Russell Report 2014

RussellBro2

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We had so much fun this year!! I love the Maine woods and spending time at camp with Dad, Josh, and Uncle Gary... let Josh and me tell ya all about it!

Friday 11/14/14
What on paper was a favorable change at work for me caused me to travel a ton this year all across the country. I hate to travel… unless it’s to Maine. I was maybe as excited for some time off as I was for the hunt itself. I got to camp about 7pm and Dad and Uncle Gary help me unpack. As I finished unloading Josh pulled in. We shared a few beers and hit the fart sac early with strong anticipation for the magic that deer camp always yields.

Saturday 11/15/14
Josh and I snuck in early to a place we’d spent some time scouting in the summer. We were hoping that a check of a few cameras would prove the big 11 pointer was still alive. Many will remember him from the last 2 seasons. We picked up his 2012 shed on a bird hunt earlier in the year. I got to a remote stand at daybreak and pulled a card from a camera 40yds in front of the stand. When I got all settled I began to look through the pics. This was the very first one I looked at. He was back!! And he looked bigger than ever!



No deer sighted by noon when I got up to go check a couple more cams. One cam had 8 different bucks go by including the big boy. This was a new area that I threw a cam on but wasn’t really expecting too much out of. Tracking days aside, I’d found my home for the week and kicked out a ground blind on what I called the Peninsula Stand dubbed so for the features in the terrain.



 
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Russell Bro.

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I went into the spot where I killed my buck last season and planned on sitting for the day. Well by 9oclock I was itching to see what was over the next ridge. I sat until 11. I took a walk to check some cams and looks for sign. While there was some sign, this was clearly not the hotspot that is was just a season prior. I decided to pack up my things and head to greener pastures. I scouted around a new spot for the afternoon – I ended up in one of those never ending jack fir thickets, with no sign to show for it.





 
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RussellBro2

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Sunday 11/16/14
After a big breakfast we pulled the dock from the lake and were off for a scouting mission. Checked a bunch more cams with average results on some and poor results on others. We were able to rule out some hunches and man that helped a lot.







 

Russell Bro.

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Scouted out a new chopping from over the winter and I quickly determined there was a good gang of deer hanging in there. I found this signpost so hung a cam and headed back to the truck – I’d be back at some point.
We got to the shooting range/pit in the early afternoon. Guns were shooting well. We got back to camp just as it starting spitting snow and we received a dusting before Dad had the steaks ready. Boy were those things thick and tasty. I don’t ever recall as many laughs with Dad, Jeff and Uncle Gary. Trip was off to a great start and the hunting hadn’t even really started yet



 
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RussellBro2

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Monday Jeff 11/17/14
With a dusting of snow on top of crunchy leaves, conditions were perfect for a stand hunt. I arrived at the Peninsula hung a couple scent jars, strapped my Millennium tress seat on (love this thing) and then slid a .308 round into my BLR. At 7am I could hear the crunching of an approaching deer. There was one big pine tree in the way and that deer came in right behind it. A couple flashes showed a deer but didn’t reveal buck or doe. I cocked the BLR and pulled the stock tight against my shoulder. At 35yards it cleared the spruce. Big doe. She came right into 20 yards and began feeding on whips. She appeared to be alone so I lowered the hammer, laid the BLR on my lap and took a couple pics of her. I had to scramble to put the camera away when I heard another deer approaching on the same trail. Careful not to be seen by the doe, I brought the gun up and waited for the second deer to clear that same spruce. This one had to be a buck and I kept trying to calm myself down. Nope. Another Doe. They stayed around for 20-30 mins and were so fun to watch. One of these days I’ll have a doe bring a big buck past my stand like they are supposed to.



I met up with Josh at the truck for lunch and we headed to still hunt another area. As we split up the snows started and we got three inches in 2 hours. The snow ended right at 4 which is when Josh and I met up for the long drive out. The deer tracks crossing the road in 30minute old snow was unbelievable. We were looking at a snowed in track when I pointed out a fresh set of buck and doe tracks ahead on the road. We drove up to them and it was obviously the tracks of a buck pestering a doe down the middle of the road. Suddenly the doe jumped across the road right out in front of the truck. We bailed out of the truck and jammed clips in our guns waiting for the buck. Ladies first, as is usually the case, wasn’t in this instance. It was exciting but we both commented that neither of us cared to take one that way… but we would have!!



