Week 3 report

Kingman Cruncher

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After hitting a mountain range in NW ME for opening day on snow and having an exciting day, and a two day hunt in the southern portion of the county 2nd week in the pouring rain, we headed to Jackman for a 10 day stretch. Without having the camp I rented the last 48 months, our group of 4 stayed at Sprucemeadow in two camps. Only a half mile from our previous home base and having stayed here many times over the years through several owners, it was somewhat familiar.

Random thoughts - we should have brought snowshoes, tire chains, window scraper and my snow sled. No camp should ever be built without a wood stove. Don’t go away for a week plus expecting snow and leave your boat out, and your snowmobile trailer in the woods behind the house...

Day 1 - took boat to spot, cold as hell. Fairly remote. Walk in and scrapes are everywhere, couple good rubs. We split up and it appears deer are laying down some good sign. It’s going to be warm, early for the rut, and sunny so I climb and climb. Jump a really small doe in a skidder road. Get to the top and work the peak. Looks like a buck lives here or did this summer, sign looks old. Spend all day up high, but looks like all the sign is low. No one else on this trip saw deer. Head out for the long rides home.

Day 2 - Days all run together, but I think we took a really long walk into the border where my buddy shot his 8 pointer. Snow, like so much I can’t really get around with my legs. Deer were not moving yet. Saw little sign. Suspect they were heading to Canada to lowland and farms.

Day 3 - Sunday. Hit town. Threw in some laundry. Pretty uneventful trip so far.

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Kingman Cruncher

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Monday - good snow. Head into the spot I like to hunt. Difficult access. Fairly remote. We walk in on old roads, get back in 1-2 miles. Soon as we hit Buck MT, my buddy and I split up and work the base. He’s within sight of me, but I cut a nice buck track. He’s gone down to the river to check does. This is common, and the crossing is always hot. I’m at a crossroads to stay on the old road to see if he’s come up, or go down in there. I go with option 2. 10 yards in, he makes a rub, 50 yards in he starts bouncing and gets on a doe track. I think I made a good choice. 18-20 inches of snow. Just at the top of my boots, to my nuts when I punch throw golden rod or slash.

I stay on him and he comes to a slight clearing, slightly elevated. Good bedding spot. I hold tight and glass and see a deer stand from it’s bed, throw up the scope and it’s a doe. She walks away and over the river bank out of sight. I hold again and keep scanning and eventually push on one foot at a time. Deer stands up and slowly bounds off at 30 yards. It’s super quiet and I feel like a ninja. Stay on the buck track and he hooks up with a third doe overnight. Crosses a stream/river. The doe has issues, falls, and cuts her foot on the ice, and comes back. She’s bleeding from the hoof. I see this track for 3 more days traveling all over which I found funny. My buddy saw it that same day. We called her “blood foot”.
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Kingman Cruncher

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Tuesday - We head back into this section. Head north, check our crossings, snow is so fluffy it’s hard to do anything other than look for a stride and stance, but now deer are walking in their tracks and others were it’s easy to go. Very hard to track a buck. I make big swings but it’s like a giant deer party so I just slow down and poke around, hoping to get lucky.

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Finding lots of feeding, good buck sign getting aggressive, but also signs the deer are moving to yards.


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Kingman Cruncher

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This is when things get strange. I’m following this travel run, the deer are going to Armstrong and I come to this crossroads and slight clearing, and there is a tree stand. I’m like WTF, who would bring a stand into this spot. It’s almost not possible, but damn if they are migrating that’s where you want to be. I have never seen boots or people here in like 10 years, but low and behold their is a guy standing right there. I go and talk with him, his daughter and my wife were friends in college and I know of him. We get a chuckle out of the whole thing and I’m on my way. Later that week his daughter sends us a picture of me on their game camera. What are the chances.

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Kingman Cruncher

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Later that day I’m poking around, and I come across 2 does feeding by this brook. I hang tight, then move on and a short minute later I’m having a drink of Gatorade and I hear a deer grunting coming my way. I get ready and see it’s just a spike and it comes point blank. I snap a quick photo as he goes away, then I’m on my way. More feeding, and young bucks running like mad but nothing big so far to spend a day on.

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Looks like a doe group with Blood Foot headed to Canada.

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Kingman Cruncher

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We get more snow, it’s brutal at this point, but I gotta get back into where all these deer are. I know the swings, but am blown away there are no big bucks here yet, but I’m patient. I go in on fresh snow and there are no tracks. Not surprising. It’s blowing and snowing, but I know the bedding spots so I poke through. It takes me 2.5 miles before I cut a track and when I do I have zero clue what I’m looking at. I know it’s a deer, but stance and stride and print are void. I stay on it as I know it’s fresh. The deer is feeding and I know it’s close, I come across a strip of jack firs and see a deer bedded. Scope up, just another doe. I poke around an another mile down my loop I see a doe up and feeding. I hang around until dark, but not much is on the move with the deep snow.
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So far it’s midweek, been on the move 4-7 miles a day, but can’t find a big buck. I have my woods legs under me, have erased fatigue, and are now feeling fresh physically sun up to sundown. I’m hopefully as it only takes a second. Unfortunately time is burning and the snow is getting too deep here. Need a game changer tomorrow.
 

