Monday, January 24, 2011

Last Minute Hunt

The other day at 1:30 in the afternoon I got a phone call from my dad asking me if I would take my youngest brother Josh out to a new piece of property to muzzleloader hunt. Having nothing to do that day, I agreed to take him.

Our hunt didn't really start out all that great. By the time we got there it was nearly 4:00, and Josh had trouble unlocking the gate to get us in to the property. We drove in on a dirt/snowy road and parked, then walked up through the woods and set up our groundblind. I was setting up my tripod and camera when I realized my camera batteries would most likely die in the first five minutes of filming. Great.

I decided to quickly run back to the truck and grab my other camera just in case. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but the ice on top of the snow prevented it. If there were any deer nearby, they certainly wouldn't be there any more.

We finally got everything set up and I helped Josh get his muzzleloader and shooting stick set at the right height and adjusted the windows of the blind so that we could see out with the camera, and Josh would also be able to shoot.

I'd just got comfortable when the feeder went off and Josh nearly fell of his chair. It took him a few minutes for him to realize what it was, and after we got done laughing, the woods returned to their silence.

There were tons of squirrels and birds under the feeder, and tons of tracks all around, so I was feeling hopeful that maybe tonight Josh would have a chance to shoot his first deer.

We were only there about 20 minutes when Josh started shivering a little. I decided to play the same trick on him that I had on my sister Sarah earlier that season.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a bottle of Imitation Maple Flavor and offered it to him. "Here, Sarah says this warms you up."

Surprisingly, he believed me. Taking the lid off of the bottle, he tilted his head back and chugged it...for about 2 seconds.

The expression on his face was priceless, and I had videoed the whole thing. He froze and looked at me, like he didn't know what to do. He stayed that way until I told him to spit it out. After we stopped laughing again, we heard something close by.

We froze for a second and suddenly we heard coyotes all around us. Looking out the back window, I caught sight of a big coyote on the ice behind us, about 50 yards away. Josh and I watched it for about five minutes, trying not to make any  noise. Then, it started running along the ice towards us, and I turned away from the window to help Josh get his gun ready.

By the time we looked back out the window, the coyote was gun.

We heard alot more coyotes that night, and though they were close we didn't see any of them. That was the first time Josh had seen a coyote in the wild, so even though we didnt' get a shot, he couldn't stop talking about it.

No deer showed up, most likely because of the coyotes, but we're going to head back out again this week to see if we can get a shot at something.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Days

For the past two days the weather has completely sucked. Rain, snow, sleet, and lots and lots of ice. I’ve been trapped in my house, not able to hunt, check trail cameras, take down stands, hang out with friends…

What I don’t understand is, why do I always get snowed in alone? Why can’t I get snowed in with a hot guy or something?

It’s kind of boring being stuck home alone. Though I did get a lot accomplished that I otherwise would never have done.

My muzzleloader is now cleaned and put away until next season, a job I usually put off as long as possible.

I cleaned out the cab of my truck and found some random stuff…a black bikini top, directions to an outdoor show, a frozen bottle of scent spray, a camo hat, a pink thong, some bullets for my .35 Remington, combination lock and cable for a treestand, and some candy from my elk hunting trip in Colorado.

I cleaned out my woodstove, which I haven’t done since…well probably nearly three months, and I even started a fire.

I mixed up some venison burgers and froze a bunch of uncooked ones, and discovered that the plastic containers from Chinese food work perfectly for freezing stuff in. I made Venison Parmesan and froze most of it, and made Chicken Alfredo and froze most of that too.  I probably wont have to cook for a few weeks. I think it would probably be a smart idea to do all of that BEFORE hunting season, that way I would have something to eat when I came home.

I folded ALL of my laundry, instead of just leaving it in the basket and taking it out when I needed it. I even picked up all the clothes I had stacked at the bottom of my bed from the past three weeks, and put them all away in my closet.

I looked up the word “Inimitable” because I read it in a magazine and didn’t really know what it meant.(It means exactly what is sounds like it means.)

I texted. A LOT.

I made plans with one of my best friends to go out on Friday night.

I washed all my dishes.

I worked out.

I even vacuumed my house.

I looked at all the latest issues of Buckmasters, North American Whitetail, Turkey Country, Field&Stream, and Cosmo.

I watched a bunch of movies and hunting DVD’s.

I really wish it would just stop snowing already.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Do Normal Girls Do?

With the end of hunting season nearly here, and still unemployed, a thought crossed my mind the other day…what am I going to do when hunting season’s over??? Well, I thought to myself, I’ll just have to do what other normal girls do

Which leads to the question: what DO normal girls do?

They most likely don’t spend 5 months of every year living off of McDonalds, strawberry poptarts, and energy drink. Not that I’m complaining…I’m practically addicted to McDonalds sweet tea.

They probably don’t wake up at 4:30 am in early December and say “Oh goody, it’s 10 degrees and my lungs will probably freeze the second I step outside…perfect weather for hunting!”

