mbVT Maine Tracking 2019

mbVT

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While I anxiously await the Russell Report for 2019, I'll share some of my week in Maine.

Dad and I arrived in Jackman Sunday of the 4th week ahead of the snowstorm. Got our grocery shopping done and settled in early. Got in some map staring- I last hunted in Jackman 2 years ago, so wasn't sure what had changed. Picked a few spots for the next couple days.
Monday after the storm we didn't see much for tracks, but got into a spot I had missed some bucks near over the last few trips. I made a big swing around and Dad checked out another direction for the day. Very little deer sign until the end of the day. Dad saw a doe and fawn.

HC The Cathedral.JPG


Tuesday, back at it in a different spot. Dad and I walk in on a winter road in before we plan to split up- I have some old signposts to check and he was going to head in the other direction to explore. As we're walking, at about 7a.m., just a quarter mile in, we cut a decent buck track made in the night. Decide to double team him (we haven't done that in a while, so I was pumped by the idea). Off we go.
Buck is on a cruise, checking groups of does. heads east, then north toward a sizeable mountain, then veers west and crossed the plowed woods road. He crosses paths with another buck track and we almost switched, but it didn't look right- different buck by the time I worked it out. Through the thick stuff, it's obvious he doesn't have a wide rack and I know he isn't 200, thinking more 170- I really wanted Dad to get a crack at him and we were already having a great day together, so we decide to stay on him. Back on track, cruising along, he feeds on some moss and in a blow down and starts to head up into some knobby country. We back the pace off, thinking we might catch him in his bed. Conditions are a bit crunchy under the fresher snow- not ideal sneaking. We poke and poke- he acts funny a couple of times, but never beds. He finally comes down out of the knobs to check some does and starts cruising again.

HCPic4.JPG

We're down in some swampy country when he links up with a doe and they really start hanging together. At this point, we still really haven't gained on him. They lead us across a river and then into a series of beaver ponds, one of which the buck and doe cross on the ice. With no real way around, we do the same, one at a time- thankfully it holds up!
He finally leaves that doe and strikes off again, headed for higher ground. This is around 1030, so we take a little break. A warm day, so the snow is finally starting to soften and things are dripping. If we catch up now, I like our odds. We start moving along again and follow him across another old winter road we've hunted near in the past- we're still not far from the road- he's paralleling it more or less. He heads into some older cuts and starts making some loops, crossing his own tracks at times, I think still looking for does. Having almost screwed this up earlier in the day, I just stayed on the one and followed all those loops. I'd have Dad stand where we thought he circled himself a couple times- a good break for Dad as we were starting to get a few miles on. He finally breaks away again, heads out on his own, up hill. More gnarly country, he gets on the backside of a nice knob, circles around, then back tracks himself and cuts in. We finally get up there and the tracks are suddenly FRESH. We start poking and realize we've jumped the buck and a doe off there. I circled the knob to make sure we accounted for everybody and we now have a fresh track. We drop down and have a sandwich, 1 p.m.. Dad was excited, said he didn't think we'd ever catch up, but he's also getting tired. A look at the GPS show we're about a half-mile from the road, but 3 mile from the truck, straight line. I easily talk him into staying with it, said let's give it an hour (they're headed away from everything).
Off we go again.
The buck and doe veer back to those last loops we made, so headed into country we've covered. His track keeps looping, heading back toward us, crossing his own track and then lines out again. It looks like we bump them more than once, but they never run super far before settling back into that long-strided lope, with these weird whirl backs. After three of these, it seems like we should be able to see this happening- it's right ahead of us. As I track one of these whirls, Dad stays on the track. I can see a finger ahead, so rather than follow Dad after the buck is back in the pile of tracks, I make a little loop and get up on this finger and immediately spot a deer about 70 yds away. Scope up- it's a doe and she's staring at me. I tried to look around, manage to take a step, then another and she has had enough. Off she goes. I watch a second deer that was behind some brush seemingly get up out of a bed and see that it was the buck, but no shot. Dad ends up popping out right then and we go down to check on things. Sure enough, the buck had bedded. We debate taking some time and I think that the time to go is now. Dad has had it- shoulders are sore (trackers neck) and he doesn't think we can catch them after jumping them like that- I disagree, but can see that he is pretty whipped- it's 2 p.m. and we've probably done 7-8 miles at this point. So he heads for the truck and tells me to stay on them- wants me to shoot that buck.
I cruise along their tracks and see where they split again. I finally think that the whirls happen when the buck gets ahead, he loses her, then swings back to find her. I decide to stick to the doe track, on the high side. The woods are fairly open hardwood, with some cutting ahead. There's a severe rocky finger outcropping and right there, the buck's track rejoins the doe, I come around the end and look ahead- deer! I pull up, see that it's the buck. He's looking uphill over his shoulder, sort of quartering away from me with his hips lower than his shoulders, at 90-100 yards through some whippy stuff. I cranked the scope up and couldn't hold it still enough. Took two steps backward to use a maple sapling to steady things. Quickly settled the crosshairs and shoot. He takes off, with the doe coming into sight to follow him. I look for a spot for another shot, but see no openings. As they cross around the edge of a bowl on the ridge away from me, I thought I saw some tumbling, but I wasn't 100% sure. I snuck up to where he was standing, find some hair, then some blood in the running tracks. Go about 70 yards following ever-improving blood trail and found him piled up. 6 pt, 164#. Shot him at about 2:30.
HC ME Buck.JPG

Gut him, drag him to the road and catch Dad as he is driving to where we said we were going to meet. He got a ride part of the way back, but had heard the shot. He was a little upset that he did 7 hours of the 7.5 hour tracking job... but was happy for me. I'm guessing he'll stick with it longer next time.
A great day together.

HCPic3.JPG
 

802-603hunter

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Nice job Matt, thanks for the play by play. Congrats! That day started out calm as could be here, and like you eluded, when the snow started melting it felt like things might work out. Glad things went better for you than they did for me!!!
 

JDK

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A nice day in the Maine woods. Congratulations
 

Big D

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Nice job Matt. Chased a buck that same day that kept looping back on his track like that. I bit the first 2 times and than made up ground the next few times. Like 802 said, with the warm up and snow falling off the trees I figured I'd have a chance. Had to make a decision a little after 3 to stay with him and deal with about an 8 mile walk back on logging roads or cut cross country for 3. I chose the 3 miles. I think you shot my buck.:) Congrats on a good season.
 

Mainewoods

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You are having another great year, Matt! Congrats on a great tracking job, and buck!
 

Grandkid

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Congrats....your on a roll. Love the dragging photos.

Roger-
 


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