This week’s Buck Tales begins with a 14-year-old Schuylerville hunter’s first whitetail.
Zack Galcik and his dad, Michael, had hunted earlier in the season and seen some smaller bucks, but Zack wanted to wait. Prior to his being old enough to hunt, he had tagged along on some of his dad’s hunts and inherited his good hunting habits and the patience to wait for a big buck. Last week, when Mike’s scouting and trail cam photos showed promise, he and Zack headed for the woods.
Well before sunup, Zack and his dad set up under a tree on a ridge overlooking what he thought was their bedding area. Shortly after sunup, the deer parade began.
First, five does walked by, followed by a four-pointer, but Zack was unable to get a clean shot. It was the right decision. He was a bit disappointed, but Mike told him the deer gods would reward him with a better buck for not taking a bad shot. His dad was right.
The parade continued with several smaller bucks and does. Then the young hunter whispered, “Buck.” Dad didn’t see the buck, but watched as his son slowly pulled his hands out of his jacket pockets and wrapped them around his new Ruger American 7mm-08 compact rifle. Things were getting exciting when they saw the high, thick antlers on the right side of the buck.
Waiting until the buck’s line of sight to the hunter was blocked behind a tree, Zack slowly shouldered the rifle, waiting for a clear shot. At 25 yards, Zack, who was a lot calmer than his dad, touched off a well-placed neck shot that dropped the buck immediately.
It was then that they saw there was only one half of the thick main beam and a small nub on the buck’s left side. However, the buck tipped the scales at 150 pounds and carried several side wounds which he probably got fighting. Definitely a trophy first-time buck I’d have liked to have had in my sights.
When Mike called me, I went over to see the buck and congratulate the hunter and his dad, both still carrying very big smiles. As Mike told me all the details of the hunt, I noticed his eyes were still a bit wet and he also seemed to have a lump in his throat. Must have been the wind.
I left the Saratoga County deer woods the day before Thanksgiving when I had enough of the snow covering me, but Brett Wood of Schuylerville, who was a mile or so from me, didn’t. He stayed on his watch in a large field.
In mid-afternoon, a big buck came out into an adjoining field about 250 yards away — a long shot, but doable for his Ruger 30.06. The buck went down, then disappeared into the woods. It was easy to pick up the blood trail in the snow, but he solicited the help of his brother, Jeffery, and several hours later, they found his buck about a mile away.
From the photos I received of Brett smiling with his buck in the snow, it was obvious that the hunter was quite happy with the biggest buck he’d ever shot. The big buck tipped the scales at 160 pounds and carried seven big points with a 19-inch inside spread. Nice buck!
Millions of deer hunters legally obey all the rules and enjoy the chase and challenge this sport offers, but there are a few who don’t, and I enjoy reading about those who get caught poaching and punished.
I received a press release from Vermont Fish & Wildlife about the recent arrest of Wayne Dion, 66, and his 63-year-old wife, Jennie, who were arrested on charges of deer baiting and illegal night hunting practices, the result of a multi-year investigation.
A search of their home produced 91 deer-antler plaques, 15 shoulder mounts, seven freezers and plastic totes containing corn and apples which authorities believed were used for illegal baiting. There were also five mounted spotlights pointed toward their backyard which was enclosed by a 400-foot cedar hedge. In the middle of the yard was a large pile of corn with a well-worn game trail leading to it.
The wardens also found a sliding port cut in the back of the house with a rest similar to a gun rest. Other evidence included an untagged nine pointer. Wayne Dion faces multiple charges and Jennie was accused of aiding in a big game violation and possession of big game taken by illegal means. Each charge carries a possible 60-day jail sentence and fines of $250-$500 per offense. They also face a three-year loss of hunting privileges and must successfully complete a remedial hunter ethics course.
On Monday morning, muzzleloaders, bow and crossbow hunters can all be in the deer woods together. The Northern Zone dates are Dec. 8-14; Southern Zone, Dec. 8-16. Bow only is allowed in Wildlife Management Units 4J and 8C. That means no muzzleloaders and no crossbows in those units.
Westchester County (WMU 3S) and Suffolk County (WMU 1C) allow bowhunting only through Dec. 31 — no crossbows.
There is also a special firearms season from Jan. 5-31, 2015 by special permit only in Suffolk County.
Ever wonder why you can’t use a crossbow “ever” in Westchester and Suffolk Counties, but you can in all the other counties? I believe the Chairman of the Environmental Committee, a Suffolk County resident, has continuously blockaded the Crossbow Bill.
For further details on these late season hunting dates and WMUs, go to www.dec.-ny.gov.
I am still looking for Buck Tales. Send tales of your experiences to [email protected]