Russell Report 2015

RussellBro2

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Another wonderful November! Here's how it played out for the Russell camp!

Friday November 13 JEFF
I couldn't get out of the city fast enough however didn't pull into camp until late Friday of the second week. I slipped into the bunk room where Josh Dad and Uncle Gary where dreaming of the days to come. Lingering effects of a RedBull and the anticipation of a 2 week hunt made sleep very hard to come by. The wait had been a long one.

Saturday November 14 JEFF- Some might recall the Peninsula stand that I hunted much in 2014 with many encounters but no shots fired. That was my destination as we hustled Josh's truck deep into Piscataquis County. Conditions were cold and damp. The plan was to take a stand for the half hour on either side of sunrise and then move into scout mode- checking cameras, and visiting the pockets of does- or at least where they'd been in years past. The camera check at the Peninsula was poor and nothing like the prior year. Some decent daylight doe activity and a couple small bucks. This became a theme for the entire trip as far as cam checks went.



 
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RussellBro2

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I really enjoyed that first hour on stand, just relaxing and thinking back on the many memories of past opening days. I was just about to get up when I caught a flash of movement out in front of me. I got a split second view of a shooter buck as he crossed an opening 30 yards away. I put the firedot on the next opening and waited for a view of neck or shoulder. I waited a min and then let out a soft grunt and peered through the scope to try to catch any more movement. There was none. I waited another 40 mins and then went to check out his track in the leaves. He was a heavy buck and as I was looking at his track, I caught the flag of a small deer as it bounded off. I met up with Josh just a couple mins after that and told him how the buck was really dark, had a sweeping main beam and short tines. "I think I got a picture of him" Josh said.



That afternoon we checked out a new area by a remote pond. Lots of fresh sign in the thick edges there. On the other side I hit the base of a mountain and my plan was to climb high, look for a buck track in the wet leaves and follow his tracks while hitting the grunt tube to call him from his bed. I did cut a track but it was really too old to assume he was still anywhere that close ahead of me. I followed it the best I could and eventually lost the trail in all the rocks up on top. Was a good learning experience... they can be killed tracking on bare ground for sure.

 

Russell Bro.

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Saturday November 14 JOSH– Jeff and I hiked in together in the pitch black – getting to our stands just about daylight and set only 300 yards apart. I dressed to move and only lasted an hour or so before the cold and desire to roam took over. I was on my feet by 8:30 and worked my way over to Jeff. He had nice buck come by but couldn’t get a shot and also jumped another deer that headed my way. We checked a few cams and the activity was way down from prior years but there were a couple of shooter bucks in the mix though no sign of the Big 11 point that we'd chased for several seasons. We made plans for the pm – I dropped Jeff off at the base of his favorite mountain and I shot over to a place I’ve been wanting to check out for some time - an old winter road that goes back in a few miles to a small lake. I wish I was moose hunting. The road was like a moose highway with tracks everywhere. I did find one scrape and a couple piles of deer shit but the moose were ruling these cuttings. I continued my hunt anyways and right in the middle of a fir cut, I heard a twig snap so I froze. I waited and could hear and animal walking through the thick brush to my left. I was pretty sure it was a moose but continued to wait just in case. I took a few steps up the skid road I was on and sure enough there was a bull standing in the skid road that cut left. I snapped a picture and he took off, followed by his twin brother. I finished up a couple mile loop through the area and crossed it off the list. With a couple hours of daylight left, I checked out and area they had logged over the winter. Just as I entered the chopping, I spotted a bedded bull to my right. He stood up as I took my camera out to take some video. I watched him for a good five minutes before we decided to part ways. The chopping ended at the shore of a small pond, with a 100 yard border of swale grass around the entire pond. I sat on a blowdown and took out the rattling horns, did a series, and waited. With the amount of driftwood and blowdowns visibility was poor. After 2 or 3 minutes I heard a distinct crack of an animal moving across the pond maybe 300 yards away. I waited and waited but nothing showed. I finally had to head to the rig as it was getting dark quickly. I hustled to the rig and picked Jeff up a few miles away. A great first day in the North woods (aren’t they all?).
 

RussellBro2

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Sunday November 15 JEFF

Up to watch the sunrise and after a hearty breakfast we got into great conversations that can only be had amongst brothers and fathers and uncles at deer camp.





 

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Before we knew it- it was already noon and we were late for our scout. We headed out to complete the scout of our usual spots. We found a good pocket of deer in a 2 year old cut but the cam checks of most of the other spots showed little buck movement and no big bucks which wasn't the norm.




 

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We saw an owl on the scout.


Then we hit the range in the PM and the carbines were grouping well!


 

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There is tremendous comfort in going through the same deer camp traditions each year and we were living them again! Then the steak feed!
 

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Monday November 16 JEFF
When conditions will be noisy I like to stand hunt the opening hours of the day. I went back to the Peninsula stand. Despite the lack of buck sign there had been decent daytime doe movement. I got in early and set out 3 scent jars loaded with Kendo Creations in a triangle in front of my stand. Dripping sweat from the long walk in, I changed EVERY article of clothing and nestled in for a morning's sit. Just 20 mins after daylight I thought I heard a deer approaching from the west. I was not convinced it was a deer but I did get the gun ready just in case. Moments later I dismissed the noise all together... "Squirrels" I thought. 30 minutes after that, at 7:10, I turned the can call over 3 times. On the third turn I could immediately hear the gait of deer approaching in dry leaves. Chh Chh Chh Chh... I brought the BLR to shoulder and strained to peer through the only big spruce within 50yds of my stand. This deer was coming in right behind it as several deer had done last year.


