Russell Report 2016

RussellBro2

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Josh is at this moment in the hospital with his beautiful newborn baby boy. His name is Jase and he's friggen cute as they come.
I asked Josh if he needed anything and his reply was "The Russell Report"... so here goes.

Thursday Nov 10[SUP]th[/SUP]
2016 has been an exciting albeit unusual year for the Russell clan. I'm one of 5 kids and 3 (including Josh) were expecting. On top of this, I was (still am!) working past 1AM most nights to finish my (wife's!) log home. No complaints here as after family, faith, and Maine deer hunting, swinging a hammer comes next for me. That said building this log home has been a very difficult process both physically and (mostly) mentally- but the dream that my wife and I have shared since high school is very near completion. For the first time ever- Maine/hunting took a back-seat this year- and although Josh couldn?t make it (with an 11/30 expected date of his 1[SUP]st[/SUP] child), I'd be squeezing in a trip with Dad and Uncle Gary. I had to empty a storage locker to find my hunting gear in the back, loaded up the canoe and pointed the truck towards the great state of Maine. I arrived at camp at 2AM. Dad was already up for the day with coffee on and so we got some things organized and discussed the coming days with high anticipation.

 
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RussellBro2

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Friday Nov 11th
40 degrees and Rain. I made a massive loop that took me the entire day and cam-checked a few favorite spots. We had funky weather. At one point it was 50 degrees with flurries! and later wind gusts pushing 50MPH. It felt so good to have a pump tucked under the arm again. I was eager to use it. Other than a handful of scrapes and rubs and about a dozen partridge the day was slow, and wet, and relaxing. Back at camp we feasted on ziti and meat sauce. Dad is quite the camp cook and this meal of his is my favorite. After dinner I went through a few cards and one buck in particular had my attention. A broken-beam 10 point that we had several videos of in the day light. He appeared to be keeping tabs on a doe group. With a couple other bucks in the area but more importantly the does!, I knew where I was heading in the morning for a nice long sit. No sightings day one.





 
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RussellBro2

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Saturday Nov 12th
This stand I intended to hunt was 2 miles back… on the walk in I heard a big bird change limbs above me. The silhouette said owl and the camera flash confirmed.


I love hunting deep in the big woods where I feel I have the woods to myself. I sat till 11 with no action except for a mouse who I shared the stand with.


I then still hunted to a river where I had lunch.


Since it was so far from the truck I was limited to hunting this stand only in the mornings so I headed for the truck and drove to a 3 year old cut that the deer were piled into last year. Sign this year was not what I expected. No sightings day two
 
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RussellBro2

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Sunday Nov 13th
Dad made a massive breakfast before we headed to the pit for some shooting. I really missed Josh as he and I usually scout hard on Sundays' but I was content to sip a few beers and hang out with Dad and Uncle Gary at camp. Dad's retirement comes in April and he spoke so excitedly about it. I'm very proud of him and the career he's had- nearly 40years at the YMCA. That said he'll likely need a part time job to fund the s'mores and fly rods and pump carbines for his SEVEN grandsons- and all under 6!! I've endless admiration for this man and consider myself so lucky for all he's taught me about family, carpentry, business and most importantly, the woods!







 
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Monday Nov 14th
I headed again to the "way out back" stand. I jumped up a big buck on the walk in in the dark and he stopped 40yards away and turned facing me broadside. He looked pretty handsome in the headlamp beam. I sat till 10:30 with nothing doing- then off to meet Dad for a tailgate lunch.


He was hunting a cluster of signposts that has been torn up every year since we found it back in 2012. Dad was going after a big 6 year old 10 pointer. He?s been a 10 pointer since he was 2 years old and we have pics of him every year at this signpost. There were several other shooters there too as thjis video will show

https://youtu.be/p-mstmc7a6s

After lunch I still hunted into a unique spot that Josh and I had hunted last year. An open bog in the back of a small pond. Friggen hot! Good trails and some buck sign but nothing too fresh.




 
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I made it back to the truck earlier than I intended and had 45 mins to kill before dark so I jumped into an old grown up cut and still hunted slowly. I was following a fresh set of tracks in the leaves and turning the can call over when I heard what I thought was a buck making a scrape. I was running out of daylight so I hit the grunt call three or four times and trotted toward the sound I heard and then stopped with the carbine readied. After 30 secs I heard a deer take a step a little left of where I thought he’d be- and he was behind a small rise. I slowly climbed that rise and as my head and BLR reached the top I heard 2 deer take off from just 10 paces. Was just too thick-I never even saw a glimpse of brown…. And at my feet was a brand new scrape.



Track suggested he was a shooter. That got the heart racing for sure. Technically I never saw him so… excluding the predawn encounter, no sightings day three.
 

