Adirondack Muzzleloader trip

Shooter Buck

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My brothers and I decided to check out the Adirondack early muzzleloader season this year as a chance to get out in the woods with a rifle before the New England seasons open. We had never been out there before so we did a little computer scouting and headed out in the spring for a quick trip. That trip only led us to an area we did not want to hunt. We did a lot more computer scouting this summer and were packed up to head out and check out a few other areas for the opening day on Saturday. We got out there midday and found a spot to set up our tents and camp site. It was warm in the mid fifties when we went out for the afternoon hunt. I headed up a mountain right behind camp and my brother went to check out a mountain to the north. I found a deer track about 50 yards from the tents and took it as a good omen. The hunt turned up one pile of deer pop and a nice view. My brothers found a few fresh scrapes on their hunt.
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We got back to camp and cooked some back straps from last year’s deer for dinner. We hung around the campfire for a bit and it started feeling colder. We realized it was really getting cold when the water we left out started freezing. The first night in the tents was a chilly one getting down into the low 20s. We woke for the next mornings hunt and luckily had a long ride to the area we were hunting which gave us a chance to warm up. We were about a half mile from our camping spot when we ran into some moose in a clearing right off the road. The bull and spike were right on the cow. The big bull was lip curling and ready to go. We watched them for a while and continued on to our spot. We planned to head a few miles into and area and check out some swail bogs. Another fun hunt exploring some beautiful country but not much for deer sign.
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The afternoon hunt we checked out an area between some swamps trying to get some deer moving into each other but again not much sign.

Tuesday was our last day to hunt and we all went back into the same area trying to cover some ground. We met up midday to discuss what we had seen and decided we hadn’t seen enough to stay in the area. We got back to camp had lunch and made plans for the afternoon hunt. My older brother (Pine-lock) decided since we hadn’t been seeing deer looking for them miles away from the truck that he would hunt closer to the truck. We all split up and he went 100 yards from the truck and sat on the edge of a big bog. I made my way around a mountain on the other side of the road and found some more nice views. With about an hour left in the hunt Pine-lock thought he heard something moving in the woods across the bog. A short while later he had a deer blow at him and saw their tails bounce up the hill on the far side of the bog. That turned out to be our closest encounter for the trip.
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We went into this hunt knowing there were not a lot of deer in the ADKs and from the sounds of everyone we met out there they were seeing the same sign as we were. A lot of the guys we ran into were jealous we saw the moose. We see moose pretty frequently in Maine so it was a normal hunting sight for us but sounds like it was actually a rare encounter for out there. All in all it was a fun trip exploring some new woods. I feel like if we had more time to scout and hunt out there we could get into the deer a little better. We didn’t come close to making a dent in the amount of wilderness that is out there. It was a good warm up hunt for Maine and now I’m ready to go next week.
 
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Pine-lock

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Solid recap. There sure is no shortage of woods to explore out there. I think I finally thawed out after that first night out there in the 20s.
 

longbow

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That's some great country, but real tough hunting. Without snow and without the rut, really tough to kill a deer. Sounds like you had some fun. Thanks for posting.
 

Mikejd

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Nice recap. Beautiful pics. I spent 3 days up at my ADK last weekend as well. Not much going on at all. 5 of us saw no deer and very little sign. Hopefully last years winter does not have anything to do with it. When I was up in march I still had 4 feet on the ground. Thats 5 months of that since the first 3 feet fell early last year.
 

Big D

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Thanks for the pics. While not successful at least you got out in some great looking country.
 
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I lived in the ADK's for2 years when I studied forestry at Paul Smith's College. You're right about one thing, deer are tough to come by. From what my dad told me, the hunting was a lot better right after WWII and into the early 50's. My friends up there are all guides and they tell me that if you find a fresh scrape and/or a signpost rub and stay put in a good, hidden spot you will eventually see deer. I've hunted from Speculator to Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths, camped in the woods for up to 9 days with very little success. IT IS TOUGH HUNTING! You have to go in deep to find them but they are there. The biggest I ever saw killed was my buddy's 9 point that dressed 197.
If you're hunting the northern ADK's watch out for methane bogs. In 2001 I stepped onto what I thought was hard ground and wound up in quicksand almost to my waist.
Best spot I found is the area from Snowy mountain to Perkins clearing on the far side of Mason Lake just north of Speculator or just follow the trail into Spruce Lake but that's a loooong way in maybe even an overnight hunt.
 

Gwlambo

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Great post and really nice pics! It gets the blood pumping to head north. 20 days from now for us, and I can not wait. Good luck!
 

Shooter Buck

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I lived in the ADK's for2 years when I studied forestry at Paul Smith's College. You're right about one thing, deer are tough to come by. From what my dad told me, the hunting was a lot better right after WWII and into the early 50's. My friends up there are all guides and they tell me that if you find a fresh scrape and/or a signpost rub and stay put in a good, hidden spot you will eventually see deer. I've hunted from Speculator to Saranac Lake and Paul Smiths, camped in the woods for up to 9 days with very little success. IT IS TOUGH HUNTING! You have to go in deep to find them but they are there. The biggest I ever saw killed was my buddy's 9 point that dressed 197.
If you're hunting the northern ADK's watch out for methane bogs. In 2001 I stepped onto what I thought was hard ground and wound up in quicksand almost to my waist.
Best spot I found is the area from Snowy mountain to Perkins clearing on the far side of Mason Lake just north of Speculator or just follow the trail into Spruce Lake but that's a loooong way in maybe even an overnight hunt.
The only methane we ran into was self produced. We did get out towards spruce lake one day.
 

Mikejd

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The deer are definitly there just need to find them. I started running cameras about 4 or 5 years ago and it opened my eyes a little. The problem is they are not patternable at all. Sometimes I get 1 pic every month, sometimes I see a buck and never see them again.
 

NH Hunter

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The deer are definitly there just need to find them. I started running cameras about 4 or 5 years ago and it opened my eyes a little. The problem is they are not patternable at all. Sometimes I get 1 pic every month, sometimes I see a buck and never see them again.
sounds like the mountains of central NH!!!
 
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I hunted a couple days in 5H last year. I hiked in a mile in the dark and after 4 more hours of hiking I found some good buck sign. I never did see a deer though. I had one blow at me right next to my truck though. Go figure!
 


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