Just as it came into view the deer stopped. Looked like a big body in the scope. I brought the hammer back. "Show me some headgear!" He turns his head looking for the doe he heard and as he did this I saw it was a mature buck. I dropped the crosshairs to the base of his neck and sent one his way... Kerrrrpow! He dropped out of sight as I worked the lever. My heart was thumping hard somewhere up between my ears!! I couldn't hear him escaping and figured he dropped right there! I stood up but still couldn't see him. Then I worked my way over there and saw him trying to regain his footing and I put a killer shot behind his shoulder before he could. As I walked up to him it began to snow softly. I admired what was an absolutely beautiful Maine buck.





Here's a video moments after he fell.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djtTQnCeCco
 
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Longer tines than usual for our area and a 9th point that sprouted before the main beam curved up in a unique way. He looked LONG. My initial thought was he was about 185 pounds and I was just thrilled to get him. Josh and I often talk about what kind of a buck would have us fill our tag in the early days of a long hunt- and this guy certainly made the cut. I believe the "squirrel" I thought I heard was this guy coming to bed at the top of a ridge just out of sight. That would explain the immediate reaction I got from the can call. I got on the radio and Josh, who was a mile away, didn't hear the shooting so he was pretty excited when I told him what I had. Uncle Gary was hunting close enough for radio contact and went to find Dad as I admired my deer and took some pictures to capture the day. Josh came by an hour after I shot and the first thing he said was "I got a pic of that buck at 4:30 this morning!” As we took a few pics I noticed the .308 mushroom had lodged just below the skin on the opposite side of the first shot. The last mushroom he'll ever eat!


 
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Dad and Uncle Gary showed up about 10am and we sat there together and had an early lunch. We dressed him off... full of fat and he felt hefty as we tugged him out a half mile to where we could get a bike to take him out the remaining distance of about a mile.




 

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He was in the back of the truck by noon and as Dad and Uncle Gary went to get back on their stands, Josh and I went and checked a couple more cameras and scouted a new area by a big lake. We had a very pleasurable encounter with the game warden and took a couple grouse before heading for the check-in station.
There the buck surprised us as the pin settled at 204lbs!!





Back at camp we had a nice dinner of pork chops and chili. Anything out of cast iron always tastes better.
 
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After a couple beers we hit the bunks together- the four of us tired, happy, and thankful- all due to another two hundred pounder on the pole beside our small camp!

 

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Tuesday November 17th JEFF
As he left to meet me the day before, Josh had left his gear on a stand we just refer to as "way out back" I went in there with a side-by-side tucked under my arm and was surprised that after the 2 mile trek in I hadn't stumbled on a bird. Just as I approach his tree seat a grouse took off and folded 10 paces from Josh's stand. It was with another and I took that one as well.




Josh and I met up mid-day and had a bite to eat before scouting a new spot. Decent sign in there and I found an old shed on a skid trail as it entered a big cedar swamp.



We met up at 2pm and hustled into a ground blind at the base of a mountain that the deer always filter past.
 
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Tuesday November 17th JOSH–
I had Jeff drop me off on the west side of a 2 mile long ridge with plans on still hunting east to a 10 year old chopping. I found one nice rub on a birch as I headed to the river crossing and found decent sign along the way.

I worked my way up the ridge and was getting a bit hungry so I sat down on a log, took out a bacon egg & cheese sandwich that Dad had made, and grabbed my rattling horns. I rattled for a minute or so and put the horns down and had breakfast. 5 minutes later, a flash or brown and flicker of white catch my eye in front of me and to the left. I thought deer instantly and as I put the gun up, I confirmed it was a deer moving towards me in the thick old chopping. I could see a decent beam but could not make out any points. The buck stopped at 30 yards in an opening and I looked him over quite a bit. Crosshairs on his chest, then on his neck, and then I put the gun down and picked up my camera. While he was a respectable North Woods buck, I did not want to end my hunt that early. I videoed him for a while and watched him feed before he wondered off.



Here's a video of the buck I passed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sZNcM0zbdI
 
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I continued along with decent deer, but no buck sign, and finished my hunt up at about noon. Jeff picked me up and we moved to the next spot. We checked out a spot we found from the truck on Sunday that looked like it was worth exploring. For the first hour I was in what seemed like a never ending pine thicket, I eventually got out and paralleled the edge of a serious of beaver ponds. The deer were definitely using the area though it seemed as if it was just a big travel corridor heading to a mountain. I continued on and the sign picked up even more on the edge of a small lake- a spot I'd want to check out again. I had told Jeff to meet me at 3 as I wanted to sit for the last hour of light so I headed out. We met at the truck and scooted over to an old beech cut at the base of a mountain- there was a real good run there that Jeff had located. We set up together and after a few sequences with the rattling horns we had a deer blowing at us and he eventually came in but not till we'd gone back to camp for the day. Before last light I?m pretty sure I heard a big buck red squirrel snort wheeze, but he stayed in the thick stuff and never showed. His 43 brother and sisters did though. We sat until dark and hiked out to the truck.



 
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