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Tuesday Nov 15th
Warm again, overcast, and calm. I decided to hunt the Peninsula- the ground blind I took my buck from last year. I sat until 10 then returned to the truck and turned on the AC! I had a fun hunt planned for the afternoon. I?ve always wanted to do a float hunt by canoe and daydreamed about it all year. Today was the perfect day. At 1pm I completed a quarter mile portage to the back of a remote lake that had a long narrow dead water that connected to it. It was the same lake I lost a buck in in 2014. It had cooled off a bit and was dead calm- all you could hear was the dripping water from the paddle and the toots of my grunt call. Each stroke of the paddle brought a new section of shoreline to examine and once in the dead water which was about 30 yards wide- I had both sides to keep tabs on. It was definitely a fun way to dream/hunt and I eagerly awaited a twig snap that never came. It took me 2 hours to reach the end and I stowed the canoe there. I look forward to doing this again. I watched a trail along the base of a mountain for the last hour of light. No sightings day four? I was beginning to talk to myself.






 

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Wednesday Nov 16th
I climbed out of the truck into a steady rain. I LOVE to hunt in the rain. I still hunted to a remote trail and then sat there for an hour. I had a moose sneak up to about 10 feet behind me but I never saw it.


I then headed for a place Josh had told me about but I?d never ventured to. I came to a small creek about noon and as I looked for a place to cross I found a massive old deer shed that the beavers had actually webbed into their dam! It was, in my opinion, a tremendous example of how wild Northern Maine still is. The base on this shed was impressive and equaled the daydreams I have of the bucks that roam this piece.





 
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Above the creek was a steep ridge and I paralleled a bit below the peak looking down into the hardwoods below. At the end of that ridge I cut a big fresh track in the leaves and took him for a couple hundred yards before finding this fresh rub.





It was pretty easy bare ground tracking until he joined with what looked like two or three other deer that were digging up fern roots.
 

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I slowed down and still hunted on their tracks for another 45 mins before a GPS check suggested that I?d be late to the truck if I didn?t hustle out. I?d been on that track for over a mile, I bet. I wish I?d found it earlier? he was a heavy SOB. On the way out, along a well-worn trail I found a nice shed that a moose had lost last winter.



No sightings day five! Actually- neither Dad nor Uncle Gary had seen anything either up till this point.
 

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Thursday Nov 17th
It was drizzling on and off and I still hunted silently for the first 2 hours of the day and had a destination in mind to watch for the second half of the morning. I was headed for a cluster of three mountain peaks where three saddles connected in the middle of massive cut. I'd tracked several bucks through this spot in the past. All the sign started when I got to within 100yards of this crossing. When I arrived there I picked out a big hemlock to nestle beneath. I took a seat and, as I got a couple things organized I heard a crash off to my left. There he was! Big broadside and running! There was no hesitation- he was a shooter! Squared-off body at or over 200lbs and a big wide frame for headgear- what you go to Maine for. I had just enough time for one good shot- and I rushed 2 instead. PowPow!! I've no idea where I was on the first shot. I know the sight picture looked high on the second shot. And I remember telling myself to settle down for the third- to pick a spot and- he was gone. I was pretty sure I missed and immediately and simultaneously wished for a tracking snow and my brother. I slowly walked the 70yards to where he was and found his big splayed tracks and was able to follow them pretty easily for over a half a mile before I lost his track. I went back to where I was standing and no signs of deflection. I spent some more time where he was when I shot and the first 100yds of his trail and found no traces of a hit.

Both shots sailed beneath the hard wood that is bent over.



2 Lonely shells amoungs the hemlock cones


An hour and a half after the shot I admitted defeat and took a seat at the height of the land- and that lonely November wind started.


I just was not going to listen to that wind- so off I went to walk off the miss hangover.
 
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I found THE most impressive scrape line about an hour before dark. Whatever buck was laying the sign there was the aggressive type and THOSE are the ones you can tag! The scrape line was in a funnel between 2 mountains. A beaver bog created an even tighter pinch in the funnel. I hung a camera there, and flagged a path back to the truck so Dad could have a change of pace.



 

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It was a LONG ride back to camp. I replayed the miss over and over. Cards weren't particularly stacked in my favor. The encounter came at the out-of-focus-transition from still hunting to taking a stand, I shoot lefty and the shot was at my hard left, there were a bunch of whips in the way... Bottom-line? It was an opportunity that I'd love to have again- one I dream to get while tracking. I just missed him.
 
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Friday Nov 18th
I wanted to invest one more morning in the way out back stand and am so glad I did! I arrived early. The woods were damp and silent. I didn’t see a damn thing. Beautiful sit, though. I got up at 11 and checked the 2 cams from the video earlier in the post. Not one deer on either cam in a week! No idea what changed but something did. I then took a walk into a cedar swamp, spent an hour there and, as I emerged out of the swamp, my eyes locked onto one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The 2015 right side of the massive buck we’ve hunted since 2012. What luck to find this thing in the middle of nowhere- and in immaculate condition! We last got pictures of him on November 24th last year but nothing since. I am still in awe of this shed. Perched on top of a 275+lb buck the rack didn’t appear all that big. We’re not much into taping horns but we roughed this one out- and with some assumptions on width and a matching left side the buck would be pushing 175 inches. I’ll try like hell but I doubt I’ll ever top this shed. It was a highlight of the trip and will remain a very memorable moment. The sting from the day before had diminished a bit. Really wish Josh could have been there.



Made my pump look small!

 

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Here's the before shot



I headed for a river crossing and got what is my all-time favorite trail cam picture. I missed an encounter with this buck by 24hrs.

 




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