Russell Report 2018

Russell Bro.

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Still I was hoping to find the big boy’s fresh track so Icontinued on. I made a big swing backout to the road without finding exactly what I was looking for so I hopped inthe rig and did a little more searching for a road track. I hit a nearby sideroad and found a good track made around dawn. I hopped on it and after quarter of a mile was discouraged as it lookedmuch older than I originally thought. Istayed on it and a few hundred yards later, I realized that there were two bucktracks the fresher one I had started on and an older one from the same buck. I stayed on the fresher one as they split offfrom each other and kept on him for a couple of miles.

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I ended up crossing the road I had come in on thatmorning and realized I missed his track and I now knew I was even furtherbehind him – so I hurried off to the truck for a new plan.
I decided I’d check out a spot a few miles to the southwith some 2 year old choppings. I parkedthe rig at a downed tree and headed in. A half mile down the road, there were a few tracks on the road includinga nice buck that had come out of the chopping, made a couple of scrapes andheaded down in.

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I planned to make a bigswing hoping to freshen him up as it was later in the day and although I didfind his track again, and a couple more scrapes, they weren’t any fresher.

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All the tracks appeared to be from bucks searching fromdoes so I wrote this off and relocated a mile down the road. Same story in this chopping as one big buckhad come through twice looking for does, but they weren’t around. I got back to the rig right at the end oflegal time.
 
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JEFF Monday Nov 12[SUP]th[/SUP]
I dropped Josh off at steam crossing and once I knew he was safely across, I headed to scout the back of a massive 1year old cut.

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Sunny. Cold. Still. I spent an hour in there with the 16ga and shot a bird before tripping over a moose shed… literally- that’s how I found it.

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No deer sign to speak of in 3-day old snow. I headed for a ridge that held a gang of deer last year and found a few tracks, not many, but one really big track of a 230lber cruising alone. In that section of woods, I shot another partridge and found another moose horn on an abandoned log road.

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That afternoon I headed to check a couple cameras and had a 2-year-old buck run across a skid trail next to the truck and stop about 80yds out. It would have been quite the scene for a heater-hunter.
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As the sun set, I went in to check a camera and noticed a fresh bear track running past it from that afternoon. We captured some video of him/her… I’d be tracking it in the morning! Pretty eventful day considering I no longer had a buck tag!

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JOSH Tuesday Nov 13[SUP]th[/SUP]
Another storm had rolled in and it was snowing pretty good as we traveled the log roads searching for tracks. I’ll never complain about a day time storm during hunting season, but I much prefer when the snows stop around midnight. It would be another tough day to find tracks, but I knew where a few big bucks were hanging out at this point so I figured I’d strike out on foot and have Jeff do the same. I went to the same place from the morning prior, where the biggest buck we’d located so far had been through a few times. I came at it from a different angle and made a huge swing, hoping I’d find something to follow. I did find an older buck track (from before the snow started) and he was 200lb but not the big boy. I followed the track for a mile or so hoping to come onto something fresher. He took me up a steep ridge where he laid down a scrape and later bedded. He started heading the direction opposite of where I wanted to go so I split off and finished my swing. I worked my way out to an old winter road, walked the length of that and without finding any new tracks, headed for the rig to relocate.
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I bumped into Jeff once I started driving – he suggested we hop in the same rig and try to find a track crossing the road that we could then double team. Since Jeff had tagged out he became the camp bitch- scout, pack mule, snow plow, tow truck and camera man.
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We ended up bumping into Dad and Uncle Gary around lunchtime and sat with them for a bit while we ate our sandwiches.

