In PJs to score backyard buck
Sleeping in is something many deer hunters have done, but there’s one hunter who actually shot his buck while wearing his pajamas. I’ve never done that!
When Robert Jones of Glenville woke up at 6:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, he went out and got The Daily Gazette and saw a nice buck standing in the road. The buck looked at him and then quickly disappeared into the woods. Unfortunately, all of Robert’s hunting gear was at his camp in Rensselaerville. When he got back in the house, he found his dad’s old 12-gauge and a few slugs, but before he could go out, he needed to use the upstairs bathroom. Looking out the window, he did not see the deer, but shortly after, when he looked out the bedroom window, he saw the buck in the backyard.
He put on coat, slippers, loaded his dad’s old bird gun and slipped out the back door. By then, there was a doe standing only 20 feet from the hunter. The buck, 175 feet away, started walking toward the doe, but a car going by scared it back into the woods. The buck returned a few minutes later and at about 120 feet, the old shotgun put him down. It was a beautiful, perfectly racked, eight-pointer with a 13 1⁄2-inch spread. The way I look at it, if it wasn’t for The Daily Gazette, he wouldn’t have gotten that big buck. Good tale, Robert.
The Adirondack buck drives aren’t only a tradition, but also very productive, and recently, Carl DeCesare of Schroon Lake and his gang proved it. Carl was on watch during a morning drive when what he called a “decent” buck came by. The 10-pointer tipped the scales at 170 pounds dressed and carried a 19 3⁄4-inch spread. The buck was following a doe, and at 70 yards, one shot from Carl’s Browning BAR .30-06 did the job. On this same drive, a spike was taken and another was missed.
The day before his hunt, Jim Meader of Malta spent some time at the range with his red dot-type sighted Benelli Vinci 12-gauge slug gun, always a good idea before entering the deer woods. The next morning (Thanksgiving), Jim was sneaking and peeking in a wooded area near Schuylerville when he saw the buck. It was about 40-50 yards from him, standing in saplings, when he pulled the trigger, downing the big 150-pound, eight-pointer. A further investigation of the shot revealed he not only killed the buck, but also took down one of the saplings on its way to the deer. You’ve got to love those slug guns for the heavy brush.
Now, remember that three-pointer I let walk by opening day in Rensselearville? He’s no longer a resident there because Andy Zahurak, who’s visiting from California and has a New York state lifetime hunting license, didn’t let him go. After hunting the hardwoods in the morning on freshly fallen snow and not seeing a deer, he and his dad, Steve, left the woods for lunch. When they returned, Andy took up watch in the hardwoods near where I set up opening day. About 3 p.m., the buck came up from a gully about 20 yards away and one shot from his Mossberg, 500A with a Hornady Sabot slug ended the hunt.
Schenectady hunter Mike Mueller had seen a big buck during the bowhunting season in this same area of Rensselearville and decided to set up his ground blind in the area. Last Thursday, it paid off. Using a scent trail of Tink’s No. 69 deer lure definitely got the buck’s attention and at about 8 a.m., it walked out of the pines and behind the blind. Unfortunately, Mike had closed the back window of the blind to keep the wind out, and he had no choice but to slowly — and quietly as possible — unzip it. Surprisingly, the zipping noise attracted the buck’s attention and it stopped just long enough for Mike to get a bead on him. It was his last stop. The buck carried six good-sized points and weighed an estimated 135 pounds. Mike was also shooting a Mossberg 500A using Hornady Sabot slugs.
Ladder stands are a great way to hunt deer, and Ed Guidi of Guilderland proved that opening day in the Southern Zone’s Wildlife Management Unit 3J, where he had no problem adhering to the required antler point restrictions. Deer hunters in this area can only shoot bucks that have at least one antler with three or more points that are at least one inch long. Ed’s nine-pointer appeared at 8 a.m., and he shot it with a Remington .30-06.
After sitting on watch for a while near his home in Poestenkill, Kevin Henry decided to walk back to a swamp where he’d seen a lot of deer sign. On his way, he caught a glimpse of a deer headed into the swamp. For the next 45 minutes, he sneaked and peeked, covering only about 75 yards using a stop, call and move technique. Each time he stopped, he would make a few doe bleats, wait and then move a few more steps. Nearing the swamp, he accidently stepped on and broke a stick, giving his position away. But luck was with him, because just before sunset, his bleat call got a buck’s attention, and he and a buck had a lengthy motionless staring match. When the buck appeared to calm down, he slowly raised his rifle and placed one shot through its neck, ending the hunt. Kevin’s heavy-racked 10-pointer dressed out at 145 pounds. He believes it was the same buck he chased through that swamp last season.
This week’s young guns have done well. Adkhunter.com reports five first-time deer taken in the North Country, all bucks. Dan Tebeau took a backyard eight- pointer in Owl’s Head (Franklin County) that weighed in at 160 pounds. Queensbury youth Billy Roberts shot a three-pointer in Dresden, Ian Herber a four-pointer in Hamilton County, 14-year-old Eric Phelps of Booneville got an eight-pointer and Matt Savarie of Schroon Lake took a beautiful 10-pointer. You can check them and other successful deer hunter photos out on this web site. You can also submit your deer photos there.
Fifteen-year-old Joey Guy of Glens Falls shot a deer during the bow-and-arrow season and recently followed it up with a nice six-pointer. Joey’s dad, Jamie, is a member of my hunting club, The Good Guys in Allegany County. Sitting on watch during a drive with his dad, he saw the six-pointer step out of a patch of tall pines about 60 yards away. Slowly, Joey raised his .30-06, and a perfect heart shot ended the hunt.
The dream season isn’t one you watch on the Outdoor Channel (Drury’s Dream Season), but rather that of a local hunter, John Durling of Granville. I’ve written about John’s great buck kills for several years, but this year, he really had an amazing adventure, covering three states in 23 days of hunting, during which he collected a total of four bucks and 42 points.
It began in Iowa on Oct. 25, when he was in his tree stand, typing a “rut update post” on Facebook when he heard a deer crashing toward him from the corn. First out was the doe, then the buck, and a short grunt call stopped him. At 32 yards, John’s broadhead center-punched the deer, and he dropped just 80 yards away. The buck carried 11 points, dressed out at 220 pounds and grossed 159 5⁄8 Boone & Crockett (B&C) points.
Next stop was northern Missouri, and John didn’t take a long time to fill his bow tag. Hunting in a tree stand on state land across from his friend’s house, he called in a monster buck. He again had to thread an arrow through a small opening in the heavy brush. He did it successfully and he was rewarded with a dressed-out 190-pounder whose 15 points gross totaled 159 3⁄8 B&C points. But he wasn’t done yet in Missouri. On the opening day of the gun season, he worked and called in a 2 1⁄2-year-old eight-pointer and dropped him at 100 yards.
The final stop was Kansas, where he passed on a number of eight-pointers the first few days, none of which he wanted to shoot. His hunting partner, Rusty, took a big eight-pointer the third day and then volunteered to be the cameraman for the rest of the hunt.
On the seventh day, they were both in the tree stand when Rusty noticed a big buck coming toward them. He was standing on a bank about 100 yards out, and a few low doe bleats by John brought him right in.
When he stopped and looked up at the hunters at 15 yards, John’s arrow was right on target. And it was caught on film — definitely a “dream hunt.” If you go to John’s Facebook page, you can see all these big bucks and others he has taken in the past.