October 21, 2012

North Country hunting season off to busy start

By Dan Ladd

---- — This is only the first weekend of the regular deer season and already there have been some interesting developments.

Most notable among them is the youth deer hunt that took place Columbus Day weekend across the state.

Last week, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced that of 12,753 youth hunters who were eligible for the season, 486 had reported taking deer. It should be noted that at the time of this announcement, the seven-day harvest reporting deadline had yet to pass. So that number could rise slightly.

Some local families got in on the action. Bill Barber Jr. of Essex County sent me an email detailing the double success that his 14-year-old son, John, had during the weekend.

The boy was hunting with his grandfather on the first day of the hunt when they encountered a bear. While the youth hunt was for deer, in the Northern Zone the bear season is open, so young John was able to harvest the bear. Bill said that he and his father have hunted this property for 20 years and had never seen a bear. Stories like that are popping up all over the Adirondacks this year.

On Columbus Day, Oct. 8, Bill and John took to the woods in the afternoon. The weren’t even to their ground blind when Bill spotted a deer. They were able to sneak into an ambush position and the boy harvested a 112-pound doe.

“It was one of the proudest moments that I have had of my son and one of the greatest weekends for myself, my father and my son. Three generations of Barber hunters,” Bill wrote.

I also got an email and photos from Robert Shea of Mineville who was equally as proud of his 14-year-old son, Riley. The father-son team hunted all weekend, and late on the second day of their hunt they spotted a fine buck exiting a swamp.

“Riley made a spectacular shot,” said his father.

The boy tied his tag on a dandy 8-point buck.

Stories like these have come in from all across New York state and I have posted more photos on my website,, if you’d like to see them.


Last Saturday’s opening day of muzzleloading season was one for the ages.

As the week drew to an end, the weather forecast predicted a hard frost overnight Friday into Saturday and a crisp morning for hunting. We expected deer to be moving and we were right.

While our gang is mostly drive hunters, we decided to separate into two groups of three hunters and cover different properties. We also decided to sit tight until about 10 a.m. and see if deer were on the move.

At 7:15 a.m. I heard a shot and knew it was one of our guys. Pretty soon I heard my hunting buddy, Scott Fowler, on the radio saying he got a buck and that it wasn’t a spike. I had to wait to see his fine 8-pointer.

My morning was quiet and peaceful but I didn’t see a deer. The rest of the gang regrouped except for me and we set up a drive. While sitting by his deer waiting for the rest of us, Scott observed a number of other deer. He was in the hot-spot for sure. The drive produced quite a few deer, including a few bucks, which we weren’t able to get good shots at. And, we’re not big on shooting does in this area as the deer herd is traditionally small to begin with.

But, after an easy winter and some logging in recent years that has created habitat, this spot seemed pretty good. A few days later one of our guys harvested a spike there.

Not a bad way to start the season.

And now we are into the regular (rifle) season that will run through Dec. 2. We’ve got a full moon coming Oct. 29 and the November rut lies just ahead.

It’s a great time to be a North Country deer hunter.

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