 
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Russell Bro.

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Monday 11/17/14
With snows predicted for Monday into Tuesday and crunchy conditions, I decided to head back to the same stand I sat on Saturday. For this particular stand I walk in most of the way on an old abandoned log road. A mile or so into the walk I had to trek a pretty steep hill, when I got to the top huffing and puffing, a deer jumped up in front of me and went to the left. Then two more flags to the right. I checked my GPS – legal was in 30 seconds. I fumble through my pockets to find my clip, got the gun loaded up and grabbed my “Maine deer call”. I could hear the two deer that took the right so I blew on the call 2 or 3 times. Sure enough, those two came back on a very steady pace. When they approached an opening, I threw the scope up and confirmed two skippers. No doubt the mother was off to my left. I listened to these deer mill around for a solid 15 minutes before I continued on my way. Got to my stand and sat until 10:30 or so before packing up and heading to the truck for lunch. Still hunted a mounton top in the pm and had a close encounter which Jeff already mentioned.
 

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Tuesday Jeff 11/18/14
What Mother Nature gave us with 3 inches of tracking snow she took away with an inch of crust. What she took away with the crust she gave back with unbelievably high winds to cover any noise of us crunching on the track behind them. And I mean STRONG WINDS! Being first down the logging road it was easy to tell fresh sign. As we were examining the tracks of a real nice buck crossing the road, a deer blew at us from 30 yards off the road. Josh left me right there on that buck track at 5:30. We believed him to be a 200lbder and he was with 2 does. I made camp by a couple silver birch trees and waited for light enough to start tracking. The wind whipped through my jac shirt. It was going to be a very cold and very windy day. Legal light couldn’t come fast enough.



 

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Everything in the woods was coated with a quarter-inch layer of ice and trees where popping all around from the cold and from the wind. I was toting my o-six pump carbine with a peep and needed a little more light to begin the track. When I did it didn’t take me 5 minutes to come across one of the more aggressive scrapes I’ve ever seen. Then another. Then another.







 

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I followed him as he zigged and zagged amongst a group of other deer (the deer that blew at us was not him). Finally he broke away from those deer and began to round the top of a small mountain about 2hundred yards below the peak. When he got to the other side and entered an old cut that was loaded with raspberry whips and he found a group of does feeding there. Eventually he broke off with just a single doe and they headed all the way down to the base of the mountain. With all the feeding sign I should have been going slower but I was not and the pair took off from my left. I blew it and knew I was in for a chase. Once they started walking again they got into a ton of other deer sign and, to further complicate things, moose sign as well. In fact as I was trying to sort through all the tracks a bedded bull rose and took off to my left. I believed I’d found the same bucks tracks but wasn’t certain. He began to head back up the same mountain. As he neared the top another buck track crossed his and looked smaller but smoking fresh. I decided to follow it to see if I could find any sign of what he had for headgear. In 20 paces he made this rub. And then this scrape.





I decided to stay on him for a bit since I’d already spooked the other buck. He headed down low crossed a road and then fed on old man’s beard off a freshly fallen spruce top. An immense gust of wind toppled a tree behind me and I turned to look… when I looked back I saw the buck breaking from his bed in some wide open hardwoods and only 20yards from the edge of the lake. He was running full tilt and about 90 yards out. I just wasn’t comfortable shooting and held off. Looked like a nice buck with a tall rack. I waited about 20 mins and got back on him as his track went across the same road and heading up the mountain again. I had only gone about a quarter mile when I could see the edge of a swampy area that the loggers had left alone. He’s gotta be bedded in there, I thought as I jumped up on a big spruce blow down for a better view. I should have seen him. He was only 50 yards away and looking right at me but I just didn’t see him… until he broke out running broadside. POW!!! POW POW POW POW!!! The second and third shot felt real good. I reloaded and hoped down off the blow down. Nearly 50 yards of running tracks and nothing. Shit! I’d missed! Then I spot this as he cleared a blow down.