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With the snow still piling up, we decided to go hit thearea Jeff got his buck in as more of a scouting mission, but hoping to findwhere one crossed in the brand new snow.
Around 2:00 we found what we were looking for. Three sets of tracks had cut across the roadand while there was some snow in them, we knew they were only an hour or soahead of us.
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After tracking them for acouple hundred yards, I turned to Jeff and said, “this isn’t anything Iwant.” My best guess is that it was abuck of about 170lbs or so with two other smaller deer (likely does). With it being late in the day, we decided tostay on them hoping to they’d bring us into some other deer. They took us for a couple of miles in astraight line. It was then I realizedthat they were likely heading to a yard and that we weren’t going to catchthem. Since it wasn’t anything I reallywanted to put a tag on anyways, we swung out to the road and headed back to thetruck.


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Russell Bro.

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The truck was about two miles straight line- I think takingthe road ended up being closer to 3. Amile into it, we saw two sets of moose tracks on the road and ended up spottinga cow and calf sneaking away from us. Further down the road we came to two more sets of moose tracks andalthough we could smell them, we never laid eyes on them.

Any kind of hot food goes down easy after aday like that… but bacon-wrapped pa-tridge?! Oh man-mister!

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JEFF Tuesday Nov 13[SUP]th[/SUP]
I jumped on that bear track at first light. I was 18 hours behind but it was worth a shot!
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Late morning, the bear crossed some ice/hard packed snow and I lost the track. I made a big circle to find in again… but I couldn’t find it coming out. The bear was inside the circle! It started snowing heavily then, and soon any sign from the day before was gone so I began peering into every nock and cranny I could seeking a sleeping bear, but I came up empty and then went looking for Josh and we chased a few around as you just read.

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JOSH Wednesday Nov 14[SUP]th[/SUP]
Cold. Windy. Jeff and I hopped in my rig in search of a buck to double team. We hit the roads around one of the mountains we like to hunt.
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We cut a few tracks heading up, including one decent buck and then did some further road work. We confirmed the deer were coming down off the other side of the mountain heading for the low lands. It looked like two sets of a buck and does. Knowing the direction they were heading, we stayed in the rig and headed North to a river. When we got to the road that parallels the river, we found what we were looking for. A big buck likely over 200lbs had crossed with two does. We were pretty sure they were heading towards a yard (very common during this time of November) but we took after them anyways.
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Our hope was that the they would start doing buck and doethings and hang up in the big woods along the river. Hope is not a strategy. We came to the river’s edge and they’d gone straightacross. Anticipating they might do this, I’dthrown a pair of packable waders in my pack.

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Jeff wasn’t/isn’t as smart.

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We took the deer across the river and followed them fortwo miles straight. At that point Itold Jeff to head back to the rig and swing around to another road system whereI knew these deer would be crossing. He left,and I stayed on the tracks hoping all along they’d slow down. They never fed, no buck sign, just tracks oftraveling deer. When I got out to theroad I thought they’d cross a couple miles later, I got a text from Jeff sayinghe’d jumped a big buck on this way back to the truck and got a decent look atit. Of course he did. That always seemsto be my luck when Jeff and I double team… he was on his way to get me and Iplanned on taking up that buck’s track around noontime. I started walking the road out to meet Jeffand after a couple miles on the road we met up. I figured I’d walked 7 miles at that point so I changed out my socks,had a sandwich and prepped for the second hunt of the day, while Jeff chuggedthe Tundra along the backroads.
We got back to the track of the deer Jeff jumped around1:30. With the track being a couplehours hold, I was confident I’d catch up to him.

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After following bounding tracks for a quartermile or so he went back to walking. Nottoo much further, I could see where he turned around and was looking for Jeff -I knew he’d be bedded down close by. Andalthough I was creeping as slowly as I could, the wind was going straight tohim. I came to his bed with boundingtracks coming out of it. With a cleartrack in his bed, I was able to see that he wasn’t all that big. He wasn’t anything I was really interested inbut I stayed on him hoping he’d bring me into some other deer.

He ended up crossing the road and when he got to theother side he took a hard left and got onto a deer trail with several sets ofdoe tracks. I stayed on the trail for afew hundred yards, keeping my head up scanning. When I glanced back down at the trail, I noticed his track wasgone. I ended up backtracking and foundwhere he literally had jumped off the trail to the right. I kept on him as there weren’t many otheroptions that late in the day.

