Where does the time go? We deer hunters in the North Country are lucky to have long deer seasons.
That is especially the case for those of us who hunt the archery and muzzleloading seasons, as I do.
My deer season started in late September and ended two weeks ago. Still, it went by so fast and the five months between now and turkey season seems like an eternity. I enjoy a lot of different things in the outdoors, but hunting is at the very top of my list.
Anticipation among Northern Zone hunters was high coming into this deer season, and with good reason. We had a solid mast crop, especially beechnuts, and the deer were in good shape following a relatively easy 2012-13 winter. But that does not always equate to success in the autumn woods. There are just too many variables.
A widespread food source, for example, can put deer just about anywhere that food source is. The hunter still has to find those deer. Another variable that was not in short supply this past season was the weather. We had it all: rain, snow and quite a bit of wind. It played a role at some point or another.
I’m lucky in that I preside over a website, www.ADKHunter.com, that is based around big-game hunting in the Adirondacks. I hear stories and see photos from numerous hunters throughout the region. I recently posted a photo of the Salerno family who had another good season in Essex County. I got word from Tim Salerno that they took a few other hunters under their wing who are interested in their style of hunting. This is surely how you recruit and retain future hunters.
A few other notable bucks from this region include a 185-pound, 9-pointer taken late in the season in Elizabethtown by Scott VanBramer. Mike Julian from Waterford called in a 165-pound, 9-pointer near Schroon Lake in late November in St. Lawrence County. And, in the early muzzleloading season a group of Essex County hunters known as the Rack Pack weighed in a couple of bucks exceeding 200 pounds. One was a 222-pound, 4-pointer that was aged by a state biologist to be more than 5 years old.
This was yet another interesting deer season for me. I was lucky to be in the venison right from the start. It began when my 14-year-old cousin shot his first deer during New York’s second youth deer hunt. I was not there for the hunt but was able to enjoy some fresh backstraps at our hunting camp the next day courtesy of this proud young hunter.
A week later we scored early on in the muzzleloading season when one of our guys got a spike horn. We call our group the Iron Site Gang and this same hunter was the first to have success in the regular (rifle) season when he got a 4-pointer with his Winchester 30-30.
The following week Cristian’s older brother, Warren Chaney, tagged a fine 5-pointer out of our camp in northern Warren County. Warren is a busy college student and an aggressive young hunter so we were all happy to see him have some luck.
When a few of us went off to Maine in mid-November, some of the other crew had some luck in both the Northern and Southern zones. More importantly, I have to credit a few of these guys with the leg-work they did while we were out of state because it paid off for the rest of us later in the year.
I always say there are seasons within the season as deer patterns change constantly. At one point later in the season we were seeing a lot of does, but no bucks, other than spike horns. We kept looking and during the final week of the season four of us got bucks. After passing on three spike horns and a small 4-pointer, I was fortunate to take a rut-worn, 7-pointer on one of the most magical days I’ve ever experienced in the woods.
Got Game? returns
If you’re looking to find a way to beat cabin fever next weekend, make note that the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb is resuming their monthly sportsmen’s related Got Game? series at the rustic Huntington Lodge on the SUNY ESF campus in Newcomb. For the Jan. 4 opener, the topic will be hunting dogs with the Southern Adirondack Chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association. Hours are from 3 to 5 p.m. and the cost is $5. For more information, call 582-2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.