Kingman Cruncher

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Bucks are being shot big time now and being tagged at record rates. I can’t go to town after the hunt without seeing 200 pounders being strung up.

We strike off in the morning with plans for each of us to start 3 miles apart on the base of a very long and tall mt. We are hunting this saddle with where I had my cameras last year, if you can remember me sharing. I’m not even positive if I can make it to where my buddy will be, but if I can catch him on the radio once I get over the MT, I’ll have a truck ride only 1.5 miles away. If not, I’ll swing back to my truck.

I go go in on an old road, 1 mike in and cut a big buck track I immediately. Wow, that was quick. It’s old, but I’m ok with it. He takes me to his bed, then he’s up makes a scrape and I figure I’m right behind him. Brings me into a beautiful section of woods, that’s littered with tracks. It’s about 8am, and I lose an hour making loops. Again too many tracks. I come around this knob, lots of beds, scrapes, multi aged tracks, this buck has been in here 3 days. Deer are crossing a short section of cuts, down to a stream, then right back. No hunters have hit it either. I’m hopeful. I circle a tad lower and 2 does go out in front of me. I sit for two hours, but nothing. Make a couple hour swing but can’t locate the bucks tracks. I tighten up and see the two does come out the back of this thicket by their tracks, with the buck with them. I stay on them for 2sh miles, then the circle back to this area and I just can’t keep the tracks straight. I wait them out on a really straight stretch, find a good place to sit, look up two does come from the opposite section of woods and mingle. I wait till dark.

My buddy on the the other side of the ridge connects with a deer at 250 yards near the signpost. He split a doe and a buck on the road and the buck blew like made and stepped out and he blistered it. 5 pointer. Couple mile drag out. Gets to his truck and a mutual friend had shot a 207 right there too, so he dragged it out for him.


Signpost from last year which was our focus this day. 2 bucks killed within a quarter mile from it. 0E79FB95-31CE-4794-B4F2-1EF8D876C2D4.jpeg

Deer crossing I was sitting on.

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My my buddy who tagged out goes into the spot I was just to scout and check it out and sees 2 deer at this crossing. Tells out mutual friend and he goes and sits there kills a 178 pounder the next morning.
 
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Kingman Cruncher

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So I head into a new section of woods I haven’t been in this year. Park at dark and it’s snowing like mad again. Cant see worth a damn, so I take my open sighted 7600, no binoculars. Step in the woods and right there, big deer standing broadside. Can’t believe it.put the bead center mass and just waiting for a peak at its head. Low light, snow, aging eyes, snow blowing right at me. Gotta be a buck. Don’t dare send a bullet. I’m behind a big maple, peaking around, it’s doing the same. He spooks and goes but still can’t tell what’s going on. Enormous rack, I think I would have seen it, maybe not. I wait a few minutes and hope for it to get lighter. I take off on the track and it’s walking soon, but filling in fast. It’s got a good stride and track and I regret not shooting it. I’m off and it’s not even 7.

It takes me to an old growth stand and is getting in with migration trails but doesnt matter. It’s fresh, filling in fast but it’s clear even with the pounding snow with the stride. I jump it and it heads into the thickest Dried out fir stand you can imagine. I know I can’t get through it quiet so I just pound through it as the deer did. When I finally get through it, it felt like a half mile the deer had laid right in his tracks looking away. Dead tired. I saw where it walked away after hearing me. I figured this was a deer I could shoot. I came up on it bedded again, and it jumped and all I saw was an ass, but with no visible rack I held off. This happened a few times but the way it was circling and checking doe tracks and beds I stayed on it. It took me across a road which was a finger off a road I knew. I actually couldn’t believe where I was. Within a half mile of where the bucks yesterday were shot and that great signpost. I knew where this deer was going.

I ran as fast as my fat ass goes for about a quarter mile to cut this deer off. He would come across this twitch and swim the river. I actually got some aid as I could run in my buddy’s deer drag trail. I take a knee and wait. Unfortunately that deer crossed ahead of me by maybe minutes, possible seconds.

No pictures this morning.
 