If a normal girl can’t decide what to wear, its probably not because she can’t decide between Mossy Oak or Realtree. Though I have to admit…its not always an easy decision to make.

If someone asks them if they want to go out this weekend, a normal girl probably wouldn’t reply with “Sure, which stand do you want to sit in?” Or, to be a little more specific, a not-normal girl like myself would probably answer with “Sure, but I get to say who sits what stand!”

A normal girl most likely enjoy all four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall), instead of just enjoying one season (hunting).

Fortunately, I decided I didn’t want to be normal…

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Beginning Of The End

I honestly can’t believe it’s the middle of January already. Only a few weeks until the end of North Jersey’s Deer Season…at least until September.

I’m beginning to lose interest. Mature does aren’t moving during shooting light, I don’t want to shoot a fawn/button buck/small buck, and the big bucks are starting to shed. I’m a little unsure of whether or not I’ll be hunting the same property next year, but I’ve passed up small bucks on this property for the past two year, and just in case I hunt it next year, I’ll continue to wait for a big one. But, now I run the risk of mistaking a mature buck for a mature doe and shooting it.

This was easily the worst season I have ever had. Usually by now I have three or four deer down, and at least one of them an antlered buck. I feel like I was cheated this year. My hit list is a lot longer than my kill list. All I shot was a extremely short antlered spike buck in early October. Don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome hunt…it just isn’t how I pictured my season turning out.

A trip to Colorado for elk, 2 trips to Missouri and a trip to Illinois for Whitetail…I returned with some good memories, and saw some big deer, but I also returned empty handed.

It was my first year ever hunting out of state, so really I didn’t expect too much. But, even though I didn’t get anything it was still awesome.

But the NJ season was most disappointing. At the top of my hit list was a huge ten point that I nicknamed Mr. Big. (I’m sure most of the hunters in Northern NJ have heard my sob story about how I hunted him for months only to hear about someone else killing him in a deer drive opening day of firearm season.) That was hard to swallow, and definitely my biggest disappointment of all.

Makes me almost wish I wouldn’t have passed up on ALL of the other smaller bucks I saw during the rut.

But, when I think about it, hunting one specific buck is like wanting to be in a relationship with a specific guy that you have all picked out. Any other just won’t do, and the longer it takes to get him, the more you want him. Soon enough it grows into an almost unhealthy obsession, and you convince yourself that there is NO WAY that anyone else could possibly get him before you. Well…it doesn’t always work out I guess.

So…lets see…

An unfilled Illinois tag, 2 Missouri tags, and several NJ tags all unfilled.

I may be able to put a deer down in the next few weeks, but I may just have to make tag soup and start counting down the days until next year. If you want big bucks, you sometimes have to settle for nothing!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Sitting in my stand the other day waiting on a deer, any deer, I thought back over the past several kills I had made. It dawned on me that I hadn’t killed a doe in over a year. Bucks, yes. Does, no. It was last October when I last killed a doe…

It was about 40 degrees and raining a little when I got to my stand. I had just put the stand up that day and I knew it was a good spot since I had seen deer there both times I had been there before, but hadn’t had any shots.

 It was about 5:30 by the time I walked the half mile to my stand. I was only there about 20 minutes when I saw 2 doe coming up the draw.

 I was hunting a funnel, and sitting right on the edge of an old logging road that the deer like to use. I had out some apples and a Deer Cane block (the deer love it, highly recommended). In the early season here in Jersey you have to shoot a doe before you can fill your buck tag.

The first doe came out into the open and I drew back on her. I was using my Hoyt Ultrasport set at 50 lbs, a new bow I just bought last year and hadn’t killed deer with yet. She stopped, a tree blocking her vital area and preventing me from taking a shot. She stayed that way for about 10 minutes and then my arms gave out and I had to let down. She moved forward and I managed to gather my strength and draw on her again, but again she stopped.

 After another 10 minutes I had to let down again and I accepted the fact that I may not get a shot. But she turned and started back the other way.

 I drew a third time, held my pin on her, released the arrow.

The way she took off and ran down the ravine I had a sudden wave of panic as I thought I had missed. Then, she suddenly staggered and fell over backwards, back down into the ravine, and lay still. I stood frozen to my stand for five minutes, just staring at the spot she had fallen. I knew she was dead.

 Here in North Jersey we have to get to our deer as fast as possible or risk losing it to coyotes or bears. I got down from my stand and field dressed it. By the time I was done I realized it was only about 6:15 and I still had plenty of daylight left.

The half mile walk dragging her out was a long one! But totally worth it! Luckily I had thought to bring a length of rope along with me, which made it easier. She weighed in at 92 pounds dressed, a nice sized doe for North Jersey. My hunt was a huge success. I had killed several deer with a bow before, and many with a gun, but this night I felt even better knowing that I had done everything myself, from the pre-season scouting and setting trail cameras out, to hanging the stand, killing, dressing, and dragging the deer out. I was feeling pretty good.

It doesn’t always have to be a trophy buck to be a trophy hunt.