After a mile or so I could see where another buck hadcome down the backtrail. I decided totake that track as it was considerably bigger- maybe not 200lbs but certainlyhovering right around that mark. Iwasn’t on that track for more than 4-500 yards when I came to his bed withbounding tracks. He took me into somechoppings where visibility was very good and I thought I had a pretty goodchance at getting a glimpse of him if I stayed right on him. After a half mile or so a dark flash caughtmy attention about 40 yards in front of me but quickly I was able to determinethat a big cow moose was staring at me. I took a little video and continued on the buck track. I probably took that deer for two miles and Inever could close the gap. Unfortunately, he kept the wind between us and he stayed ahead of me forthe rest of the afternoon. With daylightfading I cut out to the road and I sent Jeff a text on the Delorme and told himwhere to pick me up. Once again, I wasthankful for technology as Jeff saved me a couple mile walk back to the rig.
 
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JOSH Thursday Nov 15[SUP]th[/SUP]
Up early and cruising the backroads again. We checked a few mountains out with the headlights but didn’t find what we were looking for, so we decided to head back to the spot we tracked the deer on Tuesday.

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In the exact same spot the buck and does crossed on Tuesday lay a big track on top of what appeared to be a migration trail. Because of the leg work we did on Tuesday, we were able to shave a couple miles off the tracking job by driving a few side roads and clearing a downed spruce tree to get where we needed to go.

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Jeff joined me again with the camera and the extra set of eyes and tracking experiences helped sort out some of the messes we ran into.

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After a mile on the track the buck took us up a steep ridge, at the top was a cutoff swamp and there were tracks criss-crossing everywhere. We sorted out the maze and got on our buck again. It was clear he was checking for does, and because a lot of the does were heading towards yards, he appeared to be heading in a straight line, but every time a track ventured off the main trail, he had to check it out. We stayed on him for a long ways and although I wasn’t confident we’d catch
him
I was confident he’d bring us into some deer.

A mile and a half on the track we worked our way up an old skid road in an old chopping with beech whips everywhere. Midway up a small ridge, a deer broke out. While it was tough to get a visual on any headgear, the body didn’t look all that big.

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We waited a bit and continued on our way as the deer we just jumped bounded up the trail we had been following. The track confirmed it was likely a doe or small buck. The sign along the trail picked up and we both noted how we’d have to come to “the yard” soon. As the woods transitioned from beech to hemlock knolls, the sign spread out. Our buck never fed or stopped to do any buck things, but we did see plenty of buck sign along the way.
 

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After a couple miles on the trail we popped out onto anold logging road. I knew right where wewere at this point and knew there was some good visibility ahead. There was also some active logging going onwhich is why the deer were heading to this yard early – there was plenty offeed.

We crossed the old log road and headed down to anotherseries of beech cuts, these ones more recent. As we were poking our way up a skid road, tracks were criss-crossingfrom every direction. We thought it madesense to take a break and have a bite to eat. There was a big pine blow down in the skid road and I wanted to get pastthat to have some better visibility. AsI was telling Jeff this plan as quietly as I could, I caught movement out ofthe corner of my eye to the left. Deer! With the blowdown obstructing my view, Itried to run up the skid road past the blowdown as that was the direction thedeer was heading. When I got past it,nothing. Just more tracks! Jeff eased his way up to me and asked why Iran? I said because this is the way thedeer went. He said “no, they went theother way”. I asked “They?” Apparently there were three all together andtwo split off to the left and the one I was looking at went straight. The tracks confirmed it was likely a doe andtwo lambs. With the excitement we forgotabout lunch for a bit and continued poking as slow as possible. The sign was unreal.