Kingman Cruncher

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I’m a couple miles from the truck at this point, and start hoofing it west to start another hunt when the camp neighbor drives in and gives me a ride back to the truck. I eat, change up, grab my scoped gun and drop back into the woods I started in. No new tracks, can barely make out my tracks from earlier but I move around as fast as I can to cut a track. Nothing at all, snow is letting up a bit.
I come into this hardwood bowl and see a track that’s all filled with snow, it’s really old I think, but looks like the best one I have seen all week. I see it here, crossing there, going up and down but with 2-3 inches of today’s snow in it I have no idea what to follow. I keep on. I get up on this ridge and it appears there is a swampy thing up here and the track is going into it. I’m headed that way anyway so I walk with it. That’s when I notice the stride is longer than mine stretched out. He makes a huge scrape, then I get into this canopy and see that he fed on a handful of maple whips, some old mans beard, and some ground cover. All within a 10-15 foot stretch. There is no land rise or what I feel is a good spot for him, but I already know it’s too late. 5 feet away I see his bed, running tracks, and I know I have been busted. DE71300B-AF22-4378-904F-3ED00F154AFF.jpg

On a rested buck like this, I would typically wait for him to settle but I lost half a day on the other buck, so I wait a bit, drink my drink, then head out. He ran for a bit into the wind, then walked so I figured if I moved slow I might see him in the open country coming up. He does a u turn to the right and comes right back on his track and likely was watching me. Once I see his hook, he’s gone again. I wait this time, then get on him. He’s seen me twice, but I havent laid eyes on him. He runs almost a half mile. I get to where he’s walking and it’s down into a hardwood bowl. Wide open. I cautiously stop and glass all the rim, then head down, he appears to be going into a greengrowth swamp, but swings up the rim on the ridge. He was watching me the whole time. He runs to the next ridge and walks down it. I figure I’m too late again, glass around head on the track and he’s cut right again up above, watches me and runs off. I rest, go again and brings me to the first bowl. Well, I’m not falling for this again, 3 J hooks in a row to the right, so once I see what’s happening I go far right and get upwind and as high as I can and wait. Of course this time he just walked through the bowl down the middle.....

I swing big this time as he’s going towards a road uphill. Pretty much where I started, so run up this slashy cut get to the road, run down it and post up on it in the ditch. Wait, nothing. I go in to where I think he would cross only to see he likely dropped back in. He didn’t want to leave that block of woods which made it hard to get him. Didn’t see any does in there, but that buck from earlier was in this same section. I figured, I covered 7 miles in there that day and never saw an antler. It was really exciting, but I felt I didn’t have a chance on that second buck. Tough day, couldn’t see with my peep, then when I had the scope it was foggy all day!
 

Kingman Cruncher

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Booked it home Sat morning.
Was the best hunting season I have had without getting a deer. Always a great time in this border town. It so familiar and the people good. Camp life is always fun, and telling the same stories is always welcomed. I think I saw 30sh does in the woods outside any yarding areas, but couldn’t connect with a mature buck.

Gear - 7600, nothing else feels as good carrying all day except maybe an old lever.
Wore the crotch out of my wool pants.
it was cold, so wore gloves everyday and fleece hat over my ball cap
Changed to a bigger pack this year. Helped me carry more food and drink for the full days not coming back to the truck. Not as comfortable, but won’t change it.

For next year - wear my binoculars each day. No other changes to gear.
Have some good areas for cameras early fall, and developed some better understanding of some of these travel corridors. Without plowed roads, we were pretty limited on where to go, so still have some spots I want to get to.

On to ML now. Likely won’t get north though.
 

mowbizz

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Tough hunting! The way you’re going it’s only a matter of time, hopefully! Great write up!

Lol you were finishing up your post when I posted...didn’t realize you went home. Good luck in ML!
 
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Kingman Cruncher

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Tough hunting! The way you’re going it’s only a matter of time, hopefully! Great write up!

Lol you were finishing up your post when I posted...didn’t realize you went home. Good luck in ML!
Thanks, I’m learning and still having fun. Only shot a couple tracking, but the excitement keeps me at it all day.
 

Sgt Mike

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KC,
Thank You for the great write up, Sounds like a great year in the snow, Should be a lot learned for next year.
Mike
 

NH Hunter

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Great write up and pics. Thanks for taking the time. Your season sounds like mine. I'll be doing a similar write up in a few weeks when NH ends, but so far I only seem to find "lesbian does" myself. Every time I ask myself " Why can't I be the guy that sneaks up on a pair of does, and a buck comes tear assing in for me to blast him??!!
 

outdoorsman

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Great write up and pics. Thanks for taking the time. Your season sounds like mine. I'll be doing a similar write up in a few weeks when NH ends, but so far I only seem to find "lesbian does" myself. Every time I ask myself " Why can't I be the guy that sneaks up on a pair of does, and a buck comes tear assing in for me to blast him??!!
Possibly because you sound like a clown footed Hillbilly towing pots and pans as you walk through the woods? :smile:
 

Mainewoods

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Great report and pics Kingman, and sorry you didn't connect on a corker! All this snow was certainly tough tracking, but once you found that "wow" track, it probably stood out pretty good. The buck I took, had one heck of a stride and stagger, and was really dragging his feet. When I don't have a scoped rifle, I carry a little pair of 8x25 binocs that have served me well.

The one big thing I changed this year, was my boots. I shelved the uninsulated Bean boots and Lacross Grange, and opted for the Lacross Burly Airgrip uninsulated. Wow, love them especially the tread, tons of traction and still had good feeling when tracking.

Good luck during ML season!
 




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