Not a ton of blood I thought… maybe he’ll open up. Definitely a pass through but after 200 yards the blood was already slowing down. I stopped looking for blood and began looking for him. Then he jumped from his bed a 40 yards. For some reason I held off and on the second bound I confirmed it was a different buck than the one I’d hit. I kept on the track and felt more and more depressed as he went further without stopping all the time climbing higher and higher on that mountain till he reached the top, paralleled along the peak for a quarter mile then dropped all the way down the base. An estimated 3 miles. Every so often he’d lose a bit more blood but really just a drop here and there. About 2 hours after I’d shot I could see the road he twice crossed earlier. He crossed it again and soon I could see the same lake up ahead. He’ll be bedded along the lake I thought. He did not. That bastard head right to the edge of the lake and without hesitation plunged right in. Remember the wind? The caps on the lake weren’t something I want to be in in a 16ft boat yet this deer swam right in and with an o-six hole right through him. There was a point to the west that I thought he might try for and I ran out of light as I circled the lake to find where he might have come out. Deflated, I headed back to the road and sent a text to Josh for a pick-up. I’d be back after him the next day.
 

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With an o six in him he went from the lake at the bottom to the top where this pic is taken all the way back down to the lake which he swam


Last blood and the lake he swam in the background


 

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Tuesday 11/18/14 - Josh

I dropped Jeff on a big buck track and hour before legal and went in search of a big track of my own. After cover 40-50 miles of roads, nothing got me excited. I ended up heading back to a decent buck that had crossed with a doe. I got on their tracks and they had bedded down right off the log road. I kept on their tracks for a couple miles and when I crossed a familiar road, I decided he wasn’t anything I really wanted and started heading to the rig. Once I got back to the truck I drove a ways down the road hoping to find something better. I saw where a nice buck and two does headed down a big lake and their tracks heading north. I drove further up the road hoping to save some time by intercepting their tracks on a well used run along that lake. I went left, and after an hours of paralleling the lake, I found that they had gone right. I got on the buck and he soon split from the does. He never slowed. Fed on some ferns on the move as he continued his search for a hot doe. I took him for a couple of miles before he swam a waist high stream. As I was looking for a decent place to cross, I pulled out my delorme to see if Jeff was up to anything. He told me he was in a good pocket of deer and I should head over his way. With a buck track older now than when I started, I gladly hoofed it back to the rig, had a bite to eat, and made my way to Jeff. It took me a while to get into sign, but once it did, it was abundant. I had a deer blow at me from 100yards away across a ravine. I made my way over and found a bed with fresh buck tracks leaving it. Wasn’t a big one so I continued on. I kept my still hunt going as a paralleled the top of a mountain, wind burning my face as I went. As sunset approached I descended down the mountain and took the road a mile back to the truck. Anxiously waiting for and update from Jeff. I picked him up 3-4 miles away.
 

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Wednesday Jeff 11/19/14
Josh and I had the rig parked near last blood and I planned to spend the day circling the edge of the lake to try to find where he came out. In the first hour I glanced to my left and there was a big doe 30 feet from me with eyes wide with bewilderment. She took off as I brought the gun up. She was alone. I crept to where she’d been standing in her bed and spotted her 80yds out waiting for a pic.



She’d been feeding in a dark spruce and cedar thicket- the kind with little undergrowth and lots of moss on the floor. There were a mess of tracks there and I began to get discourage that I’d be able to find the track from my buck. A 100yards latter and 2 flags took off one heading west along the lakes edge and the other east. I kept on circling that pond and by 1 o’clock I’d made it all the way around. Though I’m sure he did, I was unable to find where he came out of the lake. I sure it was a shot through the brisket and cursed the game of inches. A few inched to the left and a clean miss. A few inches of the right and a clean kill. I’ve never wounded a buck with a rifle and hope to never do so again. By chance I happened to bumped into dad about 2 pm as he headed into a cut. He said he nearly shit his pants when I snuck up behind him and unloaded on the Hal Blood deer snort call. He had seen a big doe that morning and a bunch of sign in a 2 year old cutting. He gave me an extra layer and he and I both went in to take stands for the last couple hours. I sat for an hour and a half but had a bad chill from sweating so much so I got up about 3:45 and began to work my way to the very back of this cut. Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch. “I’ll never see anything in this,” I thought. Suddenly, on the very edge of the cut, a buck jumped from his bed and bounded off. I couldn’t tell how big he was and really never had a shot. The track said he was a 2 or 3 year old.
 




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