vigil about 3:00, and I was just hoping Collin's patience would last until sunset.  Snacking on apples and conversing in whispers, 45 minutes passed quickly. I was surprised then to see a doe appear along the power line 200 yards up the driveway, and I was quickly disappointed when it turned away and departed from view into the dense conifers. But within seconds a buck materialized where the doe had been.  He began to follow her trail, so I blatted loudly to stop him.  He obliged and then turned broadside, and paused long enough to allow a shot behind the shoulder.  At the shot he ran in a short circle, ultimately dropping out of sight but within about ten yards from where he was standing when I shot.  We took our time walking to find our buck.  Collin was an enthusiastic assistant, holding a leg out of the way while I worked the knife, paying attention while we traced the GI tract and identifying some of the organs himself, and making sure we retrieved the heart from the pile. Collin was a happy camper, and that evening his brother was a little envious, calling dibs on the next deer hunting opportunity.
Day 2
The next morning I sat in a different stand, at the south end of the property. I don't encourage the boys to join me on early morning hunts, as the fun level tends not to be to everyone's liking, so the bears snored on this morning.  The shooting activity this day was high again.  After about an hour and a half, five does approached from the south.  They stopped behind a heavy screen of boles and branches 70 yards distant.  After the group surveyed the woods ahead for a minute or two, they broke into a run and came into clear view and shooting range.  Again I had to blat, the first of which was not heard, so I blatted louder and they all stopped.  The lead doe seemed largest, so I lined up the cross-hairs behind the shoulder and squeezed a bullet toward her lungs.  At the shot she sprinted 80 yards out of sight, but I was confident of the shot when I heard a crash from her direction.   After confirming that she was dead, I went to the house and breakfasted with the boys, and we returned with sled, knife and string.  Nolan and Collin back-tracked the blood trail to where the doe had stood when she was shot, then returned and held legs out of the way while I operated and gave lessons in field dressing and ungulate anatomy.  However, I've got to say by now they know the names of most of the parts. They were happy that my shot missed the heart, and we put it in the sled along with the deer... and the kidneys, which Nolan wants to try.  Hmmm. Anyway, we were all pretty satisfied to hang a 2nd deer in the barn, and just in time to go to Collin's soccer game.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CLAYTON. The making of a.......... grouser

Took Clayton to Twin Moose. He was the only boy in a camp full of (over educated) men.  He relished in the weekend.

Thanks to Uncles Keith, Bill, Josh and Rich for mentoring him in the ways of life. Of poker: "it doesn't work if you bluff every hand" (Stedman, 2014).

Big Twin Moose Pond, with Uncle Keith. A life altering experience: connecting the labor and engineering of a little rodent with this incredible ecosystem. Moments after this photo was taken he turned to me, "this is the best hunt.... ever."

With his trophy: a perfect walking stick, ramrod straight, bark stripped by beaver.

 Draped in oversized, hand-me-down hunting vest (with lots of pockets for collecting rocks, leaves and other treasures), he fought a myriad of distractions and wet feet to keep up.

Summiting the highest point on Mnt. Clayton, with Uncle Rich goading him on (walking stick to right). Only minutes after flushing our first grouse of the day.

Bellying up to the bar at Big Moose Station. Life is good.

At Canoga Creek Conservancy, on the way to Twin Moose. Earning himself the radio handle, "Squirrel."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Grouse Camp -- Twin Moose ADKs

We had a great time at Twin Moose!  In camp we had Clayton, Pete, Bill S., KGT, Rich, and Josh.  We were pretty short on dogs, with Lilly and Maya getting all of the work (and Brant guarding the camp mostly). Despite over 35 flushes before the close of camp on Monday night (and about a dozen more throughout the week while deer hunting after), we were unable to kill any grouse.  We did, however, have a great time together, and I felt immense joy about the camp being full of great old friends.

 On the last day, Josh and I went out for a leisurely stroll with guns, with Brant.  We worked up a rabbit and as I shot it, a grouse flushed from over head.  So went Grouse Camp at Twin Moose.  We established that there is indeed a healthy grouse population right on the property, and certainly on the many thousands of acres adjacent.

I hope other grousers will post pics...

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Artemis gone

Goodbye Artemis.  You left too soon. Thanks for that last retrieve.  I had no idea.

Love Always,


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saying Goodbye

It's always difficult saying goodbye, but it was time to say goodbye to Meg.  She was one month shy of turning 16!  She had a good life, but with her age and congestive heart failure, she was a bloated skeleton of herself and was only kept going with a cocktail of drugs.  And, even the cocktail wasn't really working anymore.  She no longer had a quality of life.  It was a heart wrenching decision, but the right one.

Lots of tears were shed!  She was a good pup, and will be missed and remembered.  I'm certain she's now running and playing with her old playmates (Sage, Willie, and Thor).

Rest In Peace Sweet Meg!!  May 22, 1998 - April 21, 2014


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

End of an Era

Filson Soy Wax. Soy Wax. A quick look at the can of oil wax Filson supplied 20 years ago with my Double Tin Hunting Coat shows the following ingredients: Rendered black bear fat, asphalt sealer, artificial flavor. Filson Soy Wax ingredient list? Organic soy essence, hipster tears, natural fragrance.

Friday, February 07, 2014