VT/NH Recap

sneaky_pete000

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It makes me crazy that the old saying about time going faster as you get older holds true for me too. I feel like small amounts of time are more valuable than ever, and I can't seem to take advantage of them the way I'd like. There's really no solution here, other than appreciate what you have and prioritize accordingly...

Youth weekend was in the books, and since I didn't bowhunt at all this year, I spent a lot of time catching up on some projects. Duke didn't mind most days. He loves to hunt, but he also gets pumped when its time to fire up one of the tractors. I just look at the hills to the east and daydream.

 

sneaky_pete000

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Rifle season started in VT so we headed to camp for the opener. The old farts that used to hang around camp are gone, but I think about them a lot and how much they influenced me as a kid. I walked out of the woods that weekend and saw the trucks at camp and realized that my group of old farts is gone, but to my boys, there's a whole new batch of old farts in camp bitching and moaning while they play cards, drink cheap beer, tell each other the same stories they've already told and laugh the entire time.

 

sneaky_pete000

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I looked up early in the season and saw the tops were white. I immediately got a bad headache the next morning and fearing it was contagious, I isolated.



 

sneaky_pete000

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I took my youngest cousin with me and we stomped around the GMNF all day. We never saw a track I liked, but we followed a couple small ones for a bit, just for fun. Access was tough that day and we ran into a lot of bridges out and gates closed. We did see a very nice buck, but it ran across RT100 right in front of us, then stood behind the posted signs looking back. I hate that buck.

Even though I swore I wasn't going north unless there was good conditions, I was persuaded. 2 of my cousins and favorite people to hunt with were tagged out in VT (both shot 5 pointers opening weekend between our 2 farms) and wanted to head east to NH. So Ethan and I packed up and headed out. We covered 9.2 miles the first day we hit the woods, covering 2 mountains and every saddle and bench I could find, but only saw a single small track. It was awesome to cover some ground in an area I've never been in before, but it would have been nice to get into more action. At one point, we could smell a rutty buck. But we were at the very top of a 2900ft mountain, and the wind was swirling, so no matter how hard we tried, we could not pin down what direction he was in. The next day we abandoned those mountains and decided to take a nice uphill walk on another one. It was beautiful, but the conditions had deteriorated badly and it was wicked crunchy. All the way up to 2700ft we never say anything but human tracks and amazing views.

 

sneaky_pete000

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We decided Ethan would take the west side of the mountain (leeward) and I'd take the east side, meeting in a saddle on the other side. He saw a couple doe on the way, but no bucks behind them.

I saw huge amounts of sign. Not buck specific, but tons of tracks and a few small fresh rubs. Its hard to tell looking at the pic, but this run was beat to death.

 

sneaky_pete000

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It blew me away that we only saw 2 deer on that hill loaded with tracks, but it was just so crunchy, I assumed we spooked whatever else might be there. We stood in that saddle talking about our next plan and how hard it was to do anything but sit in a spot. That saddle would have been a great place to do it, but we weren't feeling like sitting at that point. I happed to bring a set of rattling horns, so I said "Lets try something new".

I grunted with my mouth.
I pawed at the ground with my boots.
I snort wheezed with my mouth.
I smashed the horns together while stomping around.
When I stopped with the horns, I waiting a few minutes, then pawed at the ground again and grunted a couple times.

Maybe 5 minutes later I could hear something walking to my strong side and Ethans weak side. I whispered for him to turn my way and get ready. I could see legs coming through the saddle, and they seemed a little stiff.....telling me a buck was on his way. Next, I could see the side of it, and its hair was all bristled up. Mentally, I was coming unglued as it walked into sight and I could see 3 points on a side. It was a buck that was definitely a shooter for my teenage son, so I told him I could see 3 on a side and it was a shooter. Of course the buck stopped behind a stump with some young spruce growing out of it while it surveyed the saddle for 18 hours. Ok, maybe it was only a couple minutes, but it felt longer. Ethan had to switch back to his strong side, based on where the deer finally came into view for him and he whispered to me, or possibly himself, "one more step..." The buck granted his wish, took that last step, and Ethan let him have it. A donkey kick and a 90 degree turn made any follow up shots impossible, but I knew he was hit hard. We gave him a few minutes, got on his track, and found him laying 80yards down the hill.

 

sneaky_pete000

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We took care of the required high 5's, hugs, deep breaths and shaky knees before we started a solid 30 minute conversation that consisted of 99% "I can't believe that just worked".

Ethan hasn't ever shot a deer off our farm, where getting a truck or wheeler right to the deer is always easy - so this was his initiation into the world of dragging. I didn't actually check the distance we dragged, but in a strait line back over the mountain it was .92 miles back to the rig. I'm guessing we were pushing 2 miles by the time we were done. He ate every PB&J I made for the day.

 

sneaky_pete000

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The rest of the week was fairly quiet. I really only had 1 good track to take, and it lead me into some heavy spruces at the end of the day where I lost the track in the frozen moss anyway. Although, Ethan followed me around with his great grandfathers old 20ga (he calls it "the sniper") seeing some amazing places and at the end of the week, took home another trophy he was pretty excited about -



 

sneaky_pete000

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The last day of rifle was snowy here. I took a walk around the mountain and actually did bump into a buck track, which is fairly rare to see here. It was on a doe and they weaved between posted properties but I stuck with them. As I came into a clearcut, it stunned me how amazing it looked, and I needed a picture. Stupid Pete....the buck and the doe and made a 90 degree left and they were just around the corner from where I was taking a pic, no more than 70yrds away. They blew and ran - I had to be at a family event for a while, so I walked away with my tail between my legs.

After the holiday event, I asked Duke if he wanted to sit for the last couple hours of the day. He told me he wanted to track. He hasn't asked to that before, but I put his expectations in check, and we took off into the woods. As luck would have it, we found a lone buck track, headed uphill and it was so fresh you could slap it. I put him on it, walked behind him, gave him some general tips and let him have fun and figure it out without my bad habits getting in his way. Within a half mile it hit posted property, but he turned around grinning ear to ear, completely inspired to do it again some day....

 

sneaky_pete000

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Muzzy season came in like a freight train...bucks, does, non-binary, it didn't matter...deer everywhere. I think Ethan saw 13 on day 1. He was trying to get a doe in front of a friend that doesn't come from a hunting background and hasn't ever got one before. The last deer of the day presented a broadside shot at 15yrds, and the rookie whiffed. His response? "Pete, are you sure you put a bullet in there, or did you just load a smoke bomb?" We laughed it off and finished the day. I sent Duke to sit with my dad for the last couple hours, while I worked on my old fart skills....I sat in camp, spent some time pissing and moaning about things that don't really matter, drank some Genny Lights and watched the fields by camp. I looked down and it was exactly last legal shooting light. 2 minutes later I noticed a fat deer come wadling out of the woods, into the field. I mentioned it to my cousin, grabbed my binocs, and watched the biggest rack we've seen in a long time devour the grass in our field until dark. Here's hoping I have some more updates coming for the forum and they include one of my boys holding a giant white colored rack with a fat bottom buck attached.....

Meanwhile, I'm feeling very sick on Thursday.
 

NH Hunter

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Someone how I missed this. Great report and thanks for taking the time to write it up.
 




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