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While there was definitely some wintering sign, the signof bucks chasing does was even more impressive. We found a spot in the sun to stop for somelunch and warm up. This year wasdefinitely the most consistently cold we’ve ever faced so the bright sun waswelcomed on this day. We finished uplunch and worked our way up another ridge. At the top, we stopped to overlook the cutting below. As we stood there looking out, we could heara log truck idling and after a few minutes we actually saw the truck making itsway out which taught us where a new road was. Knowing that, we swung down low planning on making a big swing aroundthe cut hoping to confirm the deer were hanging that cut or if they were justpassing through. As I got to the bottomof the ridge there was one of those skid roads that is made up entirely of treetops. Just as I was twisting my way outof one of those tops, I heard Jeff say “Deer!” I looked up and saw two deerbumping into each other as they took off out of their beds. I got them both in the scope and saw that itwas a doe and fawn, their beds confirming what I had seen.
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We continued our swing and I cut a real nice buck trackone I wish I had found earlier in the day but we were roughly 3 miles from thetruck and it was getting late in the day so we had to leave that track aloneand headed out.
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JEFF Thursday Nov 15[SUP]th[/SUP]
We’d been given the old timers play-by-play on all the deer we were seeing during the day on the Delorme inReach. It seemed they were having an uneventful day and we agreed to meet back at camp that night. We beat them to camp and got the woodstove going. There was all kinds of commotion when they burst through the door a half hour later! Uncle Gary hit a good one right at the closing bell!

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He’d been in a climbing tree stand back in off a road he’s hunted a bunch for the past few years where he’s been after one buck in particular. His treestand was rather close to the road and at the intersection of several skidder trails. A little after 4PM Uncle Gary turned to look behind the stand and saw 3 deer 60yards away including a doe who had him pegged and a nice racked buck! The deer were over his right shoulder and he shoots righty so, with the doe giving him the evil eye, he stood and turned around slowly and lined up on the buck that was quartering away harshly. His intention was to tuck a round alongside the ham and he was focused on aiming to the point of exit. Wait for a better shot in Maine and you’ll never get it! At the shot, all three deer ran toward the truck on the trail Uncle Gary uses to approach the stand. He climbed down quickly, but not as quickly as darkness fell. There was a good chunk of hair at the shot but no blood and so Uncle Gary decided to wait for the morning light to complete the search. He seemed optimistic about the shot, but you could tell he was sick about it, too. We had some great conversation over burgers and fries. “Well, how big is he?” “It’s a good buck, not a great buck”. We agreed we’d team up to find him in the morning… but with a big storm expected to start at daybreak, we’d need to make fast work of it before all signs would be covered.

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JEFF Friday Nov 16[SUP]th[/SUP]
We rolled onto the road Uncle Gary had been hunting just as it was breaking day. There was a doe right in the road staring at us! We felt that was a good sign, but flurries made us nervous and you could sense the coming storm. Uncle Gary requested a few moments to look for the buck alone and as he did this Josh and I looked for signs of the 3 deer crossing the road.


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We walked the road a bit and found 2 sets of bounding tracks crossing from the night before but no sign of the buck. As we walked back to the truck we noticed Uncle Gary standing just 50 yards from the truck. “What the hell is he doing?” Josh asked confused. Uncle Gary looked up, and when he saw us, he pointed at his feet and then made the signs above his head for a big rack!! He’d found him!! We ran up to him and he was a wreck with emotion. The buck had died on his feet the night before and crashed just off the trail Uncle Gary used to leave the woods the night before. He’d walked right by him with his nose in the snow looking for blood. He was WAY bigger than Uncle Gary thought! Massive! The rack looked like a big rib cage sticking up and when Josh and I pulled him from the hole he fell in he got real big in a hurry! You talk about a monster Maine buck!


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Uncle Gary placed the shot exactly where he wanted to, and it traveled the length of the deer exiting out the front arm pit on the opposite side of the shot. Despite this, there was no blood to speak of on the 100 yard death run. Uncle Gary can SHOOT! 1[SUP]st[/SUP] deer he’s taken with his bolt action which he hunts with in foul weather (he’s a BLR guy, like Dad).

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