November 18, 2012

Hoping for some luck with birthday bucks

By Dan Ladd

---- — A friend of mine in the hunting business always says that hunters are made, not born. I agree.

Like many of my fellow hunters, I was born into a deer-hunting family. But somewhere along the way I had to get the itch. I’m pretty sure that happened on my 4th birthday.

Let’s just say my birthday is in mid-November and thus in the heart of deer season. As we age, birthdays become much less significant, but I’ll admit that I look forward to hunting on my birthday and through the years it’s been a productive day for our crew.

It was on my 4th birthday that my father shot his first buck: a fine 8-pointer that now hangs on my wall. So as far back as I can remember, hunting and my birthday were synonymous.

On the day I turned 10, I was allowed to join the big family hunting party for the first time.

At my mother’s insistence, I was way over-dressed on this gray November day with snow on the ground. My oldest brother, Bill, took me on a deer drive and pretty much wore me out. Then we heard a gun shot and a few minutes later three more shots that weren’t as loud.

“Uncle Duff got a deer,” Bill said.

Our Uncle Duff was a local legend and was the leader of the hunting party.

Whenever he shot a buck he’d fire off a few shots from his .22 pistol. Although he would hunt for another 20 years, this spike horn he shot that day would be the last buck he would tie his tag to. And it happened on my birthday.

Fast forward to my teenage years when my cousin Kyle and I, who are the same age, were the young rascals of our hunting party. We hadn’t seen a buck all year when Kyle got a monster 10-pointer. The wind was howling that day and I was the only one that heard the shot and the first to find Kyle and the buck. That was on my birthday, too.

Then things slowed down for a few years, at least in terms of scoring on my birthday. One year in the early 1990s, we got a doe in the southern zone on my birthday. Another year, my young cousin got a spike during the southern zone archery season. I was late for my birthday dinner because of the search for that buck. We didn’t find it until the next day.

About 10 years ago, I was hunting with Kyle and our other cousin Joe. The three of us are all that’s left from our old family hunting crew and many times we are the only three hunting together. We were legging it out pretty good on this day and saved our best drive for last. Joe really wanted to sit on the hot watch on this one and sure enough he shot a buck there. He still says he didn’t know it was my birthday or he would’ve let me take the watch.

A few years ago, Joe got a slammer 8-pointer on Veterans Day. Later that week, Kyle and I, along with our friend Ron, went back into this area. We’ve learned that when you get a buck that’s with a hot doe, as Joe’s buck was, that another buck will move right back in there.

I made the first drive to Kyle and when I got to him he was freezing. I knew he wanted to walk to get warm so I suggested he go out to the watch where Joe got the buck a few days earlier. Wouldn’t you know that Ron and I drove Kyle another 8-pointer that was almost identical to Joe’s. Yup, that was on my birthday, too.

You may have noticed a pattern here: that everybody get’s a buck on my birthday except me. My birthday was earlier this week and as of this writing we had a good hunting plan set up for the day.

Maybe this year it will be my turn. If not, that’s OK, too. I just want to go hunting on my birthday.

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